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Qa Hedjet is a king come out from the nothingness of four thousand and six hundred years. Until 1968 this name meant nothing either for the more than 150-year-old field of Egyptology, or for the long tradition of annals and king-lists compiled since the Old Kingdom through the New Kingdom up to the Greek period. Not a piece of tomb-relief, statuette, graffito, or monument had ever handed down this name. It’s always amazing to discover previously unknown kings, especially those of the most mysterious ages of history, as is the Early Dynastic Period.

A stela of unknown provenance bought by the Louvre Museum in 1967 [E 25982], bears the Horus name of this King; it is the only attestation of Qa Hedjet.
The style of the relief and the skillfulness of its lines are the reasons for the widespread convinction that we have to do with a 3rd Dynasty piece [rather than with one of Qa’a (1st Dyn.) or of the First Intermediate Period as has been formerly advanced].
We can easily see the carving evolution in comparison with the Wadi Maghara 3rd Dyn. reliefs; therfore dating it to the half or end of this dynasty for the reign of this king and his stela is justifiable. Another parallel can be drawn with the six panels from the underground galleries of the Step Pyramid complex of Netjerikhet [Djoser/Zoser] at Saqqara (see here, bottom of the page).

The lines of the king’s face (forehead/crown, beard, mouth, but the same goes for the whole body) are a more developed variant of the Sanakht, Netjerikhet and Sekhemkhet reliefs. The general treatment of the body of the Third Dynasty kings is, to a certain degree, somewhat sqattier, heavier, rawer and gives an impression of more stability and authority than Khasekhemwy’s (?) relief from Gebelein (now in Turin and Cairo) which portray a taller and leaner king, more dynamic and whose body details are more equally balanced in comparison with those of the kings up to Snefru, wherein the reliefs show more careful attention to the face/head, leaving the rest of the body at a cruder stage of definition, with fewer decorative particulars.
Possibly Netjerikhet is less extreme in this artistic trend (Khasekhemwy’s influence?); Qa Hedjet produces a shift towards smoother forms more in line with the 4th Dynasty techniques (the sitting Snefru Dahshur stela is the further step of change: see the hands, the whole face profile; but indeed the general conformation and proportions of human shape and of hieroglyphs heavily echoes the Third Dynasty models, and a similar progress is also traceable in the statuary).

The modeling of the Horus’ head in the Louvre stela has no parallel, to my knowledge, in this early period.
On it the king wears a short skirt, the false tail and the Upper Egyptian crown; he bears a pear-headed mace and a reed in his hands and faces an anthropomorphic Horus who has one hand on the king’s shoulder and the other one on his left arm (in a similar posture is the goddess Seshat before Snefru in the Funerary Temple of the Rhomboidal Pyramid of Dahshur, cfr. A. Fakhry ‘The Monuments of Snofru … II. The Valley Temple pt. I’ 1961, fig. 84; Thomas Schneider in S.A.K. 24, 1997 fig. 5.1).
Above the two figures, facing the falcon-topped Serekh with Horus name, there’s another falcon and a short sentence: “Horus in the Hwt ‘Aa” (Great Temple of Heliopolis; see Kahl et al. ‘Die Inschriften der 3. Dynastie’,165 and Fischer, Orientalia 61,143).
The material used is limestone and the figuration is plainly eroded but the lines’ sure touch (Horus’ face, the king’s body, the hieroglyphs) is evident, showing a slight progress compared with the mentioned limestone stela fragment of the Turin Museum from Gebelein (dated to the 2nd-3rd Dyn. see Smith ‘A History of Sculpture and Painting in … 1946).
For the stela of the Louvre: Vandier, in: C.R.A.I.B.L. 1968 p. 16-22; Ziegler ‘Catalogue des stèles, peintures et reliefs égyptiens de l’ Ancien Empire et de la Première Période Intermédiare - Musée du Louvre’ 1990 p. 56; Blumenthal, in: ZAS 130, 2003, 1ff. (excursus p. 25-26).

Lacking the evidence for a Horus name of the predecessor of Qa Hedjet, Neferkara, it could be hypothized that these names belonged to the same sovereign; the few traces they left make it possible that both these kings could have been immediate predecessors of Huni.
Worthy of note is that in the 3rd Dyn. corpus of inscriptions (Kahl et al. 1995, following D. Wildung ‘Die Rolle..’ 1969 p. 101 n.4) ‘Qa Hedjet’ is considered the Horus name of Huni: in fact this latter king’s Horus name has never been found, therfore this could even be correct; but the fortuitous and meagre attestation of these kings’ monuments and names lead us to think that the Third Dynasty sequence could consist, even more than in the Second Dynasty, of various further kings of whom nothing has remained (Nabil Swelim numbers 9 kings in Dynasty 3).
Kahl in ‘S.A.H.’(1994) p. 7-10 had positioned Qa Hedjet after Huni (according to him the dynasty was closed by the mysterious ‘Ba’ whom Helck placed at the end of the First Dynasty after Qa’a and Sneferka).
Peter Kaplony (‘Rollsiegel A.R.’ I Mon. Aeg. 2, 1977 p. 155 n.271) thought this stela (and king) belonged to the Ist Intermediate Period.
Also a middle 4th Dynasty date has been proposed for this stela.

The fact that this name is still unattested at Elephantine could be either a clue that his reign was a very short one or that he was known with the cartouche name of Huni (Njsut Hw) or that of Nebka; it is also possible that he was a known late 3rd Dyn. ruler who changed his Horus name (cf. the unfinished excavation of Zawiyet el-Aryan North with an inscription “Neb-Hedjet”). …

  Via Qa Hedjet / Ka Hedjet / Kaj Hedjet

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