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Merenre was the oldest surviving son of Pepi I, and succeeded him to the throne, possibly after a short coregency. While the Turin canon claims he ruled for 40 years or more, this is usually seen as an error, probably because of confusion between his name, Merenre, and that of his father, who was Merire. Most experts agree that he ruled for a short time, perhaps 7-9 years. It is assumed that he ruled very young, perhaps only in his teens.
The family relationships between Merenre and his predecessors and successors is quite complicated -- his younger half brother, Pepi II, took the throne after him. Pepi was the son of Ankhnesmerire II, whom Merenre married, making Pepi II a cousin, a stepson, and a son-in-law as well. Everyone has the same names, too, which makes things even more confusing!
While he left few artifacts and monuments behind, egyptologists do know that he traveled to Aswan and the First Cataract in the fifth year of his reign to receive tribute from the Nubian chiefs there. In addition, inscriptions in the quarries used by his father attest tot he fact that he continued trade and diplomatic relations with the Sinai and quarries in Hatnub. Other than that, he continued to protect Egypt from foreigners and attempted to consolidate the central government -- again, just like his predecessors. Notes in the tomb of the governor of Aswan note that he was responsible for four expeditions to Nubia and farther south during the reign of Merenre and his brother, Pepi II.
Probably because of his short reign, his pyramid in Saqqara is not finished. The mummy inside, if it is his, represents the oldest complete royal mummy ever found. The black granite sarcophagus was found in 1881 by Maspero, and the mummy was of a very young man (he still had the sidelock of hair that represented youth). Some determined that this must be an intrusive burial from late in the 18th Dynasty, but the mummy has not yet been tested with modern techniques. The style of embalming and wrapping do not seem consistent with the Old Kingdom. The mummy remains at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
When the pyramid was first excavated in the 1830s, the mortuary temple and 250 meter were still visible, as was the mud-brick enclosure wall. No valley temple has yet been found at the end of the causeway, but it hasn't been extensively investigated, either.
A few other artifacts identify him, however -- a small sphinx, ivory inscriptions found at the pyramid of Menkaure in Giza, mentions in tombs in Abydos, Giza, Elephantine, and Saqqara, and in the alabaster quarries along with his father's.