Tuesday, November 13, 2007

7th and 8th Dynasties

This was a very troubled time. There was a breakdown of centralized government, with many kings having overlapping reigns. Montuhotep established order from his capital at Thebes.

Dynasty 7
2150 - 2134

During this period chaos ruled the country and civil disorder split the nation into different centres of power. Thus the names of the pharaohs can be many since at times three had their reign simultaneously. The Turin Canon has few entries and notes this was 955 years after the unification by king Menes, a mythical event that in that case happened around 3150 BC.

Manetho uses a metaphor: "70 kings ruled for 70 days". The Abydos list has 17 kings (below) for dynasties 7-8. Other minor sources have given the names: Menkamin I/II, Neferkare V/VI, Ibi I, Sekhemkare, Iti, Imhotep, Isu and Iytenu. No one of these has been attested for by archaeological remains of subsance.

Neterkare & Menkare

These two kings are the first to be named at the Abydos list after the break down of dynasty 6. Manetho says that Nitokris (last of dynasty six) built the "third pyramid" probably meaning at Giza confused by Menkaure of the fourth dynasty. It's possible that Nitokris' throne name was Men-ka-re. No physical evidence has been found of Neter-ka-re and the duration of his reign is not known.

Neferkare II & Neferkare III Nebi

NEFERKARE II ("Beautiful is the Ka (soul) of Re") is from the Abydos list solely. The common name might be an entry for another better-known ruler. No remains from him have been found. Neferkare NEBI ("The protector") was a son of King Pepi II. He is present in the Abydos list and twice mentioned in the tomb of his mother - queen Ankhesenpepi II. No remains from him have been found.

from the Abydos only comes Djedkare SHEMU ("Permanent is Ka (soul) of Re) and his birth name Shemu (or Shemai) possibly "nomad", shown by the hieroglyph of a man with a stick over his shoulder. No remains have been found that have confirmed this pharaoh. Neferkare KHENDU ("striding") is known only from the Abydos list. No remains from his reign have been found.

Merenhor is in cartouche forty-six on the wall in Abydos and doesn't have solar god Re in his throne name. His name (from bottom): water waves, a mouth, a hoe and the old falcon god Hor (Horus). SNEFERKA comes only from the Abydos list cartouche number 47. His name doesn't contain a god and can possibly be read: The beautiful Ka (soul). No remains have been found from these kings.

Nekare & Neferka Tereru

Abydos list number forty-eight notes NEKARE. He's not known from elesewhere and no remains have been found from him. Neferka TERERU is in position number forty-nine from the Abydos list. His personal name TERERU (or possibly Tererl), are the four hieroglyphs starting at the bottom and the meaning is possibly: "Respected by". No remains from these two kings have been found so far.

This king ruled in the break between the seventh and eighth dynasty and he obviously praised the old falcon god Hor(us). The parts tell that "the Ka (soul) of Horus is beautiful" instead of solar god Re. Horus from the Upper Egypt was the older of the two and represented pharaoh himself but since dynasty four Re (as a sun disk) had been within the cartouches marking the king's title as "Son of Re". Neferkahor and a few other rulers of this period temporarily broke this tradition. No remains of his have been found.

Dynasty 8
2150 - 2134 BC

By this time Egypt had been divided into at least three parts. The capital Memphis had no longer power over Upper Egypt (Herakleopolis) and parts of the delta. Aboute a dozen kings from Memphis are known, just by their names at the Abydos list and have left no traces from their reigns. From what's possibly dynasty 8 and onwards the Turin Canon hastwo notations similar to the Abydos list. The colour of the numbers below indicate where the entry comes from. The Abydos list only (blue numbers) or from the Turin Canon as well (black).

1. NeferkarePepisneb.
2. Sneferka-re Annu.
3. --- iw-kaure.
4. Nefer-kaure.
5. Nefer-kauhor.
6. Neferer-kare II.


King Wadjkare (meaning: "Prosperous is the Soul of Re") is known from a written remain from his exemption decree with a cartouche containing his throne name. A very long birth name (Demedjibtawy) has by some been considered his, and others claim that he (Wadjkare) actually was a king from dynasty nine. His residence was probably located in the capital Memphis and he is one of few kings from this time who have left archaeological remnants confirming his existence.

The ruler is confirmed by the Turin Canon and the Table of Abydos, plus a quite substantial amount of graffiti in a remote place called Tomas in Nubia. Nothing about his deeds during his short reign (possibly just a few years) is known. His throne name as pharaoh: Qakare Ibi means, "Strong is the Soul of Re" (in picture left) and his birth name was the shorter Ibi (picture right). He built a small pyramid located at South Sakkara, near the same type of monument from Pepi II. It was the last to be built on this classical burial ground. It was investigated in the early 1800s by the German Egyptologist Lepsius who found it to be a true pyramid though it by then looked more like a mastaba in its ruined state. The identification of the builder has been made through reading hieroglyphic writings on the walls in the grave chamber, the latest so called "pyramid texts" known. Today they are protected by constructions made of concrete within the monument, which is just a three metre high pile of rubble.

The pyramid of king Ibi is of a modest size compared to the monuments from the pyramid era.An entrance from the north side leads to the (red) burial chamber and the serdab - side chamber, (green).A small mortuary temple was builtat the east side.

Today the pyramid of king Ibi is hardly recognizable as a monument and a pile of stone rubble is all there is left.

The whole complex was not oriented in the cardinal directions (see picture above) and the mortuary temple was built of bricks and hardly more elaborated in size than a small chapel. No causeway has been detected leading from it and there possibly never was one, and the same goes for a valley temple. The measures of the pyramid are roughly estimated but the sides are likely to have been 31,5 metres and the height of the building about 21 metres.

Dynasty 8 concluded the Old Kingdom and a period of social disorder followed. The Turin Canon notes eighteen kings from Herakleopolis, but does not divide them into two dynasties as Manetho does. This dusky era is called:

The First Intermediate Period

Dynasties 9 and 10.

c. 2134 - 1970 B.C.

Little is known about these two dynasties ruling simultaneously to dynasty 11.

The country was split into the North (Herakleopolis) and the South (Thebes) and for a short period the rulers from downstream seem to have control over the Nile Valley down to the Abydos area under one of their kings named Khety. The Theban dynasty seems to have been stable with half a dozen rulers known, but Herakleopolis saw about 18 kings, if the later list are correct.

After a state of war for almost a century one king from Thebes conquered the rest of the country. The Abydos list leaves out these two dynasties and beneath follows the entries from the Royal Canon of Turin which is damaged in this place. Probably all kings mentioned are from Herakleopolis.

Neferkare Khety, Senen..., (...), Meribre?, Shed...y, H...several kings named Kheti

Meri-Hathor (?)Merikare.

plus 9 other kings whose names are lost. Then follows a summation ending at 18 pharaohs. Other records give further names, probably none from Thebes. The division into dynasties is not from contemporary documents and the names in total is about 18 just as in the the Turin Canon.


Khety Akhtoy (five kings)

Neferkare Ankhtify



Neferkare(?)Akhtoy ?

Meryhathor (possible founder of dynasty X)

Wahkare Akhtoy

Iytjenu (mentioned as a dyn. X personal name from Sakkara) Difficult to place:


and a mysterious king from Middle Egypt called:


Obscure ruler with a big monument

The name of Pharaoh Khui means "Protector" (seen within a cartouche right) and has only has been attested for once and it's in connection with quite an object for an unstable period like this. He built (or at least started) a big pyramid at the otherwise unknown site of Dara located 30 km north of Asyut in Middle Egypt.

It was first investigated in the late 1940s and early 1950s by the French Egyptologists Raymond Weill. Its construction (remains) makes it doubtful whether it was a pyramid or a stepped mastaba, because the mud brick super- structure has sloping sides and is built in steps, a type of con- struction leaving both alternatives possible. Thus different opinions of its original/intended looks has been put forward. Its plan was almost square, with a base side of impressive 130 metres, making it truly a great pyramid/mastaba just about the size of king Djoser's Step Pyramid. An exclusive architectural detail was found - the corners were rounded, a rare feature in the Egyptian design of tombs and buildings in general. Today (2005) it's in a ruined state and it's difficult to say whether it was dismantled after once being finished, or if it was finished at all. The outer walls reach about four metres above the surrounding desert and more investigations are needed to get a grip of this unusual monument. A writing of its plan is shown below.

When the grave chamber was entered nothing at all was found in it. What makes Khui to be the supposed builder is an inscription on a block of stone that possibly once was a part of the pyramid. It was found in a tomb just to the south and had an offering scene in relief carved in to it, plus his name written within a car- touche. This is up to now the only evidence telling that a ruler bearing this name has ever existed.

The entrance corridor from the north side is at first horizontal and open and then becomes a descending vaulted tunnel ending at a single burial chamber at a level of about 9 metres below ground surface. It is lined with roughly hewn limestone, probably taken from dynasty 6 tombs in the neighbourhood. The outer structure on the other hand, is made purely of mud bricks and the sloping sides are still visible. It may have been intended to make a casing of stone. The material making the inner core was obviously just filling of gravel and sand indicating that the owner, despite the great size of his tomb, was a ruler of limited means.

What seems to have been a mortuary temple has also been detected, but its general plan can't be determined. It consists of the outer part of massive mud brick masonry with a length of about 35 meters. Khui may have been a local ruler and the site is placed midway between the two centres at the time - Herakleopolis in the north and Thebes in the south. Regrettably there are few published illustrations/photos of the monument, at least on the Internet.


1 comment:

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