People - Ancient Egypt: Huni
OLD KINGDOM 3rd Dynasty (2599 - 2575) The age of the Pyramid. The pyramids of Giza and Dahshur are
built during this period.
Huni in Tour Egypt
HUNI, THE LAST KING OF EGYPT'S THIRD DYNASTY
BY JIMMY DUNN.
While there is some confusion over kings and their order of
rule near the end of the 3rd Dynasty, it is fairly clear who
terminates the period and who also stood on the threshold
between ancient Egypt's formative period and the grand
courts of the Old Kingdom to follow. Huni paved the way for
the great pyramid builders of the 4th Dynasty with his
substantial construction projects and the possible
restructuring of regional administration.
Yet, we really know very little about this king who ruled
during a pivotal point in Egyptian history. The name Huni
may be translated as "The Smiter". He is attested on
monuments of his time by his nswt-bity name, written in a
cartouche. Alternative readings have been suggested for his
name, but none have been agreed upon, so he is typically
called Huni even though it probably represents a corruption
of his original name. He may also be one and the same as
Horus Qahedjet, though this is uncertain.
In the late 1960s, a limestone stela of unknown provenance
was purchased by the Louvre museum. It was inscribed with
the previously unknown Horus name, Qahedjet. The stela was
important to Egyptian art historians because it depicts the
earliest representation of a god (Horus) embracing the king.
Therefore, it received considerable attention. Though the
stela is very similar in style to the relief panels of the
Step Pyramid of Djoser, the execution of the carving is
superior, and the iconography is more developed. Hence,
Egyptologists tend to favor a date for the stela at the end
of the 3rd Dynasty. Furthermore, the Horus name for the
kings who Huni succeeded have been tentatively identified.
Therefore, though with no certainty, some scholars believe
Qahedjet to be the Huni's Horus name.
The Turin Canon provides a reign for Huni of twenty-four
years, and a shorter reign than this would appear unlikely
given the scale of his completed building projects. His
position as the last king of the 3rd Dynasty and Sneferu's
immediate predecessor is confirmed by both the Papyrus
Prisse and by the autobiographical inscription in the tomb
of Metjen at Saqqara.
Actually, the most impressive monument which can be
relatively clearly attributed to Huni is a small granite
step pyramid on the island of Elephantine. It is now thought
that a granite cone, bearing the inscription ssd Hwni,
meaning "Diadem of Huni", and with the determinative of a
palace originally came from Elephantine. It would seem
therefore that Huni built either a palace or a building
associated with the royal cult on this island. This small
pyramid, together with others of similar size and
construction located at Seila in the Fayoum, Zawiyet el-
Meitin in Middle Egypt, South Abydos, Tukh near Naqada, el-
Kula near Hierakonpolis and in south Edfu, appear to be
unique, both in their size and purpose. Many Egyptologists
believe that, based on the monument at Elephantine, all but
the Seila pyramid may be dated to the reign of Huni.
Excavations have shown that his successor, Sneferu, was
responsible for the pyramid at Seila.
There has been no small amount of debate about the purpose
of these pyramids. Almost all of the major pyramids in
Egypt, before and after Huni, were royal tombs of some
nature. However, these small step pyramids appear to have
little to do with funerary practices. Many scholars have
suggested, though there is little proof, that they were
constructed as cult places of the king or marked royal
estates. There was, for example, an administrative building
attached to the pyramid at Elephantine. Their locations
suggest that there could have been one such pyramid for each
nome (ancient Egyptian province), at least in southern Upper
Egypt. Some have even suggested that their construction
might have been associated with the reorganization of
regional government during Huni's reign. Irregardless, their
purpose remains unclear without further evidence for their
We are also very uncertain about Huni's burial. It has been
suggested that the pyramid at Maidum may have been his, and
many Egyptologists seem certain that it was at least begun
by him, though Middle and New Kingdom graffiti from the site
credits Sneferu with its construction. However, if Sneferu
had a hand in this project, it is probable that he only
finished the monument and converted it into a true pyramid.
After all, Sneferu built at least two other large pyramids
and was buried in one of these. Otherwise, Huni's burial
remains a mystery. If he was not buried in the Maidum
pyramid, than he may have been buried at Saqqara, though the
only obvious location at that site, the unexcavated
Ptahhotep enclosure to the west of the Djoser's complex, has
no substructure. Hence, it is unlikely to be an unfinished
step pyramid complex.
Some scholars theorize that the small step pyramids built by
Huni somehow lessened the importance attached to the royal
tomb. According to this view, Huni may never have
constructed a pyramid tomb complex at all.
However, the general consensus seem to be that the Maidum
Pyramid was indeed his, even though there is no evidence of
there ever having been a stone sarcophagus in the
subterranean burial chamber and therefore no clear evidence
he was ever buried in this pyramid. Another theory suggests
that he was actually buried in an unidentified mastaba
number 17 on the northeast side of the pyramid, where there
is a typical Old Kingdom, uninscribed granite sarcophagus.
Though we traditionally end the 3rd Dynasty with Huni, he
was probably the father of the next King. It is though that
the mother of Sneferu was probably Meresankh, who was either
a lesser wife or concubine of Huni's. If so, Sneferu would
have married his half sister, Hetepheres I, who was Huni's
daughter. Little else is known about Huni's family
Huni's memory lived on for some time after his death, for
the Palermo Stone lists an estate belonging to his cult
during the reign of the 5th Dynasty King Neferirkara some
150 years after his death. This is really no surprise, for
the achievements of Huni's reign are impressive, and he
clearly ushered in the great culture of Egypt's Old Kingdom.
The structure of provincial government recorded in the tomb
of Metjen probably signals a definitive break from the Early
Dynastic past, and set the stage for the absolute central
control of manpower and resources needed for the massive
pyramid building of the 4th Dynasty.
Huni in Wikipedia
Huni was the last Pharaoh of Egypt of the Third dynasty. He was the successor to
Huni was the father of Hetepheres I, the wife of Sneferu who was the first king
of the Fourth Dynasty. Huni was succeeded by Sneferu according to the Papyrus
Prisse ("The Instructions by Kagemni"), but it is not known if Sneferu was a son
Huni is mentioned amongst the names of high officials from the court of Djoser,
and if this was indeed the same man as this pharaoh, it is possible that Huni
came to the throne at a very venerable age. He is credited with a 24-year reign
in the Turin King List.
Huni established a fortress on the island of Elephantine, securing the southern
border of Egypt at the First Cataract.
Huni's vizier was a man named Kagemi.
Huni is sometimes credited with building a great stepped pyramid at Meidum which
was to be larger than that of Djoser. It was supposedly left unfinished at the
time of his death, thus his successor Sneferu, it is said, completed it near the
beginning of his reign. If this view arises from the desire amongst historians
to have a significant monument attributed to Huni, there is no evidence that the
Meidum pyramid was his burial place. The name of Sneferu, however, has been
found at Meidum, and many of Sneferu's children, particularly princes Nefermaat
and Rahotep, have been buried in mastabas at the Meidum necropolis. Thus it
seems more likely that it was Sneferu who had the pyramid built and, later on
during his reign, transformed it from the stepped pyramid into a true pyramid by
having its sides smoothed. The pyramid has since collapsed, leaving only its
Another pyramid exists which was very likely built by Huni, but this is a small
ceremonial pyramid. The ruins of this pyramid have been found at Elephantine.
This pyramid was not a tomb, nor did it have a surrounding necropolis or temple
complex. Its real function and religious significance remain unknown. However,
many similar small, ceremonial, pyramids have been found, built by Old Kingdom
pharaohs throughout Egypt.
The Horus name of the king is not known with any confidence. However, in the
late 1960s, the Louvre bought a relief showing a king Horus Qahedjet. For
stylistical reasons the relief belongs to the Third Dynasty and it seems
possible that it belongs to Huni, whose Horus-name it provides. - Wikipedia
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