HomeAncient HistoryAncient EgyptFirst Intermediate period of Egypt (2.181 - 2.055 B.C)

First Intermediate period of Egypt (2.181 – 2.055 B.C)



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Exact reasons for the end of the Old Kingdom are not familiar. It is assumed that the crisis in the country could be caused by the conflicts between local rulers and the central government. Lords of the nome in the Fifth and Sixth Dynasty start acting like kings. It is possible that the decline of the Old Kingdom was influenced by the climate change that has brought lower harvest or a large epidemic of some disease.

A description of chaos at that time might contain lament Ipu-hour, but its precise dating is impossible to know so it is a mystery whether it describes exactly that time.


According to Manetho, “seventy kings in seventy days” has ruled which means that there were many rulers and that they were exchanging fast. This suggests on to a dynasty conflicts. These rulers were called Neferkare.

EIGHT DYNASTY (? – 2.160)

There were twenty-seven rulers from Memphis. However, according to Eusebi there were only five.

At the end of the dynasty people started to rebel against the exploitation of the nobles, landowners, priests and rulers. This revolution and the Egyptian commoners (some of them manage to snatch also high positions) were entitled on to an eternal life. They were requiring to be brought in to the funeral rites.

Egyptian farmers became full citizens; they were equal in the court, with its rights and obligations. Revolution remained recorded in the so-called Leningrad papyrus from the time of Tuthmosis III. (XVIII Dynasty).

NINTH DYNASTY (2.160 – ?)

During national rebel, four rulers from Herakleopolis grabbed power. At that time, in fact only some nomarhs ruled while the king was only a figure on the throne.

TENTH DYNASTY (? – 2.025)

Nineteen names from Herakleopolis. (Turin Canon gave only five names.) Manetho mentioned that Akhtoes family (e.g. Hattie) took over the reign. It is assumed that this is Herakleopolis dynasty. Akhtoes was the first ruler who was mentioned as Merib-taui (“the one who are loved by the two countries”).

Kheti (Akhtoes) I.

Kheti II Nebkaur

In his time, an important work of literature has been written; Peasant complaints (justice always wins, and a shaken government is trying to show its fairness).

Kheti III Nahkar

Another important work of literature about that period was didactic document written by the pharaoh to his son Merikare; Teaching for Merikare. It was one of the Leningrad papyruses. From this work of literature, we learn that Delta cities do not recognize the king’s authority but their authorities were city councils.


He probably did not suffered from a total defeat of Herakleopolis. A ruler from the north who defeated him is unknown. His tomb was located at Saqqara. During the Tenth Dynasty, in the south there was Eleventh dynasty (which does not recognize the authority of Herakleopolis) of Thebes princes whose name was Antef which are precursors of the great unifier of Egypt Mentuhotep I.

This is how the government in the delta was divided into cities. Government was divided on to Herakleopolis and its allies, and Thebes and the surrounding nomes. Conflicts of north and south were around Abydos who at the time of Heti III. managed to conquer Herakleopolis. Eventually Middle Egypt cities became independent and when the predominance of Thebes became apparent, those cities acknowledged Mentuhotep and his authority.