one of the last kings of the Herakleopolitan period, the ninth and tenth dynasties (c.2165–2040 BCE). That period is known chiefly for the strife between the Herakleopolitans in the north of Egypt and the Thebans in the south of Egypt. The Turin Canon of kings, a papyrus in the Egyptian Museum (Museo Egizio) in Turin, Italy, lists eighteen Herakleopolitan kings, but most of them were ephemeral rulers for whom little or no further evidence exists. Contemporary evidence for Merikare suggests that he was the most important and longest reigning king of that period. His connection with the struggle against the Thebans is evident from the biographical inscription of the nomarch Khety in a tomb at Asyut in Middle Egypt, the nomarchs of which supported the Herakleopolitans. The much destroyed text describes scenes of conflict in which Merikare's name is prominent. The same inscription also tells of the renovation of the temple of Wepwawet, the local god, by order of the king.

Merikare's pyramid was called “The Pyramid which is Flourishing of Places,” known from the titles of officials who served its cult and who were buried at Saqqara. Although not yet identified, an unexcavated pyramid at Saqqara close to that of King Teti of the sixth dynasty may prove to be Merikare's. The name of Merikare was immortalized in a literary work, Instructions for Merikare, the author of which is purported to be his father, a king whose name is lost. The author advises his son on kingship, but there are also remarkable passages of regret as to actions taken in his own reign. All the preserved papyri on which this work was written has been dated to the New Kingdom, but the literary form suggests that it was composed in the early Middle Kingdom, perhaps not long after the Thebans triumphed.

See also INSTRUCTIONS FOR MERIKARE.

Bibliography

  • Lichtheim, Miriam. Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings. Berkeley, 1973. Contains a description and translation of Instructions for Merikare.
  • Malek, Jaromir. “King Merykare and His Pyramid.” In Hommages à Jean Leclant, edited by C. Berger, vol. 4, pp. 203–214. Bibliothèque d'études, 106. Cairo, 1994. The known facts about Merikare are included in Malek's article.

Diana Magee