Chaos and Rebirth
- The First Intermediate Period 2181-2040 BC
- The Middle Kingdom 2040-1782 BC
- The Second Intermediate Period 1782-1570 BC
|Dynasty 7 Ancient Egypt|
1 - The First Intermediate Period 2181-2040 BC
2181 - 2161 BC
Wadjkare and Qakare (Iby)
2160 - 2040 BC
Meryibre (Khety) - Merykare - Kaneferr and Nebkaure (Akhtoy)
With the death of Pepi II, central government broke down completely and the fragile unity that had held Egypt together during the Old Kingdom finally splintered. Papyri from the later Middle Kingdom emphasize the turmoil of the First Intermediate Period, for the country had indeed fallen into political and monarchical disorder.
Stela of the Nubian soldier Nenu Egypt (Jeblein),First Intermediate Period, 2250-2035 B.C.
Following the breakdown of the Memphite government, the provinces began to jockey for power, as nomarchs set themselves up as petty warlords. It was at this time that a ruling family from Herakleopolis emerged, the 9th Dynasty, founded perhaps by one Meryibre Khety. This dynasty may have held sway over the whole country for a while, but by the beginning of the second Heracleopolitan dynasty (10th Dynasty) some 30 years later, dual sovereignty had been established, with southern Egypt controlled by a rival family, the 11th Dynasty, at Thebes (p. 72).
The two Heracleopolitan dynasties were somewhat unstable and frequent changes of ruler took place. Manetho mentions the cruelty of a 9th Dynasty king named Achthoes, but goes on to describe how the gods exacted their revenge: the king was apparently driven mad and then eaten by a crocodile. The name of Meryibre Khety has been recorded and maintains the full titulary with the two cartouches; another documented name in a cartouche is that of a king called Merykare.
One of the most important of the few monuments from this war-torn period is the tomb of the nobleman Ankhtify, found at el-Moalla 20 miles (32 km) south of Thebes. He was no mean warrior and identifies himself as 'great chieftain' (presumably the nomarch) of the Heracleopolitan nome (el-Kab). In such troubled times as these, his power could have been god-like and his word law ('I am the beginning and the end of mankind for my equal has not and will not come into being'), but he could also be humane, as shown by one record of his feeding the famine-struck populace. Nevertheless, he did this at the behest of the king, Kaneferre, who was probably the third king of the 9th Dynasty.
The name of another king occurs in the well-known Middle Kingdom 'Tale of the Eloquent Peasant'. This peasant was robbed of his goods on the way to market by a local 'bully boy' landowner, and decided to take his case to the highest in the land. He pleaded his case 'in the reign of his late Majesty King Nebkaure' before the king himself, who was entranced by the humble peasant's eloquence, making him present the case time and again in order to enjoy listening to him. The king concerned was probably Nebkaure Akhtoy of the later 9th/10th Dynasty.
As the authority of the Heracleopolitan government grew, so too did that of the Theban dynasty. Increasing hostility between the two powers resulted in frequent clashes along the border (mostly north of Abydos), which only really abated when Egypt was reunified by one of the 11th Dynasty kings.