Shepseskaf (“his soul is noble”) is generally confirmed as the last ruler of the fourth dynasty of ancient Egypt. It is generally suggested that he only reigned for four years, although Manetho credits him with seven years.


It is thought that Shepseskaf was the the son of Menkaure by a minor wife, possibly Rekhetre, although it is sometimes suggested he was the son of Khamerernebty II. He may have been married to the enigmatic Queen Khentkaus I but this is not accepted by all scholars. It is more often suggested that he was married to Queen Bunefer but she may in fact have been his daughter who served as a priestess in his mortuary cult. He was probably the father of Khamaat, the wife of the official Ptahshepses, but again this is not certain.

Shepseskaf may have been succeeded by a shadowy ruler named Djedefptah who is mentioned by Manetho and for whom there is a space in the Turin King list, but this king is otherwise unattested and the official Netrynesutpu records that Userkhaf succeeded Shepseskaf.

Shepseskaf departed from the customs of his predecessors and built a strange rectangular monument at Saqqara known as Mastabat el Fara’un (the pharaoh’s bench). Some Egyptologisists (notably Jaquier) have seen this as evidence that he abandoned the solar cult, while others note that he completed the pyramid of Menkaure and may have had other reasons, such as financial difficulties and/or successional problems. It is also possible that he intended to build a larger monument later in his reign, but his ambitions were cut short.

Pharaoh’s Names

  • Bard, Kathryn (2008) An introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt
  • Dodson, A and Hilton, D. (2004) The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt
  • Lehner, Mark (1997) The Complete Pyramids
  • Malek, J (2000) “The Old Kingdom”, in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt Ed I. Shaw
  • Rice, Michael (1999) Who’s Who in Ancient Egypt
  • Van De Mieroop, Marc (1999) A History of Ancient Egypt
  • Verner, Miroslav (1997)The Pyramids

Copyright J Hill 2016