Wed, 27 November 2013
Pepy II, Part Two.
Pepy II, King of Upper and Lower Egypt is now reaching middle-age, after coming to
the throne at the age of six.
Egyptian officials are flying afield in the service of the king, taking Egyptian wealth
and prestige to Nubia (Wawat), Sinai and the coast of Palestine.
Two distinct families are involved in these events: Pepynakht Heryib and his son,
Sabni son of Pepynakht. The father journeys to the coast of Palestine to retrieve
the body of a fallen colleague. His son is despatched to Wawat to construct
two obelisks for the king.
A second Sabni (II) journeys south into Wawat to retrieve the body of his father,
who had died on expedition. His son, Mekhu, in turn must retrieve Sabni's body after
he dies later at Elephantine.
The king is all-powerful, still, but the cracks are beginning to appear.
Wed, 30 October 2013
Pepy II, Part One.
Ankh-enes-Pepy (2) oversees the kingdom in the name of her young son, Pepy II.
At the age of six, Pepy II was too young to rule effectively on his own.
Expeditions outside Egypt continue unabated; the Overseer Qar
handles live-stock raising and pastoral administration in the South.
Meanwhile, a royal expedition under the command of Harkhuf is
returning from its 2+ year trip into the southern land of Yam ('Iyam').
Pepy II is delighted to hear of the special gift Harkhuf has acquired for him, and
reveals his excitement in a lengthy letter, recorded in Harkhuf's tomb.
Sun, 13 October 2013
Weni the Elder, Part II.
The life and times of Weni the Elder now take him to the southern
reaches of Egypt, to act as Overseer of Upper Egypt for approximately
3-4 years (2 Occasions of the 'Count' - the semi-bi-annual census).
The ruler Merenre (son of Pepy I, Episode 19) sends him to Nubia in
search of a sandstone sarcophagus for his pyramid. While in the South,
Weni is also commissioned to build canals and river-boats for the royal use.
Such endeavours reflect the increasing interest of the kings in this southern territory.
We also discuss the sea-going capabilities of Egyptian ships,
and whether the few proposed trace of Egyptian journeys to
South America have any real basis in fact.
The Ship Ra II, with which Thor Heyerdhal crossed the Atlantic in 1970.
Simpson, William K. The Literature of Ancient Egypt.
Shaw, Ian. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt.
Freedman, Renée. Egypt and Nubia, Gifts of the Desert.
Sun, 22 September 2013
Pepy I and Weni the Elder.
The early years of Pepy I are a difficult time for the young king;
following the downfall of his predecessor, the usurper named
Userkare, Pepy I took the throne as a young man.
A conspiracy against him in the first half of his reign stressed the new
dangers facing Egyptian kings; no longer inviolable, the person of the
king had to be protected more than ever.
A model of Egyptian soldiers from the 11th Dynasty. Weni would have led troops very similar to the ones represented here.
A small offering-statue of Pepy I.
Bibliography for Weni the Elder:
Simpson, William K. The Literature of Ancient Egypt.
Wed, 28 August 2013
The Assassination of King Teti
The Greek-Egyptian Historian Manetho (writing c.280BCE) tells us
that the first king of Dynasty VI, Teti, was murdered in a conspiracy
by his palace guards.
Was Manetho right?
Did the courtiers and guards of a god-king turn on him
and commit the ultimate crime?
This episode digs through the evidence in search of an answer.
Sat, 17 August 2013
Moral Teachings for a Moral Life; Dynasty Six Begins
The reign of King Teti is a time of change for Egyptian society.
His predecessor Unas has died without male heir, and Teti takes the throne by marrying Iput,
daughter of the previous king. This is generally regarded as
a good time to divide the Fifth Dynasty from the Sixth.
Ptah-hotep, Vizier under Djedkare and Unas, dictates his memoirs and musings on
moral behaviour and good life. The father of Kagemni, also a Vizier, does the same.
These teachings, now known as Instructional (or 'Didactic') Literature are one of
the clearest sources on Egyptian morality and behaviour.
Photos below by the author, taken in early February 2013.
From the cemetery around Teti's pyramid, the cenotaph of a Sole Companion, Revered One named Ihy.
Goose, an ox leg and several palm fronds adorn the offering table before him.
The antechamber of Teti's pyramid tomb. Adorning the walls are the Pyramid Texts, lengthy
columns of prayers, hymns and offering formulae for the King's venerated soul.
Teti's enormous sarcophagus; it's tall enough that even I (5'10") had to stand on the limestone block at
left to see inside.
The Pyramid Texts themselves. For a vocalised reading, see Episode XVI and the Youtube video posted on the site.
Bibliography: I will slowly work on adding one to the previous episodes.
Miriam Lichtheim. Ma'at in Egyptian Autbiographies and Related Studies. 1992.
William Kelly Simpson (editor). The Literature of Ancient Egypt. Third Edition. 2003.
Jan Assmann. Ma'at: Gereghtigkeit und Unsterblichkeit im alten Ägypten. 1995.
Mon, 29 July 2013
Djedkare II & Unas the Cannibal.
The Fifth Dynasty ends with the death of Unas, son of Djedkare.
This episode, we cover Djedkare's reign and the reign of his son,
whose Pyramid Texts are the first (and most fascinating) religious literature to survive.
The Pyramid Texts of Unas, vocalised by Youtube poster Orlando Mezzabotta.
The starving Bedouin of the causeway of Unas' pyramid. Evidence for famine on the frontier?
The Vizier Senedjemib, from his tomb at Giza. Reign of Djedkare.
Tue, 9 July 2013
Djedkare, Part I.
Elite Culture, glimpsed in the reign of Niuserre, is coming to the fore.
With it, the moral codes and behavioural treatises of literate officials appear in the historical record.
Beneath this change in the historical record, a ground-swell of social change is having
an effect on the place of the Elites in the society around them.
This will have serious implications for the kings...
The pyramid of Djedkare at Saqqara; reconstruction from Wikipedia.
Wed, 3 July 2013
Niuserre Part II
The reign of Niuserre is a time of great achievement and splendour;
social identities are becoming visible beyond the realm of the royal family,
with the elites developing new manners of expression and ideas on their role
in the afterlife.
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Below: The Re-discovery of Menkauhor's pyramid, from the BBC.
Mon, 17 June 2013
Niuserre: Part I.
The reign of Niuserre begins and society is evolving; courtiers with no (close) blood relation
to the King now enter the highest echelons of the royal administration.
Ptah-shepses, one of these non-royal officials, strides up the career ladder, from Hairdresser
and Manicurist to Overseer of all the Royal Works and the great position of Vizier.
Ny-ankh-Khnum and Khnum-hotep appear as Hairdressers as well; a special pair
in an evolving world.
The Mastaba of Ptah-shepses today; off-screen at left is a chamber designed for the burial of a boat.
Ptah-shepses himself, on a pillar in his tomb.
Ny-ankh-Khnum and Khnum-hotep embrace in their tomb. Photo: Wikipedia.