Egypt: Niuserre, the 6th Ruler of the 5th Dynasty

Niuserre, the 6th Ruler of the 5th Dynasty

by Jimmy Dunn

Niuserre, the 6th Ruler of the 5th Dynasty

Niuserre (or Nyuserra, meaning "Possessed of Re's Power") was the sixth king of the 5th Dynasty. His throne name was Izi (or Isi, Ini, Iny). His Horus name was probably Setibtawy. We are not very sure how long he ruled Egypt because the Turin King list is somewhat damaged where this pharaoh is listed. We know that he ruled for at least 10 years, but Manetho's 44 years for his reign is considered unreliable. A reference to a Sed festival in his solar temple at Abu Gurab (named shesepu-ib-re) may, however, give him a reign of at least 30 years. Modern Egyptologists disagree on the dates of his reign as well as the length. For example, Peter A. Clayton gives him a reign from 2453-2422 BC, while Dodson says he reigned between 2432-2421. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt gives his reign as 2445-2421.

Niuserre most likely succeeded his older brother, Neferefre, as Egypt's ruler. His mother and father were probably Neferirkare and Queen Khentkaus II, and from a fragment of a statue in his valley temple, we believe that he was married to Reput-Nebu.

A duel statue showing a young, and old Niuserre

A duel statue showing a young, and old Niuserre

We know he was active in the Sinai, though an inscription found there of him smiting his enemies may be largely symbolic. He may have also participated in military campaigns against Libyans. He probably had copper and turquoise mined at Magharah in the Sinai, as did other kings of this period. There is also evidence that he probably traded with Punt for for malachite, myrrh, and electrum (a gold and silver alloy), as did Sahure before him.

He constructed a pyramid, mortuary complex and valley temple at Abusir, as well as his solar temple a kilometer or so north of Abusir at Abu Gurab. his solar temple is one of the biggest and most complete in Egypt, as well as the only one completely constructed with stone. It contains many fine reliefs, including depictions of his Sed Festival and the world being created by the solar god. Further scenes depict representations of the seasons and the provinces of Egypt. It is probably that during his rule the solar cult was at its summit.

View of Niuserre's Solar Temple

View of Niuserre's Solar Temple

Niuserre's reign seems to have been a profitable time for at least high officials. Some of their tombs, such as that of Ty at Saqqara and Ptahshepses at Abusir who we believe were from the reign of Niuserre, or some of the largest and best decorated in the Old Kingdom.

Niuserre is also attested by a Faience plague found at the Satis temple on Elephantine, and other objects found at Byblos. There are also indications of his quarrying activities north of Abu Simbel at Gebel el-Asr Gneiss Quarries, where there was found a fragment of a 5th Dynasty stele bearing his name and cartouche.

Seals of Niuerre

Seals of Niuerre






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

Who Were the Phraohs? (A history of their names with a list of cartouches)

Quirke, Stephen


Dover Publications

ISBN 0-486-26586-2