The Second Dynasty of ancient Egypt (or Dynasty II, c. 2890 – c. 2686 BC) is the latter of the two dynasties of the Egyptian Archaic Period, when the seat of government was centred at Thinis. It is most known for its last ruler, Khasekhemwy, but is otherwise one of the most obscure periods in Egyptian history.
For the first five pharaohs, sources are fairly close in agreement:
Manetho's list of rulers is at odds with those usually given by Egyptologists:
With the last ruler, the sources return to an agreement:
Manetho states Thinis was the capital, as in the First Dynasty. But the first three kings were buried at Saqqara, suggesting the center of power had moved to Memphis. Beyond this, little can be said about the events during this period as the annual records on the Palermo stone only survive to the end of the reign of Nebra and for parts of Nynetjer's. One important event possibly happened during the reign of Khasekhemwy.[which?] Many Egyptologists read his name, Khasekhemwy, as "the Two Powers arise". This might commemorate the union of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Whatever else was taking place at the court of the Second Dynasty of kings, it is clear that the fundamental institutions of pharaonic government, its systems of supply, not only survived throughout that century and a half, but flourished to the extent that, when the kings emerge into the light of history again with the pyramid builders of the Third Dynasty, the state on the lower Nile was more efficient than it had ever been: that there was, therefore, strong institutional continuity.
There is much less evidence for the kings of the 2nd Dynasty than those of the 1st Dynasty until the last two reigns (Peribsen and Khasekhemwy). Given what is known about the early Old Kingdom in the 3rd Dynasty, the 2nd Dynasty must have been a time when the economic and political foundations were put in place for the strongly centralized state, which developed with truly vast resources. Such a major transition, however, cannot be demonstrated from the archaeological evidence for the 2nd Dynasty.