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Pepi II

2278 - 2184 BC

 

 

 

 The longest reigning pharaoh of ancient Egypt - he ruled Egypt for 94 years. He inherited the throne while he was only 6 after the death of his half-brother Merenre. During these early years his mother, Queen Ankhnesmerire acted as regent - an alabaster statuette shows this close relantionship.

 

Pepi II is known to have married his half-sister, Neith (daughter of Ankhnesmerire I), he also married his niece Ipwet (daughter of Merenre), as well as two other senior queens (three of these queens were buried within their own pyramids within the pyramid complex of Pepi II).

Foreign relantions
Inscriptions in the tomb of the official Harkhuf (see below) gives good evidence of Egypt's relantions with Nubia ­ broken alabaster vases found at Kerma in the Sudan also indicates that Egypt may have had a trading centre deep into Nubia during the times of Pepi I, Merenre and Pepi II. Trading expeditions were also being sent to Byblos in Syria (vase fragments with the names of Pepi I and Pepi II were found here). Activity has also been found dating to Pepi II's reign in the mines at Sinai ­ other foreign trading expeditions were also widely known to have existed.
There is evidence to show that during this period the borders of Egypt were also under threat ­ there were inter-tribal troubles in Nubia, and the Asiatics were probing Egypt's north-eastern border.

Inscription from the tomb of Harkhuf

The tomb of this nobleman at Aswan gives and interesting insight of a message sent by a young Pepi II to Harkhuf (Year 2)- firstly, Harkhuf made several journeys into Nubia to collect ivory, ebony, incense and other precious items for the Egyptian market. It was while on one of these trading expeditions that Harkhuf captured a small pygmy, once the royal court had been informed Pepi II himself sent a letter to Harkhuf :

The King's own seal: Year 2, third month of the first season, day 15. The King's decree to the Sole companion, Lector-priest, Chief of scouts, Harkhuf. Notice has been taken of this dispatch of yours which you made for the King at the Palace, to let one know that you have come down in safety from Yam with the army that was with you. You have said in this dispatch of yours that you have brought all kinds of great and beautiful gifts, which Hathor mistress of Imaau has given to the ka of King Neferkare, who lives forever. You have said in this dispatch of yours that you have brought a pygmy of the god's dances from the land of the horizon-dwellers, like the pygmy whom the god's seal-bearer Bawerded brought from Punt in the time of King Isesi. You have said to my majesty that his like has never been brought by anyone who did Yam previously.
Truly you know how to do what your lord loves and praises. Truly you spend day and night planning to do what your lord loves, praises, and commands. His majesty will provide your many worthy honours for the benefit of your son's son for all time, so that all people will say, when they hear what my majesty did for you: "Does anything equal what was done for the sole companion Harkhuf when he came down from Yam, on account of the vigilance he showed in doing what his lord loved, praised, and commanded?"
Come north to the residence at once! Hurry and bring with you this pygmy whom you brought from the land of the horizon-dwellers live, hale, and healthy, for the dances of the god, to gladden the heart, to delight the heart of King Neferkare who lives forever! When he goes down with you into the ship, get worthy men to be around him on deck, lest he fall into the water! When he lies down at night, get worthy men to lie around him in his tent. Inspect ten times at night! My majesty desires to see this pygmy more than the gifts of the mine-land and of Punt!
When you arrive at the residence and this pygmy is with you live, hale, and healthy, my majesty will do great things for you, more than was done for the god's seal-bearer Bawerded in the time of King Isesi, in accordance with my majesty's wish to see this pygmy. Orders have been brought to the chief of the new towns and the companion, overseer of priests to command that supplies be furnished from what is under the charge of each from every storage depot and every temple that has not been exempted.

The decline of Royal Power and the descent into chaos

Much has been made of Pepi II's great age when he died, it is this thought that as he got increasingly older Pepi was no longer able to control the ambitions of the nobility in Egypt. The nobility held their own land which was passed down from father to son, bigger tombs were cut for them - their own nomes grew in importance also and only a casual allegiance was given to the crown. Further strain was put on the throne by the needs of the royal pyramid and solar temples - eventually the Old Kingdom society would collapse into the chaos of the First Intermediate Period, a time when Egypt would be without a one true king.

There is, however, a mention of a successor to Pepi II - Merenre II (son of Pepi II and Neith), and Queen Nitocris (thought to have been the wife of Merenre II, but could also have ruled in her own right).

 

 The Pyramid of Pepi II

('Pepi is most stable in Life')

Original Height - 52.5 m

Length of Side - 78.5m

Pepi II was the last pharaoh of the Old Kingdom to build the 'classic' style pyramid complex, the mortuary temple depicts food and many other items which Pepi II would need in the Afterlife. The pyramid is south of Saqqara and was first excavated by Gustave Jequier in 1929.

 A - Pyramid of Pepi II  E - Satellite pyramid
B - Pyramid of Queen Udjebten  F - Enclosure Wall
 C - Pyramid of Queen Neit  G - Funerary Temple
 D - Pyramid of Queen Ipuit

Burial chambers within the pyramid 
 A - Entrance  E - corridor
B - First Corridor  F - Antechamber
 C - Vestibule  G - Burial Chamber
 D - Granite slabs H - Sarcophagus

For details on the Pyramids of Pepi II's Queens - CLICK HERE