|Thamphthis in hieroglyphs|
|Length of reign: unknown|
(Column III, line 16)
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 ("he endures like Ptah") 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.
Since Thamphthis' name was found in the historical works of Manetho, the Aegyptiacae,Egyptologists are trying to connect this ruler with contemporary kings to build up a continuous chronology, which resulted in controversies and debates.
As early as 1887, Eduard Meyer viewed Thamphthis as a mere usurper, who was not allowed to be mentioned in royal annals or have his own mortuary cult because he gained the throne illegitimately.Peter Jánosi goes further and says that Thamphthis is a fiction, due to the lack of archaeological support. He claims that Thamphthis should be erased from modern kinglists.
Winfried Seipel and Hermann Alexander Schlögl instead postulate that the historical figure behind Thamphthis could have been queen Khentkaus I.This theory is supported by Khentkaus being depicted in her mortuary temple as a ruling pharaoh with nemes-headdress, king's beard and uraeus-diadem on her forehead. But this theory is problematic since Khentkaus' name never appears inside a serekh or royal cartouche.
Wolfgang Helck points out that Khentkaus I could have been the mother of Thamphthis, so Thamphthis would have been the son of king Shepseskaf. As a possible wife of Thamphthis he proposes a princess named Bunefer, who may have been the daughter of Shepseskaf. She was a priestess of Shepseskaf.
In the Manethonian tradition of the historian Sextus Julius Africanus, who translated Manetho, Thamphthis is described as the last ruler of the 4th dynasty with a reign of nine years. In the tradition of the historians Eusebius and Eratosthenes his name is missed. Eusebius gives the reason that Thamphthis was not meant to be named, for he "didn't do something worth to be mentioned".
A further source for the chronology of rulers of the Old Kingdom is the Royal Canon of Turin, composed during the 19th dynasty around 1300 BC. It names kings which are omitted in many other kinglists. But the Turin Canon is damaged at several spots, so many royal names are fragmentary or completely lost in lacunae today. For this reason it cannot be excluded that Thamphthis' name was originally present in this document too, since the Aegyptiacae of Manetho are mostly consistent with the Turin Canon. In column III, line 12 king Khafra is mentioned, after him, in line 13, a lacuna appears. After king Shepseskaf, mentioned in line 15, a second lacuna appears. Whilst line 13 may possibly be assigned to a king Baka, the missing line 16 could have originally held Thamphthis' name. These lacunae cover two years during which a king could have reigned.
The Royal kinglist of Saqqara from the tomb of Tjuneroy (19th dynasty) lists nine kings for the 4th dynasty, whilst the Abydos King List gives only six names. Curiously the Saqqara-Table has after Shepseskaf two cartouches before Userkaf, but both are heavily damaged, so the original names are no longer legible. Whilst one of these two cartouches once may have held Thamphthis' name, the other cartouche remains a mystery.
A rock inscription in the Wadi Hammamat made in the Middle Kingdom presents a list of the cartouche-names of Khufu, Djedefre, Baufra and prince Djedefhor (also recorded as Hordjedef). Curiously Djedefhor's name is written in a cartouche, too. This leads to the possibility that he could have been a king for a very short while himself. If this was true, this fact would close the chronological gaps. But contemporary sources don't show Djedefhor and Baufra as kings; they give to these two only the titles of princes and call them both "son of the king".
The tomb inscriptions of several high officials, princes and priests do not preserve any evidence that some kind of internal political conflict had arisen or that a usurper had seized the throne of Egypt. Prince Sekhemkare reports about his career under the kings Khafra, Menkaura, Shepseskaf, Userkaf and even Sahure, but makes no mention of Thamphthis. The same goes for the high official Netjer-pu-nesut, who was honoured under the kings Djedefre, Khafra, Menkaura, Shepseskaf, Userkaf and Sahure. Again no Thamphthis is mentioned. The 5th dynasty high priest and official Ptahshepses who served under king Niuserre and took care of the mortuary cults of king Menkaura and Shepseskaf also made no reference to Thamphthis.The late Patrick F. O'Mara in a GM 158 paper notes that "no royal monument private tomb in the cemeteries of Gizeh and Saqqara record names of any other [except the aforementioned] kings for the [fourth] dynasty. No names of estates of the period compounded with royal names make mention of any other [fourth dynasty] kings than these, nor do the names of the royal grandchildren, who often bore the name of a royal ancestor as a component of their own" names.
The lack of contemporary attestations for Thamphthis does not by itself prove that he was a "faux king" or "phantom king" since he may well have been a short-lived ruler of the 4th dynasty. The stela of the 5th dynasty official Khau-Ptah is informative: while this official lists his career in an uninterrupted sequence of Sahure, Neferirkare, Raneferef and Niuserre, he completely omits Shepseskare.Shepseskare or Sisires likely did not rule Egypt for the 7 years assigned to him by both Manetho and the Turin Canon judging by the paucity of contemporary records for his rule, but he certainly ruled Egypt for a brief period of time. This is established by the existence of two cylinder seals identifying him and four or five fragments of clay sealings bearing his name. In more recent years, "several new sealings [of Shepseskare]" which were found in Abusir also show that Shepseskare did exist. Verner argues that the archaeological context of the sealings show that Shepseskare succeeded Raneferef (rather than the reverse as Manetho and the Turin Canon states) and that a dynastic struggle ensued in which Shepseskare was soon overthrown by Niuserre, Raneferef's brother, after a very brief reign. This would explain the surprising omission of Shepseskare by Khau-ptah since the former was a usurper who briefly seized the throne after Raneferef's death. But there is no evidence for any dynastic difficulties in the late 4th dynasty and the complete lack of contemporary attestations for Thamphthis is strong evidence for regarding him as a phantom king. In this situation, the two year figure assigned to him by later Egyptian records could possibly be added to Shepseskaf's existing 4-year reign.
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. Africanus reports as rulers of the 4th Dynasty Sôris, Suphis I, Suphis II, Mencherês, Ratoisês, Bicheris, Sebercherês and Thamphthis in this order. 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.
Hotepsekhemwy is the Horus name of an early Egyptian king who was the founder of the 2nd dynasty. The exact length of his reign is not known; the Turin canon suggests an improbable 95 years while the Ancient Egyptian historian Manetho reports that the reign of "Boëthôs" lasted for 38 years. Egyptologists consider both statements to be misinterpretations or exaggerations. They credit Hotepsekhemwy with either a 25- or a 29-year rule.
The Fifth Dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties III, IV and VI under the group title the Old Kingdom. The Fifth Dynasty pharaohs reigned for approximately 150 years, from the early 25th century BC until the mid 24th century BC.
The Eighth Dynasty of ancient Egypt 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.
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".
Userkaf was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and the founder of the Fifth Dynasty. He reigned for seven to eight years in the early 25th century BC, during the Old Kingdom period. He probably belonged to a branch of the Fourth Dynasty royal family, although his parentage is uncertain; he could have been the son of Khentkaus I. He had at least one daughter and very probably a son, Sahure, with his consort Neferhetepes. This son succeeded him as pharaoh.
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.
Merenre Nemtyemsaf II was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the sixth and penultimate ruler of the 6th Dynasty. He reigned for 1 year and 1 month in the first half of the 22nd century BC, at the very end of the Old Kingdom period. Nemtyemsaf II likely ascended the throne as an old man, succeeding his long-lived father Pepi II Neferkare at a time when the power of the pharaoh was crumbling.
Neferefre Isi was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period. He was most likely the eldest son of pharaoh Neferirkare Kakai and queen Khentkaus II. He was known as prince Ranefer before he ascended to 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.
Nebra or Raneb is the Horus name of the second early Egyptian king of the 2nd dynasty. The exact length of his reign is unknown since the Turin canon is damaged and the year accounts are lost. The ancient Greek historian Manetho suggests that Nebra's reign lasted 39 years, but Egyptologists question Manetho's view as a misinterpretation or exaggeration of information that was available to him. They credit Nebra with either a 10- or 14-year rule. According to different authors, Nebra ruled Egypt c. 2850 BC, from 2820 BC to 2790 BC, 2800 BC to 2785 BC or 2765 BC to 2750 BC.
Senedj was an early Egyptian king (pharaoh), who may have ruled during the 2nd dynasty. His historical standing remains uncertain. His name is included in the kinglists of the Ramesside era, although it is written in different ways: While the kinglist of Abydos imitates the archaic form, the Royal Canon of Turin and the kinglist of Sakkara form the name with the hieroglyphic sign of a plucked goose.
Neferkara I is the cartouche name of a king (pharaoh) who is said to have ruled during the 2nd dynasty of Ancient Egypt. The exact length of his reign is unknown since the Turin canon lacks the years of rulership and the ancient Greek historian Manetho suggests that Neferkara's reign lasted 25 years. Egyptologists evaluate his statement as misinterpretation or exaggeration.
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.
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.
Neferkasokar was an Ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) who may have ruled in Egypt during the 2nd dynasty. Very little is known about him, since no contemporary records about him have been found. Rather his name has been found in later sources.
Hudjefa is the pseudonym for a 2nd dynasty pharaoh as reported on the Turin canon, a list of kings written during the reign of Ramses II. Hudjefa is now understood to mean that the name of the king was already missing from the document from which the Turin canon was copied. The length of the reign associated to Hudjefa on the canon is 11 years. Because of the position of Hudjefa on the Turin list, he is sometimes identified with a king Sesochris reported in the Aegyptiaca, a history of Egypt written by the Egyptian priest Manetho in the 3rd century BC. Manetho credits this pharaoh with 48 years of reign. Egyptologists have attempted to relate Hudjefa with archaeologically attested kings of the period, in particular Seth Peribsen.
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.