Known rulers in the Fifth Dynasty are listed below. Manetho assigns 248 years of rule to the Fifth Dynasty; however, the pharaohs of this dynasty more probably ruled for an approximate 150 years. This estimate varies between both scholar and source.[a] The Horus names and most names of the queens are taken from Dodson and Hilton.
|Name of King||Horus (throne) Name||Estimated reign duration||Pyramid||Queen(s)|
|Userkaf||Irimaat||7 years||Pyramid in Saqqara||Khentkaus I ? |
|Sahure||Nebkhau||13 years, 5 months and 12 days||Pyramid in Abusir||Neferetnebty|
|Neferirkare Kakai||Neferirkare||20 years||Pyramid in Abusir||Khentkaus II|
|Neferefre||Neferkhau||2 to 3 years||Unfinished Pyramid of Neferefre in Abusir||Khentakawess III ?|
|Shepseskare||Shepseskare||Likely a few months||Possibly in Abusir|
|Nyuserre Ini||Nyuserre||24 to 35 years||Pyramid in Abusir||Reptynub|
|Menkauhor Kaiu||Menkauhor||8 or 9 years||"Headless Pyramid" in Saqqara||Meresankh IV?|
|Djedkare Isesi||Djedkare||33 to more than 44 years||Pyramid in Saqqara||Setibhor|
|Unas||Wadjtawy||15 to 30 years||Pyramid in Saqqara||Nebet|
As before, expeditions were sent to Wadi Maghareh and Wadi Kharit in the Sinai to mine for turquoise and copper, and to quarries northwest of Abu Simbel for gneiss. Trade expeditions were sent south to Punt to obtain malachite, myrrh, and electrum, and archeological finds at Byblos attest to diplomatic expeditions sent to that Phoenician city. Finds bearing the names of several Dynasty V kings at the site of Dorak, near the Sea of Marmara, may be evidence of trade but remain a mystery.
How Pharaoh Userkaf founded this dynasty is not known for certain. The Papyrus Westcar, which was written during the Middle Kingdom, tells a story of how king Khufu of Dynasty IV was given a prophecy that triplets born to the wife of the priest of Ra in Sakhbu would overthrow him and his heirs, and how he attempted to put these children – named Userkaf, Sahure, and Neferirkare – to death; however in recent years, scholars have recognized this story to be at best a legend and admit their ignorance over how the transition from one dynasty to another transpired.
During this dynasty, Egyptian religion made several important changes. The earliest known copies of funerary prayers inscribed on royal tombs (known as the Pyramid Texts) appear. The cult of the god Ra gains added importance, and kings from Userkaf through Menkauhor Kaiu built temples dedicated to Ra at or near Abusir. Then late in this dynasty, the cult of the deity Osiris assumes importance, most notably in the inscriptions found in the tomb of Unas.
Amongst non-royal Egyptians of this time, Ptahhotep, vizier to Djedkare Isesi, won fame for his wisdom; The Maxims of Ptahhotep was ascribed to him by its later copyists. Non-royal tombs were also decorated with inscriptions, like the royal ones, but instead of prayers or incantations, biographies of the deceased were written on the walls.
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