The age of the Pyramids
It should be noted that resources on Userkaf are rather confusing. Some allow Neferhetep to be his wife, rather then mother, while others even ascribe to Khentkaues I being his mother, rather then his wife. However, the majority seem to suggest the relationships as first set out above.
He is given credit for establishing Egypt's first contact with the Aegean world. An inscribed stone vessel from his mortuary temple was found on Kythera. Apparently later kings of this dynasty would continue the Aegean relationship.
Sahure was the second ruler of ancient Egypt's 5th Dynasty. His birth name means "He who is Close to Re". His Horus name was Nebkhau, and we believed he ruled Egypt from around 2487 to 2475 BC. The Turin King List gives him a reign of twelve years.
His pyramid complex was the first built at Abusir (though Userkaf had probably already built his solar temple there) and marks the decline of pyramid building, both in the size and quality, though many of the reliefs are very well done. It provides us most of the information we know of this king. We believer that he was the first of two sons of queen Khentkaues I to hold the throne, and that his father was probably Userkaf. It is probable that Khentkaues I was the character of Redjedet in the Papyrus Westcar, who according to the magician Djedi, was destined to give birth to the children of Ra and the first kings of the 5th Dynasty. But if Khentkaues I was his mother, a scene in her tomb at Giza showing her with the royal uraeus and beard might indicate that she may have acted as a regent for Sahure.
Most foreign relations during the reign of Sahure were economic, rather then combative. In one scene, we find great ships with Egyptians and Asiatics on board. They are returning, we believe, from the port of Byblos in Lebanon with huge cedar trees. For this, we have collaborating evidence in the form of his name on a piece of thin, gold stamped to a chair, as well as other evidence of 5th Dynasty king's cartouches found in Lebanon on stone vessels. Other scenes in his temple depict what we are told are Syrian bears. We also have the first documented expedition to the land of Punt, which apparently yielded a quantity of myrrh, along with malachite and electrum, and because of this, Sahure is often credited with establishing an Egyptian navy. There is also scenes of a raid into Libya which yielded various livestock and showed the king smiting the local chieftains. The Palermo Stone also collaborates some of these events.
However, this same scene of the Libya attack was used two thousand years later in the mortuary temple of Pepy II and in a Kawa temple of Taharqa. The same names are quoted for the local chieftain. Therefore, we become somewhat suspicious of the possibility that Sahure was also copying an even earlier representation of this scene.
He apparently built a sun temple, as did most of the 5th Dynasty kings. Its name was Sekhet-re, meaning "the Field of Re", but so far its location is unknown. We know of his palace, called Uetjesneferusahure "Sahure's splendor sours up to heaven", from an inscription on ordinary tallow containers recently found in Neferefre's mortuary temple. It may have been located at Abusir as well. We also know that under Sahure, the turquoise quarries in the Sinai were worked (Probably at Wadi Maghara and Wadi Kharit, along with the diorite quarries in Nubia.
Sahure was further attested to by a statue now located in New York's Museum of Modern Art, in a biography found in the tombs of Perisen at Saqqara and on a false door of Niankhsakhment at Saqqara, and is also mentioned in the tombs of Sekhemkare and Nisutpunetjer at their tombs in Giza.
Neferefre, A King of the Fifth Dynasty:
There are some real problems concerning the kings list after Neferirkare. Most references today place an almost unknown king, Shepseskare next in line, but those same references will also often point out that he could have come after Neferefre's rule, who we are almost certain was a prominent son of Neferirkare. We are fairly certain of this from a block found near Abusir depicting Neferirkare, his wife Khentkaus II and a young son who we interpret to be Neferefre, though on the block his name is spelled somewhat differently. We are really unsure of Shepseskare's parentage.
The real problem is that it appears that after Neferirkare's death, his consort Khentkaus II acted as regent for a young king for a time and some believe that she may have even ruled Egypt alone for a short period. Yet the body we believe to be Neferefre, parts of which were found in his pyramid at Abusir, has been analyzed and a determination made that the young man died between the age of 20-23. Since we believe he only ruled for no more then three years and possibly only two, it seems strange that he would need a real regent acting on his behalf. If Neferefre did rule just after Neferirkare, then some of the evidence simply doesn't fit.
But again, most historians place Shepseskare, though tentatively, as ruler before Neferefre. The only scenario that fits most of the various evidence is that Shepseskare may have been an older brother, but not by very much, but this still does not explain Neferefre's sole presence in the pictured in the block with his mother and father.
In the block, the young son is referred to as Neferre, which means "Re is beautiful", but he probably later changed his name to Neferefre which means, "Re is his beauty" He is possibly also referred to as Reneferef or Raneferef, and his nomen was probably Izi, or Isi. Various references provide somewhat radical differences in the dates of his reign, with it beginning as early as 2419 or as late as 2460, with perhaps a two or no more then three year duration. However, the Chronicle of the Pharaohs by Peter A. Clayton gives his reign seven years.
We are told that he built a solar temple named Hetep-Re, which has never been discovered, but we are also told that he died, apparently suddenly, before the first level of core could be completed at his pyramid and mortuary complex at Abusir. Only recently has this pyramid complex, known for many years as simply the "Unfinished Pyramid", been fully recognized as belonging to the young king.
Seals of Neferefre
An examination of the Pyramid of Neferefre, long known as the Unfinished Pyramid in the pyramid field at Abusir, gives us considerable insight on how Egyptologists gather evidence in order to sort out Egyptian history. This pyramid was known named The Pyramid which is divine of the Ba spirits Divine is Neferefre's power
This pyramid was examined by a number of early explorers, including Perring, Lepsius, de Morgan, Borchardt and others. While some of these thought it might be Neferefre's pyramid, others attributed it to Shepseskare. Others hesitated to make any identification of its owner. None of them thought that the intended owner's mummy occupied the unfinished pyramid. Actually, the pyramid looked much like a mastaba tomb, but it was square and not rectangular nor north-south oriented like mastabas. Indeed, because of its truncated shape, what had been planned as a pyramid became a bench-like structure which later priests called 'the primeval hill', a place of eternal birth, of life and resurrection.Ludwig Borchardt, an experienced archaeologist and expert on pyramids, actually came within inches of discovering the true nature of the Unfinished Pyramid at the beginning of the 20th century. Wishing not to completely ignore the ruins on the western margin of the Abusir cemetery, he carried out trial diggings. He decided to dig a trench several meters down in a deep open ditch that ran from the north into the center of the monument. Here, in the case of a finished tomb, it would be natural to assume the existence of a passage leading to a burial chamber. However, he did not reach the passage or its remains, and this negative result confirmed to him the belief that this was a rough, unfinished structure consisting of no more than the lowest step of a pyramid core, with work never having started on substructure.
Niuserre, the 6th Ruler of the 5th Dynasty:
Niuserre (or Nyuserra, meaning "Possessed of Re's Power") was the sixth king of the 5th Dynasty. His throne name was Izi (or Isi, Ini, Iny). His Horus name was probably Setibtawy. We are not very sure how long he ruled Egypt because the Turin King list is somewhat damaged where this pharaoh is listed. We know that he ruled for at least 10 years, but Manetho's 44 years for his reign is considered unreliable. A reference to a Sed festival in his solar temple at Abu Gurab (named shesepu-ib-re) may, however, give him a reign of at least 30 years. Modern Egyptologists disagree on the dates of his reign as well as the length. For example, Peter A. Clayton gives him a reign from 2453-2422 BC, while Dodson says he reigned between 2432-2421. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt gives his reign as 2445-2421.
Niuserre most likely succeeded his older brother, Neferefre, as Egypt's ruler. His mother and father were probably Neferirkare and Queen Khentkaus II, and from a fragment of a statue in his valley temple, we believe that he was married to Reput-Nebu.
We know he was active in the Sinai, though an inscription found there of him smiting his enemies may be largely symbolic. He may have also participated in military campaigns against Libyans. He probably had copper and turquoise mined at Magharah in the Sinai, as did other kings of this period. There is also evidence that he probably traded with Punt for for malachite, myrrh, and electrum (a gold and silver alloy), as did Sahure before him.A duel statue showing a young, and old Niuserre
He constructed a pyramid, mortuary complex and valley temple at Abusir, as well as his solar temple a kilometer or so north of Abusir at Abu Gurab. his solar temple is one of the biggest and most complete in Egypt, as well as the only one completely constructed with stone. It contains many fine reliefs, including depictions of his Sed Festival and the world being created by the solar god. Further scenes depict representations of the seasons and the provinces of Egypt. It is probably that during his rule the solar cult was at its summit.
View of Niuserre's Solar Temple
Niuserre's reign seems to have been a profitable time for at least high officials. Some of their tombs, such as that of Ty at Saqqara and Ptahshepses at Abusir who we believe were from the reign of Niuserre, or some of the largest and best decorated in the Old Kingdom.
Niuserre is also attested by a Faience plague found at the Satis temple on Elephantine, and other objects found at Byblos. There are also indications of his quarrying activities north of Abu Simbel at Gebel el-Asr Gneiss Quarries, where there was found a fragment of a 5th Dynasty stele bearing his name and cartouche.
Seals of Niuerre
King Menkauhor, the 7th Ruler of Egypt's 5th Dynasty:
Other spellings: Menkauhor Kaiu; Menkeris
Menkauhor was probably the seventh ruler of Egypt's 5th Dynasty. Menkauhor was this king's throne name, which means "Eternal are the Souls of Re". His birth name was Kalu. However, he is probably the least well attested ruler of this dynasty and can be counted among the least attested kings of any non intermediate period.
The relationship of Menkauhor with his predecessors or successors is not known. However, it is likely that he was either the brother or son of Niuserre, his predecessor. If he was Niuserre's son, it would probably have been by Niuserre's chief queen, Neput-Nebu. It is also likely that he was the father of Djedkare, who followed him to the throne. If not, he was almost certainly Djedkare's brother, with Niuserre being both king's father, or Djedkare's cousin, with Djedkare being the son of Neferefre, and Menkauhor being the son of Niuserre.
According to the Turin King-list he ruled for some eight years. References fairly consistently give his reign as lasting from about 2421 or 2422 until 2414.
His solar-temple, called Akhet-Re, and his pyramid are mentioned in texts from private tombs. This dynasty was famous for their solar temples, and Menkauhor's temple is probably located at either Abusir or Saqqara. It would have probably been the last such temple built, however, because his successors appear to have drifted away somewhat from the solar cult.
Menkauhor's pyramid has not been positively identified, but if the assumption that his pyramid is to be located at Dashur is correct, this would imply a departure from Abusir. However, some Egyptologists seem to strongly believe that his pyramid is the "Headless Pyramid", located in North Saqqara east of Teti's complex. There is mounting evidence to support this conclusion. B. G. Ockinga, for example argues that during the 18th Dynasty the Teti complex may have been associated with a cult belonging to a deified Menkauhor. Wherever it is located, his pyramid was called "Divine are the (cult) places of Menkauhor".
His reign is attested by an inscription in the Sinai at Magharah, indicating that he continued to quarry stone in that location as did his predecessors and successors. Given the lack of information on this king, we can also probably make some assumptions based on the activities of those predecessors and successors. For example, while he have no inscriptions as evidence, both Niuserre and Djedkare quarried stone northwest of Aswan, so it is likely that Menkauhor did as well. It is also highly likely that he continued commercial and diplomatic relations with Byblos, as did both Niuserre and Djedkare, and in fact we do find a few objects in the area near Dorak bearing his name. It is also likely that he had some sort of dealings with Nubia, but whether he sent expeditions to Punt, as did Niuserre and Djedkare, is unknown.
A seal from Abydos
Otherwise, Menkauhor is also attested to by a small alabaster statue that is now located in the Egyptian museum in Cairo and by a relief of Tjutju adoring King Menkauhor and other divinities. This relief, owned by the Louvre, has been on loan to the Cleveland Museum of Art. We also have a seal bearing his name that was found at Abusir.
Djedkare, 8th Ruler of the 5th Dynasty:
Other spellings: Djedkare Isesi; Izezi; Tankeris.
Djedkare was the eighth ruler of Egypt's 5th Dynasty. The relationship of Djedkare with his predecessors or successors is not entirely known, but he was probably the son of Menkauhor, his predecessor. If not, then he may have been Menkauhor's brother by Niuserre, or even Menkauhor's cousin by Neferfre, though that seems unlikely. It is possible that his principle queen was Meresankh IV, but her tomb is located in the main Saqqara necropolis. A pyramid believed to be that of a queen or consort of Djedkare just next to that of his in South Saqqara has no inscriptions to provide us with evidence of her name. According to an Abusir Papyrus, Djedkare perhaps lived in South Saqqara near his pyramid.
According to the Turin King List he ruled for 28 years, but records found in the mortuary temple of Neferefre at Abusir indicate that he ruled for at least 30 years. Actually, the dates on the Turin King List have been read by some Egyptologists as giving him a reign of 38 years. Manetho records 44 years for this king, but the mummy found in his pyramid at South Saqqara and believed to be Djedkare is thought to be that of about a 50 year old man. Given this king's apparently long reign, it is surprising we have so little information about him.
Egyptologists give us some variations of possible dates for his rule. Peter A. Clayton in "Chronicle of the Pharaohs" gives his reign as 2414-2375 BC. While Aidan Dodson's "Monarchs of the Nile" provides dates from 2413-2385. The "Oxford History of Ancient Egypt" agrees with Peter A. Clayton's assessment.
Seals referencing Djedkare
Djed-ka-re was the king's throne name, meaning "Soul of Re Endureth". His birth name was Isesi (Asosi). He distanced himself somewhat from the earlier rulers of this dynasty by not building a sun temple and having himself buried at Saqqara rather then Abusir.
Djedkare's name has been found in the Sinai at Maghara, demonstrating a continued Egyptian interest in this rich region. Two expeditions at ten year intervals are recorded there. We also find him mentioned at the quarries northwest of Aswan, and at Abydos and in Nubia. In Nubia, we find his expedition to Punt mentioned in a graffito found at the site of Tomas. He apparently also maintained commercial and diplomatic contacts with Byblos.
He is further attested to in the biographies of Itush at and also Gemni at Saqqara. He his mentioned in a number of letters including one from Pepy II. We find references on vessels mentioning his first Sed Festival and he is also referenced on a dedication inscription to Niuserre found at Abusir.
We know of a few officials of his reign, including Ptahhotep, one of his viziers. However, this is probably not the famous author of the Maxims, but either his father or grandfather.
His reign is marked by some important changes. For example, the solar cult, although not abandoned, loses some of its importance and predominance, and the power of the central government is weakened to the advantage of the provincial administration. Another important change that occurred during Djedkare's reign is the return to Saqqara as a burial place. This does not mean, however, that the funerary temples of Abusir were abandoned. The larger part of the papyri found in the funerary temple of Neferirkare are dated to Djedkare, and it is clear that he did much work maintaining the Abusir area.
Unas, Last Ruler of the Fifth Dynasty:
Other spelling: Wenis.
Unas was the last king of the 5th Dynasty, and what some believe to be the end of the golden age of the Old Kingdom. The 6th Dynasty would finally be the end of Egypt's grand beginning, as the country would then slip into the troubling First intermediate Period.
Unas had a long rule, but is not well attested and we really know very little about this king despite his fairly well preserved funerary complex at the southwest corner of the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara. Unas was his Birth Name, but he is also referred to as Unis, Ounas and Wenis. His Horus name was Wadj-tawy which means "Horus, the flourishing one of the Two Lands". He probably ruled Egypt between 2375 and 2345 BC and may have been married to two queens named Khenut and Nebit. They were buried in mastaba tombs near Unas' pyramid complex.
We find scenes from his causeway that links his mortuary temple and valley temple depicting the moving by barge of granite columns from the quarries at Aswan to his mortuary temple, but we also find scenes of emaciated people. These latter scenes may show the effects of a famine that might have been the cause of the political decline that ended the Old Kingdom. There are also scenes of Asiatic traders arriving in Egypt by boat, perhaps from Byblos, as well as scenes of markets, hunting in the desert and a small vignette of desert life. We believe that Unas probably pursued a policy of diplomatic contact both with Byblos and Nubia. He also apparently was also responsible for building activities at Elephantine near modern Aswan, as well as Saqqara. At Elephantine, an inscription also shows a giraffe and other exotic animals that were apparently bought to Egypt during his reign. Another drawing found on a discovered vase shows battle scenes during his reign.
Scenes of Emaciated People Possibly Suffering from Famine
Scenes of Exotic Animials
Significantly, while Unas' pyramid is the smallest of the royal pyramids build during the Old Kingdom, it was the first that we know of to have its internal walls inscribed with the various (128) spells making up the Pyramid Text. The texts, meant to aid the pharaoh's soul on its journey to the next world, would adorn the walls of many future pyramids and tombs and is the earliest large religious composition known from ancient Egypt. Unas' pyramid also established the typical plan of the internal chambers for pyramids that would be used through the end of the 6th Dynasty.
In death, King Unas is identified with the gods Ra and Osiris, and referred to as Osiris Unas. E. A. Wallis Budge, in his "The Gods of the Egyptians", also tells us that he was called Unas, the Slayer and Eater of Gods. He was apparently worshipped around Saqqara for many years after his death. Osiris was originally a local deity of the Eastern delta, but sometime around the reign of Unas his worship became much more widespread. We believe Maspero discovered parts of Unas' mummy in 1880, which are now in the Cairo Museum.
We do not believe Unas left an heir, though he may have one time had a son named Ptahshepses, and therefore there was a short period of political instability prior to Teti, the first ruler of the 6th Dynasty, ascent to the throne. Teti's wife, Iput, was possibly a daughter of Unas, and his vizier Kagemni probably also worked under Unas. Furthermore, a pink granite gateway in Unas' mortuary temple bears the inscription of the names and titles of Teti, indicating that part of the temple was completed after Unas's death. This evidence suggests that there may not have been a true break between the 5th and 6th Dynasties.