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Merikare (also Merykare and Merykara) was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 10th Dynasty who lived toward the end of the First Intermediate Period. His name cannot be recognized in the Turin King List. The dates of his reign are uncertain and debated among scholars.

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.

Pharaoh Title of Ancient Egyptian rulers

Pharaoh is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the actual term "Pharaoh" was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until Merneptah, c. 1200 BCE. In the early dynasty, ancient Egyptian kings used to have up to three titles, the Horus, the Sedge and Bee (nswt-bjtj) name, and the Two Ladies (nbtj) name. The Golden Horus and nomen and prenomen titles were later added.

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.



According to many scholars, he ruled at the end of the 10th Dynasty in his middle-age, [2] [4] [5] [6] [7] following a long reign by his father. The identity of his predecessor (the so-called "Khety III" who was the purported author of the Teaching for King Merikare ) is still a question of debate among Egyptologists. Some scholars tend to identify Merikare's predecessor with Wahkare Khety. [6] [7] [8] These sebayt ("teachings", in ancient Egyptian) – possibly composed during the reign of Merikare and fictitiously attributed to his father – are a collection of precepts for good governance. The text also mentions the eastern borders, recently secured, but still in need of the king's attention. [9] In the text, Merikare's unnamed father mentions having sacked Thinis, but he advises Merikare to deal more leniently with the troublesome Upper Egyptian realms. [8]

Wahkare Khety Egyptian Pharaoh of the 9th Dynasty

Wahkare Khety was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 9th or 10th Dynasty during the First Intermediate Period.

Sebayt is the ancient Egyptian term for a genre of pharaonic literature. sbꜣyt literally means "teachings" or "instructions" and refers to formally written ethical teachings focused on the "way of living truly". Sebayt is considered an Egyptian form of wisdom literature.

Thinis Lost city in Nome VIII of Upper Egypt, Ancient Egypt

Thinis or This was the capital city of the first dynasties of ancient Egypt. Thinis is, as yet, undiscovered but well attested by ancient writers, including the classical historian Manetho, who cites it as the centre of the Thinite Confederacy, a tribal confederation whose leader, Menes, united Egypt and was its first pharaoh. Thinis began a steep decline in importance from Dynasty III, when the capital was relocated to Memphis, which was thought to be the first true and stable capital after unification of old Egypt by Menes. Thinis's location on the border of the competing Heracleopolitan and Theban dynasties of the First Intermediate Period and its proximity to certain oases of possible military importance ensured Thinis some continued significance in the Old and New Kingdoms. This was a brief respite and Thinis eventually lost its position as a regional administrative centre by the Roman period.

Once crowned, around 2075 BCE, [10] Merikare wisely resigned himself to the existence of two separate kingdoms (the Herakleopolite and the Theban ones) and tried to maintain the policy of peaceful coexistence achieved by his father. [8] It seems that the period of peace brought a certain amount of prosperity to Merikare's realm. [7] Some time later, the pharaoh was forced to sail up the Nile with his court on a great fleet. Once he reached Asyut, the king installed the loyalist nomarch Khety II, who succeeded his deceased father Tefibi; [8] he also made restorations at the local temple of Wepwawet. After that, Merikare advanced farther upstream to the town of Shashotep, likely to quell a revolt, and at the same time as a show of force to the turbulent southern border areas. [11]

Heracleopolis Magna Archaeological site in Egypt

Heracleopolis Magna or Heracleopolis is the Roman name of the capital of the 20th nome of ancient Upper Egypt. The site is located approximately 15 km (9.3 mi) west of the modern city of Beni Suef, in the Beni Suef Governorate of Egypt.

Thebes, Egypt Ancient Egyptian city

Thebes, known to the ancient Egyptians as Waset, was an ancient Egyptian city located along the Nile about 800 kilometers (500 mi) south of the Mediterranean. Its ruins lie within the modern Egyptian city of Luxor. Thebes was the main city of the fourth Upper Egyptian nome and was the capital of Egypt for long periods during the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom eras. It was close to Nubia and the Eastern Desert, with its valuable mineral resources and trade routes. It was a cult center and the most venerated city of ancient Egypt during its heyday. The site of Thebes includes areas on both the eastern bank of the Nile, where the temples of Karnak and Luxor stand and where the city proper was situated; and the western bank, where a necropolis of large private and royal cemeteries and funerary complexes can be found.

Asyut City in Egypt

Asyut is the capital of the modern Asyut Governorate in Egypt, which has one of the largest Coptic Catholic bishopric churches in the country; the ancient city of the same name, which is situated nearby. The modern city is located at 27°11′00″N31°10′00″E, while the ancient city is located at 27°10′00″N31°08′00″E.

Merikare died in c. 2040 BCE, a few months before the fall of Herakleopolis. Thus, the final defeat by the Thebans, led by Mentuhotep II of the 11th Dynasty, was likely inflicted upon an ephemeral, unnamed successor. [1]

Mentuhotep II Egyptian pharaoh of the 11th Dynasty

Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II was a Pharaoh of the 11th Dynasty who reigned for 51 years. Around his 39th year on the throne he reunited Egypt, thus ending the First Intermediate Period. Consequently, he is considered the first pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom.


Stele of Anpuemhat, attesting the funerary cult of Merikare in Saqqara during the 12th Dynasty Stele Anpuemhat Quibell.png
Stele of Anpuemhat, attesting the funerary cult of Merikare in Saqqara during the 12th Dynasty

Many sources suggest that Merikare was buried in a yet-undiscovered pyramid in Saqqara, called Flourishing are the Abodes of Merikare, that had to be near to the pyramid of Teti of the 6th Dynasty. [1] The titles of the officials involved in its construction are documented, as his funerary cult endured into the 12th Dynasty; in fact, Merikare's cartouche appears on the stelae of at least four priests who were responsible for the funerary cult of Teti and Merikare during the Middle Kingdom. [12] They include Gemniemhat who also held other important positions.

Saqqara village in Giza Governorate, Egypt

Saqqara, also spelled Sakkara or Saccara in English, is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Saqqara features numerous pyramids, including the world-famous Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of mastabas. Located some 30 km (19 mi) south of modern-day Cairo, Saqqara covers an area of around 7 by 1.5 km.

Pyramid of Teti smooth-sided pyramid

The Pyramid of Teti is a smooth-sided pyramid situated in the pyramid field at Saqqara in Egypt. It is historically the second known pyramid containing pyramid texts. Excavations have revealed a satellite pyramid, two pyramids of queens accompanied by cult structures, and a funerary temple. The pyramid was opened by Gaston Maspero in 1882 and the complex explored during several campaigns ranging from 1907 to 1965. It was originally called Teti's Places Are Enduring. The preservation above ground is very poor, and it now resembles a small hill. Below ground the chambers and corridors are very well preserved.

Teti, less commonly known as Othoes, sometimes also Tata, Atat, or Athath in outdated sources, was the first pharaoh of the Sixth dynasty of Egypt. He is buried at Saqqara. The exact length of his reign has been destroyed on the Turin King List but is believed to have been about 12 years.


Merikare is the most attested among the Herakleopolite rulers. His name appears on:

The Teaching for King Merykara, alt. Instruction Addressed to King Merikare, is a literary composition in Middle Egyptian, the classical phase of the Egyptian language, probably of Middle Kingdom date.

Scribe person who writes books or documents by hand as a profession

A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of automatic printing.

The Treasurer in Ancient Egypt is the modern translation of the title imi-r ḫtmt. The office is known since the end of the Old Kingdom, where people with this title appear sporadically in the organization of private estates.

Hypothesis of an earlier reign

In 2003 the Egyptologist Arkadi F. Demidchik suggested that Merikare's placement within the dynasty should be reconsidered. According to him, if Merikare reigned during the campaign led by Mentuhotep II then the former's pyramid and its cult couldn't have survived the Theban conquest; again, Merikare likely would not be able to obtain granite from the South as mentioned in the Teachings. Demidchik also argued that the battles for Thinis mentioned by Tefibi and Merikare were the same, being fought in the opposite front by the Theban ruler Wahankh Intef II, thus suggesting that Merikare's reign should be placed some decades earlier than usually thought, when the 10th Dynasty's power was at its peak. [3]

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  1. 1 2 3 William C. Hayes, in The Cambridge Ancient History , vol 1, part 2, 1971 (2008), Cambridge University Press, ISBN   0-521-077915, pp. 467–78.
  2. 1 2 Jürgen von Beckerath, Handbuch der Ägyptischen Königsnamen, 2nd edition, Mainz, 1999, p. 74.
  3. 1 2 3 Arkadi F. Demidchik (2003), "The reign of Merikare Khety", Göttinger Miszellen 192, pp. 25–36.
  4. 1 2 3 Flinders Petrie, A History of Egypt, from the Earliest Times to the XVIth Dynasty (1897), pp. 115-16.
  5. William C. Hayes, op. cit. p. 996.
  6. 1 2 Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, Oxford, Blackwell Books, 1992, pp. 141–45.
  7. 1 2 3 Michael Rice, Who is who in Ancient Egypt, 1999 (2004), Routledge, London, ISBN   0-203-44328-4, p. 113.
  8. 1 2 3 4 William C. Hayes, op. cit. p. 466–67.
  9. William C. Hayes, op. cit. p. 237.
  10. Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol. 2. pp. 97-109. University of California Press 1980, ISBN   0-520-02899-6, p. 97.
  11. Alan Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs. An introduction, Oxford University Press, 1961, p. 113.
  12. James Edward Quibell, Excavations at Saqqara (1905-1906), Le Caire, Impr. de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale (1907), p. 20 ff; pl. XIII, XV.

Further reading