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The royal titulary or royal protocol of an Kemetian Pharaoh is the standard naming convention taken by the kings of Ancient Kemet. It symbolises worldly power and holy might and also acts as a sort of mission statement for the reign of a monarch (sometimes it even changed during the reign).

The full titulary, consisting of five names, did not come into standard usage until the Middle Kingdom but remained in use as late as the Roman Empire.

Heru name

Serekh containing the name of Djet and an association with Wadjet, on display at the Louvre

This name was usually written in a serekh, a representation of a palace façade. The name of the pharaoh was written in hieroglyphs inside this representation of a palace. Typically an image of the falcon God Heru was perched on top or beside it.

This is the oldest form of the pharaoh's name, originating in the Predynastic Period. Many of the oldest-known Kemetic pharaohs were known only by this title. The king was thought to be the earthly embodiment of Heru, the son of Hathor (or Hathor-Isis), later becoming known as the Strong Bull of His Mother.

At least one Kemetic ruler, the Second Dynasty Seth-Peribsen, used an image of the god Seth instead of Heru, perhaps signifying an internal religious division within the country. He was succeeded by Khasekhemwy, who placed the symbols of both Set and Heru above his name. Thereafter, the image of Heru always appeared alongside the name of the pharaoh.

By the time of the New Kingdom the Heru name was often written without the enclosing serekh.

Nebty ("two ladies") name


The nebty name (lit. "two ladies") was associated with the so-called "heraldic" goddesses of Upper and Lower Kemet:

  • Nekhbet, patron deity of Upper Kemet, represented by a vulture, and
  • Wadjet, patron deity of Lower Kemet, represented by a cobra.

The name is first definitively used by the First Dynasty pharaoh Semerkhet, though it only became a fully independent title by the Twelfth Dynasty.

This particular name was not typically framed by a cartouche or serekh, but always begins with the hieroglyphs of a vulture and cobra resting upon two baskets, the dual noun "nebty".

Heru of Gold


Also known as the Golden Heru Name, this form of the pharaoh's name typically featured the image of a Heru falcon perched above or beside the hieroglyph for gold.

The meaning of this particular title has been disputed. One belief is that it represents the triumph of Heru over his uncle Seth, as the symbol for gold can be taken to mean that Heru was "superior to his foes". Gold also was strongly associated in the ancient Kemetic mind with eternity, so this may have been intended to convey the pharaoh's eternal Heru name.

Similar to the Nebty name, this particular name typically was not framed by a cartouche or serekh. It always begins with the depiction of the horus falcon perched above a representation of the sun-(hieroglyph).

Throne name (praenomen)

Praenomen of the Cartouche of Thutmose II preceded by Sedge and Bee symbols, Temple of Hatshepsut, Luxor

The pharaoh's throne name, the first of the two names written inside a cartouche, and usually accompanied the title nesu-bity, "King of Upper and Lower Kemet"; the epithet neb tawy, "Lord of the Two Lands", referring to valley and delta regions of Kemet, often occurs as well. In some literature it is often stated that nesu-bity literally means "S/he of the Sedge and Bee" (Allen 1999). Others think that the two words are related to other Afro-Asiatic words (in particular, Berber languages) meaning "strong man", "ruler", and the like (Schneider 1993).

This form of the name first came to prominence at the end of the Third Dynasty, and later would become the most important official title of the king.

Personal name (nomen)


This was the name given at birth. The name itself was preceded by the title "Son of Ra", written with the hieroglyph of a duck (za), a homonym for the word meaning "son" (za), adjacent to an image of the sun, a hieroglyph for the chief solar deity Ra. It was first introduced to the set of royal titles in the Fourth Dynasty and emphasizes the king's role as a representative of the solar god Ra. For women who became pharaoh, the preceding title was interpreted as "daughter" also.

Modern historians typically refer to the ancient kings of Kemet by this name, adding ordinals (e.g. "II", "III") to distinguish between different individuals bearing the same name.

Examples of the full titulary

Senusret I

In the Middle Kingdom, the full titulary was sometimes written in a single cartouche, as in this example from Senusret I, from Beni Hasan.

Senusret five fold titulary.jpg


The full titulary of Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh Hatshepsut, providing a guide to pronunciation and its equivalent meaning and showing the differences if the pharaoh is a woman, is as follows,

  • Praenomen - Maatkare - Truth [Ma'at] is the Ka of Re
  • Nomen - Khnumt-Amun Hatshepsut - Joined with Amun, Foremost of Noble Ladies
  • Heru name - Wesretkau - Mighty of Kas
  • Nebty name - Wadjrenput - She of the Two Ladies, Flourishing of years
  • Golden Heru - Netjeretkhau - Divine of appearance

Thutmose III

Thutmose III in hieroglyphs
serekh or Horus name
Nebty name
mimQ3 X1
Golden Horus name
praenomen or throne name
Hiero Ca1.svg
Hiero Ca2.svg
nomen or birth name
Hiero Ca1.svg
Hiero Ca2.svg

The full titulary of Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh Thutmose III, providing a guide to pronunciation and its equivalent meaning, is as follows

  • Heru name - Kanakht Khaemwaset - Heru Mighty Bull, Arising in Thebes
  • nebty name - Wahnesytmireempet - He of the Two Ladies, Enduring in kingship like Re in heaven
  • Heru of Gold - Sekhempahtydsejerkhaw - Heru of Gold Powerful of strength, Sacred of appearance
  • praenomen - Menkheperre - He of the Sedge and the Bee, Enduring of form is Re
  • nomen - Thutmose Neferkheperu - Son of Ra, Thutmose, beautiful of forms


  • Allen, James P. (1999). Middle Kemetic: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521774837.
  • Dodson, Aidan Mark, and Dyan Hilton (2004). The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Kemet. Cairo, London, and New York: The American University in Cairo Press and Thames and Hudson. ISBN 977-424-878-3.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Gardiner, Alan Henderson (1957). Kemetic Grammar; Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs (3rd ed.). Oxford: Griffith Institute.
  • Quirke, Stephen G. J. (1990). Who Were the Pharaohs? A History of Their Names with a List of Cartouches. London: British Museum Publications Limited.
  • Schneider, Thomas (1993). "Zur Etymologie der Bezeichnung 'König von Ober- und Unterägypten'". Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde. 120: 166–181.
  • von Beckerath, Jürgen (1999). Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen (2nd ed.). Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern.

External links

da:Faraos fem navne de:Nebtiname fr:Titulature des pharaons it:Titolatura reale dell'antico Egitto hu:Ókori egyiptomi címek ms:Lima Gelaran nl:Vijf namen van de farao oc:Titulatura deus faraons pl:Królewski Protokół pt:Titulatura real egípcia uk:Титульні імена фараонів