Pepy II

Pepy II
King 2269-2175 BC.
    Pepy II, the younger son of *Pepy I, came to the throne as a young child, following the untimely death of his brother, Merenre. He is accorded the longest reign in Egypt's history and was the last ruler of importance in the Old Kingdom; *Manetho stated that he acceded to the throne when he was only six years old and lived into his hundredth year. His mother acted as his regent in the early years of the reign.
    In a wall inscription in the Aswan tomb of the official Harkhuf, the text of a delightful letter is preserved. Harkhuf had served the kings Merenre and Pepy II and, as Governor of Upper Egypt, he had led four expeditions to *Nubia on behalf of the king. Pepy II had apparently written this letter to Harkhuf at the time of one of these expeditions, when he was bringing a dancing pygmy back from the south for the young king. The royal child, eager to see the pygmy, exhorts Harkhuf to take great care and to bring him safely to the palace—'...Come north to the Residence at once! Hurry and bring with you this pygmy...!'.
    This inscription also provides the most significant source for knowledge of Egypt's relationships with *Nubia at this time. Broken alabaster vases bearing the names of Pepy II, *Pepy I and Merenre have been discovered at Kerma in the Sudan, possibly indicating that the Egyptians may have already established a trading centre far to the south. Vase fragments inscribed with the names of *Pepy I and Pepy II have also been found at *Byblos in Syria, and trading ventures to this city were probably regular events during this period. There were also expeditions to the mines in Sinai, and it is evident that foreign contacts were widely established.
    By the time that Pepy II's long reign came to an end, the royal power had diminished as the cumulative result of various political, economic and religious factors. The provincial nobility no longer felt a strong allegiance to the king, for they now held their governorships on a hereditary basis; other factors included the widening circle of inheritance of some Crown land and the loss of taxation on the land that the king distributed to the nobility. In addition, the royal funerary monuments and the solar temples had placed an increasing burden on the king's limited resources. Pepy II was perhaps senile in the later years of his reign and incapable of vigorous rulership; he may well be the old king who is mentioned in the literary text known as the 'Admonitions of *Ipuwer' who, isolated in his palace, is unaware of the destruction of his kingdom.
    There is also evidence in Pepy II's reign that the borders of Egypt were being harrassed. Hekaib (another Governor of Aswan) recorded how he was sent to deal with inter-tribal troubles in Nubia, and soon after the death of the king, the '*Asiatics' probably increased their incursions on Egypt's north-east frontier. Eventually the society of the Old Kingdom collapsed and was replaced by the chaotic conditions of the First Intermediate Period.
    Pepy II was the last king of the Old Kingdom to build a classic pyramid complex; it is situated south of Saqqara and was excavated by Jequier between AD 1929 and 1936. It is a good example of the most advanced form of such a complex and displays the same standard of excellence as the pyramids of the Fifth Dynasty. In the pyramid mortuary temple, food and other requirements are depicted in the wall reliefs so that these could be magically activated for the king in his next life. Outside the enclosure wall of the complex there were three small pyramids, each with its own set of buildings; these were intended for three important queens, Neith, Iput and Udjebten.
    Pepy II was succeeded by his son, Merenre II, but the end of the Old Kingdom when the centre of power would move away from Memphis, was imminent.
BIBL. Jequier, G. Le monument funeraire de Pepi II. (three vols) Cairo: 1936—40; Dixon, D. M. The Land of Yam. JEA 44 (1958) pp. 40-55.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David
* * *
(reigned c. 2278–2184 BC)
   Throne name Neferkare. Son of Pepy I and Ankhesenmeryre II. He succeeded his half brother, NemtyemsafI. As he was still a child, his mother and her brother apparently ruled on his behalf. Very little information has survived about his reign, except its length. Both the Turin Royal Canon and Manetho imply that he reigned for more than 90 years, but this date has recently been disputed, as only about 64 years are attested. The dynasty ended in confusion shortly after his death, so his longevity and increasing loss of power may have contributed to its downfall. The king was buried in a pyramid at Saqqara surrounded by the subsidiary pyramids of his queens, Iput II; Neith, who was his sister or half sister; Udjebten; and Ankhesenpepy IV, who was buried in the tomb of Iput. Another queen was Ankhesenpepy III, whose tomb was discovered in the funerary complex of Pepy I. He was succeeded by his son, Nemtyemsaf II.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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