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January 29, 2020, 9:42 pm UTC    
November 11, 2019 03:35PM
While researching at the Sackler Library the other day, I came across a great paper published in 2015 written by Miroslav Verner "The Remarkable Rise of the Fifth Dynasty - the story of Papyrus Westcar and historical evidence" (p.86 - 92 PES XV / 2015). I thought about our "Waggy" Mr. Hamilton and his great efforts to bring us all his expose' of pyramids and monuments... which included Khentkaus' monument at Giza. I'm not sure if he ever read this paper or if any of you have, so I thought I would attempt an abridged effort here because it is a remarkable story, which as always begs more questions...

I'm not going to write out the Westcar 'Magician' story you can all find it online, but the part of interest, at least in the paper, was Djedi telling Khufu that a woman named Rudjdjedet would give birth to triplets, and that they would be the first three rulers of the Fifth Dynasty... Verner writes:

"The tale of the divine birth of the first three kings of the Fifth Dynasty – Userkaf, Sahure and Kakai (Neferirkare) – presented on the Papyrus Westcar, was published first by Adolf Erman (Erman 1890a, 1890b), and since his edition it has been studied by a whole series of scholars (recently e.g. Bagnato 2006; Lepper 2008). The tale is primarily a literary not a historical work, but scholars have nonetheless considered the question of whether and to what extent it might contain some genuine historical elements. For example, present knowledge suggests there could be some historical basis to the prediction made by the narrator of the tale, Djedi, to King Khufu, at whose court the story takes place, that the three first rulers of the Fifth Dynasty will come to power, i.e. replace the line of Khufu, only after the reign of Khufu’s son (Rakhef), and Khufu’s son’s son (Menkaure)."

Turns out that when Salim Hassan excavated what many thought was a 4th pyramid at Giza (1930's) it turned out to be a previously unknown Queen's two story tomb/monument, Queen Khentkaus, located near Menkaure's valley temple. What was also interesting is she had a title no other Egyptian Queen had... "Mother of the Two Kings of Upper and Lower Egypt" - because of the position of the monument it lead some scholars to believe she was a wife of Menkaure, however evidence points to her being more likely as Khafre's daughter, thus Menkaure's sister. Verner writes:

"Shortly after the excavation of her tomb, Ludwig Borchardt (1938: 209–216) linked the royal mother Khentkaus with Abusir. As a matter of fact, on a fragment of papyrus, which made up part of the archive of the mortuary temple of Neferirkare and was found at the end of the nineteenth century, the mortuary cult of the “royal mother Khentkaus” was mentioned in the context of this temple. Borchardt came to the conclusion (and following him other scholars) that Khentkaus was the mother of Neferirkare and Sahure and also the mother-founder of the Fifth Dynasty."

But, as Verner goes on to explain that the evidence now supports Shepseskaf and Userkaf as Khentkaus' two sons, which is partly based on them being the builders of her tomb. Khentkaus' prominence at the end of the 4th dynasty was brought on by Menkaure's unexpected death and leaving no heir to the thrown, his son may have predeceased Menkaure or was to young to rule at the time. Here then it's interesting that at least four other son's of Khafre didn't step in to continue the royal line... it was Khentkaus who was more closely aligned with the royal line and was tasked with keeping the continuity of the monarchy.

Verner writes:

"The long accepted view of the royal mother Khentkaus and the beginning of the Fifth Dynasty has been altered fundamentally by new discoveries made in the course of the archaeological research of the pyramid field in Abusir. At the end of the 1970s, a small pyramid complex of the wife of Neferirkare was discovered at the southern side of the king’s pyramid (Verner 1995). Surprisingly, the written documents found in the pyramid complex showed that its owner had not only the same name as the royal mother Khentkaus in Giza but also the unusual title “mother of the two kings of Upper and Lower Egypt” (fig. 4). It took us some time to realize that there existed two royal mothers of the same name and unusual title, separated from each other by three generations – Khentkaus I from Giza and Khentkaus II from Abusir (Verner 1997: 109–117; 1999: 215–218)."

Further examination of Khentkaus II's pyramid exposed that her title had changed three times; "Kings wife", "Kings mother" and "mother of the two kings of upper and lower Egypt".... and as it turned out the pyramid had been built in three different stages, thus the first phase built by her husband Neferirkare, the second by her son Raneferef and, finally, enlarged by her second son Nyuserre. though I loath to continue to quote Verner I have no option as the plot thickens... Verner continues:

"Further stone to the intricate mosaic of the historical events at the end of the Fourth and the beginning of the Fifth Dynasty was added by the discovery made by the Egyptian team during the cleaning of the causeway of Sahure in Abusir in the middle of the 1950s. The team unearthed several blocks with historically invaluable scenes and inscriptions, including Sahure’s family celebrating the bringing of the rare frankincense trees from the remote land of Punt (fig. 6; El Awady 2009: 171, Fig. 83). Notably, the first two of Sahure’s sons with the only known king’s spouse Meretnebty, Ranefer and Netjeryrenre, both have the title “eldest king’s son”. Judging by his position in the scene and one more title, namely the chief lector-priest, Ranefer was probably the first to see the light of the world. El Awady (2009: 250–251, Pl. 6) logically presumes that this gave Ranefer precedence over his twin brother and so it was he who succeeded Sahure to the throne under the name Neferirkare. Eventually, he was not succeeded by his twin, Netjeryrenre, but by his and Khentkaus II’s son, who was called Ranefer just like his father before his ascent to the throne."

In the whole history of Egypt there have only been two queen's that shared the title "mother of the two kings of upper and lower Egypt", Verner suggests that it's probable that Sahure's two sons were twins, so when you add in Khentkaus I's sons (Shepseskaf, Userkaf) and Khentkaus II's sons (Raneferef and Nyuserre) you would have 3 sets of twins over 4 generations...

Verner writes:

"If this theory is correct, then at the transition from the Fourth to the Fifth Dynasty twins were delivered three times over four generations in the royal family: Khentkaus I, Meretnebty (Sahure’s wife, although only one of her twins became king, and therefore this queen did not have the title “mother of two kings of Upper and Lower Egypt”) and Khentkaus II. Whether or not the two sons were twins in the cases of Khentkaus I and Khentkaus II, both these royal mothers seem to have played a very important role in securing the legitimacy of succession to the throne, for their second sons would not have succeeded to the throne in line with tradition and royal ideology, i.e. not as a son after a father, but as a brother after a brother."

He goes on to mention that there was one more Queen named Khentkaus from the 5th dynasty who's tomb was recently discovered near the mortuary temple of Raneferef, where builder's inscribed the titles "Kings wife" and "Kings mother", giving rise to possibility she was Raneferef's wife and possibly daughter of Neferirkare... and thus we have three queen's Khentkaus I, Khentkaus II and Khentkaus III bridging the 4th and 5th dynasties, and gives rise to why popular culture of later Egyptians had great stories of the period of their history... (i.e. Westcar). I do little justice to Miroslav Verner's paper, I hope if someone has a link they can put it up, anyway I just thought folks here would enjoy a piece of it.


B.A. Hokom

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/11/2019 03:37PM by Pistol.
Subject Author Posted

Khentkaus I, Khentkaus II, Khentkaus III

Pistol November 11, 2019 03:35PM

Re: Khentkaus I, Khentkaus II, Khentkaus III

Hermione November 12, 2019 04:16AM

Re: Khentkaus I, Khentkaus II, Khentkaus III

waggy November 12, 2019 04:32AM

Re: Khentkaus I, Khentkaus II, Khentkaus III

Roxana Cooper November 12, 2019 05:54PM

Re: Khentkaus I, Khentkaus II, Khentkaus III

Pistol November 13, 2019 03:32PM

Re: Khentkaus I, Khentkaus II, Khentkaus III

Roxana Cooper November 15, 2019 02:16PM

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