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Ancient Egyptian Taxes & the Cattle Count

Ancient Egyptian Taxes & the Cattle Count

The gods of ancient Egypt freely gave their bounty to the people who worked the land, but this did not exempt those farmers from paying taxes on that bounty to the government. Egypt was a cashless society until the Persian Period (c. 525 BCE), and the economy depended upon agriculture and barter. The monetary unit was the deben, approximately 90 grams of copper, and trade was based on an 'imaginary' deben: if fifty deben purchased a pair of sandals, then a pair of sandals could be traded for fifty deben worth of wheat or beer.

This was the system the central government operated on in collecting taxes. Scholar Andre Dollinger writes:

In a barter economy, the simplest way to exact taxes is by seizing part of the produce, merchandise, or property. The agricultural sector of such an economy is easiest to tax. A farmer cannot deny possession of a field without losing his rights. The field can be measured, the yield assessed, and the produce is difficult to hide because of its large bulk. It is no wonder that peasants were the highest and most consistently taxed part of the population. (1)

The Cattle Count

The best way for a king to assess what was due him from the regions of his country was to go out and see it for himself. As early as the reign of Hor-Aha (c. 3100-3050 BCE), institutionalized during the Second Dynasty (c. 2890 - c. 2670 BCE), and continuing through the time of the Old Kingdom of Egypt (c. 2613-2181 BCE), an annual event was instituted known as the Shemsu Hor (Following of Horus), better known as the Egyptian Cattle Count, during which the king and his retinue would travel the land, assess the value of farmers' crops, and collect a certain amount in taxes. Scholar Toby Wilkinson comments on this, writing:

The Shemsu Hor would have served several purposes at once. It allowed the monarch to be a visible presence in the life of his subjects, enabled his officials to keep a close eye on everything that was happening in the country at large, implementing policies, resolving disputes, and dispensing justice; defrayed the costs of maintaining the court and removed the burden of supporting it year-round in one location; and, last but by no means least, facilitated the systematic assessment and levying of taxes. A little later, in the Second Dynasty, the court explicitly recognized the actuarial potential of the Following of Horus. Thereafter, the event was combined with a formal census of the country's agricultural wealth. (44-45)

Egypt was divided into districts, and the fields and produce of every district were assessed for taxes. Each district (nome) was divided into provinces with a nomarch administering the overall operation of the nome, and then lesser provincial officials, and mayors of the towns operating in lesser and lesser spheres of authority. Rather than trust a nomarch to accurately report his wealth to the government, the king would personally visit each nome and collect the taxes himself. The Shemsu Hor thus became an important annual (later bi-annual) event in the lives of the Egyptians. Oil, beer, ceramics, livestock, and every other kind of commodity would be taxed, but the most important was the tax on grain.

Grain Tax & Redistribution

Grain not only fed the population of Egypt but was essential for trade with other countries. Whatever resources Egypt lacked could be purchased through the sale of grain, and since Egypt had fertile fields which usually produced abundant crops, grain was most important to the operation of the government. Not only did they use grain in trade but stored it in surplus to feed the people in years of poor harvest and to distribute to communities which might suffer some misfortune. Scholar Edward Bleiberg explains how the process worked:

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The ancient Egyptian government met its needs for food, raw materials, manufactured goods, and labor through taxation and conscription. The pre-market, essentially money-less, Egyptian economy was structured so the residents of the Nile Valley provided support for the king and other government institutions while at the same time the king redistributed these essential commodities to each class on the basis of rank and status in society. (cited in Bard, 761-762)

Taxes & the Old Kingdom

Taxes from the Egyptian Cattle Count and the lucrative trade it enabled provided the central government of the Old Kingdom with the great wealth required to build the pyramids at Giza. In the modern day, only the Great Pyramid of Khufu and those of Khafre and Menkaure rise from the Giza plateau along with the Great Sphinx and a number of lesser monuments, but in its day, each pyramid at Giza had its own pyramid complex, there was housing for the workers, markets, separate temples, workshops; and all of these cost a great deal of money. Further, once the pyramids, complexes, and temples were completed, staff had to be hired to maintain them and preside over the rituals which would ensure the eternal life of the king in the world to come.

Taxes from the Egyptian Cattle Count & the lucrative trade it enabled provided the central government of the Old Kingdom with the great wealth required to build the pyramids at Giza.

All of these building projects and attendant rituals were very expensive and eventually contributed to what is known as the Old Kingdom collapse during the reign of Pepi II (2278-2184 BCE). The strain on the central government's treasury, paying not only for the labor, materials, and transport of those materials to the site but also for the clergy and their staff to maintain the temples, was finally too great a burden. Further, in return for their services, the rulers of the Old Kingdom had exempted the priesthood from taxation in perpetuity. Since the priests had, by this time amassed a great amount of land, the loss in taxes was significant.

Although the central government finally failed in the Sixth Dynasty, the government was already in trouble toward the end of the Fourth Dynasty (during which the pyramids of Giza were built) in the reign of Menkaure's successor, Shepsekaf (2503-2498 BCE). Shepsekaf had enough money and resources to complete Menkaure's pyramid and temple complex but was himself buried in a modest tomb at Saqqara.

Taxes During the First Intermediate Period

The Old Kingdom's decline led to the First Intermediate Period of Egypt (2181-2040 BCE) during which the individual nomarchs had more power than the central government. The practice of the yearly Cattle Count was discontinued; taxes, however, were not. The king no longer was able to command collection of taxes, but the individual nomarchs were and did. Scholar Rosalie David writes:

In theory, the king owned all land and possessions. In reality, although he was the largest landowner and possessed areas within each nome, the temples and even private individuals owned substantial real estate. (95)

The king was thought to own all the land because he had been granted his position by the gods, who had created the world and given it to the people, but throughout Egypt's history the king would struggle with the priesthood, especially the priests of Amun, for power because the temples and their fertile lands and fields had been declared tax-exempt. This situation allowed for the clergy to amass a great deal of wealth and attendant power at the expense of the central government.

The nomarchs now kept the larger part of the taxes collected for themselves, although a portion continued to be sent to the capital as before. This is the reason one does not find great monuments like the pyramids of Giza constructed during the First Intermediate Period but one does find elaborate personal tombs of nomarchs and other nobility. This period ended when prince Mentuhotep II of Thebes (c. 2061-2010 BCE) united the country under his rule and initiated the era of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2040-1782 BCE). Once again, a strong central government ruled Egypt and taxes enabled rulers to afford grand building projects. The towering Temple of Karnak near Thebes was begun during this time in the reign of Senusret I (c. 1971-1926 BCE).

Calculations of Taxes through the New Kingdom

Taxes were now assessed and collected by officials charged with that duty. This practice of sending out tax collectors had actually begun toward the end of the Old Kingdom when the practice of the Cattle Count had begun to decline. Tax collectors who held back on the full amount due the government were severely punished. The Middle Kingdom, considered a classical age in Egypt's history, declined during the 13th Dynasty allowing for the Hyksos, a foreign people, to gain a foothold in the Delta region of Lower Egypt. The time of the Hyksos is known as the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt (c. 1782 - c. 1570 BCE) during which, again, individual nomarchs benefited most from taxation and conscripted those who could not pay for labor.

The Second Intermediate Period gave way to the time of the New Kingdom (1570-1069 BCE) when Ahmose I (c. 1570-1544 BCE) drove the Hyksos from Egypt and founded the 18th Dynasty. The New Kingdom is the period of Egypt's empire and a professional army to spread and maintain it. It is also the era best known for its rulers and the monuments they raised. Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Horemheb, Seti I, Ramesses the Great, Merenptah, Ramesses III, all ruled during the New Kingdom and all contributed their own impressive monuments to the culture paid for, largely, through taxes. Rosalie David writes:

There is more information about taxation in the New Kingdom than there is for earlier periods; for example, in the reign of Thutmose III it is known that taxes were collected in the form of cereals, livestock, fruit, and provisions, as well as gold and silver rings and jewels. The governors annually assessed the cereal payable for that year, basing their calculations on the surface area of each nome and the height of the Nile rising. The levels of inundation were recorded on nilometers; built at the river's edge, nilometers were designed to measure the annual height of the inundation. If there was a low Nile when the water did not reach the usual level, the tax to be paid that year was reduced accordingly. (95)

The Third Intermediate & Late Period

The New Kingdom was followed by the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt (c. 1069-525 BCE) during which rule of the country was initially divided between the cities of Tanis and Thebes. Individual nomarchs again were able to gain substantial power, and land was given to professional soldiers who served well and were able to keep a significant amount of their produce for themselves without paying tax. The priests of Amun, especially at Thebes, held enormous acreage of tax-free land while the farmers who worked it continued to pay them what amounted to a tax which they then used for whatever purposes they desired.

Taxes were so heavy that many people fell into debt, and during the Late Period of Ancient Egypt (c. 525-332 BCE), people would sell themselves into service, offering their time and labor to pay off their taxes. Inability to pay these taxes, or the loans given to a person which were then called due, resulted in people selling themselves to be officially recognized as another person's son. The adopter would then pay the debt and the 'son' would work off what was owed. In many cases, this arrangement worked well for all involved since a childless couple could adopt someone who would then make sure they were given a proper burial with all rites and the adopted son would inherit their land once they passed on.

The old tradition of the Cattle Count, when the king would travel among his people to assess a fair tax of the land, had been long forgotten by this time. The Cattle Count would prove important for later historians in that records of it clearly marked the dates on which it was conducted and provided an annual (later bi-annual) record of the history of the time. In the early 20th century CE, the Cattle Count became one of the more or less accurate means of dating Egyptian history.

To the people of the time, however, the early Cattle Count ritual would have been regarded in much the same way as tax time is in many countries around the world today. No one liked paying taxes in ancient Egypt any more than they do now, but the Cattle Count at least provided a semblance of participating in one's government. The king and his court personally visited the districts and assessed the land, and even though precise details of this practice are unknown, the effort was most likely appreciated far more than the later visits by the tax collectors.

Ancient Egyptian agriculture

The civilization of ancient Egypt was indebted to the Nile River and its dependable seasonal flooding. The river's predictability and fertile soil allowed the Egyptians to build an empire on the basis of great agricultural wealth. Egyptians are credited as being one of the first groups of people to practice agriculture on a large scale. This was possible because of the ingenuity of the Egyptians as they developed basin irrigation. [1] Their farming practices allowed them to grow staple food crops, especially grains such as wheat and barley, and industrial crops, such as flax and papyrus. [2]

Ancient Egyptian Taxes & the Cattle Count - History

Taxes in the Ancient World

"In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes."
--Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to M. Leroy, 1789.

Scholars and curators at the University of Pennsylvania Museum have dug up some examples of how ancient civilizations have dealt with taxes. These glimpses of the past are part of E-Musings, the Museum's new electronic newsletter see the Museum's homepage to subscribe. For those who are still trying to deal with the upcoming tax deadline and want to decipher their W-2 form, see Almanac January 29, online.

Taxes in Ancient Mesopotamia

Sumerian tablet which records payment of the tax called "burden," circa 2500 B.C.

In comparison with ancient Mesopotamia, perhaps we suffer less than our ancient counterparts. Since they didn't have coined money, ancient households had to pay taxes in kind, and they paid different taxes throughout the year. Poll taxes required each man to deliver a cow or sheep to the authorities. Merchants transporting goods from one region to another were subject to tolls, duty fees, and other taxes. To avoid as many of these as possible, they frequently resorted to smuggling. One letter from about 1900 B.C. recounts the consequences of these evasive measures, when a trader from the head office instructed his employee:

"Irra's son sent smuggled goods to Pushuken but his smuggled goods were intercepted. The Palace then threw Pushuken in jail! The guards are strong. please don't smuggle anything else!"

Almost everything was taxed--livestock, the boat trade, fishing, even funerals--but probably the most burdensome obligation a household faced was its labor obligation. This was called "going" or "burden" in Babylonian languages. A free man, head of his household, owed the government many months of labor service. If he were lucky, his service might entail harvesting the government's barley fields or digging the silt out of canals. If he were unlucky, he had to do military service, leaving the security of home to fight wars abroad, perhaps never to return. Not unnaturally men who could afford it avoided this labor service: they either sent a slave or hired someone on their behalf. Technically, substitution was illegal, but we know it was widely practiced. Those who couldn't afford a substitute took more drastic measures. Law No. 30 of Hammurabi's Law Code begins, "If a soldier or sailor abandons his field, orchard or home because of the labor obligation and runs away"--and the consequence was forfeiture of his family's land and livelihood.

The almost one million cuneiform tablets which currently survive in museum collections around the world--some 30,000 of these in the University of Pennsylvania Museum--provide insights into topics like taxation. We encourage you to come visit the Mesopotamian galleries again--after all, it beats doing your taxes!

* * *

Dr. Tonia Sharlach, Research Assistant in the Museum's Babylonian Section, is part of the team of scholars working on the Sumerian Dictionary Project, the first dictionary of the world's oldest known written language.
Dr. Sharlach received her Ph.D. in 1999
from Harvard. Her dissertation focused on Babylonian taxes. The revised version of the dissertation, Provincial Taxation and the Ur III State, will be published in 2003 by Brill.

Taxes in Ancient Egypt

Pharaohs, like the one shown here on the door jamb of the Palace of Merenptah (1236-1223 B.C.), were powerful rulers who could, and did, collect taxes as they saw fit.

Taxation, according to Dr. David Silverman, Curator, Egyptian section of the Museum, was a fact of life for all the pharaoh's subjects throughout ancient Egyptian times. Administrative texts, literary texts, letters and scenes from tombs have provided archaeologists and historians with definite but fragmentary evidence of taxes, tax collectors, (unadvisable) whining about taxes, and oh yes, even tax shelters--for the lucky few.

As early as the first dynasty of the Old Kingdom (3000-2800 B.C.) there is documented evidence of a biennial event, the "Following of Horus," no less than a royal tour when the pharaoh appeared before his people--and collected taxes. These revenues were due to him in his dual, and indisputable, role, as the head of state and the incarnation of the god Horus.

While there is no evidence that April 15 was the day of reckoning, ancient Egyptians had to contend with heavy taxes that were at least an annual affair, and included levies on cattle, grain--and payment in various kinds of human labor. Add to that ad hoc taxes that could be imposed at any time that the pharaoh saw fit (a military campaign or work on royal tombs might require extra revenue).

With all the taxes that were imposed, it is not surprising that there was a little bit of, well, whining about taxes. Examples of ancient complaints about taxes have survived, though we don't know what happened to those who complained. In one letter from the New Kingdom, a priest protested what he saw as excessive taxes, saying, "It is not my due tax at all!" (Sally L.D. Kadary, "Taxation," in D. Redford [ed.] Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, vol. III [New York, 2001], pp.351-356).

Tax shelters--royal charters of immunity from taxes--are documented as early as the fourth dynasty in the Old Kingdom (2625-2500 B.C.). The staff and the property of temples and foundations--often themselves funded through tax revenues--sought and appeared to have received such immunity from taxes, including immunity from compulsory labor.

* * *

Dr. David Silverman, the Eckley Brinton Coxe, Jr. Professor and Curator of Egyptology, is Curator-in-Charge of the Egyptian Section, and Chairman of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.
A prolific writer, Dr. Silverman has published many books, articles and reviews and he has presented his papers throughout the world. He has completed extensive fieldwork in Egypt and has served as a curator for many exhibits of Egypt and the Ancient World for major museums in the U.S.

Taxes in the Ancient Roman Empire

Bronze coin with the head of Roman Emperor Diocletian (284-305 A.D.) who, like many emperors, schemed to revise the tax structure.

Whether paying your taxes in Roman times was as unpleasant as it is universally perceived to be today depends on who you were and when you lived. By 167 B.C. the Roman government had so successfully enriched itself at the expense of its recently captured provinces and through revenues from its Spanish silver mines that it no longer needed to levy a tax against land owned by its citizens in Italy.

It was a different story in the provinces, which were subject to every unauthorized revenue-generating scheme known to man. The infamous publicani were private tax-farmers hired by the provincial governors to collect whatever taxes they could above and beyond the official rate. Pocketing the difference they colluded with other Roman capitalists to buy up grain at a low rate at harvest time and then sell it back at inflated rates in times of shortage. They also lent money to hard-pressed provincials at a usurious rate of 4% or more per month. No wonder they are so persistently lumped in the New Testament with the "sinners."

A Struggle for Independence

In the Early Medieval Period, Frisia begins to acquire a distinct identity for the first time. Several medieval sources mention an old Frisian Kingdom which was ruled by High Kings. There aren’t many historical materials to offer further details about this kingdom, but there is a certain possibility that the Frisians did gain a degree of independence in the region, especially in the developing Medieval Period. The names of three Frisian kings survive to this day - Radbod, Bubo, and Aldgisl.

Embroidery depicting the legend in which the Frisian king Radbod is ready to be baptized by Wulfram (in this embroidery replaced by Willibrord), but at the last moment refuses. ( CC0)

The Frisians’ loss of independence, which was never fully regained, began with their conflict with the Franks. This series of conflicts is known as the Frisian-Frankish war and was conducted between the 7th and 8th centuries. King Radbod (often called Redbad) was the successor of late King Aldgisl and was a fierce defender against the Frankish Empire.

At the time, Frisians were still pagan and worshiped their gods - Wêda (Woden), Thuner (Thor), Tiwes (Tiwaz, Tyr), Frîja (Frigg), and others. To exploit these wars, Anglo-Irish Christian missionaries infiltrated Frisia to convert the heathen populace, which they eventually accomplished. After a series of clashes and conflicts, the Frankish Empire gained the upper hand following the death of King Radbod.

Eventually, the Frisian King Bubo (Peppo) was defeated and killed with his army in the Battle of the Boarn, after which Frisia was quickly conquered by the Franks. The last remnants of paganism were also slowly snuffed out.

Saint Willibrord, Anglo-Saxon missionary from Northumberland, Apostle to the Frisians, first bishop of Utrecht. ( Public Domain )

After Charlemagne died, the Counts of Holland attempted to gain rule over Frisia, and they did for some time, but without continued success. This shows us the strong fight for independence that the Frisians always had. Around 993, the Dutch Count Arnulf could not assert his power and influence over Frisia, and the period that followed this is today called “Frisian Freedom”.

It is a period in which Frisia became a de-facto autonomous confederation within the Holy Roman Empire, in which neither serfdom or feudalism, nor any central administration existed. Their only allegiance was to the Holy Roman Emperor .

This independence lasted for several centuries, until 1256. At this point, the Counts of Holland were a prominent regional power and wanted to once again become masters over Frisia. From 1256 to 1422, a series of wars were fought between Frisia and Holland.

From 1256 to 1289 it was the West Frisian War. The period of struggle between 1345 and 1422 is known as the Friso-Hollandic War, with the Great Frisian War from 1413 to 1422. All in all, this lengthy period saw a period of strife, until the conquest of Western Frisia in 1422, when it lost its independence and became a part of the Dutch provinces.

The people of ancient Egypt paid taxes in the form of labor or grain that was stored by the pharaoh in large warehouses. In some years, a farmer could be charged up to 60 percent of his yearly harvest. The pharaoh relied on taxed grain as a source of supplementation during years of drought and bad harvest. Manual labor was also a tax requirement that supported the Egyptian army as well as large harvest and building projects throughout the year.

Documentation dating back the the first dynasty in Egypt, between 3000 and 2800 B.C., shows evidence that pharaohs appeared before the people to collect taxes. The royal tours, called the "Following of Horus" made clear that tax revenues were due to the pharaoh as the head of the state. Unable to handle the process themselves, pharaohs also appointed ministers called viziers who acted as tax supervisors. The vizier kept records of taxes collected and ensured that needs for labor and grains were met.


Parents Edit

Pepi was the son of the pharaoh Teti and Iput. [16] Her parentage is directly attested to by a relief on a decree uncovered in Coptos that mentions Iput as Pepi's mother, [17] by inscriptions in her mortuary temple mentioning her titles as mother of a king and as mother of Pepi, [18] [note 2] by the architecture of her tomb which had been changed from an original mastaba form into a pyramid on the accession of her son to the throne, [18] and by her mention as being Pepi's mother on the Sixth Dynasty royal annals. [19] Iput may have been a daughter of Unas, the last pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty, [3] although this remains uncertain and debated. [20] She seems to have died before Pepi's accession to the throne. [21] The observation that Teti was most probably Pepi's father follows from the location of Iput's tomb, next to Teti's pyramid as was customary for a queen consort. [19]

Consorts Edit

Egyptologists have identified six consorts of Pepi I with near certainty. [22] Pepi's best-attested consorts were Ankhesenpepi I and Ankhesenpepi II, [23] [note 3] who both bore future pharaohs and were daughters of the nomarch of Abydos Khui and his wife Nebet. [23] [25] Further consorts are Nubwenet, [26] [27] Inenek-Inti, [28] who became one of Pepi's viziers, [22] and Mehaa (also called Haaheru). All were buried in pyramids adjacent to that of Pepi. [29] Relief fragments from the necropolis surrounding Pepi's pyramid mention another consort, Sebwetet. [30]

Two more consorts have been proposed for Pepi I based on partial evidence. The first is Nedjeftet, [25] [31] whose name is recorded on blocks excavated in the necropolis adjacent to Pepi's pyramid. The identification of Nedjeftet as Pepi's consort remains uncertain owing to the lack of inscriptions explicitly naming her husband. [32] Given the location of Nedjeftet's blocks in the necropolis, she may be the owner of a pyramid west of Pepi's. [33] [34] The second is another consort, named Behenu, who was buried in the second largest queen pyramid of Pepi's necropolis, north of his. She could either be one of his consorts or a consort of Pepi II. [35]

A final unnamed consort, only referred to by her title "Weret-Yamtes" [36] meaning "great of affection", [37] is known from inscriptions uncovered in the tomb of Weni, an official serving Pepi. This consort, whose name is purposefully left unmentioned by Weni, [38] conspired against Pepi and was prosecuted when the conspiracy was discovered. [36]

Children Edit

Pepi fathered at least four sons. Ankhesenpepi I probably bore him the future pharaoh Merenre Nemtyemsaf I. [note 4] Ankhesenpepi II was the mother of Pepi II Neferkare, [40] who was probably born at the very end of Pepi I's reign given he was only six upon ascending the throne after Merenre's rule. [39] While a majority of Egyptologists favor this hypothesis, [41] an alternative one holds that Pepi II could be a son of Merenre. [35] Another of Pepi I's sons was Teti-ankh, meaning "Teti lives", whose mother has yet to be identified. [40] Teti-ankh is known only from an ink inscription bearing his name discovered in Pepi's pyramid. [17] Buried nearby is Prince Hornetjerkhet, a son of Pepi with Mehaa. [40]

At least three of Pepi I's daughters have been tentatively identified, all future consorts of Pepi II. [42] The first, Meritites IV, [note 5] was the king's eldest daughter and was buried in the necropolis surrounding her father's pyramid. [44] The second is Neith, [45] [note 6] whom he fathered with Ankhesenpepi I. [47] She may have been the mother of Pepi II's successor Merenre Nemtyemsaf II. [45] The third is Iput II, [48] whose identity as Pepi's daughter remains uncertain because her title of "daughter of the king" may only be honorary. [42]

Relative chronology Edit

The relative chronology of Pepi I's reign is well established by historical records, contemporary artifacts and archeological evidence, which agree he succeeded Userkare and was succeeded by Merenre I Nemtyemsaf. [50] For example, the near-contemporary South Saqqara Stone, a royal annal inscribed during the reign of Pepi II, gives the succession "Teti → Userkare → Pepi I → Merenre I", making Pepi the third king of the Sixth Dynasty. Two more historical sources agree with this chronology: the Abydos king list, written under Seti I which places Pepi I's cartouche as the 36th entry between those of Userkare and Merenre, [49] and the Turin canon, a list of kings on papyrus dating to the reign of Ramses II which records Pepi I in the fourth column, third row. [51]

Historical sources against this order of succession include the Aegyptiaca (Αἰγυπτιακά), a history of Egypt written in the 3rd century BC during the reign of Ptolemy II (283 – 246 BC) by Manetho. No copies of the Aegyptiaca have survived, and it is now known only through later writings by Sextus Julius Africanus and Eusebius. According to the Byzantine scholar George Syncellus, Africanus wrote that the Aegyptiaca mentioned the succession "Othoês → Phius → Methusuphis" at the start of the Sixth Dynasty. Othoês, Phius (in Greek, φιός), and Methusuphis are understood to be the Hellenized forms for Teti, Pepi I and Merenre, respectively, [52] [note 7] meaning that the Aegyptiaca omits Userkare. Manetho's reconstruction of the early Sixth Dynasty agrees with the Karnak king list written under Thutmosis III. This list places Pepi's birth name immediately after that of Teti in the seventh entry of the second row. [54] Unlike other sources such as the Turin canon, the purpose of the Karnak king list was not to be exhaustive, but rather to list a selection of royal ancestors to be honoured. Similarly the Saqqara Tablet, written under Ramses II, [55] omits Userkare, with Pepi's name given as the 25th entry after that of Teti. [49]

Length of reign Edit

The length of Pepi I's reign remains somewhat uncertain, although as of 2021, the consensus is that he ruled over Egypt for over 40 years, possibly 49 or 50 years [57] and possibly longer. [58]

During the Old Kingdom period, the Egyptians counted years from the beginning of the reign of the current king. These years were referred to by the number of cattle counts which had taken place since the reign's start. [59] The cattle count was an important event aimed at evaluating the amount of taxes to be levied on the population. This involved counting cattle, oxen and small livestock. [60] During the early Sixth Dynasty, this count was probably biennial, [note 8] occurring every two years. [59] [64]

The South Saqqara Stone and an inscription in Hatnub both record the 25th cattle count under Pepi I, his highest known date. [65] [66] Accepting a biennial count, this indicates that Pepi reigned for 49 years. That a 50th year of reign could have also been recorded on the royal annal cannot be discounted, however, because of the damaged state of the South Saqqara Stone. [67] Another historical source supporting such a long reign is Africanus' epitome of Manetho's Aegyptiaca, which credits Pepi I with a reign of 53 years. [14] [52] [note 9]

Archaeological evidence in favor of a long reign for Pepi I includes his numerous building projects and many surviving objects made in celebration of his first Sed festival, which was meant to rejuvenate the king and was first celebrated on the 30th year of a king's rule. For example, numerous alabaster ointment vessels celebrating Pepi's first Sed festival have been discovered. They bear a standard inscriptions reading, "The king of Upper and Lower Egypt Meryre, may he be given life for ever. The first occasion of the Sed festival." [69] Examples can now be found in museums throughout the world: [5] [70] [71]

The Sed festival had a considerable importance for Old Kingdom kings. [63] Representations of it were part of the typical decoration of temples associated with the ruler during the Old Kingdom, whether the king had actually celebrated it or not. [72] As further evidence of the importance of this event in Pepi's case, the state administration seems to have had a tendency to mention his first jubilee repeatedly in the years following its celebration until the end of his rule in connection with building activities. For example, Pepi's final 25th cattle count reported on the Sixth Dynasty royal annals is associated with his first Sed festival even though it probably had taken place some 19 years prior. [63]

Ascending the throne Edit

Pepi's accession to the throne may have occurred in times of discord. Manetho, writing nearly 2000 years after Pepi's reign, claims that Pepi's father Teti was assassinated by his own bodyguards. [8] [52] The Egyptologist Naguib Kanawati has argued in support of Manetho's claim, noting for example that Teti's reign saw a significant increase in the number of guards at the Egyptian court, who became responsible for the everyday care of the king. [74] At the same time, the figures and names of several contemporary palace officials as represented in their tombs have been erased purposefully. [75] This seems to be an attempt at a damnatio memoriae [76] targeting three men in particular: the vizier Hezi, [note 11] the overseer of weapons Mereri and chief physician Seankhuiptah. These men could therefore be behind the regicide. [78]

Pepi may have been too young to be king. In any case, he did not immediately succeed his father. King Userkare succeeded him instead, but Userkare's identity and relationship to the royal family remain uncertain. It is possible Userkare served only as a regent with Pepi's mother Iput as Pepi reached adulthood, [79] occupying the throne in the interregnum until Pepi's coming of age. [80] The apparent lack of resistance to Pepi's eventual accession supports such hypotheses. [79]

Against this view, however, Kanawati has argued that Userkare's short reign—lasting perhaps only one year—cannot be a regency as a regent would not have assumed a full royal titulary as Userkare did, nor would he be included in king lists. [74] Rather, Userkare could have been an usurper [note 12] and a descendant of a lateral branch of the Fifth Dynasty royal family who seized power briefly in a coup, [81] possibly with the support of the priesthood of the sun god Ra. [74] This hypothesis finds indirect evidence in Userkare's theophoric name which incorporates the name of Ra, a naming fashion common during the preceding Fifth Dynasty that had fallen out of use since Unas's reign. Further archeological evidence of Userkare's illegitimacy in the eyes of his successor is the absence of any mention of him in the tombs and biographies of the many Egyptian officials who served under both Teti and Pepi I. [14] [82] For example, the viziers Inumin and Khentika, who served both Teti and Pepi I, are completely silent about Userkare and none of their activities during his time on the throne are reported in their tomb. [83] The tomb of Mehi, a guard who lived under Teti, Userkare and Pepi, yielded an inscription showing that the name of Teti was first erased to be replaced by that of another king, whose name was itself erased and replaced again by that of Teti. [84] Kanawati argues the intervening name was that of Userkare to whom Mehi may have transferred his allegiance. [85] Mehi's attempt to switch back to Teti was seemingly unsuccessful, as there is evidence that work on his tomb stopped abruptly and that he was never buried there. [86]

For the Egyptologist Miroslav Bárta (cs), further troubles might have arisen directly between Pepi and relatives of his father Teti. [76] Bárta and Baud point to Pepi's apparent decision to dismantle the funerary complex of his paternal grandmother [87] Sesheshet, as witnessed by blocks from this queen's complex which were found reused as construction material in Pepi's own mortuary temple. [76] [88] On the other hand, Wilfried Seipel disagrees with this interpretation of the blocks being reused by Pepi, instead, he thinks the blocks bear witness to Pepi's foundation of a pious memorial to his grandmother. [89] At the same time as he apparently distanced himself from his father's line, Pepi transformed his mother's tomb into a pyramid and posthumously bestowed a new title on her, "Daughter of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt", thereby emphasising his royal lineage as a descendant of Unas, last ruler of the Fifth Dynasty. [76]

Pepi chose the Horus name of Mery-tawy, meaning "He who is loved by the two lands" or "Beloved of the Two Lands", which Nicolas Grimal sees as a clear indication that he desired political appeasement in times of troubles. [90] Similarly, Pepi chose the throne name Nefersahor, meaning "Perfect is the protection of Horus". [9] Bárta adds that Pepi's writing of his own name "Mery-tawy" is also highly unusual: he chose to invert the order of the hieroglyphic signs composing it, placing the sign for "Beloved" before that for "Two Lands". For Bárta and Yannis Gourdon, this deliberate choice shows Pepi's deference to the powerful nobility of the country, on which he was dependent. [76] Although there seems to be no direct relation between Userkare's brief reign and one or more later conspiracies against him, this evidence suggests some form of political instability at the time. [90]

Provincial administration Edit

In a long trend that began earlier in the Fifth Dynasty, the Old Kingdom Egyptian state was the subject of increasing decentralisation and regionalisation. [92] Provincial families played an increasingly important role, marrying into the royal family, accessing the highest offices of the state administration and having a strong influence at the court, while also consolidating their hold over regional power bases by creating local dynasties. [93] These processes, well under way during Pepi I's reign, progressively weakened the king's primacy and ascendancy over his own administration and would ultimately result in the princedoms of the First Intermediate Period. [94] Teti and Pepi I seem to have developed several policies to counteract this. They both changed the organisation of the territorial administration during their reigns: many provincial governors were nominated, especially in Upper Egypt, [95] while Lower Egypt was possibly under direct royal administration. [96] In addition, Pepi instigated the construction of royal Ka-chapels [note 13] throughout Egypt [94] [98] to strengthen the royal presence in the provinces. [99] These expensive policies suggest Egypt was prosperous during Pepi's reign. [51] Small provincial centres in areas historically associated with the crown became more important, suggesting that pharaohs of the Sixth Dynasty tried to diminish the power of regional dynasties by recruiting senior officials who did not belong to them and were loyal to the pharaoh. [100] Some of these new officials have no known background, indicating they were not of noble extraction. The circulation of high officials, who were moved from key positions of power to other duties, occurred at an "astonishing" pace under Teti and Pepi I according to the Egyptologist Juan Carlos Moreno García, [93] in what might have been a deliberate attempt to curtail the concentration of power in the hands of a few officials. [95]

The Sixth Dynasty royal annals, only a small part of which are still legible, record further activities during Pepi's reign, including the offering of milk and young cows for a feast of Ra, the building of a "south chapel" on the occasion of the new year and the arrival of messengers at court. [101] Further offerings of lapis-lazuli, [66] cattle, bread and beer are mentioned, [102] for gods including Horus [103] and the Ennead. [104]

Conspiracy Edit

At some point in his reign, [note 15] Pepi faced a conspiracy hatched by one of his harem consorts, only known by her title "Weret-Yamtes". Although Weni, who served as a judge during the subsequent trial, does not report the precise nature of her crime, this at least shows that the person of the king was not untouchable. [107] If the conspiracy happened early in Pepi's reign as proposed by Wilfried Seipel and Vivienne Callender, the queen concerned could have been Userkare's mother and Teti's consort rather than Pepi's. [108] Most scholars, however, agree with Hans Goedicke's thesis that the conspiracy occurred after more than two decades into Pepi's reign. For Goedicke, the queen could have been Merenre's mother. [39] Nicolas Grimal [note 16] and Baud see this as highly unlikely and outright outlandish respectively, [109] as this queen's son would have been punished along with her. [36] Rather, the queen might have attempted unsuccessfully to secure the throne for her son, whose name is now lost. [108]

Perhaps in response to these events, Pepi changed his prenomen Nefersahor to Meryre, meaning "Beloved of Ra", even updating the inscriptions inside his pyramid. [note 17] This late change with Pepi incorporating the sun god Ra's name into his own may reflect some agreement with the influential priesthood of Ra. [110] Around this time, Pepi married two daughters of Khui, the provincial governor of Abydos. [111] This may also have served to counteract the weakening of the king's authority over Middle and Upper Egypt by securing the allegiance of a powerful family. [112] For Baud and Christopher Eyre, this also demonstrates that at the time of the Sixth Dynasty, government and power was still largely determined by family relationships rather than by bureaucracy. [113] [114]

The political importance of these marriages [114] is furthered by the fact that for the first and last time until the 26th Dynasty some 1800 years later, a woman, Khui's wife Nebet, bore the title of vizier of Upper Egypt. Egyptologists debate whether this title was purely honorific [115] or whether she really assumed the duties of a vizier. [75] Later, Khui's and Nebet's son Djau was made vizier as well. Pepi's marriages might be at the origin [116] of a trend which continued during the later Sixth and Eighth Dynasties, in which the temple of Min in Coptos—Khui's seat of power—was the focus of much royal patronage. [39] The Coptos Decrees, which record successive pharaohs granting tax exemptions to the temple, as well as official honours bestowed by the kings on the local ruling family while the Old Kingdom society was collapsing, manifest this. [117]

End of reign: coregency Edit

The end of Pepi's rule may have been no less troubled than his early reign, as Kanawati conjectures that Pepi faced yet another conspiracy against him, in which his vizier Rawer may have been involved. To support his theory, Kanawati observes that Rawer's image in his tomb has been desecrated, with his name, hands and feet chiselled off, while this same tomb is dated to the second half of Pepi's reign on stylistic grounds. [118] Kanawati further posits that the conspiracy may have aimed at having someone else designated heir to the throne at the expense of Merenre. Because of this failed conspiracy, Pepi I may have taken the drastic [note 18] step of crowning Merenre during his own reign, [58] thereby creating the earliest documented coregency in the history of Egypt. [118] That such a coregency took place was first proposed by Étienne Drioton. A gold pendant bearing the names of both Pepi I and Merenre I as living kings, [122] [123] and the copper statues of Hierakonpolis, discussed below, indirectly support this. [112] Goedicke has suggested further that an inscription mentioning King Merenre's tenth year of reign in Hatnub, contradicting Manetho's figure of seven years, is evidence that Merenre dated the start of his reign before the end of his father's reign, as a coregency would permit. [124]

The coregency remains uncertain. The Sixth Dynasty Royal annals bear no trace either for or against it, but the shape and size of the stone on which the annals are inscribed makes it more probable that Merenre did not start to count his years of reign until soon after the death of his father. [125] [note 19] Furthermore, William J. Murnane writes that the gold pendant's context is unknown, making its significance regarding the coregency difficult to appraise. The copper statues are similarly inconclusive as the identity of the smaller one, and whether they originally formed a group, remains uncertain. [127]

Military campaigns Edit

Militarily, aggressive expansion into Nubia marked Pepi I's reign. [129] [130] The walls of the tombs of the contemporary nomarchs of Elephantine, [129] alabaster vessels bearing Pepi's cartouche found in Kerma [131] and inscriptions in Tumas report this. [80] The Sixth Dynasty royal annals also recount at least one campaign into Nubia. Although the campaign narrative is now largely illegible, according to the Egyptologists Baud and Dobrev, it comprised three phases: first, messengers were sent to Nubia for negotiation and surveillance purposes then the military campaign took place and finally a booty of men and goods was brought back to Egypt for presentation to the pharaoh. [132]

To the north-east of Egypt, Pepi launched at least five military expeditions against the "sand dwellers" [note 21] of Sinai and southern Canaan. [112] [134] These campaigns are recounted on the walls of the tomb of Weni, then officially a palace superintendent but given tasks befitting a general. [135] Weni states that he ordered nomarchs in Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta region to "call up the levies of their own subordinates, and these in turn summoned their subordinates down through every level of the local administration". [136] Meanwhile, Nubian mercenaries were also recruited and endowed with the power to enroll men and seize goods, [112] [137] [note 22] so that in total tens of thousands of men were at Weni's disposal. [135] This is the only text relating the raising of an Egyptian army during the Old Kingdom, [136] and it indirectly reveals the absence of a permanent, standing army at the time. [139] The goal of this army was either to repulse rebelling Semitic people [140] [note 23] or to seize their properties and conquer their land in southern Canaan, [note 24] an action possibly motivated by the intense commercial activities between Egypt and this region. [145] The Egyptians campaigned up to what was probably Mount Carmel [142] or Ras Kouroun, [146] landing troops on the coast using transport boats. [112] [147] Weni reports that walled towns were destroyed, fig trees and grape vines were cut down, and local shrines were burned. [148]

The reign of Pepi I marks the apogee of the Sixth Dynasty foreign policy, with flourishing trade, several mining and quarrying expeditions and major military campaigns. [149]

Foreign trade and mining Edit

Trade with settlements along the Levantine coast, which had existed during the Fifth Dynasty, seems to have peaked [150] under Pepi I and Pepi II. Their chief trade partner there might have been Byblos, where dozens of inscriptions on stone vessels showing Pepi's cartouches have been found, [151] [152] and a large alabaster vessel bearing Pepi's titulary and commemorating his jubilee from the Temple of Baalat Gebal. [153] [note 25] The high official, Iny, served Pepi during several successful expeditions to Byblos for which the king rewarded him with the name "Inydjefaw", meaning, "He who brings back provisions". [154] Through Byblos, Egypt, had indirect contacts [155] with the city of Ebla in modern-day Syria. [10] [156] [note 26] The contact with Ebla is established by alabaster vessels [157] bearing Pepi's name found near its royal palace G, [158] [note 27] destroyed in the 23rd century BC, possibly by the Akkadian Empire under Sargon. [160] Trading parties departed Egypt for the Levant from a Nile Dela port called Ra-Hat, "the first mouth [of the Nile]". This trade benefited the nearby city of Mendes, from which one of Pepi's viziers probably originated. [161] Further contacts with Canaan may be inferred from a statue of Pepi, which is said to have been unearthed in Gezer but has since been lost. [162]

Expeditions and mining activities that were already taking place in the Fifth and early Sixth Dynasty continued unabated. These include at least one expedition of workmen and their military escort [163] to the mines of turquoise and copper in Wadi Maghareh, Sinai, [156] around Pepi's 36th year on the throne. [80] [note 28] In all likelihood, this expedition departed Egypt from the Red Sea coast port of Ayn Soukhna, which was active during Pepi's reign. [165] The same port may also have been the origin of an expedition to the southern Red Sea, possibly to Punt, as witnessed by Ethiopian obsidian discovered on the site. [166] There were also one or more expeditions to Hatnub, where alabaster was extracted [156] at least once in Pepi's 49th year of reign, [80] as well as visits to the Gebel el-Silsila [167] and Sehel Island. [168] A trading expedition fetching lapis-lazuli and lead or tin may also have passed further south through Mirgissa. [169] [note 29] Greywacke and siltstone for building projects originated from quarries of the Wadi Hammamat, [156] where some eighty graffiti mention Pepi I. [171] At the same time, an extensive network of caravan routes traversed Egypt's Western Desert, for example, from Abydos to the Kharga Oasis and from there to the Dakhla and Selima Oases. [156]

Domestic policies Edit

Agricultural estates affiliated with the crown in the provinces during the preceding dynasty were replaced by novel administrative entities, the ḥwt, which were agricultural centres controlling tracts of land, livestock and workers. Together with temples and royal domains, these numerous ḥwt represented a network of warehouses accessible to royal envoys and from which taxes and labor could easily be collected. [172] [173] This territorial mode of organisation disappeared nearly 300 years after Pepi I's reign, at the dawn of the Middle Kingdom period. [172]

Pepi decreed tax-exemptions to various institutions. He gave an exemption to a chapel dedicated to the cult of his mother located in Coptos. [174] [note 30] Another decree has survived on a stele discovered near the Bent Pyramid in Dashur, whereby in his 21st year of reign, Pepi grants exemptions to the people serving in the two pyramids towns [note 31] of Sneferu: [175]

My majesty has commanded that these two pyramid towns be exempt for him throughout the course of eternity from doing any work of the palace, from doing any forced labor for any part of the royal residence throughout the course of eternity, or from doing any forced labor at the word of anybody in the course of eternity. [176]

The Egyptologist David Warburton sees such perpetual tax exemptions as capitulations by a king confronted with rampant corruption. Whether they were the result of religious or political motives, exemptions created precedents that encouraged other institutions to request similar treatment, weakening the power of the state as they accumulated over time. [177]

Further domestic activities related to agriculture and the economy may be inferred from the inscriptions found in the tomb of Nekhebu, a high official belonging to the family of Senedjemib Inti, a vizier during the late Fifth Dynasty. Nekhebu reports overseeing the excavations of canals in Lower Egypt and at Cusae in Middle Egypt. [178] [179]

Pepi I built extensively throughout Egypt, [181] so much so that in 1900 the Egyptologist Flinders Petrie stated "this king has left more monuments, large and small, than any other ruler before the Twelfth Dynasty". [51] The Egyptologist Jean Leclant reached a similar conclusion in 1999. He sees Pepi's rule as marking the apogee of the Old Kingdom owing to the flurry of building activities, administrative reforms, trade and military campaigns at the time. [14] Pepi devoted most of his building efforts to local cults [147] and royal Ka-chapels, [182] seemingly with the objective of affirming the king's stature and presence in the provinces. [183]

Ka-chapels Edit

Ka-chapels were small cult buildings comprising one or more chambers to hold offerings dedicated to the cult of the Ka of a deceased or, in this case, the king. [184] Such chapels dedicated to Pepi I were uncovered or are known from contemporary sources to have stood in Hierakonpolis, [185] [186] in Abydos, [187] [188] [note 32] and in the central Nile Delta region, [178] in Memphis, Zawyet el-Meytin, Assiut, Qus [182] and beyond the Nile Valley in Balat, a settlement of the Dakhla Oasis. [191] In addition, two [192] chapels were built in Bubastis [180] and probably more than one stood in Dendera. [note 33] Finally, yet another chapel is believed to have existed in Elkab, where rock inscriptions refer to his funerary cult. [194] All these buildings were probably peripheral to or inside [189] larger temples hosting extensive cult activities. [195] [196] For example, the chapel at Abydos was next to the temple of Khenti-Amentiu. [197] For the Egyptologist Juan Moreno García, this proximity demonstrates the direct power that the king still held over the temples' economic activities and internal affairs during the Sixth Dynasty. [189]

In an underground store beneath the floor of Hierakonpolis' Ka-chapel of Pepi, the Egyptologist James Quibell uncovered a statue of King Khasekhemwy of the Second Dynasty, a terracota lion cub made during the Thinite era, [198] a golden mask representing Horus and two copper statues. [199] Originally fashioned by hammering plates of copper over a wooden base, [199] [200] these statues had been disassembled, placed inside one another and then sealed with a thin layer of engraved copper bearing the titles and names of Pepi I "on the first day of the Heb Sed" feast. [198] The two statues were symbolically "trampling underfoot the Nine bows"—the enemies of Egypt—a stylized representation of Egypt's conquered foreign subjects. [201] While the identity of the larger adult figure as Pepi I is revealed by the inscription, the identity of the smaller statue showing a younger person remains unresolved. [198] The most common hypothesis among Egyptologists is that the young man shown is Merenre. [186] As Alessandro Bongioanni and Maria Croce write: "[Merenre] was publicly associated as his father's successor on the occasion of the Jubilee [the Heb Sed feast]. The placement of his copper effigy inside that of his father would therefore reflect the continuity of the royal succession and the passage of the royal sceptre from father to son before the death of the pharaoh could cause a dynastic split." [202] Alternatively, Bongioanni and Croce have also proposed the smaller statue may represent "a more youthful Pepy I, reinvigorated by the celebration of the Jubilee ceremonies". [203]

Temples Edit

The close association between Ka-chapels and temples to deities might have spurred building activities for the latter. For example, the Bubastis ensemble of Pepi I comprised a 95 m × 60 m (312 ft × 197 ft) enclosure wall with a small rectangular Ka-chapel housing eight pillars near its north corner. [204] This ensemble was peripheral to the main Old Kingdom temple dedicated to the goddess Bastet. [186] In Dendera, where a fragmentary statue of a seated Pepi I has been uncovered, [205] Pepi restored the temple complex to the goddess Hathor. [206] He seems particularly to have desired to be associated with her, using the epithet "son of Hathor of Dendera" on numerous vessels found throughout Egypt and abroad. [5] [159] [188] [207] In Abydos, [208] he built a small rock cut chapel dedicated to the local god Khenti-Amentiu, [209] where he is again referred to as "Pepi, son of Hathor of Dendera". [210] Pepi also referred to himself as the son of Atum of Heliopolis, direct evidence for the strengthening of the Heliopolitan cults at the time. [211]

At the southern border of Egypt, in Elephantine, several faience plaques bearing Pepi's cartouche [212] have been uncovered in the temple of Satet. These may suggest royal interest in the local cult. [116] An alabaster statue of an ape with its offspring bearing Pepi I's cartouche [213] was uncovered in the same location, but it was probably a gift of the king to a high official who then dedicated it to Satet. [99] In this temple, Pepi built a red granite naos, [99] destined either to house the goddess's statue, [214] or a statue of Pepi I himself, which would mean the naos was yet another Ka-chapel. [215] Pepi I's cartouche and the epithet "beloved of Satet" is inscribed on the naos, which stands 1.32 m (4.3 ft) high. [99] Pepi seems to have undertaken wider works in the temple, possibly reorganising its layout by adding walls and an altar. [216] In this context, the faience tablets bearing his cartouche may be foundation offerings made at the start of the works, [217] although this has been contested. [218] For the Egyptologist David Warburton, the reigns of Pepi I and II mark the first period during which small stone temples dedicated to local deities were built in Egypt. [211]

Pyramid complex Edit

Pepi I had a pyramid complex built for himself in South Saqqara, [220] which he named Men-nefer-Pepi variously translated as "Pepi's splendour is enduring", [221] "The perfection of Pepi is established", [222] "The beauty of Pepi endures", [3] or "The perfection of Pepi endures". [223] The shortened name Mennefer for the pyramid complex progressively became the name of the nearby capital of Egypt—which had originally been called Ineb-hedj. In particular, the Egyptian Mennefer ultimately gave Memphis in Greek, a name which is still in use for this ancient city. [3] [201] [223] [note 34] Pepi I's mortuary complex is neighboured on its south-west corner by a necropolis built during his own reign and the reigns of Merenre and Pepi II. The necropolis housed the pyramids of Pepi I's consorts and their dedicated funerary temples. [22] [note 35]

Main pyramid Edit

Pepi's main pyramid was constructed in the same fashion as royal pyramids since the reign of Djedkare Isesi some 80 years earlier: [225] a core built six steps high from small roughly dressed blocks of limestone bound together using clay mortar encased with fine limestone blocks. [226] The pyramid, now destroyed, had a base length of 78.75 m (258 ft 150 cu) converging to the apex at

53° and once stood 52.5 m (172 ft 100 cu) tall. [222] Its remains now form a meager mound of 12 m (39 ft 23 cu), [220] [221] containing a pit in its centre dug by stone thieves. [227]

The substructure of the pyramid was accessed from the north chapel which has since disappeared. From the entrance, a descending corridor gives way to a vestibule leading into the horizontal passage. Halfway along the passage, three granite portcullises guard the chambers. As in preceding pyramids, the substructure contains three chambers: an antechamber on the pyramids vertical axis, a serdab with three recesses to its east, and a burial chamber containing the king's sarcophagus to the west. [228] Extraordinarily, the pink granite canopic chest that is sunk into the floor at the foot of the sarcophagus has remained undisturbed. [222] [229] Discovered alongside it was a bundle of viscera presumed to belong to the pharaoh. [229] The provenance of a mummy fragment and fine linen wrappings discovered in the burial chamber are unknown, but they are hypothesized to belong to Pepi I. [230]

The walls of Pepi I's antechamber, burial chamber, and much of the corridor [note 36] are covered with vertical columns of inscribed hieroglyphic text. [222] [230] [234] The hieroglyphs are painted green with ground malachite and gum arabic, a colour symbolising renewal. [235] His sarcophagus is also inscribed on its east side with the king's titles and names, as part of a larger set of spells that includes texts at the bottom of the north and south walls opposite the sarcophagus, and in a line running across the top of the north, west, and south walls of the chamber. [236] The writing comprises 2,263 columns and lines of text from 651 spells, of which 82 are unique to Pepi's pyramid. [237] This is the most extensive corpus of Pyramid Texts from the Old Kingdom. [238] The tradition of inscribing texts inside the pyramid was begun by Unas at the end of the Fifth Dynasty, [3] [239] [240] but originally discovered in Pepi I's pyramid in 1880. [222] [241] Their function, like that of all funerary literature, was to enable the reunion of the ruler's ba and Ka, leading to the transformation into an akh, [242] [243] and to secure eternal life among the gods in the sky. [244] [245] [246]

Mortuary temple Edit

Pepi's pyramid was part of a wider funerary complex comprising a small cult pyramid and mortuary temple surrounded by an enclosure wall. The purpose of the cult pyramid remains unclear. While it had a burial chamber, it was never used as such and must have been a purely symbolic structure. [249] It may have hosted the pharaoh's Ka, [250] or a miniature statue of the king, [251] and could have been used for ritual performances centring around the burial and resurrection of the Ka spirit during the Sed festival. [251] Excavations of the small cult pyramid yielded statue fragments, pieces of stelae and offering tables which indicate the continuation of Pepi's funerary cult into the Middle Kingdom. [222]

A valley temple by the Nile and a causeway leading from this temple up to the pyramid on the desert plateau completed the overall construction. [222] The high temple, next to the pyramid, was laid out according to a standard plan, [252] making it nearly the same as the temples of Djedkare Isesi, Unas, and Teti. [229] The temple had an entrance hall some 6.29 m (20.6 ft) high, now almost completely destroyed, leading into an open columned courtyard. Storage rooms to the north and south flanked the hall. The inner temple contained a chapel with five statue niches, an offering hall and other core chambers. [253] Either the mortuary temple or the causeway might have been lined with statues of kneeling bound captives [254] representing Egypt's traditional enemies. [222] Both the temple and the causeway are now heavily damaged due the activity of lime makers, who extracted and burned the construction stones to turn them into mortar and whitewash in later times. In particular, the original location of the statues remains uncertain as they had been displaced, ready to be thrown into a lime furnace. [222] [253]

Necropolis of Pepi I Edit

Pepi's mortuary complex was the centre of a wider necropolis which comprised the tombs of the royal family and further afield those of the high officials of the state administration including a tomb for Weni. [255] Pepi had pyramids built for his consorts to the south and south-west of his pyramid. These were all located outside the complex' enclosure wall but inside an area delimited by a street to the west. Three of the main queens' pyramids were built in a row on an east–west axis, each with a base side dimension of about 20 m (66 ft). [33] The Ancient Egyptians referred to the owners of these pyramids as the "Queen of the East", "Queen of the Centre" and "Queen of the West". [33]

Pyramid of Nebwenet Edit

The pyramid of the queen of the east belonged to Nebwenet, whose name, image and titles are preserved on a fallen jamb uncovered in the attached mortuary temple. [33] The pyramid had a base of 26.2 m (86 ft), making it similar in size to the other pyramids of the necropolis. On its northern face was a small mudbrick chapel, which hosted a limestone altar, now broken. The pyramid's substructures were accessed from a descending passageway leading first to an antechamber and, from there, to the burial chamber slightly to the south of the pyramid's apex. This chamber yielded fragments of pink granite sarcophagus and pieces of inscribed alabaster. To the east was a serdab and the scant remnants of funerary equipment. [22]

Pyramid of Inenek-Inti Edit

Immediately west of the pyramid of the queen of the east was the pyramid of the queen of the centre, Inenek-Inti. The name, image and titles of this queen are inscribed on jambs and two 2.2 m (7.2 ft) high red-painted obelisks on either side of the gateway to the mortuary temple, establishing that Inenek-Inti was buried there. [256] With a base of 22.53 m (73.9 ft), the pyramid size and layout is similar to that of Nebwenet, except that the burial chamber is located precisely beneath the pyramid apex. Fragments of a greywacke sarcophagus and pieces of stone vessels were uncovered there. Unlike Ankhesenpepi II's burial chamber, that of Inenek-Inti had no inscriptions on its walls. Inenek's mortuary temple was much larger than Nebwenet's, surrounding her pyramid on its eastern, northern and southern sides. Inenek's complex also comprised a small cult pyramid, 6.3 m (21 ft) at the base, on the south-east corner of the mortuary temple. [257]

Queen of the West Edit

West of Inenek's pyramid is that of the queen of the west. The identity of this pyramid's owner is preserved on an obelisk in front of her pyramid only as "the eldest daughter of the king". [258] The pyramid had a base length of around 20 m (66 ft), [33] similar to those of Inenek and Nebwenet, and now stands 3 m (9.8 ft) tall. [259] Entry into the substructure is gained on the north face. [260] The burial chamber is located under the vertical axis of the pyramid. [259] The location of the serdab is unusual, being to the south of the burial chamber instead of east. [259] [260] [261] Substantial remains of funerary equipment were found inside including wooden weights, ostrich feathers, copper fish hooks, and fired-clay vessels, [259] but none bore their owner's name. [262] It has a hastily built mortuary temple, with an offering hall and a room with two statue niches. Relief fragments discovered depict scenes of processions and estates, along with an incomplete cartouche of Pepi I's name. [259]

Pyramid of Ankhesenpepi II Edit

The pyramid of Ankhesenpepi II occupies the south-western extremity of the necropolis of Pepi I. [263] With a base of 31.4 m (103 ft), the pyramid once reached 30 m (98 ft) high, making it the largest of the queens' pyramids. [264] The funerary complex of Ankhesenpepi II was also the largest in the necropolis except for that of Pepi himself, covering an area of 3,500 m 2 (38,000 sq ft). [264] It comprised a mortuary temple to the north of the pyramid and 20 storage rooms for offerings. The queen's funerary complex had a monumental entrance with a granite frame, its lintel bearing the queen's name and titles being more than 3.6 m (12 ft) wide and weighing over 17 tons. [265] A small chapel stood on the pyramid northern face, at the entrance of the substructures. Painted reliefs of which only scant remains have been found including a small scene depicting the queen and a princess on a boat among papyrus plants, adorned the accompanying funerary temple. [264] The burial chamber walls were inscribed with spells from the pyramid texts, a privilege that had been the preserve of kings. Fragments from a black basalt sarcophagus were uncovered onsite. [41]

Pyramid of Behenu Edit

With a base of 26.2 m (86 ft), Queen Behenu's pyramid was of similar size and layout to the other queens' pyramids of the necropolis. Located on the western end of the necropolis, immediately north-west of Mehaa's tomb on which it intrudes, Behenu's mortuary temple was on the pyramid's southern face with a cult pyramid on its south-east corner. The entrance of the temple, flanked with two granite obelisks, led to several rooms, which once housed statues and offering altars, while a further 10 rooms served for storage. [22] The burial chamber measured 6.24 m × 2.88 m (20.5 ft × 9.4 ft), [266] and its walls were inscribed with numerous spells of the pyramid texts. The head of a wooden statue of the queen as well as her opened basalt sarcophagus were unearthed there. [267]

Pyramid of Mehaa Edit

Pepi's consort Mehaa was buried in a pyramid on the south-west corner of Pepi's enclosure wall. [260] [261] Directly adjacent to Mehaa's pyramid's eastern face was her mortuary temple, where a relief bearing the name and image of Prince Hornetjerykhet, her son, was uncovered. [261] Mehaa's pyramid is intruded upon by the pyramid of Behenu, establishing that Mehaa was a consort of Pepi I early in his reign while Behenu lived in the later part of his rule. [268]

Old Kingdom Edit

Pepi I was the object of a funerary cult after his death, with ritual activities taking place in his funerary complex up until the Middle Kingdom. This means that Pepi's cult continued to be celebrated during the First Intermediate Period, [270] a period during which the Egyptian state seems to have collapsed, with only brief interruptions of the cultic activities at times of important political instability. [271]

As members of the royal family and high officials had continued to be buried in the necropolis next to Pepi's pyramid during the reigns of Merenre and Pepi II, including Ankhesenpepi II and III and Pepi's daughter Meritites, [272] Pepi's necropolis had grown and had attracted burials from the highest officials such as vizier Weni. [271] Starting with the reign of Pepi II, the necropolis also attracted burials from private individuals [273] as well as popular devotion to him and his consorts. [274] The deposit of numerous offering tables throughout the site confirms this. [273]

Middle Kingdom Edit

The conquest of Egypt under Mentuhotep II seems to have interrupted all activities in the necropolis. [275] These resumed towards the end of the Eleventh Dynasty, when the state-sponsored funerary cult of Pepi was renewed, [276] albeit in a more limited form than earlier. [277] At this time, private cultic activities seem to cease in the wider necropolis of Pepi, rather concentrating in Pepi's own mortuary temple, mainly around his statues, then accessible to important officials participating in the pharaoh's cult. [278] [279] Meanwhile, the abandonment of certain parts of the mortuary temple and the queens' necropolis led to the installation of novel tombs. [278] The most prominent of these was that of the high official Reheryshefnakht, who had a small pyramid complex built for himself in the midst of the tombs of the Sixth Dynasty royal family. [272] The royal cult of Pepi I seems to have ended with the onset of the Second Intermediate Period. [278]

New Kingdom Edit

The New Kingdom period witnessed renewed private burials in the necropolis of Pepi, including in several rooms of his mortuary temple which were used as a catacomb at the time, [280] although no such tomb was found in the main room hosting the royal funerary cult, suggesting continued use. [280] The individuals buried in the necropolis belonged to the lower ranks of Egyptian society, as shown by the simplicity, if not the absence, of funerary equipment, [281] while those using the catacombs were richer. [280]

The consequences of the long-lasting cults of Old Kingdom pharaohs during the New Kingdom are apparent in the Karnak king list. It was composed during the reign of Thutmosis III to honour a selection of royal ancestors. Several pharaohs of the Fifth and Sixth Dynasty including Nyuserre Ini, Djedkare Isesi, Teti and Pepi I are mentioned on the list by their birth name, rather than throne name. The Egyptologist Antonio Morales believes this is because the popular cults for these kings, which existed well into the New Kingdom, referred to these kings using their birth name. [282]

Later, during the reign of Ramses II, limited restoration works on the Old Kingdom monuments took place in the Memphite area under the direction of Prince Khaemweset. Pepi's pyramid complex was among those restored, as shown by inscriptions left on-site by Khaemweset, [283] even though it was actively being used for private burials. [280] Pepi I's necropolis was, therefore, probably in a ruined state at this point, with the area with the queens' pyramids serving as a stone quarry. [281] Khaemweset stated he had found the pyramid "abandoned" and "recalled his proprietor for posterity". [284] The progressive accumulation of burials in the passages leading up to the temple cult rooms blocked all access to it, demonstrating that Pepi's funerary cult had ceased. [280]

Late Period Edit

The stone quarrying activities, which were limited to Pepi's necropolis during the New Kingdom and had spared his mortuary temple, became widespread during the Late Period of Egypt, with intermittent burials continuing nonetheless. [285] Both the stone robbing and funerary activities stopped at some point during the period, and the necropolis was abandoned until the Mamluk period when intense stone quarrying resumed. [286]

  1. ^ Dates proposed for Pepi I's reign: 2390–2361 BC, [2] 2354–2310 BC, [3][4] 2338–2298 BC, [5] 2335–2285 BC, [6] 2332–2283 BC, [7] 2321–2287 BC, [8][9][10] 2289–2255 BC, [11] 2285–2235 BC, [6] 2276–2228 BC. [12]
  2. ^ Among her titles, Iput bore the titles of king's mother (mwt-niswt), mother of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt (mwt-niswt-biti) and king's mother of the pyramid Mennefer-Pepy (mwt-niswt-mn-nfr-ppy). [18]
  3. ^ Their names are also rendered as Ankhnespepy I and II. In addition, the Ancient Egyptians also used the variants Ankhesenmeryre I and II. [23][24]
  4. ^ In an alternative hypothesis, Hans Goedicke has proposed that Merenre's mother was the consort known only from her title "Weret-Yamtes", responsible for the harem conspiracy against Pepi I. In this widely rejected hypothesis, Ankhesenpepi I was falsely claimed by the Ancient Egyptians to be Merenre's mother to safeguard his claim to the throne. [39]
  5. ^ Meritites has also been proposed to be one of Pepi I's consorts rather than daughter, [43] or an Eighth Dynasty queen buried here to indicate her filiation to Pepi I. [43] Both views were proved wrong following excavations in Saqqara indicating she was Pepi's daughter. [44]
  6. ^ Vivienne Callendar proposed her as Pepi's eldest daughter, [46] but excavations have now established that Meritites was the king's eldest daughter. [44]
  7. ^ In the case of Pepi I, the evolution of the name from Ancient Egyptian to Ancient Greek is understood to be as follows: "Pjpj

*Păyắpăyă > *Păyắpyă > *Pyŏ́ pyĕ > *Pyŏ́ p

Between the mention of count 18 [here] and the next memorial formula which belongs to count 19, end of register D, the available space for count 18+ is the expected half of the average size of a theoretical [year count] compartment. It is hard to believe that such a narrow space corresponds to the jubilee celebration, which obviously had a considerable importance for this (and every) king." [63]

Therefore, the references to Pepi I's first jubilee being celebrated in his 18th cattle count are probably just part of this royal tendency to emphasize the king's first jubilee years after it was first celebrated and Baud notes that the longest year compartment in the South Saqqara Stone appears "at the beginning of register D. Fortuitously or not, this [year] compartment corresponds perfectly to year 30/31, if a strictly biennial system of numbering is presumed" for Pepi I's reign. (i.e. his 15th count) Therefore, the count was most probably biennial during Pepi I's reign and the reference to his final year—the 25 count—implies that he reigned for 49 full years. [63]

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Known pharaohs of the Sixth Dynasty are listed in the table below. [1] Manetho accords the dynasty 203 regnal years from Teti to Nitocris, while the Turin Canon assigns 181 regnal years, but with three additional kings concluding with Aba – discounting the reigns of the added Eight Dynasty kings, this is reduced to 155 regnal years. [2] This estimate varies between both scholar and source. [a]

Dynasty VI pharaohs
Name of King Throne or Horus Name [10] Image Proposed Dates Estimated Regnal Duration Pyramid Queen(s)
Teti (Horus) Seheteptawy 2345–2333 BC Manetho: 30–33 years
Royal Turin Canon (RCT): < 7 months
Cattle count: 6th = 12–13 years [2] [11]
Pyramid of Teti at Saqqara Khentkaus III
Iput I
Userkare (unknown) 2333–2331 BC Manetho: Unattested, [12] possibly involved in Teti's murder [13]
RCT: Possibly lost in lacuna [14]
Cattle count: Unknown, lost in lacuna(?) [15]
Pepi I Nefersahor (originally)
Merenre (later)
2331–2287 BC Manetho: 52 years [2]
RCT: 20 or 44 years [16]
Cattle count: 25th = 49–50 years [17]
Pyramid of Pepi I in South Saqqara Ankhesenpepi I
Ankhesenpepi II
Meritites IV
Merenre I Merenre 2287–2278 BC Manetho: 7 years
RCT: 6 years
Cattle count: 5th + 1 year = 10 years [18]
Pyramid of Merenre in South Saqqara Ankhesenpepi II
Pepi II Neferkare 2278–2184 BC Manetho: 94 years
RCT: > 90 years
Cattle count: 33rd = 64–66 years [19] [20]
Pyramid of Pepi II in South Saqqara Neith
Iput II
Ankhesenpepi III
Ankhesenpepi IV
Merenre II Merenre [Nemty?]emsaf 2184 BC Manetho: 1 year [21] [20]
RCT: 1 year, 1 month [22]
Netjerkare Siptah
(unknown) 2184–2181 BC Manetho: Nitocris for 12 years [21]
RCT: Originally thought to identify Nitocris, [23] a recent study of the papyrus has altered this assessment in favour of Netjerkare, who is also attested on the Abydos king list. [24]

The Sixth Dynasty is considered by many authorities as the last dynasty of the Old Kingdom, although The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt [25] includes Dynasties VII and VIII as part of the Old Kingdom. Manetho writes that these kings ruled from Memphis, since their pyramids were built at Saqqara, very close one to another. [26]

By the Fifth Dynasty, the religious institution had established itself as the dominant force in society [27] a trend of growth in the bureaucracy and the priesthood, and a decline in the pharaoh's power had been established during Neferirkare Kakai's reign. [28] During Djedkare Isesi's rule, officials were endowed with greater authority—evidenced by the opulent private tombs they constructed—eventually leading to the creation of a feudal system in effect. [29] These established trends—decentralization of authority, coupled with growth in bureaucracy—intensified during the three decades of Unas's rule, which also witnessed economic decline. [30] This continued on into Sixth Dynasty, leading into the First Intermediate Period. [31]

Teti Edit

Teti is identified as the first king of the Sixth Dynasty [32] [13] by Manetho, after the conclusion of the reign of Unas. [32] He acceded to the throne in the 23rd century BC. [33]

Teti is assigned a regnal duration of 30 or 33 years by Manetho [34] — improbably long as the celebration of a Sed festival is not attested to, and the latest date recorded corresponds to the sixth cattle count, 12 or 13 years into his reign. The Royal Canon of Turin (RCT) gives another unlikely estimate of seven months. [11] The archaeologist Hartwig Altenmüller mediates between Manetho and the record of the cattle count to offer reign length of around 23 years. [34] The Egyptologists Peter Clayton and William Smith accord 12 years to his reign. [35] [36] [b]

The relationship between Teti and his predecessors remains unclear, but his wife Iput is thought to be a daughter of Unas. [32] [36] This would mean that Teti ascended to the throne as Unas's son-in-law. [34] His inauguration solved a potential succession crisis, Unas had died without a male heir. [31] Teti adopted the Horus name Seheteptawy (meaning "He who pacifies the Two Lands") to establish his reign as one of renewed political unity. [35] The transition appears to have occurred smoothly, [36] [13] and Teti retained officials from his predecessors of the Fifth Dynasty, such as viziers Mehu and Kagemni who had begun their careers under Djedkare Isesi. [34] Despite this, the RCT too inserts a break between Unas and Teti, which the Egyptologist Jaromìr Malek contends relates to a "change of location of the capital and royal residence". [32] The capital migrated from "White Wall" to the populous suburbs further south to "Djed-isut"—derived from the name of Teti's pyramid and pyramid town, and located east of the monument. The royal residence might have been yet further south, in the valley away and across a lake from the city, east of South Saqqara—where the pyramids of Djedkare Isesi and Pepi I were built. [39]

Teti had his daughter, Sesheshet, married to one of his viziers and later chief priest, Mereruka, a clear sign of his interest in co-operating with the noble class. [40] Mereruka was buried close to Teti's pyramid, in a lavish tomb in North Saqqara. [11] [35] As part of his policy of pacification, Teti issued a decree exempting the temple at Abydos from taxation. He was the first ruler to be closely associated with the cult of Hathor at Dendera. [11] Abroad, Teti maintained trade relations with Byblos and Nubia. [35]

Teti commissioned the construction of a pyramid at North Saqqara. His pyramid follows the standard set by Djedkare Isesi, with a base length of 78.5 m (258 ft 150 cu) converging to the apex at

53° attaining a peak height of 52.5 m (172 ft 100 cu). [41] The substructure of the pyramid was very similar to Unas's and Djedkare Isesi's it had a descending corridor and horizontal passage guarded at about the middle by three granite portcullises, leading to an antechamber flanked to its east by the serdab with its three recesses and to its west by the burial chamber containing the sarcophagus. [42] The walls of the chambers and a section of the horizontal passage were inscribed with Pyramid Texts, as in Unas' pyramid. [43] The mortuary temple, with the exception of its entrance, conforms to the same basic plans as his predecessors. [43] [44] The complex contained a cult pyramid to the south-east of the pyramid with base length 15.7 m (52 ft 30 cu). [45] The causeway connecting to the mortuary temple is yet to be excavated, [44] while the valley temple and pyramid town are entirely missing. [43] Teti's pyramid became the site of a large necropolis, and included the pyramids of his wives Neith and Iput, mother of Pepi I. [46] [47] Iput's skeleton was discovered buried in her pyramid in a wooden coffin. [46]

Manetho claims that Teti was assassinated by a body guard, but no contemporary sources confirm this. [35] [48] The story, if true, might explain the references to the ephemeral ruler Userkare, proposed to have briefly reigned between Teti and Pepi I. [35] Userkare is attested to in the Royal Turin Canon and Abydos king-list, and is mentioned in several contemporaneous documents. [11]

Pepi I Edit

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

Pepi II Edit

The most notable member of this dynasty was Pepi II, who is credited with a reign of 94 years. [49]

Nitiqret Edit

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

With the growing number of biographical inscriptions in non-royal tombs, [50] our knowledge of the contemporary history broadens. [51] For example, we hear of an unsuccessful plot against Pepi I. [52] We also read a letter written by the young king Pepi II, excited that one of his expeditions will return with a dancing pygmy from the land of Yam, located to the south of Nubia. [53]

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 Pepi II his vassals were entrenched enough to resist the authority of his many successors, which may have contributed to the rapid decline of the Old Kingdom.


Ancient Egyptian pyramids are shaped stone masonry structures. They are the best known pyramid structures, and are some of the largest ever buildings. Over 130 pyramids have been discovered in Egypt. Most were built on the western side of the River Nile in desert areas. Egyptian pyramids are often contain chambers and passages. The pyramids were built as the burial places of the Egyptian kings before the start of the old kingdom until the end of the middle kingdom. Because the Egyptians kept written records, we know about the building of some pyramids.

The Great Pyramid at Giza is the largest and most famous pyramid. It was built for Pharaoh Khufu. It is over 140 metres high and took 20 years to build. It is listed as one of the seven wonders of the world. The step pyramid at Saqqara is the earliest pyramid which is still standing today. This was built in 2630 BC. It was a burial place of the Pharaoh Djoser. The architect of the step pyramid was Imhotep.

Ancient Egyptian Warfare

The spoils of wars were also a great source of income as long as Egypt came victorious.

Bravery in battles like the Battle of Kadesh or the Battle of Megiddo were rewarded with riches in the form of golden necklaces, bracelets, and lands as tributes were imposed on defeated nations and a sign of peace an exchange of gifts would take place between the pharaohs and the foreign kings which would always land in Egypt’s favor.

The ancient Egyptian civilization is one of the wealthiest cultures in history in every meaning of the world. Don’t miss the chance to explore the true definition of wonder within the gates of Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan with the most charming views ever boarding a Nile Cruise through our Egypt tour packages.

Ancient Egyptian Taxes & the Cattle Count - History

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

hag'-rits (haghri'im): An Arab tribe, or confederation of tribes (1 Ch 5:10,19,20 the King James Version "Hagarites" 1 Ch 27:31 the King James Version "Hagerite" Ps 83:6 "Hagarenes"), against which the Reubenites fought in the days of Saul. In Gen 25:12-18 are recorded the descendants, "generations," of Ishmael, "whom Hagar the Egyptian Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham." Two, and possibly three, of these tribes, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah (25:15), appear to be identical with the 3 tribes whom the Reubenites and the other Israelite tribes East of the Jordan conquered and dispossessed (1 Ch 5). The correspondence of names in Gen and 1 Ch leaves little doubt that "Hagrite" is a generic term roughly synonymous with "Ishmaelite," designating the irregular and shifting line of desert tribes stretching along the East and South of Israel. Those "East of Gilead," "Jetur, Naphish and Nodah," were overcome by Reuben: "The Hagrites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them. . And they took away their cattle . they dwelt in their stead until the captivity" (1 Ch 5:20-22).
These along with other Arab tribes are mentioned in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 BC). Jetur gave his name to the Itureans of Roman times, who were famed soldiers dwelling in Anti-Libanus. Compare Curtis, Commentary on Chronicles Skinner, "Gen," ICC, in the place cited.
Edward Mack Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'hagrites'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE 1915.

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