Eighth Dynasty of Egypt

Last updated
Egypt
ca. 2181 BC–ca. 2160 BC
Capital Memphis
Common languages Egyptian language
Religion
ancient Egyptian religion
Government Absolute monarchy
Historical era Bronze Age
 Established
ca. 2181 BC
 Disestablished
ca. 2160 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Blank.png Seventh Dynasty of Egypt
Ninth Dynasty of Egypt Blank.png

The Eighth Dynasty of ancient Egypt (Dynasty VIII) is a poorly known and short-lived line of pharaohs reigning in rapid succession in the early 22nd century BC, likely with their seat of power in Memphis. The Eighth Dynasty held sway at a time referred to as the very end of the Old Kingdom or the beginning of the First Intermediate Period. The power of the pharaohs was waning while that of the provincial governors, known as nomarchs, was increasingly important, the Egyptian state having by then effectively turned into a feudal system. In spite of close relations between the Memphite kings and powerful nomarchs, notably in Coptos, the Eighth Dynasty was eventually overthrown by the nomarchs of Heracleopolis Magna, who founded the Ninth Dynasty. The Eighth Dynasty is sometimes combined with the preceding Seventh Dynasty, owing to the lack of archeological evidence for the latter which may be fictitious.

Ancient Egypt ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

Memphis, Egypt Ancient capital of Inebu-hedj, Egypt

Memphis was the ancient capital of Inebu-hedj, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Mit Rahina, 20 km (12 mi) south of Giza.

A nomarch was a provincial governor in Ancient Egypt; the country was divided into 42 provinces, called nomes. A nomarch was the government official responsible for a nome.

Contents

Egyptologists estimate that the Eighth Dynasty ruled Egypt for approximately 2045 years and various dates have been proposed: 2190—2165 BC, [1] 21812160 BC, [2] [3] 21912145 BC, [4] 21502118 BC. [5]

Sources

Kings of the 8th Dynasty on the Abydos king list, from Netjerkare Siptah to Neferkamin. Abydos Koenigsliste 40-47.jpg
Kings of the 8th Dynasty on the Abydos king list, from Netjerkare Siptah to Neferkamin.
Kings of the 8th Dynasty on the Abydos king list, from Nikare until Neferirkare. Abydos Koenigsliste 48-56.jpg
Kings of the 8th Dynasty on the Abydos king list, from Nikare until Neferirkare.

Historical

New Kingdom Sources

Two historical sources dating to the New Kingdom list kings belonging to the Eighth Dynasty. The earliest of the two and main historical source on the Eighth Dynasty is the Abydos king list, written during the reign of Seti I. The kings listed on the entries 40 to 56 of the Abydos king list are placed between the end of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom period and the beginning of the Eleventh Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom. Furthermore, the names of these kings are different from those known from the Ninth and Tenth Dynasties, none of which are on the Abydos list. As a consequence, entries 40 to 56 of the list are assigned to the Seventh and Eighth Dynasties.

New Kingdom of Egypt period 1550 to 1070 BC in ancient Egypt

The New Kingdom, also referred to as the Egyptian Empire, is the period in ancient Egyptian history between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC, covering the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties of Egypt. Radiocarbon dating places the exact beginning of the New Kingdom between 1570 BC and 1544 BC. The New Kingdom followed the Second Intermediate Period and was succeeded by the Third Intermediate Period. It was Egypt's most prosperous time and marked the peak of its power.

Abydos King List

The Abydos King List, also known as the Abydos Table, is a list of the names of seventy-six kings of Ancient Egypt, found on a wall of the Temple of Seti I at Abydos, Egypt. It consists of three rows of thirty-eight cartouches in each row. The upper two rows contain names of the kings, while the third row merely repeats Seti I's throne name and nomen.

Seti I second pharaoh of the 19th dynasty in ancient egypt

Menmaatre Seti I was a pharaoh of the New Kingdom Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt, the son of Ramesses I and Sitre, and the father of Ramesses II. As with all dates in Ancient Egypt, the actual dates of his reign are unclear, and various historians claim different dates, with 1294 BC to 1279 BC and 1290 BC to 1279 BC being the most commonly used by scholars today.

The other New Kingdom source on the Eighth Dynasty is the Turin canon, written during the reign of Ramses II. The Turin papyrus was copied from an earlier source which, as the Egyptologist Kim Ryholt has shown, was itself riddled with lacunae and must have been in a poor state. In addition, the Turin papyrus is itself heavily damaged and cannot be read without much difficulty. In total three names are present on papyrus fragments which might be allocated to Eighth Dynasty kings. These are Netjerkare Siptah, another hard to read name and finally, that of Qakare Ibi, the fifty-third king on the Abydos king list. There seems to be room for two [6] or three [7] [8] more kings before the end of the dynasty as recorded on the list. This would indicate that the missing parts of the Turin canon 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. [6]

Turin King List ancient Egyptian manuscript

The Turin King List, also known as the Turin Royal Canon, is an ancient Egyptian hieratic papyrus thought to date from the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II, now in the Museo Egizio in Turin. The papyrus is the most extensive list available of kings compiled by the ancient Egyptians, and is the basis for most chronology before the reign of Ramesses II.

Kim Steven Bardrum Ryholt is a professor of Egyptology at the University of Copenhagen and a specialist on Egyptian history and literature. He is director of the research center Canon and Identity Formation in the Earliest Literate Societies under the University of Copenhagen Programme of Excellence and director of The Papyrus Carlsberg Collection & Project.

Netjerkare Siptah Egyptian pharaoh

Netjerkare Siptah was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the seventh and last ruler of the Sixth Dynasty. Alternatively some scholars classify him as the first king of the Seventh or Eighth Dynasty. As the last king of the 6th Dynasty, Netjerkare Siptah is considered by some Egyptologists to be the last king of the Old Kingdom period.

Ptolemaic Source

The Egyptian priest Manetho wrote a history of Egypt during the 3rd century BC known as the Aegyptiaca . Manetho's work has not survived to this day and is only known to us via three later writers who quoted from it. Unfortunately, these three sources are exceedingly difficult to work with. For example, they often contradict each other, as is the case for the two ancient historians — Sextus Julius Africanus and Eusebius of Caesarea — who quote from the section of the Aegyptiaca regarding the Seventh and Eighth 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 concerning the Seventh Dynasty, but likely not a factual account of history. Rather, this is interpreted to mean that the pharaohs of this period were extremely ephemeral, and the use of seventy may be a pun on the fact that this was Manetho's Seventh Dynasty. [9] Because Manetho does not provide actual historical data on this period and no archeological evidence for the Seventh Dynasty has emerged, many Egyptologists have argued that this dynasty is fictitious. [10] Concerning the Eighth Dynasty, it is now widely agreed that Manetho's estimate for its duration is a very substantial overestimation of the reality. [8]

Sextus Julius Africanus was a Christian traveler and historian of the late second and early third centuries. He is important chiefly because of his influence on Eusebius, on all the later writers of Church history among the Church Fathers, and on the whole Greek school of chroniclers.

Contemporary evidence

The main archaeological evidence for kings of the Eighth Dynasty are royal decrees discovered in Coptos, which name some of the last pharaohs of the dynasty. Further tentative evidence for the early kings of the dynasty comes from tombs in Saqqara, in particular the pyramid of Qakare Ibi in Saqqara. Beyond that, there are royal inscriptions found in the Wadi Hammamat and in Upper Egypt, as well as non-royal ones from Upper Egypt as well. [8] [11] [12]

Wadi Hammamat Dry river bed in Egypt

Wadi Hammamat is a dry river bed in Egypt's Eastern Desert, about halfway between Al-Qusayr and Qena. It was a major mining region and trade route east from the Nile Valley in ancient times, and three thousand years of rock carvings and graffiti make it a major scientific and tourist site today.

End of the Old Kingdom and decline into chaos

Fragments of two Coptos decrees dating to the reign of Neferkauhor, end of the Eighth Dynasty. Coptos decrees p-q Met.jpg
Fragments of two Coptos decrees dating to the reign of Neferkauhor, end of the Eighth Dynasty.

The Eighth Dynasty has traditionally been classified as the first dynasty of the First Intermediate Period owing to the ephemeral nature of its kings' reigns as well as the sparsity of contemporary evidence, hinting at a decline of the state into chaos. Recent re-appraisal of the archaeological evidence has shown a strong continuity between the Sixth and Eighth Dynasties, so that Egyptologist Hratch Papazian has proposed that the Eighth Dynasty rather than the Sixth should be seen as the last of the Old Kingdom period. [8]

Given that five Eighth Dynasty kings bore Pepi II's throne name Neferkare as part of their own names, they may have been descendants of Dynasty VI, who were trying to hold on to some sort of power. [13] 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. [13]

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 and seem to have relied on the power of the nomarchs of Coptos, on whom they bestowed titles and honours. This must have been to no avail as the Eighth Dynasty was eventually overthrown by a rival group based in Herakleopolis Magna.

Rulers

Given the lack of evidence for the Seventh Dynasty, all kings mentioned on the Abydos king list in the entries after that of Merenre Nemtyemsaf II and before that of Montuhotep II [4] are usually attributed to the Eighth Dynasty. Following Jürgen von Beckerath, they are :

Dynasty VIII as per von Beckerath [4]
NameComments
Netjerkare Siptah Sometimes classified as the last king of the 6th Dynasty. Possibly identical with Nitocris.
Menkare Possibly attested by a relief from the tomb of queen Neit.
Neferkare II -
Neferkare Neby Planned or started a pyramid "Neferkare Neby is Enduring of Life", possibly at Saqqara.
Djedkare Shemai -
Neferkare Khendu -
Merenhor -
Neferkamin -
Nikare Possibly attested by a cylinder seal. [14]
Neferkare Tereru -
Neferkahor Attested by a cylinder seal.
Neferkare Pepiseneb Turin Canon gives at least one year. [15]
Neferkamin Anu
Qakare Ibi Turin Canon gives rule of two years, one month, one day. [16] Attested by his pyramid at Saqqara.
Neferkaure Turin Canon gives rule of 4 years and 2 months, [16] attested by a decree concerning the temple of Min. [17]
Khwiwihepu Neferkauhor Turin Canon gives rule of 2 years, 1 month and 1 day, [16] attested by eight decrees concerning the temple of Min, [18] [19] [20] and an inscription in the tomb of vizier Shemay. [21]
Neferirkare Turin Canon gives a reign of 1 and a half years. [16] Maybe identical to either or both of Horus Demedjibtawy and Wadjkare. If so, he is attested by a decree concerning the temple of Min.

The Egyptologist Hracht Papazian believes that such a reconstruction gives too much weight to Manetho's account, according to which the Seventh Dynasty is essentially fictitious and a metaphor of chaos. Instead Papazian proposes that the earliest of the above kings are immediate successors of Pepi II and should be attributed to the Sixth Dynasty, while those just after them belong to a short-lived Seventh Dynasty. Then the Eighth Dynasty would only start with the well-attested Qakare-Ibi:

Dynasty VIII as per Papazian [8]
Name
Qakare Ibi
Neferkaure
Khwiwihepu Neferkauhor
Name lost
Neferirkare

In addition, the identity and chronological position and extend of rule of the following rulers is highly uncertain: Wadjkare, Khuiqer, Khui.

Related Research Articles

Qakare Ibi Egyptian pharaoh

Qakare Ibi was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh during the early First Intermediate Period and the 14th ruler of the Eighth Dynasty. As such Qakare Ibi's seat of power was Memphis and he probably did not hold power over all of Egypt. Qakare Ibi is one of the best attested pharaohs of the Eighth Dynasty due to the discovery of his small pyramid in South Saqqara.

Merneferre Ay Egyptian pharaoh

Merneferre Ay was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the mid 13th Dynasty. The longest reigning pharaoh of the 13th Dynasty, he ruled a likely fragmented Egypt for over 23 years in the early to mid 17th century BC. A pyramidion bearing his name shows that he possibly completed a pyramid, probably located in the necropolis of Memphis.

Second Intermediate Period of Egypt period of Ancient Egyptian history

The Second Intermediate Period marks a period when Ancient Egypt fell into disarray for a second time, between the end of the Middle Kingdom and the start of the New Kingdom.

Sixteenth Dynasty of Egypt

The Sixteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt was a dynasty of pharaohs that ruled the Theban region in Upper Egypt for 70 years.

Sheshi Egyptian pharaoh

Maaibre Sheshi was a ruler of areas of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. The dynasty, chronological position, duration and extent of his reign are uncertain and subject to ongoing debate. The difficulty of identification is mirrored by problems in determining events from the end of the Middle Kingdom to the arrival of the Hyksos in Egypt. Nonetheless, Sheshi is, in terms of the number of artifacts attributed to him, the best-attested king of the period spanning the end of the Middle Kingdom and the Second Intermediate period; roughly from c. 1800 BC until 1550 BC. Hundreds of scaraboid seals bearing his name have been found throughout Canaan, Egypt, Nubia, and as far away as Carthage, where some were still in use 1500 years after his death.

Menkare Egyptian pharaoh

Menkare was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the first or second ruler of the Eighth Dynasty. Menkare probably reigned a short time at the transition between the Old Kingdom period and the First Intermediate Period, in the early 22nd century BC. The rapid succession of brief reigns at the time suggests times of hardship, possibly related to a widespread aridification of the Middle East, known as the 4.2 kiloyear event. As a pharaoh of the Eighth Dynasty, according to Manetho, Menkare's seat of power would have been Memphis.

Neferkare II Egyptian pharaoh

Neferkare II was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Eighth Dynasty during the early First Intermediate Period. According to the egyptologists Kim Ryholt, Jürgen von Beckerath and Darell Baker he was the third king of the Eighth Dynasty. As a pharaoh of the Eighth Dynasty, Neferkare II's capital would have been Memphis.

Neferkare Neby Egyptian pharaoh

Neferkare Neby was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Eighth Dynasty during the early First Intermediate Period. According to egyptologists Jürgen von Beckerath and Darrell Baker, he was the fourth king of the seventh dynasty, as he appears as the fourth king in the Abydos King List within the list of kings assigned to this dynasty.

Neferkare Khendu Egyptian pharaoh

Neferkare Khendu was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Eighth Dynasty during the early First Intermediate Period. According to the egyptologists Kim Ryholt, Jürgen von Beckerath and Darrell Baker he was the sixth king of the Eighth Dynasty.

Nikare Egyptian pharaoh

Nikare was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Eighth Dynasty during the early First Intermediate Period, at a time when Egypt was possibly divided between several polities. According to the Egyptologists Kim Ryholt, Jürgen von Beckerath and Darrell Baker he was the ninth king of the Eighth Dynasty. As such, Nikare's seat of power would have been Memphis.

Neferkare Pepiseneb Egyptian pharaoh

Neferkare Pepiseneb was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Eighth Dynasty during the early First Intermediate Period. According to the egyptologists Kim Ryholt, Jürgen von Beckerath and Darrell Baker he was the twelfth king of the combined Eighth Dynasty.

Neferkamin Anu Egyptian pharaoh

Neferkamin Anu was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt during the First Intermediate Period. According to the Abydos King List and the latest reconstruction of the Turin canon by Kim Ryholt, he was the 13th king of the Eighth Dynasty. This opinion is shared by the egyptologists Jürgen von Beckerath, Thomas Schneider and Darrell Baker. As a pharaoh of the Eighth Dynasty, Neferkamin Anu would have reigned over the Memphite region.

Neferkaure Egyptian pharaoh

Neferkaure was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt during the First Intermediate Period. According to the Abydos King List and the latest reconstruction of the Turin canon by Kim Ryholt, he was the 15th king of the Eighth Dynasty. This opinion is shared by the egyptologists Jürgen von Beckerath, Thomas Schneider and Darell Baker. As a pharaoh of the Eighth Dynasty, Neferkaure's seat of power was Memphis and he may not have held power over all of Egypt.

Neferirkare Egyptian pharaoh

Neferirkare was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Eighth Dynasty during the early First Intermediate Period. According to the egyptologists Kim Ryholt, Jürgen von Beckerath and Darrell Baker he was the 17th and final king of the Eighth Dynasty. Many scholars consider Neferirkare to have been the last pharaoh of the Old Kingdom, which came to an end with the 8th Dynasty.

Meryibre Khety Egyptian pharaoh

Meryibre Khety, also known by his Horus name Meryibtawy, was a pharaoh of the 9th or 10th Dynasty of Egypt, during the First Intermediate Period.

The Seventh Dynasty of Egypt would mark the beginning of the First Intermediate Period in the early 22nd century BC but its actual existence is debated. The only historical account on the Seventh Dynasty was in Manetho's Aegyptiaca, a history of Egypt written in the 3rd century BC, where the Seventh Dynasty appears essentially as a metaphor for chaos. Since next to nothing is known of this dynasty beyond Manetho's account, Egyptologists such as Jürgen von Beckerath and Toby Wilkinson have usually considered it to be fictitious. In a 2015 re-appraisal of the fall of the Old Kingdom, the Egyptologist Hracht Papazian has proposed that the Seventh Dynasty was real and that it consisted of kings usually attributed to the Eighth Dynasty.

Wepwawetemsaf Egyptian pharaoh

Sekhemraneferkhau Wepwawetemsaf was an Egyptian pharaoh during the Second Intermediate Period. According to the Egyptologists Kim Ryholt and Darrell Baker, he was a king of the Abydos Dynasty, although they leave his position within this dynasty undetermined. Alternatively, the Egyptologist Jürgen von Beckerath sees Wepwawetemsaf as a king of the late 13th Dynasty, while Marcel Marée proposes that he was a king of the late 16th Dynasty.

Merkare was an Egyptian pharaoh of the late 13th Dynasty of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period reigning for a short while, some time between 1663 BC and 1649 BC.

References

  1. Redford, Donald B., ed. (2001). "Egyptian King List". The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, Volume 2. Oxford University Press. pp. 626–628. ISBN   978-0-19-510234-5.
  2. Shaw, Ian, ed. (2000). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt . Oxford University Press. p. 480. ISBN   0-19-815034-2.
  3. Peter Clayton: Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames & Hudson Ltd, second printing edition 1994, ISBN   978-0500050743, available online, see p. 70
  4. 1 2 3 Jürgen von Beckerath: Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen, Münchner ägyptologische Studien, Heft 49, Mainz : Philip von Zabern, 1999, ISBN   3-8053-2591-6, see pp.6671, and p. 284 for the datation of the 8th Dynasty.
  5. Thomas Schneider in Erik Hornung, Rolf Krauss and David A. Warburton (editors): Ancient Egyptian Chronology, Handbook of Oriental Studies, Brill 2012, ISBN   978-90-04-11385-5, available online copyright-free, see p. 491
  6. 1 2 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
  7. Ryholt, Kim (2000). "The Late Old Kingdom in the Turin King-list and the Identity of Nitocris". Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde. see p. 88, fig. 1 and p. 91. 127 (1): 87–119. ISSN   2196-713X.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Hratch Papazian (2015). "The State of Egypt in the Eighth Dynasty". In Peter Der Manuelian; Thomas Schneider (eds.). Towards a New History for the Egyptian Old Kingdom: Perspectives on the Pyramid Age. Harvard Egyptological Studies. BRILL.
  9. Grimal, Nicolas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p.138. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988.
  10. Jürgen von Beckerath, Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen. Münchner ägyptologische Studien (in German). 49. Mainz: Philip von Zabern. ISBN   978-3-8053-2591-2.
  11. Couyat, J.; Montet, Pierre. Les inscriptions hiéroglyphiques et hiératiques du Ouâdi Hammâmât. Mémoires publiés par les membres de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale du Caire. 34. Cairo: Institut français d'archéologie orientale du Caire. pp. 168–169, 188, 206–209 (see inscriptions). OCLC   920523964.
  12. Kamal, Ahmed Bey (1912). "Fouilles à Dara et à Qoçéîr el-Amarna". Annales du Service des Antiquités de l'Égypte. p. 132.
  13. 1 2 Grimal, Nicolas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p.140. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988.
  14. Peter Kaplony: Die Rollsiegel des Alten Reichs, vol. 2: Katalog der Rollsiegel, (= Monumenta Aegyptiaca. Vol. 3), La Fondation Égyptologique Reine Élisabeth, Brüssel 1981, issue 144.
  15. Kim Ryholt: "The Late Old Kingdom in the Turin King-list and the Identity of Nitocris", Zeitschrift für ägyptische, 127 (2000), p. 91
  16. 1 2 3 4 Jürgen von Beckerath: "The Date of the End of the Old Kingdom of Egypt", Journal of Near Eastern Studies 21 (1962), p. 143
  17. The decree on the catalog of the MET
  18. Darrell D. Baker: The Encyclopedia of the Pharaohs: Volume I - Predynastic to the Twentieth Dynasty 3300–1069 BC, Stacey International, ISBN   978-1-905299-37-9, 2008, p. 271-272
  19. William C. Hayes: The Scepter of Egypt: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 1, From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom , MetPublications, 1978, pp.136-138, available online
  20. The fragments of the decrees on the catalog of the MET: fragment 1, 2 and 3.
  21. Nigel C. Strudwick, Ronald J. Leprohon ed.: Texts from the Pyramid Age, see pp.345-347, available online
Preceded by
Sixth Dynasty
(Seventh)
Dynasty of Egypt
c. 2181 – 2160 BC
Succeeded by
Ninth Dynasty