Nynetjer ("godlike") is thought to have been the third ruler of the Second Dynasty. The Palermo stone records numerous festivals and ceremonies held between the 6th and the 20th year of his reign. However, Manetho suggested that he actually ruled for 47 years because at least seventeen biennial cense were recorded.
Nynetjer ruled from Memphis and all of the events recorded on the Palermo stone (with the exception of a ceremony in honour of the goddess Nekhbet in Elkab) took place around Memphis leading some to suggest that his power was limited to the Memphite region. However, his name also appears on a rock inscription near Abu Handal in Lower Nubia, so he may have dispatched a military expedition there.
Manetho claims that during his reign the right of a woman to reign over Egypt was confirmed. Some Egyptologists have suggested that this was in order to recognise to contributions of the first dynasty queens Meritneith and Neithhotep who may have ruled as regents while their sons were very young.
The end of his reign seems to have been marked by poor harvests, internal tension, and possibly even civil war. The Palermo Stone records fighting in several towns including one named "the House of the North". This reference may suggest that the king had to suppress a rebellion in Lower Egypt. His name has been found on inscriptions from a number of mastaba tombs in Saqqara, Giza, Helwan and Abydos. Archaeologists also found an inscription referring to the king in the tomb of his successor Sekhemhib (Seth-Peribsen) in Abydos. However, some scholars believe that a series of shadowy rulers (Weneg, Sendji, Neferkare, Neferkasokar, Nubnefer) ruled over a divided Egypt before Sekhemhib reunited the country.
Some Egyptologists place Nynetjer before Weneg, and others after him, while others suggest that they ruled concurrently in different parts of Egypt (as the events listed on the Palermo stone were all held in Lower Egypt). However, the granite statuette of the mortuary priest Hetepdief, implies that there was continuity between the first three kings of the Second Dynasty ( Hotepsekhemwy , Raneb and Nynetjer).
This confusing situation has promted some scholars to suggest that Nynetjer actually split his country between his two sons or successors in order to cope with the burdens of an overly complex bureaucracy.
An alabaster statuette depicting Nynetjer on his throne wearing the close fitting robe of the Heb-Sed jubilee is the earliest complete example of three-dimensional royal statuary. A stock of stone vessels discovered in the Step Pyramid galleries may have been created for this jubilee, but later appropriated by subsequent kings of the late Second and early Third Dynasties.
His tomb was discovered in Saqqara. It is small and unfinished, leading many to suggest that he died before completion (despite his apparently long reign). The tomb is fairly irregular in plan, maybe due to the density of the bedrock in the area.
- Manetho; Binothris
alternative Nebty; ht
Golden Horus; Ren Nebu
Nomen; Banetjer (from the Abydos kings list)
Nomen; Banetjerw (from the Turin list)
Nomen; Banetjerw (from the Saqqara List)