Scribe palette of the chancellor Orkaukhety, with the cartouche of Merikare.
|Reign||c. 2075–2040 BC (10th Dynasty)|
|Predecessor||Wahkare Khety ?|
|Successor||an unknown ephemeral successor, then Mentuhotep II (11th Dynasty)|
|Father||Wahkare Khety ?|
|Died||around 2040 BCE|
|Burial||Pyramid of Merikare|
Merikare (also Merykare and Merykara) was a pharaoh of the Tenth Dynasty of Egypt, at the end of the First Intermediate Period. His name is not mentioned in the Turin King List; also his dates are uncertain.
According to many scholars, he ruled at the end of the 10th Dynasty, succeeding his father's long reign in his middle-age. The identity of his predecessor (the so-called "Khety III" who was the purported author of the Teaching for King Merikare) is still a question of debate among egyptologists. Some scholars tends to identify Merikare's predecessor with Wahkare Khety.
These sebayt ("teachings", in ancient Egyptian) - possibly composed under the reign of Merikare himself and fictitiously attributed to his father - are a collection of precepts for good governance. The text also mentions the eastern borders, recently secured but still in need of the king's attention.
Once coronated, around 2075 BCE, Merikare wisely resigned himself to the existence of two separate kingdoms (the Herakleopolite and the Theban ones) and tried to maintain the policy of peaceful coexistence achieved by his father. It seems that the period of peace brought a certain amount of prosperity to Merikare's realm.
Some time later, the pharaoh himself was forced to sail up the Nile with his court on a great fleet. Once he reached Asyut, the king installed the loyalist nomarch Khety II, who succeeded his deceased father Tefibi. After this installation, Merikare advanced farther upstream to the town of Shashotep, likely to quell a revolt, and at the same time as a show of force to the turbulent southern border areas.
Merikare died in c. 2040 BCE, few months before the fall of Herakleopolis. Thus, the final defeat by the hand of the Thebans, led by Mentuhotep II of the 11th Dynasty, was likely inflicted upon an ephemeral, unnamed successor.
Many sources suggest that Merikare was buried in a yet-undiscovered pyramid in Saqqara, called Flourishing are the Abodes of Merikare, that had to be near to the pyramid of Teti of the 6th Dynasty. The titles of the officials involved in its construction are documented, as his funerary cult endured into the 12th Dynasty; in fact, Merikare's cartouche appears on the stelae of at least four priests who were responsible for the funerary cult of Teti and Merikare during the Middle Kingdom.
Merikare is possibly the most attested of the Herakleopolite rulers. His name appears on:
- a wooden scribe palette belonged to the chancellor Orkaukhety, found in a tomb near Asyut (along with a brazier dedicated to Meryibre Khety) and now at the Louvre;
- the inscriptions from the tomb of the nomarch Khety II, in Asyut;
- nine steles attesting the existence of his pyramid and his funerary cult in Saqqara;
- the Teaching for King Merikare.
"The Pharaonic institution is the perfect way to govern."
"He who rules over the Two Lands is a wise man.
As Master of the nobility, Pharaoh cannot be an ignorant man.
He was already wise at his mother's breast,
Since God has chosen him from millions of men."
"The companions of Pharaoh are the Gods."
"Pharaoh is he who increases wealth and knows how to give.
Pharaoh is the lord of joy.
He who rebels against him would pull down Heaven."
- Flinders Petrie, A History of Egypt, from the Earliest Times to the XVIth Dynasty (1897), pp. 115-16.
- William C. Hayes, op. cit. p. 996.
- Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, Oxford, Blackwell Books, 1992, pp. 141-45.
- Jürgen von Beckerath, Handbuch der Ägyptischen Königsnamen, 2nd edition, Mainz, 1999, p. 74.
- Michael Rice, Who is who in Ancient Egypt, 1999 (2004), Routledge, London, ISBN 0-203-44328-4, p. 113.
- William C. Hayes, op. cit. p. 467.
- William C. Hayes, op. cit. p. 237.
- Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol. 2. pp. 97-109. University of California Press 1980, ISBN 0-520-02899-6, p. 97.
- Alan Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs. An introduction, Oxford University Press, 1961, p. 113.
- William C. Hayes, op. cit. pp. 467-68.
- James Edward Quibell, Excavations at Saqqara (1905-1906), Le Caire, Impr. de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale (1907), p. 20 ff; pl. XIII, XV.
- Per Ankh, The House of Life website
- William C. Hayes, in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol 1, part 2, 1971 (2008), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-077915.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Merikare.|
- Royal Titulary of Meryibre Khety on Eglyphica.net (search in the Tenth dynasty).
- Egyptian Pharaohs: First Intermediate Period