The name of Sneferka found on a fragment in the complex of Djoser

Sneferka may have ruled Egypt during the First Dynasty, but the length of his reign, and exact chronological position are unclear. Variations in the order of the signs in his name have led to its transliteration as Seneferka, Sneferka, Neferseka, and Sekanefer.

He is referenced in an inscription on pottery found in the tomb of Merka, a high official during the reign of Qa’a. His name also appears on a vessel from an anonymous mastaba in Saqqara and again on a schist vessel found in one of the galleries of Djoser’s Step Pyramid.

A fourth vessel in the private Georges-Michailidis collection has his name in a serekh which is not topped by a Horus falcon. This unusual find has led some to conclude Sneferka was a queen rather than a king. This may be supported by reading the name as “Nefer-ka-s” and comparing it with the name of one of Djoser’s daughters – “Int-Ka-s”, but questions remain regarding its authenticity.

An alternate spelling found on a fragment in the complex of Djoser

As the references to his name occur beside references to monuments known to have been in use during the reign of Qa’a, he is thought to be one of his successors.

Wolfgang Helck and Peter Kaplony have proposed that Sneferka fought another shadowy ruler known as “Horus Bird” for the throne during a period of turmoil which eventually ended when Hotepsekhemwy founded the Second Dynasty. However, Kim Ryholt and Aidan Dodson have suggested that Sneferka ruled during the Second Dynasty as Neferkara I. Dodson notes that Sneferka’s name often appears as an addition to an earlier inscription indicating that he usurped the artefacts of Qa’a.

  • Dodson, A and Hilton, D. (2004) The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt
  • Dodson, Aidan (1996) “The Mysterious Second Dynasty” from KMT – A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt
  • Rice, Michael (1999) Who’s Who in Ancient Egypt
  • Wilkinson, Toby A H (1999) Early Dynastic Egypt

Copyright J Hill 2009