Little is known about the life of Shepseskare (“noble is the soul of Re”) of the fifth dynasty of ancient Egypt. In fact, seal impressions found at Abusir and Memphis (although some are of unconfirmed provenance) are about the only solid evidence that he existed at all.
Manetho knew him as “Sisires”, but has little to say about him. He may have been the brother of Sahure and Neferirkare who succeeded to the throne as Neferirkare’s children Neferefre and Nuiserre were not yet old enough to rule. Callender has proposed his consort was Queen Nimaathap II who is buried in the west cemetery of Giza.
We cannot be certain, but Verner has argued persuasively that the unfinished pyramid at Abusir should be ascribed to him. Kaplony has suggested he started construction of a sun temple based on a tentative reconstruction of a clay seal, but the reconstruction is described as highly speculative by Verner, and no corroborating sources have been recovered.
There is a gap in the place on the Turin Kings list where we would expect to see his name, with a reign length which has been read as one year, one year four months, or (less likely) eleven years. Verner has suggested that he may in fact only have ruled for a few months.
Although he is referred to as the pharaoh who preceded Neferefre in the Saqqara list, seal impressions bearing the pharaoh’s Horus Name (Sekhemkhau) were found in the oldest part of Neferefre’s mortuary temple, leading many to argue he actually succeeded Neferefre.
- Lehner, Mark (1997) The Complete Pyramids
- Malek, J (2000) “The Old Kingdom”, in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt Ed I. Shaw
- Van De Mieroop, Marc (1999) A History of Ancient Egypt
- Verner, Miroslav (1997)The Pyramids
Copyright J Hill 2016