Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Seventeenth Dynasty (Part 2)

This first ruler of the Seventeenth Dynasty was named: The Horus Neferkheperu, Two Ladies Herhernestef, the Good God Nebkheperre, Son of Re Intef. His monuments are found throughout Upper Egypt and there can be little doubt that he was one of the most important rulers of the Dynasty. The exact length of his reign is uncertain, although there is a reference to year tree (Winlock, Herbert, Rise and Fall of the Middle Kingdom at Thebes (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1947), p. 104).

Several monuments have been found at Abydos from the reign of Intef, including an architrave and some columns which bear his names and titles, several stelae of local nobles bear his name and some scarabs have been found near the Osiris temple (Winlock, p. 109). At Edfu Newberry found two gold armlets bearing the name of Intef and his wife, Sobekemsaf, as well as a gold pendant bearing the names of the royal couple (Winlock, p. 112). A stela of Nebkheperre Intef has been found at Karnak. On this stela, the King boasts of having defeated both the Asiatics and the Nubians (Winlock, p. 111), but this may well be an empty boast. The present whereabouts of this stela is, unfortunately, unknown. At el-Kab, Quibell found some blocks bearing the name Intef and Winlock proposes that they belong to the reign of Nebkheperre, rather than from the reign of one of the later Intefs (Winlock, p. 112).

It is at Koptos that the most important documents from Nebkhepere’s reign have been found. He is shown with upraised mace striking down a cluster of enemies (Hayes, William, Scepter of Egypt, vol. 2 (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1959), p. 8) and some slabs dating to his reign have been found reused as pavement stones in a later building (Winlock, p. 109). These slabs have been published by Stewart (Stewart, H. M., Egyptian Stelae (Warminster: Aris & Phillips Ltd., 1979), pp. 19 – 20). The most important object of his reign found at Koptos is an inscription describing the removal of a priest of Min, a man named Teti, from office at Nebkeheperre’s command. The stela reads in part:

“Year Three, third month of (the season) Prt, day 25, under the majesty of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nebkeheperre, Son of Re Intef, given life like Re eternally. My Majesty commands the wearer of the royal seal, the Prince of Koptos Kinenew, and the wearer of the royal seal, the Priest of Min, the Scribe of the temple, Neferhotep (as well as) all of the soldiers of Koptos and all of the priesthood. Behold, this command is brought to you that you be informed that My Majesty, life!, prosperity! And health!, has sent the Scribe of the Divine Treasury of Amun, Siamun and [ ] Amenwoserre to make an investigation in the temple of Min! The priesthood of my father Min arrived before My Majesty, life!, prosperity! And health!, saying, ‘Evil speech has happened in this temple! Foes have been harbored by, cursed be his name, Teti, son of Minhotep!’. Cause that he be overthrown in the temple of my father Min. Drive him away from his temple office from son to son and from heir to heir…” (Translated by the author ).

The stela then goes on to order that Minemhat be given the office which has been taken from Teti. What is important here is that Intef is giving commands in his own name, and not in the name of the Hyksos King. This indicates that, at this point in time anyway, the King’s of the Seventeenth Dynasty were not subservient to the Hyksos ruler in Avaris.

Nebkheperre’s wife, Sobekemsaf, was born and buried at Edfu, where several objects bearing her name have been found. She was revered as late as the Eighteenth Dynasty, as shown by a stela of that period which shows her and Aahotep (wife of Sekenenre Ta’o) together (Hayes, William, “Egypt: from the Death of Amenemes III to Seqenenre II”, in Cambridge Ancient History vol. 2, pt. 1 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1973), p. 70).

Nebkheperre’s burial was found at Dra abu Naga in 1827 by local tomb robbers. This tomb allegedly had only one chamber which contained a sarcophagus carved from the living rock (Winlock, Herbert, “The Tombs of the Kings of the Seventeenth Dynasty at Thebes”, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 10 (1924): p. 229). Inside this sarcophagus was the coffin which is now in the British Museum. This coffin gives only the name Intef. However, it almost certainly belongs to Nebkheperre. There are three coffins dating to Dynasty Seventeen which bear the name of Intef. One of these coffins also bears the name of Sekhemre Herhermaat, so it is clearly not Nebkheperre’s. On the coffin in the British Museum, the name Intef is spelled with a reed plant sign as the first hieroglyph. The third coffin uses a different character to spell the name Intef. Since Nebkheperre is the only one of the three Intefs known to have used the reed sign in spelling his name, the coffin in London must be his (Beckerath, Jurgen von, Untersuchungen zur Politischen Geschichte der zweiten Zwischenzeit in Aegypten (Gluckstadt: J. J. Augustin, 1964), p. 170). Inside this coffin were two bows and six arrows (Hayes, CAH, p. 71), a diadem and a mummy from a later period which was almost certainly placed there by the tomb robbers in an attempt to increase the value of their discovery (Hayes, CAH, p. 71). To further complicate things, the robbers claimed that a heart scarab bearing the name of King Sobekemsaf was found on the mummy of Intef! This led Hayes to believe that Sekhemre Shedtowi Sobekemsaf was the successor of Nebkheperre, as it was logical to believe that Nebkheperre’s successor would give a gift of some sort for the burial of his predecessor (Hayes, CAH, p. 68). This story should be viewed very suspiciously however, as these same tomb robbers claimed that the mummy was the original one found in the coffin when it was, in reality, from a much later period than Dynasty Seventeen.

Two small obelisks were found by Mariette in front of the remains of Nebkheperre’s pyramid at Dra abu Naga, but both of them were lost in the Nile when the boat carrying them to the Bulaq Museum sank in 1881 (Beckerath, p. 169). The location of the tomb was subsequently forgotten until the tomb was re-discovered in 2001 by David Polz and his team from the German Archaeological Institute. The tomb consists of a mudbrick pyramid surrounded by mudbrick enclosure wall. A life size statue of the king was found in front of the pyramid. Adjacent to the king’s pyramid was the funerary chapel of one Teti, who was a “treasurer” Intefs.

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