Egypt: King Menkauhor, the 7th Ruler of Egypt's 5th Dynasty

King Menkauhor, the 7th Ruler of Egypt's 5th Dynasty

by Jimmy Dunn

Menkauhor was probably the seventh ruler of Egypt's 5th Dynasty. Menkauhor was this king's throne name, which means "Eternal are the Souls of Re". His birth name was Kalu. However, he is probably the least well attested ruler of this dynasty and can be counted among the least attested kings of any non intermediate period.

The relationship of Menkauhor with his predecessors or successors is not known. However, it is likely that he was either the brother or son of Niuserre, his predecessor. If he was Niuserre's son, it would probably have been by Niuserre's chief queen, Neput-Nebu. It is also likely that he was the father of Djedkare, who followed him to the throne. If not, he was almost certainly Djedkare's brother, with Niuserre being both king's father, or Djedkare's cousin, with Djedkare being the son of Neferefre, and Menkauhor being the son of Niuserre.

According to the Turin King-list he ruled for some eight years. References fairly consistently give his reign as lasting from about 2421 or 2422 until 2414.

His solar-temple, called Akhet-Re, and his pyramid are mentioned in texts from private tombs. This dynasty was famous for their solar temples, and Menkauhor's temple is probably located at either Abusir or Saqqara. It would have probably been the last such temple built, however, because his successors appear to have drifted away somewhat from the solar cult.

Menkauhor's pyramid has not been positively identified, but if the assumption that his pyramid is to be located at Dashur is correct, this would imply a departure from Abusir. However, some Egyptologists seem to strongly believe that his pyramid is the "Headless Pyramid", located in North Saqqara east of Teti's complex. There is mounting evidence to support this conclusion. B. G. Ockinga, for example argues that during the 18th Dynasty the Teti complex may have been associated with a cult belonging to a deified Menkauhor. Wherever it is located, his pyramid was called "Divine are the (cult) places of Menkauhor".

His reign is attested by an inscription in the Sinai at Magharah, indicating that he continued to quarry stone in that location as did his predecessors and successors. Given the lack of information on this king, we can also probably make some assumptions based on the activities of those predecessors and successors. For example, while he have no inscriptions as evidence, both Niuserre and Djedkare quarried stone northwest of Aswan, so it is likely that Menkauhor did as well. It is also highly likely that he continued commercial and diplomatic relations with Byblos, as did both Niuserre and Djedkare, and in fact we do find a few objects in the area near Dorak bearing his name. It is also likely that he had some sort of dealings with Nubia, but whether he sent expeditions to Punt, as did Niuserre and Djedkare, is unknown.

A seal from Abydos

Otherwise, Menkauhor is also attested to by a small alabaster statue that is now located in the Egyptian museum in Cairo and by a relief of Tjutju adoring King Menkauhor and other divinities. This relief, owned by the Louvre, has been on loan to the Cleveland Museum of Art. We also have a seal bearing his name that was found at Abusir.






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