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Pepi I

2332 - 2283 BC

 

 

It is thought that Pepi I came to the throne probably still quite young (for two reasons - his long reign of about 50 years and also secondly before the rule of Pepi I there was a very brief reign of perhaps just a year of King Usekare - this may of been while Queen Iput acted as regent for her son Pepi I).

 Queens and sons of Pepi I

Pepi I married two non-royal sisters who were, confusingly, both called Meryeankhnes. Both were to produce heirs to the throne - one was the mother to Merenre (successor of Pepi I), while the second was mother to Pepi II (as Pepi II was still a child when he ascended the throne it is thought that Pepi I married this second sister very late in his reign.

Pepi I's queens were the daughters of Khui, he was a powerful Nomarch (or hereditary governor) of the Thinite nome, the King's brother-in-law, Djau, was to become Vizier. Instead of marrying one of his sisters as was tradition in ancient Egypt, Pepi I was perhaps forced to marry into a powerful nomarch family to gain their support. During his reign the nobility of the country increased its power and wealth - bigger and better tombs were built for them, those who sought friendship with the king were given special privileges.

(Another of Pepi I's queens - Weret-Imtes - was involved in a conspiracy against him, but the plot was foiled and the queen punished).

The story of Weni

A tomb at Abydos holds the 'autobiography' of Weni - a man who came from poor, humble beginnings to rise through the courts to become a judge (he was to be the judge in the case of Pepi I's queen Were-Imtes), to be placed at the head of an army of many tens of thousands of men that would march against the Bedouin in northern Sinai. - His account is one of the longest narrative inscriptions dating to the Old Kingdom.

 

 The Pyramid of Pepi I

('Perfection of Pepi is Established')

Original Height - 52.5 m

Length of Side - 78.75m

The pyramid of Pepi I has not fared well - it is now not much more than a pile of rubble 12m high - in the centre is a crater dug by stone robbers. Fortunately the inner chambers have survived - including the'Pyramid Texts' which covered the walls (this is due to the conservation work carried by the French Archaeological Saqqara Mission who pieced the fragments of the walls back together - jigsaw puzzle from hell!). - You can read some of the Pyramid Texts from Pepi I's burial chamber HERE

The original name of the pyramid was 'Mennefer' - it was through the corruption of this word that 'Memphis' came from.

As is the standard pattern for pyramids of this era -the pyramid is entered via a passage on the north side - this passage then leads into the burial chamber.

 
 A - Pyramid of Pepi I  E - Satellite pyramid
B - Passage leading to burial chamber  F - Open Court
 C - Sanctuary  G - Entrance Hall
 D - niche with 5 statues

  A unique find was made in the burial chamber - not only was the sarcophagus of Pepi I still there - but in a niche in the floor just to the front of the sarcophagus was his pink granite canopic chest. Close by a complete packet of viscera (most likely to be Pepi I) was found.

 

Left - the canopic jar and viscera found inside the pyramid

 

A reconstruction of how Pepi I's sarcophagus would have looked (note the line of Pyramid Text).

Queen's Pyramids

Five pyramids have been recently (1988 or later) found to the south of Pepi I's pyramids - the first three were originally were 20m square, they had their own enclosure and offering temple. The Pyramids were called 'Queen of the West'. 'Queen of the East' and 'Queen of the Centre'. - The owner of the Eastern pyramid has been identified as Nebwenet. The Western pyramid's owner can only be idenitifed as 'eldest daughter of the King'. The centre pyramid belongs to Inenek / Inti.

A fourth pyramid has been identified as belonging to Merytytyes - a royal wife and daughter.

A fifth pyramid has just been discovered, but as yet the owner is unknown.