Neferirkare Kakai

Neferirkare Kakai (known in Greek as Nefercherês, ΝεΦερχέρης) was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the third king of the Fifth Dynasty. The eldest son of Sahure with his consort Meretnebty known as Ranefer (A) before his accession to the throne, he succeeded his father the day following his death and reigned for eight to eleven years, sometime in the early to mid 25th century BCE. He was himself very likely succeeded by his eldest son, born of his queen Khentkaus II, the prince Ranefer (B) who would take the throne as king Neferefre. Neferirkare fathered another pharaoh, Nyuserre Ini who took the throne after Neferefre's unexpected early death and the ephemeral rule of the poorly known Shepseskare.

Neferirkare was acknowledged by his contemporaries as a kind and benevolent ruler, intervening in favour of his courtiers after a mishap or a stroke. His rule witnessed a growth in the number of administration and priesthood officials, who used their expanded wealth to build architecturally more sophisticated mastabas, where they recorded their biographies for the first time. Neferirkare was the last pharaoh to significantly modify the standard royal titulary, separating the nomen or birth name, from the prenomen or throne name. From his reign onwards, the former was written in a cartouche preceded by the "Son of Ra" epithet. His rule witnessed continuing trade relations with Nubia to the south and possibly with Byblos on the Levantine coast to the north.

Neferirkare started a pyramid for himself in the royal necropolis of Abusir, called Ba-Neferirkare meaning "Neferirkare is a Ba". It was initially planned to be a step pyramid, a form which had not been employed since the days of the Third Dynasty circa 120 years earlier. This plan was modified to transform the monument into a true pyramid, the largest in Abusir, which was never completed owing to the death of the king. In addition, Neferirkare built a temple to the sun god Ra called Setibre, that is "Site of the heart of Ra". Ancient sources tell that it was the largest one built during the Fifth Dynasty but as of 2018 it has not yet been located.

After his death, Neferirkare benefited from a funerary cult taking place in his mortuary temple, which had been completed by his son Nyuserre Ini. This cult seem to have disappeared at the end of Old Kingdom period, although it might have been revived during the Twelfth Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom, albeit in a very limited form. In all probability, it was also around this time that the story of the Papyrus Westcar was first written, a tale where Userkaf, Sahure and Neferirkare are said to be brothers, the sons of Ra with a woman Rededjet.


Contemporaneous sources

Neferirkare is well attested in sources contemporaneous with his reign. Beyond his pyramid complex, he is mentioned in the tomb of many of his contemporaries such as his vizier Washptah and the courtier Rawer. Neferirkare also appears in the nearly contemporaneous Giza writing board, a short list grouping six kings from different dynasties dating to the later Fifth or early Sixth Dynasty. [23] The writing board was uncovered in the tomb of a high official named Mesdjerw, who may have composed it for his use in the afterlife. [24]

Historical sources

Neferirkare is attested in two ancient Egyptian king lists, both dating to the New Kingdom. The earliest of these is the Abydos King List written during the reign of Seti I (fl. 1290–1279 BCE). There, Neferirkare's nomen "Kakai" occupies the 28th entry, in between those of Sahure and Neferefre. During the subsequent reign of Ramses II (fl. 1279–1213 BCE), Neferirkare's prenomen was recorded on the 27th entry of the Saqqara Tablet, but this time as a successor of Sahure and predecessor of Shepseskare. [25] Neferirkare was also given an entry on the Turin canon, a document dating to the reign Ramses II as well. Neferirkare's entry is commonly believed to be on the third column-19th row, unfortunately this line has been lost in a large lacuna affecting the papyrus and neither his reign length nor his successor can be ascertained from the surviving fragments. [note 2] [27] [28] Alternatively, Miroslav Verner has proposed that Neferirkare's entry may instead have been located on the next, 20th line. This would credit Neferirkare with seven years of reign. [27]

Neferirkare was mentioned in the Aegyptiaca, a history of Egypt written in the 3rd century BCE during the reign of Ptolemy II (283–246 BCE) by the Egyptian priest Manetho. No copies of the Aegyptiaca have survived to this day and it is now known only through later writings by Sextus Julius Africanus and Eusebius. The Byzantine scholar George Syncellus reports that Africanus relates that the Aegyptiaca mentioned the succession "Sephrês → Nefercherês → Sisirês" for the early Fifth Dynasty. Sephrês, Nefercherês and Sisirês are believed to be the hellenized forms for Sahure, Neferirkare and Shepseskare, respectively. Thus, Manetho's reconstruction of the Fifth Dynasty is in good agreement with the Saqqara tablet. [29] In Africanus' epitome of the Aegyptiaca, Nefercherês is reported to have reigned for 20 years. [30]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Neferirkare
català: Nefererkare
čeština: Neferirkare
Deutsch: Neferirkare
español: Neferirkara
euskara: Neferirkara
Bahasa Indonesia: Neferirkare Kakai
lietuvių: Neferirkarė
magyar: Noferirkaré
Nederlands: Neferirkare
português: Neferirkaré
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Neferirkare Kakai
svenska: Neferirkara
українська: Неферірікара I
Tiếng Việt: Neferirkare Kakai