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Volume 16 issue 5 April 2016





This month NETFISHING continues its look at the history of Egypt by seeing what the World Wide Web has to say about the rest of the kings of the Sixth Dynasty.


Upon the death of Pepy I his son MERENRA I, by Queen Ankhnesmeryra I, succeeded him to the throne. Merenra I only had a short reign of some six years according to the Turin Canon, and although Manetho states that Merenra I ruled for seven years, this appears to be incorrect, as Pepy II, another son of Pepy I, came to the throne at the age of six and so his elder half-brother, Merenra I, cannot have ruled for more than six years. Much of the reign of Merenra I appears to have been devoted to developing relations with Nubia. The Nomarch and ‘caravan leader’ of Elephantine, Harkhuf, led three expeditions into Nubia and the lands of Yam during his reign, to acquire precious goods from Africa. On the third expedition Harkhuf discovered that the Princes of Yam were engaged in military campaigns against the Libyans, and so he allied himself to the forces of Yam, gaining much support for Egypt in the process. King Merenra I himself travelled to Elephantine in the last year of his reign to receive the homage of the Nubian Chiefs. He was buried in his pyramid The Perfection of Merenra Rises at Saqqara. Refer:









Upon the death of Merenra, PEPY II took the throne, being the son of Pepy I and Queen Ankhnesmeryra II (also called Ankhnespepy II). As he assumed the throne aged just six, his mother acted as his regent during the early years of his reign. A beautiful alabaster statue of the pair, with the King seated on the Queen’s lap is on display in the Brooklyn Museum, New York. At the age of twelve the king was very excited to hear that the Nomarch Harkhuf had captured a pygmy in deepest Nubia and wrote a letter of instruction to his Nomarch, commanding that the pygmy be brought safely to Memphis so that it could dance in the temples before the gods. Harkhuf was so amused with the letter that he inscribed it upon the walls of his tomb at Aswan, but nevertheless he brought the pygmy safely to the royal court for the king. Pepy II had five royal wives: his two half-sisters Neith (A) and Iput II, and Queen Udjebten and Queens Ankhnespepy III and Ankhnespepy IV.


Pepy II is credited with the longest reign in Egyptian history, ruling for more than ninety years according to the Turin Canon, whilst Manetho states his reign lasted for ninety-four years. A reign of sixty-four years seems more probable, however, as the numbers sixty-four and ninety-four are very similar when written in cursive hieratic. The higher number may simply be a misreading by the Egyptian scribes who informed Herodotus. Even so, during Pepy II’s long reign it is evident that the Nomarchs (the governors of the provinces of Egypt) began to see themselves as independent from the monarchy and, as power devolved to them, they began to build their tombs no longer in the shadow of their king’s pyramid, but rather in the lands they themselves were governing. Pepy II was eventually buried in his pyramid at South Saqqara called The Life of Neferkara (Pepy II) Endures’ Refer:










Due to his long reign, many of the sons of Pepy II appear to have predeceased their father, leaving ‘The elder king’s son Nemtyemsaf ’ to inherit the throne. This Nemtyemsaf II is more generally known by his throne name of MERENRA II, but because his father lived to such a great age he inherited the throne late in life and so had only a short reign of just over one year. Little is known of his reign, although it is clear that the Nomarchs were in effective control of the country and they showed little allegiance to the king so far away in Memphis. Refer:





Upon the death of Merenra II history (Manetho and Herodotus) records that Egypt was ruled by a Queen at the end of the Old Kingdom. The ‘story’ asserts that a Queen NITIQRET (Nitocris) ruled Egypt after her husband (Merenra II?) was murdered. The nobility who had killed her husband treated the Queen as a puppet ruler but she got her revenge on them by drowning them after getting them drunk at a sumptuous banquet. The Queen, having achieved her aim, no longer wished to live and so committed suicide. It is a beautiful story, but is it true?








More recent research has suggested that the last king of the Old Kingdom was actually one Netjerkare Siptah whose name was corrupted to read Nitocris. The matter is by no means accepted by all Egyptologists. Refer:





Victor Blunden

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