What's in a Name?

The full title of an Egyptian king consisted of five names for the larger part of Egyptian history. The king had a personal name given to him at birth - his Son of Ra name - and being the link between the rest of the population and the gods, he had also been given a series of names upon ascending to the throne. These epithets would display certain qualities of the king and his relationship with the gods.

The names came into use gradually: the first known was the Horus name, the oldest title, originating from predynastic times. The Golden Horus name was introduced as early as the first dynasty, followed by the King of Upper and Lower Egypt title, or throne name: displaying the sedge and the bee symbolising Upper and Lower Egypt and actually meaning “the one who belongs to the sedge and the bee”.

Still during the later half of the first dynasty we meet the Two Ladies - or Nebty - name, associated with the patron deities of Upper and Lower Egypt: Nekhbet, the vulture goddess of the city of El Kab in Upper Egypt and Wadjet, the Cobra goddess of the city of Buto in Lower Egypt. The continuous development of the titulary went on until the Middle Kingdon when it finally achieved its known form.

The five names were displayed in the following order:

- Horus name

- Nebty Name (Two Ladies)

- Golden Horus Name

- Throne Name (Upper and Lower Egypt)

- Birth Name (Son of Ra)

On the below photos we bring you the wonderful display of some of Ramesses IV's names from his tomb of KV2 in the Valley of the Kings. Ramesses IV was the 3rd pharaoh of the 20th dynasty. His rule only lasted for 6 years, during which he started some great building projects. Three or perhaps four temples in Deir Al Bahari can be attributed to him, including a mortuary temple which would have been the largest ever built, if it was finished.

His tomb at the Valley of the Kings has been open since antiquity and it's one of the tombs with the most Coptic and Greek graffiti in the Valley of the Kings. The display of the king's names can be seen on the ceiling in corridor K, flanked by a starry sky.


Ka nakht ankh em Maat

kꜢ-nḫt Ꜥnḫ-m-mꜢꜤt

Horus, the strong bull, his Maat lives



Heqa Maat Ra, setep en Amun

ḥḳꜢ-mꜢꜤt-rꜤ stp.n-imn

Ruler of the Maat like Ra, the chosen one of Amun



Ramessu heqa Maat mery Amun

rꜤ-msi-sw ḥḳꜢ-mꜢꜤt mri-imn

Ramesses, ruler of Maat, beloved of Amun

©kairoinfo4u at https://www.flickr.com/photos/manna4u/

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