April 5, 2012

Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs in 6th Dynasty 2345-2181 BC

Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs Dynasty 6

Pepi I (Meryre) : 2332 - 2283 BC
Merenre (Nemtyemsaf) 2283 - 2278 BC
Pepi II (Neferkare) 2278 - 2184 BC

Pepi I Pharaoh
Teti's son Pepi I probably acceded to the throne very young, for he appears to have had a long reign of about 50 years. A number of inscriptions from the period record the rising influence and wealth under Pepi I of nobles outside the royal court; these nobles began to build fine tombs for themselves in the provincial areas of Upper Egypt and boasted of privileges resulting from friendship with the king. The king also faced other problems, not least a conspiracy plotted against him by one of his queens, Weret-lmtes; but the plan was thwarted and the wife punished. Despite such difficulties, the king evidently mounted various trading expeditions, often to fetch fine stone for the many building projects he initiated. An inscription found in the alabaster quarries at Hatnub in Middle Egypt has been dated to Year 50 of his reign since it refers to the 25th cattle-count, which was a biennial event.

It is from Pepi's funerary monument that the modern name of Memphis derives. His pyramid was called Mn-nfr, '[Pepi is] established and good', and it was the corruption of this title by classical writers that gave the present name. The pyramid itself, at South Saqqara, is badly smashed although surviving fragments of texts from the collapsed burial chamber are of very high quality.

From the temple of Hierakonpolis (Nekhen) in Upper Egypt come two remarkable copper statues, the earliest known life-size sculptures in that metal. The larger is a standing, striding figure of Pepi I, holding a long staff in his left hand, while the smaller is his son, Merenre, beside his right leg. A better idea of Pepi's features is given by a small green slate statue of the king wearing the royal nemes headdress, while another small alabaster statuette of the king shows him holding the royal emblems of crossed flail and sceptre (crook), and wearing the tall White Crown of Upper Egypt (pp. 64, 65).


Pepi I married the two daughters of a provincial prince of Abydos named Khui; confusingly, the ladies both had the same name, Ankhnesneferibre. One became the mother of Merenre and the other bore Pepi II.

Merenre succeeded his father for only a short reign of some five years, after which his brother Neferkare Pepi II came to the throne. Although only six years old when he succeeded his brother, Pepi II, as with any royal child, was acknowledged as ruler from birth. Indeed, an attractive alabaster seated statuette of his mother, Ankhnesneferibre, shows him on her lap as a small adult male wearing the royal nemes headdress; another represents the king as a young naked child, squatting with his hands on his knees and wearing the uiaeus on his headdress.

Pepi II married several times, principally to Neith - daughter of his father Pepi I and Ankhnesneferibre I (i.e. his half-sister and cousin) - and to his niece Ipwet, daughter of his brother Merenre; there were at least two other senior queens too. His reign was the longest in Egyptian history (if we accept that the scribe recording details of his rule did not confuse the numbers 64 and 94, which are very similar in cursive hieratic script), and this longevity was probably partly responsible for the declining power of the Egyptian state.

There is increasing evidence during this period of the decentralization of control away from Memphis. Local governors (nomarchs) cut huge and impressive decorated tombs for themselves in the provinces, and paid only a nodding allegiance to the northern capital. The wealth that the king bestowed on his nobles not only depleted his own treasury but also enhanced their status to the detriment of his. At the same time, the heavy demands of Egypt's foreign interests further accelerated political collapse.

Some sources mention a successor to Pepi II, Merenre II (probably the son of Pepi II and Neith) and his successor Queen Nitocris, thought to be his wife. Manetho, for instance, describes Nitocris as 'braver than all the men of her time, the most beautiful of all the women, fair-skinned with red cheeks'. No archaeological evidence has been found of her reign, nor of Herodotus' story that she avenged the murder of her brother (?Teti I, since he was the murdered king) by tricking the perpetrators of this deed into drowning, before herself committing suicide.

At any rate, with the demise of the 6th Dynasty in about 2181 BC the Old Kingdom as such came to an end.

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