Mer-neith (fl. c. 3100 BCE)

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Mer-neith (fl. c. 3100 bce)

Early queen of Egypt and possibly regent on behalf of an underaged son. Name variations: Merit-neith or Merit-Neit; Meryet-Nit. Flourished around 3100 bces; probable daughter of King Djer, mother of King Den.

If this person was a woman (which is not completely certain), she attained a position seldom equaled by a woman at the dawn of Egypt's history. Certainly she owned funerary monuments which rivaled a king's in size and subsidiary graves, and a treasury is attested for her as well. On the other hand, she appears not to have held a king's titles. Thus this person is assumed by most scholars today to have been a queen, of ancient Egypt's 1st Dynasty, probable daughter of King Djer and mother of King Den. Like the queen Neithotep before her, Mer-neith also wrote her name within the kingly serekh design, and thus is believed to have served as regent for her son King Den and initiated the title of King's Mother. She was recorded as a ruler centuries later on the king list now in Palermo.

Barbara S. Lesko , Department of Egyptology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island