First Intermediate period

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Egypt got to social and political decline at the end of 6th dynasty rule, which led to weaking the power in Memphis (Mennefer). This period of decline is called the First Intermediate period; it lasted over one hundred years and the land was left to the mercy of social disorders, anarchy and probably foreigner incursions as well – the Bedouins especially.

Even if there's not much information about this period, we know that the power of regional rulers was growing and the nomarchs (nomes governors) ruled practically without limits over their territory. In fact the Egypt was divided – the northern and middle part was controled by the rulers of Heracleopolis origin (the 9th and 10th dynasty) and the southern part was controled by the rulers from Thebes (Waset), who made the 11th dynasty.

The long reign of Pepi II. - The beginnings of problems

The problems started under Pepi II. rule. This Pharaoh, who ruled for unbelievable 94 years, stayed on the throne even at advanced age and didn't manage to control the situation completely. His son Merenre didn't rule for long and Nitocris was his successor – the first woman on Egyptian throne. The second woman was Hatshepsut several hundreds years later. But Nitocris wasn't capable to turn the situation either.

According to Egyptian historician Manetho the seventh dynasty included 70 Pharaohs, who ruled for 70 days in total. This proves that there was a great chaos in the land. And it wasn't better with the 8th dynasty. Manetho states a list of Pharaohs from this dynasty, which is only hard to analyze. Neferkare, Ibi (his pyramid was found in Saqqara) and Neferkauhor are included in this list.

We can suppose that the 9th and 10th dynasty ruled at one time at the beginning of the 11th dynasty. While the 9th and 10th dynasty ruled in Heracleopolis, the 11th dynasty ruled in Thebes (Waset). The 9th dynasty was founded by certain Khety, a Heracleopolis king, who laid claims on whole Egypt. Several Pharaohs came after his death, whose names were Khety again, Neferkare, Merykare ...

The rulers of Heracleopolis ruled concurrently with the 11th dynasty since the time of 10th dynasty. The 11th dynasty was likely founded by Intef I and it ruled in Thebes (Waset). The area of Abydos became some kind of "buffer zone" in attacks of both dynasties, which led to vast devastation of royal necropolis from Archaic period that was situated there. The Theban dynasty was more fighting and it defeated the Heracleopolis dynasty under Mentuhotep II. rule. So order was established again after a long time and Egypt was united. This was the beginning of the Middle Kingdom period.

"Theban dominance" and necropolis in El-Tarif

Thebes (Waset) was a provincial city in the Old Kingdom period. We know about a row of superior priests charged to do supervising over local affairs even in the early First Intermediate Period. They are mentioned on mortuary steles in a large cemetery in El-Tarif on the western Nile bank directly opposite the temple in Karnak. Nomarch Intef, who connected the position of "great governor of Theban nome" with another authority – "superior of priests", gained the power after a row of dignitaries. Apart from that he prided on a title the "King's secretary in the narrow gate of the south" (which means on Elephantine) and the "Great governor of the Upper Egypt".

This nomarch Intef is likely identical to "Intef the Great, son of Ikma", whom the Pharaoh Senusret I. even let build a statue in the temple in Karnak. Also the list of Kings on "King's predecessors chapel" walls mentioned him. Thutmose III. mentioned him in Karnak as a "prince Intef", the ancestor of the 11th dynasty.

Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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