Teti is recorded as the founder of the Sixth Dynasty of ancient Egypt in the Turin Kings List, a view supported by Manetho. It is suggested that there was a period of dynastic instability when Unas died without an heir, and that Teti married Unas's daughter Iput to gain the throne. He took the throne name Seheteptawy ("he who pacifies the two lands") which seems to support this theory. The length of his reign is uncertain. Manetho suggests he was Pharaoh for between 30 and 33 years, but most Egyptologists favor a short reign or around 12 years.

Statue of Teti found near his pyramid at Saqqara

Teti had a large family. we know of three or possibly four queens; Iput (daughter of Unas), Khuit (who according to some commentators was the mother of Userkare), Khentkaus IV and Weret-Imtes. The last queen is named in the autobiography of Wenis as a party in the "harem plot", but it is not clear whether Weret-Imptes was her name, or the title of one of Teti's other wives. He had numerous offspring including at least three sons; Pepi I (who ascended to the throne after Userkare), crown prince Tetiankhkem (who died when he was fifteen) and prince Tetiankhkem. He may have had as many as nine daughters, many of whom were named after his mother Queen Sesheshet.

Teti drew back power to the central government, moving away from the semi-autonomous system begun by Djedkare. Yet, it is notable that the funerary monumnets of his officials are very grand in scale. The mastaba of his Vizier Mereruka had an impressive thirty-three rooms and was richly decorated. It is the largest known tomb to be positively identified as beloning to a nobleman.

He issued a decree in favour of the temple of Abydos, and is the first king to be associated with the cult of Hathor in Dendara. His pyramid is relatively small, but surrounded by some of the most important Mastabas of Saqqara. The pyramid itself has deteriorated badly, but excerpts of the Pyramid Texts have survived inside the monument.

Manetho claimes that the Pharaoh was murdered by his own body guards, but others suggest that he was killed by Userkare, who succeeded him. In later times, Teti's memory was especially honoured as "Teti, beloved of Ptah".

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