Seventh Dynasty of Egypt

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The Seventh Dynasty of Egypt would mark the beginning of the First Intermediate Period in the early 22nd century BC but its actual existence is debated. The only historical account on the Seventh Dynasty was in Manetho's Aegyptiaca, a history of Egypt written in the 3rd century BC, where the Seventh Dynasty appears essentially as a metaphor for chaos. Since next to nothing is known of this dynasty beyond Manetho's account, Egyptologists such as Jürgen von Beckerath and Toby Wilkinson have usually considered it to be fictitious.[1][2] In a 2015 re-appraisal of the fall of the Old Kingdom, the Egyptologist Hracht Papazian has proposed that the Seventh Dynasty was real and that it consisted of kings usually attributed to the Eighth Dynasty.

Historical sources

Based on the now lost writings of Africanus (c. 160-240) and Eusebius (c. 260-340), themselves based on the now lost work of the Egyptian priest Manetho (3rd century BC), the Byzantine scholar George Syncellus (died after 810) variously assigns to the period after the Sixth dynasty — the Seventh Dynasty — 70 kings in 70 days (Africanus) or 5 kings in 75 days (Eusebius).[3]:395 According to Manetho, these kings would have ruled in Memphis.[3]:396 Rather than a historical reality, this rapid succession of kings has long been interpreted as a metaphor for chaos.[3]:395

Some Egyptologists, such as Papazian (2015),[3]:395 believe that this interpretation may give undue weight to Manetho's writings, and that it distorts the general scholarly understanding of the end of the Old Kingdom. According to Papazian (2015),[3]:395 "a re-examination [...] of the Seventh Dynasty's existence, remains fully justified" and some of the kings usually attributed to the mid-Eighth Dynasty should instead be understood to belong to the Seventh Dynasty. Being attested by two additional ancient historical sources as well as archeological evidences, the Eighth Dynasty is not quite as obscure as the Seventh. As a consequence, some Egyptologists combine the Seventh and Eighth Dynasty into a single line of kings, reigning immediately after the Sixth Dynasty.

List of Rulers

The Seventh Dynasty is usually considered fictitious and is thus either ignored altogether by modern scholars or it is combined with the Eighth Dynasty. The Egyptologist Hracht Papazian has proposed in 2015 that a number of rulers usually seen as belonging to the mid-Eighth Dynasty identified by the Abydos king list should be attributed to a Seventh Dynasty:[3]:416

Dynasty VII as per Papazian[3]:416
Name Evidence beyond the Abydos king list
Djedkare Shemai -
Neferkare Khendu -
Merenhor -
Neferkamin -
Nikare Possibly attested by a cylinder seal.[4]
Neferkare Tereru -
Neferkahor Attested by a cylinder seal.
Neferkare Pepiseneb Turin Canon gives at least one year.[5]
Neferkamin Anu -

References

  1. ^ Wilkinson, Toby (2010). "Timeline". The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt. New York: Random House. p. xiii. ISBN 9781408810026. The system of dynasties devised in the third century B.C. [by Manetho] is not without its problems—for example, the Seventh Dynasty is now recognized as being wholly spurious, while several dynasties are known to have ruled concurrently in different parts of Egypt...
  2. ^ Jürgen von Beckerath, Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen. Münchner ägyptologische Studien (in German). 49. Mainz: Philip von Zabern. ISBN 978-3-8053-2591-2.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Hratch Papazian (2015). "The State of Egypt in the Eighth Dynasty". In Peter Der Manuelian; Thomas Schneider. Towards a New History for the Egyptian Old Kingdom: Perspectives on the Pyramid Age. Harvard Egyptological Studies. BRILL.
  4. ^ Peter Kaplony: Die Rollsiegel des Alten Reichs, vol. 2: Katalog der Rollsiegel, (= Monumenta Aegyptiaca. Vol. 3), La Fondation Égyptologique Reine Élisabeth, Brüssel 1981, issue 144.
  5. ^ Kim Ryholt: "The Late Old Kingdom in the Turin King-list and the Identity of Nitocris", Zeitschrift für ägyptische, 127 (2000), p. 91
Preceded by
Sixth Dynasty
Dynasty of Egypt
c. 2181
Succeeded by
Eighth Dynasty
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