31 Facts About Djedkare Isesi


Djedkare Isesi was a pharaoh, the eighth and penultimate ruler of the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt in the late 25th century to mid-24th century BC, during the Old Kingdom.

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Djedkare Isesi likely enjoyed a reign of more than 40 years, which heralded a new period in the history of the Old Kingdom.

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Djedkare Isesi reorganised the funerary cults of his forebears buried in the necropolis of Abusir and reformed the corresponding priesthood.

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Djedkare Isesi commissioned expeditions to Sinai to procure copper and turquoise, to Nubia for its gold and diorite and to the fabled Land of Punt for its incense.

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Djedkare Isesi is believed to have been buried in a pyramid in Saqqara named Nefer Djedkare Isesi, which is ruined owing to theft of stone from its outer casing during antiquity.

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Djedkare Isesi seemed to have been held in particularly high esteem during the mid-Sixth Dynasty, whose pharaohs lavished rich offerings on his cult.

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Djedkare Isesi was remembered by the ancient Egyptians as the Pharaoh of Vizier Ptahhotep, the purported author of The Maxims of Ptahhotep, one of the earliest pieces of philosophic wisdom literature.

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Reforms implemented by Djedkare Isesi are generally assessed negatively in modern Egyptology as his policy of decentralization created a virtual feudal system that transferred much power to the high and provincial administrations.

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Djedkare Isesi is well attested in sources contemporaneous with his reign.

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Djedkare Isesi is attested in four ancient Egyptian king lists, all dating to the New Kingdom.

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Djedkare Isesi is present on the Saqqara Tablet where he is listed under the name "Maatkare", probably because of a scribal error.

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Djedkare Isesi's prenomen is given as "Djed" on the Turin canon, probably because of a lacuna affecting the original document from which the canon was copied during the reign of Ramses II.

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Djedkare Isesi was probably mentioned in the Aegyptiaca, a history of Egypt written in the 3rd century BC during the reign of Ptolemy II by the Egyptian priest Manetho.

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Djedkare Isesi's parentage is unknown; in particular his relation with his predecessors Menkauhor Kaiu and Nyuserre Ini cannot be ascertained.

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Djedkare Isesi is generally thought to have been the son of Menkauhor Kaiu, but the two might instead have been brothers and sons of Nyuserre Ini.

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Only one son of Djedkare Isesi has been identified for certain, Neserkauhor, who bore the title of "eldest beloved king's son of his body".

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Yet, similarities in the titles and locations of the tombs of Djedkare Isesi-ankh and Kaemtjenent have led Egyptologists to propose that they could instead be brothers and sons of Meresankh IV, or that the former is a son of the latter.

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Finally, the successor of Djedkare Isesi, Unas, is thought to have been his son in spite of the complete lack of evidence bearing on the question.

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Several daughters of Djedkare Isesi have been identified by the title of "king's daughter of his body" and the general date of their tomb.

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Reign of Djedkare Isesi heralded a new period in the history of the Old Kingdom.

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Main building activity undertaken during the reign of Djedkare Isesi was the construction of his pyramid complex in Saqqara.

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Djedkare Isesi either completed or undertook restoration works in the funerary complex of Nyuserre Ini in Abusir, as indicated by a now damaged inscription, which must have detailed Djedkare Isesi's activities on the site.

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Djedkare Isesi undertook building activities in relation with his "sed" festival as indicated by a decree that he sent to his vizier Senedjemib Inti on the year of the 16th cattle count, praising him for his work.

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Three or four rock inscriptions dating to Djedkare Isesi's reign have been found in the Wadi Maghareh in Sinai, where mines of copper and semi-precious stones were exploited throughout the Old Kingdom, from the Fourth until the Sixth Dynasty.

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In early 2018, more than 220 clay seals bearing the serekh of Djedkare Isesi were uncovered in Tell Edfu in the south of Upper Egypt.

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Nigel Strudwick, the reforms of Djedkare Isesi were undertaken as a reaction to the rapid growth of the central administration in the first part of the Fifth Dynasty which, Baer adds, had amassed too much political or economic power in the eyes of the king.

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Since offices and the vizierate in particular could be inherited, the reforms of Djedkare Isesi created a "virtual feudal system" as Nicolas Grimal writes, with much power in the hands of a few puissant officials.

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Reforms of Djedkare Isesi played an important role in flourishing of the arts during the later Old Kingdom, as artisans and craftsmen could now find many wealthy patrons beyond the king.

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Djedkare Isesi was the object of a funerary cult established at his death and which lasted until the end of the Old Kingdom nearly 200 years later.

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Djedkare Isesi seems to have been held in high esteem during the Sixth Dynasty.

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Djedkare Isesi is followed by a fourth king whose name is damaged but which is often read "Djedkare" or, much less likely, "Shepseskare".

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