Sixth dynasty of Egypt


Sixth dynasty of Egypt

The Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the title "Old Kingdom".

Rulers

Known rulers of the Sixth Dynasty are as follows (the absolute dates given are suggestions rather than facts, as the error margin amounts to tens of years):

The Sixth Dynasty of Egypt is considered by many authorities as the last dynasty of the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt, although "The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt" [ Ian Shaw ed., "The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt", 2000] includes the Seventh and Eighth Dynasties as part of the Old Kingdom. Manetho writes that these kings ruled from Memphis, or Egyptian "Mennefer", taken from the name of the pyramid of Unas which was built nearby, and archeologists concur with him on this.

Teti

The Sixth Dynasty was founded by Teti, who had married Iput, commonly believed to be the daughter of King Unas of the Fifth Dynasty. Manetho claimed that Teti had been murdered by his bodyguard, but no contemporary sources confirm this. [Naguib Kanawati, "Conspiracies in the Egyptian Palace: Unis to Pepy I", Routledge 2003, p.157]

Pepi I

During this dynasty, expeditions were sent to Wadi Maghara in the Sinai to mine for turquoise and copper, as well as to the mines at Hatnub and Wadi Hammamat. Pharaoh Djedkara sent trade expeditions south to Punt and north to Byblos, and Pepy I sent expeditions not only to these locations, but also as far as Ebla.

Pepi II

Another notable member of this dynasty was Pepi II, who is credited with a reign of 94 years [Ian Shaw, "The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt", Oxford University Press 2000, p.116] , the longest in the history of ancient Egypt.

Nitiqret

Also known by the Greek name Nitocris, this woman is believed by some authorities to have been not only the first female ruler of Egypt, but the first in the world, although it is currently accepted that her name is actually a mistranslation of Neitiqerty Siptah.

The rise of the nobility

With the growing number of biographical inscriptions in non-royal tombs [J. H. Breasted, "Ancient Records of Egypt", Part One, Chicago 1906, §§282-390] , our knowledge of the contemporary history broadens. [Ian Shaw, "The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt", Oxford University Press 2000, p.115] For example, we hear of an unsuccessful plot against Pepy I. [J. H. Breasted, "Ancient Records of Egypt", Part One, Chicago 1906, §310] We also read a letter written by the young king Pepy II, excited that one of his expeditions will return with a dancing pygmy from the land of Yam, located to the south of Nubia. [J. H. Breasted, "Ancient Records of Egypt", Part One, Chicago 1906, §§350-354]

These non-royal tomb inscriptions are but one example of the growing power of the nobility, which further weakened the absolute rule of the king. As a result, it is believed that on the death of the long-lived Pepy II his vassals were entrenched enough to resist the authority of his successors, which may have contributed to the rapid decline of the Old Kingdom.

References


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