Saturday, March 28, 2015

The World's Longest Reigning King?

Figure 1 - Calcite Vase with the Names and Titles of Pepi II
     For many years egyptologists have believed that Neferkare Pepi II, who came to the throne at somewhere around the age of five or six, was the longest reigning king in the history of the world. The Turin Canon ascribes a reign of 90 years to this Pharaoh, but the highest regional date known from a contemporary artifact is year 64.

     Some scholars have questioned the idea that Pepi reigned for anything approaching 94 years, but even if the correct length of his reign is 64 years, that would put him neck-to-neck with Ramesses II as the longest reigning king in Egypt's long history.

     A delightful incident from Pepi's reign was his letter to a nobleman named Harkuf. This official had led an trading expedition  and was on its way back to the court with a large supply of goods to enrich his rulers court, but Pepi (who was still a child at this time) was far more interested in the "dancing pygmy" that Harkuf was bringing back to Egypt to entertain the King. A letter to Harkuf from the Pharaoh cautioned the nobleman to make sure that no harm came to the pygmy as the King desired to see him "more than anything".

     With the death of Pepi, the Old Kingdom collapses (after a long period of decline) and Egypt falls into a long period of chaos known as the First Intermediate Period.

Photo Copyright (c) 2015 by John Freed

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