Egypt: Djedkare, 8th Ruler of the 5th Dynasty

Djedkare, 8th Ruler of the 5th Dynasty

by Jimmy Dunn

Djedkare was the eighth ruler of Egypt's 5th Dynasty. The relationship of Djedkare with his predecessors or successors is not entirely known, but he was probably the son of Menkauhor, his predecessor. If not, then he may have been Menkauhor's brother by Niuserre, or even Menkauhor's cousin by Neferfre, though that seems unlikely. It is possible that his principle queen was Meresankh IV, but her tomb is located in the main Saqqara necropolis. A pyramid believed to be that of a queen or consort of Djedkare just next to that of his in South Saqqara has no inscriptions to provide us with evidence of her name. According to an Abusir Papyrus, Djedkare perhaps lived in South Saqqara near his pyramid.

According to the Turin King List he ruled for 28 years, but records found in the mortuary temple of Neferefre at Abusir indicate that he ruled for at least 30 years. Actually, the dates on the Turin King List have been read by some Egyptologists as giving him a reign of 38 years. Manetho records 44 years for this king, but the mummy found in his pyramid at South Saqqara and believed to be Djedkare is thought to be that of about a 50 year old man.Given this king's apparently long reign, it is surprising we have so little information about him.

Egyptologists give us some variations of possible dates for his rule. Peter A. Clayton in "Chronicle of the Pharaohs" gives his reign as 2414-2375 BC. While Aidan Dodson's "Monarchs of the Nile" provides dates from 2413-2385. The "Oxford History of Ancient Egypt" agrees with Peter A. Clayton's assessment.

Seals referencing Djedkare

Djed-ka-re was the king's throne name, meaning "Soul of Re Endureth". His birth name was Isesi (Asosi). He distanced himself somewhat from the earlier rulers of this dynasty by not building a sun temple and having himself buried at Saqqara rather than Abusir.

Djedkare's name has been found in the Sinai at Maghara, demonstrating a continued Egyptian interest in this rich region. Two expeditions at ten year intervals are recorded there. We also find him mentioned at the quarries northwest of Aswan, and at Abydos and in Nubia. In Nubia, we find his expedition to Punt mentioned in a graffito found at the site of Tomas. He apparently also maintained commercial and diplomatic contacts with Byblos.

He is further attested to in the biographies of Itush at and also Gemni at Saqqara. He his mentioned in a number of letters including one from Pepy II. We find references on vessels mentioning his first Sed Festival and he is also referenced on a dedication inscription to Niuserre found at Abusir.

We know of a few officials of his reign, including Ptahhotep, one of his viziers. However, this is probably not the famous author of the Maxims, but either his father or grandfather.

His reign is marked by some important changes. For example, the solar cult, although not abandoned, loses some of its importance and predominance, and the power of the central government is weakened to the advantage of the provincial administration. Another important change that occurred during Djedkare's reign is the return to Saqqara as a burial place. This does not mean, however, that the funerary temples of Abusir were abandoned. The larger part of the papyri found in the funerary temple of Neferirkare are dated to Djedkare, and it is clear that he did much work maintaining the Abusir area.






Reference Number

Chronicle of the Pharaohs (The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt)

Clayton, Peter A.


Thames and Hudson Ltd

ISBN 0-500-05074-0

History of Ancient Egypt, A

Grimal, Nicolas



None Stated

Monarchs of the Nile

Dodson, Aidan


Rubicon Press

ISBN 0-948695-20-x

Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The

Shaw, Ian


Oxford University Press

ISBN 0-19-815034-2