Merenre I

Merenre (beloved of Re) Nemtyemsaf I ruled Ancient Egypt during the sixth dynasty of the Old Kingdom. He was the oldest son of Pepi I and Ankhenespepi I. Manetho estimates his reign at only seven years, but the South Saqqara Stone Annals suggest he may have reigned for around ten or eleven years. In any case, he used his time effectively.

Wooden box inscribed with the name of Merenre I (copyright Iry-Hor)

He appointed Weni as Governor of Upper Egypt (the first commoner to hold this post) and even led a delegation to meet the Nubian chiefs himself. He conducted military campaigns in Nubia (to gain access to the granite quarries at Aswan and Ibhat, and the alabaster quarries at Hat-Nub), sent officials to maintain Egyptian rule as far as the third cataract of the Nile, and maintained trade with Byblos.

He also instructed a series of trading and intelligence gathering expeditions to the land of Yam (Sudan) led by Harkhuf, the Chief of Scouts. Harkhuf recorded a worrying rise in both the confidence and power of the Nubian tribes in the account of these expeditions which was inscribed in his tomb.

Rock inscription near Aswan showing king Merenra I receiving the submission of the lower Nubian rulers from Archibald Henry Sayce: Gleanings from the land of Egypt 1893

Merenre married Ankhenespepi II, his father’s widow and his mother’s sister, making her his stepmother, queen, and aunt! To further complicate matters, he had two daughters Ankhenespepi III and Iput II and is now also thought to have been the father of Pepi II. Pepi II later married his sister, Ankhenespepi III.

He is sometimes known by his birth name (Nemtyemsaf, “Nemty is his protection”). He probably planned a pyramid in Saqqara, but as far as we know it was not completed. The location of his burial is not confirmed, but it is suggested that his mummy may be one of the cache of pre-dynastic and old kingdom mummies discovered in Hierakonopolis.

Pharaoh’s Names

Manetho; Methusuphis

Horus Name; Hr anh haw (Horus Ankhkhaw) – Horus Living Of Apparitions

Nebti Name; nbti anh haw (Nebti Ankhkhaw) – The Two Ladies Living Of Apparitions

Golden Horus Name; bik wy nbw(wy) (Bikwi-Nebw) – Two Golden Falcons

Prenomen; mr n ra (Merenre) – Beloved Of Re (Abydos kings list)

Nomen; nmty m sA=f (Nemtiemsaf) – Nemty Is His Protection (Saqqara kings list)

  • Dodson, A and Hilton, D. (2004) The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt
  • Hornung, Eric (1999) History of Ancient Egypt
  • Malek, Jaromir (2000) “The Old Kingdom”, in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt Ed I. Shaw
  • Van de Mieroop, Marc (2010) A History of Ancient Egypt
  • Wilkinson, Toby (2010) The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt

Copyright J Hill 2011