Djedkare Isesi

titles of Djedkare Isesi copyright neithsabes

Djedkare ("the soul of Re endureth") Isesi ruled ancient Egypt during the fifth dynasty (Old Kingdom). He may have been the son of his predecessor Menkauhor, but there is no positive evidence of this and it is also proposed by some that he was the son of Niuserre. According to the Turin Kings list he ruled for 28 years (although this is sometimes read as 38 years). Manetho records 44 years for this king. However, the mummy currently thought to be Djedkare's suggests he was about 50 when he died. He may have been married to Meresankh IV who was buried in the main necropolis in Saqqara, but it is also possible that Meresankh was the wife of Menkauhor. Another unnamed queen was interred alongside Djedkare in the southern necropolis. Reworkings of some of the text in this tomb suggest that this queen may have ruled for a time after his death but so far positive confirmation of this has not been recovered.

He was the father of Prince Isesi-ankh (who was buried in Saqqara) and Prince Neserkauhor, Princesses Kekheretnebti, Meret-Isesi, Hedjetnebu and Nebtyemneferes (who were all buried in Abusir). It is also possible that he was the father of Prince Raemka and Prince Kaemtjenent (although they may instead have been the children of Menkauhor) and Princess Kentkhaus (the wife of the Vizier Senedjemib Mehi).

Gold cylinder seal of Djedkare Isesi copyright Keith Schengili-Roberts

Djedkare recorded two expeditions to the Sinai, and his name was found in the quarries in Aswan, Abydos and Nubia. Grafitti in Nubia refers to an expedition to Punt and he seems to have had good diplomatic and trading relations with Byblos. During his reign, the importance of the solar cult waned. Central government was cut back and local administration improved. He is the king names in the Instructions of Ptahhotep (also known as the Maxims of Ptahhotep) which recounted the ideal qualities of a successful official in ancient Egypt so it is proposed that they were written by his Vizier, although Lichtheim suggests that they were in fact composed towards the end of the sixth dynasty.

The Pharaoh returned to the traditional burial ground at Saqqara, but continued to maintain the funerary temples in Abusir. His pyramid is now little more than rubble, but an inscription found inside it proved that he was the original owner (the tomb had been reused in the Eighteenth Dynasty).

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copyright J Hill 2010
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