Posted by: imalqata | February 24, 2012

What’s in a Name

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Faience ring with the name of Amenhotep III from Malqata and now in teh Metrpolitan Museum of Art

Faience ring with the name of Amenhotep III from Malqata and now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

By the time of Amenhotep III Egyptian kings had five names. The most commonly used were the throne name (sometimes called the prenomen) and the personal name (called the nomen), sort of corresponding to our last and first names. The pharaoh’s throne name, which was taken when he became king, is one of the two names that are written inside the oval, coiled rope that was called a cartouche by Napoleon’s soldiers because it reminded them of their rifle cartridges. This name is usually preceded by the title “King of Upper and Lower Egypt” and is sometimes accompanied by the epithet “lord of the two lands.”

The titulary of Amenhotep III, with his five names, beginning with his Horus name was Kanakht Khaemmaat (“Strong Bull, Arising in Thebes”) followed by his Nebty name, Semenhepusegerehtawy (“One establishing laws, pacifying the two lands”)   and his Golden Horus name which was Aakhepesh-husetiu (“Great of valour, smiting the Asiatics”). Lastly are his (prenomen), which was “King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the two lands” Nub-maat-re (“Lord of Truth is Re”), and his (nomen) which was  “The son of Re” Amenhotep Heqawaset (“Amun is Pleased, Ruler of Thebes) “May he be given life”

Faience scarab with the name "Neb Maat Re" in the Michael C. Carlos Museum

The pharaoh’s personal name, the one given to him at birth, was preceded by the title “Son of Re.” Personal names tended to be repeated in ruling families, so we now distinguish them by numbers, such as “Ramesses I,” “Thutmosis II,” and Amenhotep III.

Other royal names include the Horus name which is written inside a device called a serekh. The serekh represents a palace entrance and it has a falcon above – symbol of the god Horus. Another name determined by a falcon is the, Golden Horus name, which is introduced by an image of a falcon standing on the hieroglyph for gold.

The nebty or two ladies name associated the king with the goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nekhbet, the vulture goddess of the south and Wadjet the cobra goddess of the Delta.
Kings could also change their names or epithets during their reign. Amenhotep III added the title Aten-tjehen, which means “the Dazzling Sun Disk,” later in his reign. This foreshadowed his son’s reign in which Amenhotep VI became Akhenaten.

-Peter Lacovara

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