Shepseskaf's cartouche on the Abydos king list.
|Reign||6 to 8 years starting ca. 2510 BC (4th Dynasty)|
|Successor||Userkaf (most likely) or Djedefptah|
|Consort||Khentkaus I ? Bunefer ?|
|Children||Djedefptah ? Bunefer ? Khamaat ?|
|Mother||Khamerernebty II ? Rekhetre ?|
|Monuments||Completion of the temple complex of Menkaure's pyramid|
Shepseskaf was the sixth and last pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt during the Old Kingdom. He reigned 6 to 8 years starting circa 2510 BC. The only activities firmly datable to his reign are the completion of the temple complex of the Pyramid of Menkaure and the construction of its own mastaba tomb at South Saqqara, the Mastabat al-Fir’aun, "stone bench of the pharaoh".
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.
The Fourth Dynasty of ancient Egypt is characterized as a "golden age" of the Old Kingdom of Egypt. Dynasty IV lasted from c. 2613 to 2494 BC. It was a time of peace and prosperity as well as one during which trade with other countries is documented.
In ancient Egyptian history, the Old Kingdom is the period spanning c. 2686–2181 BCE. It is also known as the "Age of the Pyramids" or the "Age of the Pyramid Builders", as it encompasses the reigns of the great pyramid builders of the Fourth Dynasty— among them King Sneferu, who perfected the art of pyramid-building, and the kings Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, who constructed the pyramids at Giza. Egypt attained its first sustained peak of civilization during the Old Kingdom—the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley.
Shepseskaf's family is uncertain. Egyptologist George Andrew Reisner proposed that Shepseskaf was Menkaure's son based on a decree mentioning that Shepseskaf completed Menkaure's mortuary temple. This however cannot be considered a solid proof of filiation since the decree does not describe the relationship between these two kings. Furthermore, the completion of the tomb of a deceased pharaoh by his successor does not necessarily depend on a direct father/son relation between the two.
George Andrew Reisner Jr. was an American archaeologist of Ancient Egypt, Nubia and Palestine.
The mother, wives and children of Shepseskaf are unknown. If Menkaure was indeed his father, his mother could have been one of Menkaure's royal wives Khamerernebty II or Rekhetre. It's possible that Shepseskaf's wife was Khentkaus I, but this is far from certain. Queen Bunefer has been suggested as a possible wife of Shepseskaf based on the titles as a priestess of Shepseskhaf. She may however have been a daughter who served as a priestess in the cult for her father. Finally, Khamaat, the wife of a nobleman named Ptahshepses and daughter of a king, may be a daughter of Shepseskaf or Userkaf.
Khamerernebty II was an ancient Egyptian queen of the 4th dynasty. She was a daughter of Pharaoh Khafra and Queen Khamerernebty I. She married her brother Menkaure and she was the mother of Prince Khuenre.
Rekhetre was an ancient Egyptian queen from the late 4th dynasty or early 5th dynasty. She was a daughter of Pharaoh Khafra. Her husband is never mentioned, but Rekhetre would have been the wife of one of Khafre's successors, possibly Menkaure.
Khentkaus I, also referred to as Khentkawes, was a royal woman who lived in ancient Egypt during the Fourth and the Fifth Dynasties. She may have been a daughter of king Menkaure, the wife of both king Shepseskaf and king Userkaf, the mother of king Sahure, and perhaps, in her own right, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt. Her mastaba at Giza – tomb LG100 – is located very close to Menkaure's pyramid complex. This close connection may point to a family relationship. Although the relationship is not clear, the proximity of the pyramid complex of Khentkaus to that of king Menkaure has led to the conjecture that she may have been his daughter.
He was likely the last pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt if he was not succeeded by a certain unknown ruler named Thamphthis as recorded in some Egyptian literature and, indirectly, by the Turin Canon. No ruler named Thamphthis is recorded in contemporary documents such as royal monuments or private tombs in the Old Kingdom cemeteries of Giza and Saqqara which date to this period.The long-lived palace courtier Netry-nesut-pu explicitly lists this sequence of Old Kingdom kings he served under in his tomb: Radjedef → Khafre → Menkaure → Shepseskaf, and the first three 5th dynasty kings namely Userkaf, Sahure and Neferirkare. Finally, "No names of estates of the period [which are] compounded with royal names make mention of any other kings than these, nor do the names of...royal grandchildren, who often bore the name of a royal ancestor as a component of their own [name]."
Thamphthis is the hellenized name of an ancient Egyptian ruler (pharaoh) of the 4th dynasty in the Old Kingdom, who may have ruled around 2500 BC under the name Djedefptah for between two and nine years. His original Egyptian name is lost, but it may have been Djedefptah or Ptahdjedef according to William C. Hayes. Thamphthis is one of the shadowy rulers of the Old Kingdom, since he is completely unattested in contemporary sources. For this reason, his historical figure is discussed intensely by historians and egyptologists.
Shepseskaf's reign is attested through the funerary inscriptions made by the officials who served him. These are mostly found in Gizah and Saqqara. The fact that many of these inscriptions only mention Shepseskaf without further details hints at the short duration of his reign. The court officials who mentioned Shepseskaf are:
Khafra was an ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) of the 4th Dynasty during the Old Kingdom. He was the son of Khufu and the throne successor of Djedefre. According to the ancient historian Manetho, Khafra was followed by king Bikheris, but according to archaeological evidence he was instead followed by king Menkaure. Khafra was the builder of the second largest pyramid of Giza. The view held by modern Egyptology at large continues to be that the Great Sphinx was built in approximately 2500 BC for Khafra. Not much is known about Khafra, except from the historical reports of Herodotus, writing 2,000 years after his life, who describes him as a cruel and heretical ruler who kept the Egyptian temples closed after Khufu had sealed them.
A mastaba or pr-djt is a type of ancient Egyptian tomb in the form of a flat-roofed, rectangular structure with inward sloping sides, constructed out of mud-bricks. These edifices marked the burial sites of many eminent Egyptians during Egypt's Early Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom. In the Old Kingdom epoch, local kings began to be buried in pyramids instead of in mastabas, although non-royal use of mastabas continued for over a thousand years. Egyptologists call these tombs mastaba, from the Arabic word مصطبة (maṣṭaba) "stone bench".
Giza is the third-largest city in Egypt and the capital of the Giza Governorate. It is located on the west bank of the Nile, 4.9 km (3 mi) southwest of central Cairo. Along with Cairo Governorate, Shubra El Kheima, Helwan, 6th October City and Obour, the six form the Greater Cairo metropolis.
Other than these scanty references to Shepseskaf's reign, the only stele known today that is firmly datable to that period was uncovered in Menkaure's pyramid complex. It mentions a royal decree by Shepseskaf where he makes donations in favor of his father's mortuary cult.
The Turin Canon ascribes Shepseskaf a rule of four years and his anonymous 4th dynasty successor—presumably a reference to Djedefptah—a reign of two years. In contrast, Manetho's King List explicitly gives Shepseskaf a reign of seven years which may be a combination of the 4 + 2 (= 6) full year figures noted in the Turin Kinglist for the last two kings of the Fourth Dynasty plus a significant monthly fraction. Manetho's King List does, however, also note the existence of the unknown and possibly fictitious ruler Djedefptah—called Thampthis in his records—who is ascribed a reign of nine years.
The Palermo stone describes the first year of Shepseskaf's reign. Shepseskaf is confirmed as the immediate successor of Menkaure and was apparently crowned on the eleventh day of the fourth month. Analyses of the space available between the beginning of his reign and that of his successor indicate that Shepseskaf did not reign more than seven years.Finally, the Palermo stone indicates that the emplacement and name of Shepseskaf's tomb were chosen during his first year on the throne. The name of the tomb is written with the determinative of a pyramid.
Shepseskaf's tomb is a great mastaba at Saqqara, which was originally called Shepseskaf is purified and is now known as Mastabat al-Fir’aun. This mastaba was first recognized as such by Richard Lepsius in the mid 19th century and was first excavated in 1858 by Auguste Mariette. However it was not before the years 1924-1925 that the mastaba was thoroughly explored by Gustave Jéquier. The mastaba was initially thought to be the tomb of the 5th dynasty king Unas, but Jéquier discovered evidence that it belonged to Shepseskaf. In particular, he uncovered a Middle Kingdom stele indicating that Shepseskaf mortuary cult was still active onsite during this time period.
In building himself a mastaba, Shepseskaf broke with the Fourth Dynasty tradition of constructing large pyramids. Indeed, his predecessors built 2 pyramids of Giza and one in Abu-Rawash; while Sneferu, the founder of the fourth dynasty, alone constructed three pyramids in his reign most notably, the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid. It is not clear why Shepseskaf did not start a pyramid for himself and several theories have been put forth to explain this choice:
Unas or Wenis, also spelled Unis, was a pharaoh, the ninth and last ruler of the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt during the Old Kingdom. Unas reigned for 15 to 30 years in the mid-24th century BC, succeeding Djedkare Isesi, who might have been his father.
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.
Djoser was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 3rd dynasty during the Old Kingdom and the founder of this epoch. He is also known by his Hellenized names Tosorthros and Sesorthos. He was the son of king Khasekhemwy and queen Nimaathap, but whether he also was the direct throne successor is still unclear. Most Ramesside Kinglists name a king Nebka before him, but since there are still difficulties in connecting that name with contemporary Horus names, some Egyptologists question the received throne sequence.
Menkaure, was an ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) of the 4th dynasty during the Old Kingdom, who is well known under his Hellenized names Mykerinos and Menkheres. According to Manetho, he was the throne successor of king Bikheris, but according to archaeological evidence he rather was the successor of king Khafre. Menkaure became famous for his tomb, the Pyramid of Menkaure, at Giza and his beautiful statue triads, showing the king together with his wives Rekhetre and Khamerernebty.
Sahure was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the second ruler of the Fifth Dynasty, who reigned for about 12 years in the early 25th century BC. Sahure is considered to be one of the most important kings of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, his reign being a political and cultural high point of the Fifth Dynasty. He was probably the son of his predecessor Userkaf with queen Neferhetepes II, and was in turn succeeded by his son Neferirkare Kakai.
The Egyptian pyramids are ancient pyramid-shaped masonry structures located in Egypt. As of November 2008, sources cite either 118 or 138 as the number of identified Egyptian pyramids. Most were built as tombs for the country's pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods.
Userkaf was an Egyptian pharaoh, founder of the Fifth Dynasty, who reigned for seven to eight years in the early 25th century BC. He belonged, in all probability, to a branch of the Fourth Dynasty royal family, although his parentage remains uncertain and the identity of his queen is in doubt. Userkaf may have been the son of Khentkaus I marrying Neferhetepes. He had at least one daughter and very probably a son who succeeded him as pharaoh Sahure.
Neferirkare Kakai was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the third king of the Fifth Dynasty. Neferirkare, the eldest son of Sahure with his consort Meretnebty, was known as Ranefer A before he came to the throne. He acceded the day after his father's death and reigned for eight to eleven years, sometime in the early to mid-25th century BCE. He was himself very likely succeeded by his eldest son, born of his queen Khentkaus II, the prince Ranefer B who would take the throne as king Neferefre. Neferirkare fathered another pharaoh, Nyuserre Ini, who took the throne after Neferefre's short reign and the brief rule of the poorly known Shepseskare.
Menkauhor Kaiu was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Old Kingdom period. He was the seventh ruler of the Fifth Dynasty at the end of the 25th century BC or early in the 24th century BC.
Neferefre Isi was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, likely the fourth but also possibly the fifth ruler of the Fifth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period. He was very probably the eldest son of pharaoh Neferirkare Kakai and queen Khentkaus II, known as prince Ranefer before he ascended the throne.
Nyuserre Ini was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the sixth ruler of the Fifth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period. He is credited with a reign of 24 to 35 years depending on the scholar, and likely lived in the second half of the 25th century BCE. Nyuserre was the younger son of Neferirkare Kakai and queen Khentkaus II, and the brother of the short-lived king Neferefre. He may have succeeded his brother directly, as indicated by much later historical sources. Alternatively, Shepseskare may have reigned between the two as advocated by Miroslav Verner, albeit only for a few weeks or months at the most. The relation of Shepseskare with Neferefre and Nyuserre remains highly uncertain. Nyuserre was in turn succeeded by Menkauhor Kaiu, who could have been his nephew and a son of Neferefre.
Shepseskare or Shepseskara was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the fourth or fifth ruler of the Fifth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period. Shepseskare lived in the mid-25th century BC and was probably the owner of an unfinished pyramid in Abusir, which was abandoned after a few weeks of work in the earliest stages of its construction.
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.
Sekhemkare was a vizier from the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt. He was a son of king Khafre and queen Hekenuhedjet. He served as vizier during the beginning of the next dynasty, during the reigns of Userkaf and Sahure.
Neferhetepes was the wife of the Ancient Egyptian king Userkaf, who was the first king of the Fifth Dynasty. She was also the mother of king Sahure who was the successor of Userkaf. Furthermore, she was most likely mother of Meretnebty, who was the wife of Sahure. The most important titles of Neferhetepes were mother of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt and daughter of the god.
Bikheris is the Hellenized name of an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh, who may have ruled during the 4th Dynasty around 2570 BC. Next to nothing is known about this ruler and some Egyptologists even believe him to be fictitious.
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