|home | travelogue | itinerary | photos | history | books|
Neferirkare was the second son of Khentkawes I to rule Egypt. He succeeded the throne from his older brother, Sahure. It is normally assumed that Userkaf was the father of both, although this is not certain. His wife, Khentkawes II, was probably related to his mother Khentkawes I, but once again, the relationship is not clear. Other wives and children are not known.
Again, there are some discrepancies in the length of Neferirkare's reign. His information is lost from the Turin king lists and the Palermo stone breaks off after recording the fifth cattle-count. We know that he ruled for at least 10 years because of this, but the estimate of Manetho that he ruled for twenty years is usually accepted. The funerary cult to Neferirkare was still in place in the Sixth Dynasty, based on seals and papyrus found at his mortuary temple in Abu Sir.
LIke his father, Userkaf, and brother Sahure, Neferirkare built funerary monuments at Abu Sir. He completed the Sun Temple built by Userkaf. His pyramid complex was unfinished during his lifetime, and quite obviously finished by his successors -- his pyramid complex, including his valley temple and causeway, were incorporated into the Sun Temple of Niuserre about fifteen years after he died. While there is written evidence of a Sun Temple built by Neferirkare, it has not yet been found.
His pyramid itself was planned as a six-step pyramid, which is surprising, since the step pyramids had not been built for centuries. However, when the casing was finished on the first "step", the decision was made to fill it in to a "true pyramid" shape and enlarged it. THe upper levels of the new 8-layer pyramid are not of the same quality as the lower levels. The entire complex was hastily completed with mud brick instead of stone after the kings death, probably by his successor, Shepseskare.
Like the Great Pyramid at Giza, there are wooden boats buried within the courtyard of the pyramid. Another unusual detail is that the mud brick courtyard contains thirty-seven lotus-shaped wooden columns. Inside the pyramid were found the earliest known inked papyrus hieratic script, which was discovered by local farmers in 1893 Hieratic is a "shorthand" version of hieroglyphs, with stylized symbols replacing the detailed glyphs written before.
This is the first example of this type of script, and it turned out to be part of the royal archive stored at the site in Abu Sir. It had details of the workings of the administrations, offerings, inspections, and other mundane details of running the mortuary complex for the king.
In addition, Neferirkare was the first pharaoh to give himself two names inside his cartouche -- previous kings had simply had their praenomen in the cartouche, the name we are most familiar with. Neferirkare also used his nomen, his birth name, in his cartouche and was commonly written as Neferirkare Kakai. The first is his "Son of Re" name, and the second a personal name. Most pharaohs after him used this model to write their names.