whose “good (or familiar) name” was Heqaib (“ruler of my heart”), was a major official at Elephantine, an island in the Nile River near Aswan, during the reign of Pepy II. His principal title was “Overseer of Foreigners” (i.e., mercenaries). A rather bellicose “autobiographical” inscription in his tomb at Qubbet el-Hawa (Aswan) indicates that he was primarily responsible for controlling the military situation in Nubia and the Eastern Desert at a time when the attacks—presumably by the new C-Group population—on Egyptian expeditions to the south and east were increasing. The king dispatched him to devastate (“hack up”) the Lower Nubian districts of Wawat and Irtjet, and Pepinakht reports killing numbers of Nubians and bringing back some unspecified number of captives, along with their cattle as booty. On another campaign, he claims to have brought back the chiefs of these districts, their children, and members of their entourages. Subsequently, Pepinakht was sent to the Red Sea coast to recover the bodies of an expedition leader named Ankhty and his men, who, while building a boat there for a trip to the land of Punt (on the Somali coast), had been murdered by the locals. Pepinakht drove off the tribesmen, trumpeting that he had “set the fear of Horus [i.e., the king] in the foreign countries,” thereby pacifying them. In addition to his military activities, Pepinakht Heqaib performed administrative functions in the pyramid complexes of both King Merenre and King Pepy II.

Pepinakht Heqaib appears to have enjoyed a considerable reputation in the Aswan region, for at some time after his death, he was deified and became the object of a cult among the officials at Elephantine that lasted until the Middle Kingdom. Excavations carried out principally by Labib Habachi and inscriptions in the tombs of later officials indicate that a series of shrines, complete with altars and statues, had been built on Elephantine Island in Heqaib's honor.


  • Habachi, L. “Heqaib.” In Lexikon der Ägyptologie, 2: 1120–1122. Wiesbaden, 1974.
  • Martin-Pardey, E. “Pepinacht.” In Lexikon der Ägyptologie, 4: 929. Wiesbaden, 1982.
  • Zibelius-Chen, K. Die ägyptische Expansion nach Nubien. Wiesbaden, 1988.

Gerald E. Kadish