Ancient Egypt - Pharaoh Pepi II

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

The kingship passed on to Merenre's 6-year-old son, Pepi II. We are unsure if he ruled 64 years or 94 years, but either way, his long reign was a possible reason for the Old Kingdom collapse. If he lived to be perhaps 98 years old, as the reign of 94 years would place, he might have been too feeble to properly rule Egypt. Remember that the pharaoh was the physical leader of Egypt. He was in charge of the military, the head of the army. If he did reign for 94 years, he would be the longest ruling monarch in the history of the world!

The Pyramid of Pepi II

Surprisingly, Pepi II's pyramid was no larger than those of his predecessors, despite the many years in power. An interesting feature is that after the north chapel and the wall was completed, the builders tore down these structures and enlarged the base of the pyramid. A band of brickwork reaching to the height of the perimeter wall was then added to the pyramid. The purpose of this band is not known.

The burial chamber had a gabled ceiling covered by painted stars. Two of the walls consisted of large granite slabs. The sarcophagus was made of black granite and inscribed with the king's name and titles. A canopic chest was sunk in the floor. The pyramid collapsed when the limestone casing was removed sometime in antiquity.

The causeway was approximately 400-meters long and led to the valley temple,

that was on the shores of a lake, which is now long gone.

The Portraits of the Pharaoh

The alabaster statuette of young Pepi II is his most famous portrait. It is unique in that it shows him at a much smaller scale than his mother. This difference in size is atypical because the king is usually shown larger than others. His mother, Ankhesenpepi II, most likely ruled as regent in the early years of his reign.

The Story of Weni

On the walls of a tomb in Abydos, is the Story of Weni, one of the longest narrative inscriptions of this period. His autobiography records how he rose from almost obscure origins through the court hierarchy, under the first three kings of the dynasty, to become the Governor of the South. During Merenre's reign, Weni became sole arbiter in a harem conspiracy case involving Queen Weret-Imtes.

“Never before had the like of me heard a secret matter of the king's

harem, but His Majesty caused me to hear it.” -The Story of Weni

Bearing in mind Manetho's assertion that the previous king Teti had been assassinated, no doubt the sentence on the Queen was a capital one.

The Autobiography of Harkhuf

Another detailed autobiography of this time was discovered in the tomb of the noble and caravan leader, Harkhuf. The inscription details how Harkhuf made four journeys into the dangerous lands south of Aswan to collect elephant tusks, ebony, incense, and other commodities. During the 2nd year of Pepi II's reign, he captured a small pygmy while on the route to Darfur. He sent word ahead to the young pharaoh who wrote back with specific instructions that the pygmy should be inspected ten times a night as he slept to ensure no harm befell him.

This expedition was evidently successful.

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