We had a little pause before writing about Pharaoh Aha for the simple reason Mummific had disappeared for several days.
I was just watching a funny movie when I heard the silent ”swoosh” that revealed Mr Mummific had come through the false door.
”Good evening!” I said politely, ”Haven’t seen you for a while.”
No response. I turned to see him. A very miserable looking little mummy in new bandages stood by the sofa. But it was Mr Mummific, that was certain. Ta Miu was roping around his ankles in an effort to make him feel better, meowing with a raspy voice.
”She caught me,” Mr Mummific said gloomily, ”And then she re-wrapped me…”
No need to ask who the ”She” was. The Mrs, obviously. Mr Mummific looked beaten - he did not even glance at the ”picture box” as he called the TV.
”Now look at me! Can you imagine how uncomfortable it is to walk this tightly bandaged?”
He took a few steps and looked like Boris Karloff - hands sticking out and feet barely bending.
”Ouch… Doesn’t look too comfy…”
”Would you re-wrap me more comfortably?” came the surprise question. I had to think of something, quickly.
”Erm… No, I don’t think that would be proper. And likely the bandages will loosen a bit the more you move. But would you tell me about Pharaoh Aha instead?”
I managed to get the sulking pharaoh to his chair by the computer. To make him feel better I gave him a notebook and a cheap marker. Reluctantly he took them, but just as I had suspected, after a few minutes he was doodling away hieroglyphs. He loved modern paper and pens.
”So, what can you tell me about Pharaoh Aha?” I asked once he seemed to be in a better mood.
”Let’s say he brought with him an angry bunch of dead people… And he is still running away from the lions. He is really an entertainment factor of his own - we gather on our porches when we hear he is coming in the area. Such fun to watch him run…”
”What are you talking about? What angry people? What lions?”
Mr Mummific sighed.
”Very well - let’s start from the beginning. Pharaoh Aha was born to Narmer and his Great Royal Wife Neithhotep and inherited the crowns. Because Narmer had had his share of fighting in unifying the land, he gave his son a name with meant the Fighting Hawk. Hor-Aha. When he became king, he chose a second name, or a nebti name, which was Men. This means ”established”. Probably because of this the first king of the First Dynasty was then remembered as Menes.”
”Oh, we jumped to the first Dynasty now. Why is there a Dynasty number 0?”
”Obviously the very latest historians believed Menes really was the first king, and started counting the Dynasties from him. First Dynasty, first king. Only later they found proof of even earlier kings, and number one was already in use, so they took the zero into use. So I have been told by the Egyptologists who visit the Duat.”
”They get to visit the Duat?”
”Of course - they have chosen to build their Afterlife right next to ours, so they could come and visit easily. Such fun listening to their efforts to explain our lives.”
Now this was food for thought. Also now I understood better how he spoke English so well. Reluctantly I returned to the king at hand.
”So Hor-Aha got a war-like name. There was fighting to fit the name?”
”There was. In and out of Kemet. Rebels in Nubia. The usual.” Mr Mummific dropped the marker in his lap and it made a mark on his bandages. ”Hmmm?” it did not take him two minutes to start drawing into his bandages. Very soon he looked like someone out of an ancient emergency room with a full-body cast and signatures all over him. I did not say to him this would probably cause another re-wrapping session with the Mrs. Some things are better left unsaid, especially if you want your walking history book to sit still and not run off and hide in your closet.
”He was very fond of the war goddess Neith, you know. Established a temple for her in Sais, in the delta area of the River… And he established Memphis, which became the capital of whole Kemet.”
”He did? How did he choose the location?” I wanted to know.
”Well it sure wasn’t because it was a good place to build. Because it wasn’t. He chose it for political reasons - easy to control the river traffic to and from the Delta. And easy for him to travel around the country, boat-wise. He had to make people divert the river to make land for his capital. And ever since then people had to keep an eye on the dam so the whole place would not have flooded and sailed into the Great Green.”
”Great Green? What’s that?”
”You call it the sea. A most unsavory place for decent people, I might add. Too much water.”
”Pharaoh Aha was a great story teller. He started the legend that when he was once hunting in the Fayum, he was threatened by wild dogs. Well, that part is true. But then he said he was saved by a crocodile sent by the god Sobek, and the crocodile took him to another shore. Seriously… If a crocodile gets you into the water, it is bye bye physical world. You leave it chunk by chunk, if you will. I think he is just trying to pretend he knows Sobek personally.”
”Ewww… Do you mind? Not very nice to listen to such details.”
”Why? Oh, well, yes, it is probably because you haven’t died yet. There’s nothing to it really, so the way you get to the other side isn’t all that important. Of course some folks always want to brag about the horrid ways…”
”Enough, thank you. So, he says the crocodile saved him. Then what?”
”Well, as a thank you, Pharaoh Aha established the city of Per Sobek - or House of Sobek in your language - in the area. Later on the Greek renamed it Crocodilopolis. But maybe he should have called it Per Taweret…”
”Why? House of Taweret? The hippopotamus goddess?”
”Yes. You see he ended his earthly journey in the River - he was dragged there by a hippopotamus. Maybe Taweret was jealous of the beautiful city of Sobek. You never know. Women… But seriously I think it was stupid for an old man to go hippo-hunting. If you have reigned for 62 years, as he claims to have done, your step is not likely to be very fast anymore.”
”All right… I have written all you have told me. But I still don’t get the angry people or the lions.”
”Isn’t that obvious? Pharaoh Aha was a god in his own mind and did not intend to do any work in the Duat either. So he ordered that when he died, thirty three of his officials and trusted servants had to follow him.”
”You mean he had them… killed?”
”Indeed he did. All were young people - not one was over the age of twenty five. They were buried around his main tomb at Abydos. You may guess they would have wanted to keep on living for good many years… Those days people believed there was no afterlife for anyone else but the king and maybe his closest servants, and that is why they agreed to being killed. So when the whole bunch appeared into the afterlife, and they learned they would have reached Duat in any case, never-ending quarrels began. They actually refused to serve the king for quite a while, and when they later resumed their duties, they let him know they did not like him, and only did it because it was the proper way of things. Later kings were wiser - they just had shawabtis in their tombs to serve them and do their jobs for them. A little magic goes a long way… No need for actual people to be killed for afterlife service.”
”And the lions?”
”Same thing. Seven male lions were killed and buried to accompany him. He just didn’t take into account that whatever you kill, you have a connection to in the afterlife. And so Pharaoh Aha cannot loose the lions when they chase him. He may escape for a while, but the lions know his whereabouts all the time and when they get bored, they search him out. And so Pharaoh Aha runs, chased by the lions - and the occasional official whom he had killed for the burial, who happens to be peeved at him at that specific moment. We have actually established a betting office just for his lion runs. You can bet on anything - how many lions chase him, how many officials and servants (and their names), do the lions catch him or not (there is a pattern there). Can he escape with his fleet - he did have twelve 30m boats buried for his afterlife, and he has placed these strategically in the Duat river- if he reaches the boat in time, the lions don’t catch him.”
”The lions actually catch him?”
”Sometimes, but Pharaoh Aha has strong protective amulets, so he still has his limbs in place - even if his servants have moved his boats away from where he left them. Luckily he has one person who holds no grudge against him, so his afterlife isn’t all running from angry people and animals. His Great Royal Wife Bener-Ib or ”sweetheart” in your language. They really loved and still love one another - she came form the same area as his mother Neithhotep. The mother actually had a say in the matter of her becoming his wife. She is a wise woman, Neithhotep is. One of Hor-Aha’s other wives, Khenthap, gave birth to his successor. She considered her duties done, and is one of the founding members of the Great Royal Wives’ Club. She doesn’t mind Bener-Ib having Hor-Aha all to herself and visits Hor-Aha maybe once in a hundred years and all are happy with the arrangement.”
Mr Mummific rose from his chair and turned around, revealing the part of the wrappings he had not reached with the marker.
”I think it is time to go home for a while. Have to change into something more comfortable. Come, Ta Miu.”
”See you soon!” I called over my shoulder, but he had already vanished in a faint swoosh through his false door.