Seventh and Eighth Dynasties of Egypt

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The Seventh and Eighth Dynasties of ancient Egypt (notated Dynasties VII and VIII) are often combined with Dynasties IX, X and XI (Thebes only) under the group title First Intermediate Period. The Dynasties VII and VIII date approximately from 2181 to 2160 BC.[1]

Rulers[edit]

Dynasties VII and VIII are a little-known line of kings (pharaohs) during a confusing time in the history of Egypt. Known rulers for these dynasties are as follows:

Dynasty VII[2]
Nomen Prenomen Comments
- Netjerkare? This person is possibly Nitocris, and if so would belong in the sixth dynasty.
- Menkare -
- Neferkare II -
Nebi Neferkare Neby Planned or started a pyramid "Neferkare Neby is Enduring of Life", possibly at Saqqara.
- Djedkare Shemai -
- Neferkare Khendu -
- Merenhor -
Seneferka Neferkamin -
- Nikare -
- Neferkare Tereru -
- Neferkahor Attested by a cylinder seal.


Dynasty VIII[2]
Nomen Prenomen Comments
- Neferkare Pepiseneb Turin Canon gives at least one year.[3]
- Neferkamin Anu
Iby Qakare Ibi Turin Canon gives rule of two years, one month, one day.[4] Built a pyramid at Saqqara.
- Neferkaure II Turin Canon gives rule of four years, two months[4]
Khwiwihepu Neferkauhor Turin Canon gives rule of two years, one month, one day[4]
- Neferirkare Turin Canon gives a reign of one and a half years[4]

Sources[edit]

Manetho[edit]

The three sources that provide our knowledge on this period is exceedingly difficult to work with. Manetho's full history does not survive intact, but is known through other writers who quoted from it. Unfortunately, the two ancient historians who quote from this section, Sextus Julius Africanus and Eusebius of Caesarea, provide inconsistent accounts of both dynasties. Africanus claims that Dynasty VII consisted of 70 kings that ruled during a period of seventy days in Memphis, and Dynasty VIII consisted of 27 kings who reigned for 146 years. However, Eusebius records that during Dynasty VII five kings ruled over seventy five days, and Dynasty VIII includes five kings who ruled for 100 years. Seventy kings in seventy days is usually considered the correct version of Manetho, but obviously not the actual correct dates. This epithet is interpreted to mean that the pharaohs of this period were extremely ephemeral, and the use of seventy may be a pun on fact that this was Manetho's seventh dynasty.[5] Because Manetho does not provide actual historical data on this period, many argue that the seventh dynasty is fictitious.

The Turin Canon of Kings and Abydos King List[edit]

Two Egyptian documents record the names of the kings of Egypt, but they do not divide them into dynasties. Kings 42 to 56 on the Abydos King List come between the end of Dynasty VI and the beginning of Dynasty XI, and do not appear to be from Dynasty IX or X either.[6] The Turin Canon is heavily damaged, and cannot be read without much difficulty. However, the fragment containing what is believed to be the name of Nitocris has two mangled names and a third name on it which is clearly that of Qakare Ibi, the fifty-third king on the Abydos King List. There seems to be room for two more kings before the end of the dynasty.[7] This would indicate that the missing parts of the Turin Papyrus probably contained the kings in the fifty-first to fifty-fifth registers of the Abydos King List. Because the Turin papyrus omits the first nine kings on the Abydos list, W.C. Hayes thinks it reasonable that the Egyptians may have divided Dynasties VII and VIII at this point.[7][8]

Decline into chaos[edit]

Given that five names of the kings from this period have Pepi II's throne name Neferkare in their own names, they may have been descendants of Dynasty VI who were trying to hold on to some sort of power.[9] Some of the acts of the final four Dynasty VIII kings are recorded in their decrees to Shemay, a vizier during this period, although only Qakare Ibi can be connected to any monumental construction. His pyramid has been found at Saqqara near that of Pepi II and, like its predecessors, had the Pyramid Texts written on the walls.[9]

However many kings there actually were, it is clear that during this time period a breakdown of the central authority of Egypt was underway. The rulers of these dynasties were based in Memphis; with the exception of the final Dynasty VIII kings, all that is known of most of these rulers is their names. This group of kings was eventually overthrown by a rival group, Dynasty IX, based in Herakleopolis Magna.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shaw, Ian, ed. (2000). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press. p. 480. ISBN 0-19-815034-2. 
  2. ^ a b Division between dynasties is on the assumption that the omission of nine kings in the Turin Canon separates the two dynasties.
  3. ^ Kim Ryholt: "The Late Old Kingdom in the Turin King-list and the Identity of Nitocris", Zeitschrift für ägyptische, 127, 2000, p. 91
  4. ^ a b c d Jürgen von Beckerath: The Date of the End of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, JNES 21 (1962), p. 143
  5. ^ Grimal, Nicolas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p.138. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988.
  6. ^ Abydos King List, Accessed November 9, 2006
  7. ^ a b Smith, W. Stevenson. The Old Kingdom in Egypt and the Beginning of the First Intermediate Period, in The Cambridge Ancient History," vol. I, part 2, ed. Edwards, I.E.S, et al. p.197. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1971
  8. ^ Piccione's King Lists
  9. ^ a b Grimal, Nicolas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p.140. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988.