First Intermediate PeriodEgypt Through Time - What is Ancient Egypt?
The First Intermediate Period 2181 BC to 2125 BC
Egypt’s First Intermediate Period runs through from the 7th to the 11th Pharaonic Dynasties, although smaller sub-Dynasties ruled locally as Egypt was no longer unified.
Pharaoh Pepi II, at the end of the Old Kingdom Period, had outlived so many of his natural heirs, with his reign which measured approximately 90 years, that his death appears to have created a period of succession instability, now known as Egypt’s 7th and 8th Dynasties, the beginning of the First Intermediate Period of Egypt’s history.
Dynasty 7 consisted of unnamed Pharaohs whose collective reigns were short-lived. The 8th Dynasty may well have had named Pharaohs, but political rot had set in, especially when the Rulers had no solution to the droughts that prevented the Nile from flooding between 2200 and 2150BC.
By Dynasty 9, Egypt had split in 2: Upper and Lower Egypt. The Lower Egyptian Rulers of Dynasty 9 and 10 and their Capital City were found in Heracleopolis, sometimes known as Het Nesut, and these rulers were often referred to as the Heracleopolitans.
In Dynasty 11, the Upper Egyptian Rulers and their Capital City were found in Waset, modern day Luxor. They were known as the Theban Nomarchs and over time and under their rulers of Intef I, Intef II and Intef III their power soon exceeded that of their counterparts in Lower Egypt.
During this Period the Coffin Texts were developed from the Pyramid Texts. The Coffin Texts had approximately 1,185 Spells which were written onto the deceased’s Coffins directly. They contained substantial new material which was related to everyday wishes which shows that these Texts were for a new audience: the general populace. The Egyptians who had the wherewithal and afforded a coffin would have received access to the Spells in the Coffin Texts and the Pharaoh no longer had exclusive rights.
The First Intermediate Period was closed by the fourth ruler of Upper Egypt, Mentuhotep II. He reunited Upper Egypt by Regnal Year 20 of his reign by titling himself with the name, “Divine of the White Crown”, though by Regnal Year 42 he changed this Horus name to “Uniter of the Two Lands” meaning that he had ousted the Rulers who remained in Heracleopolis in Lower Egypt. This reunification of Egypt signified the commencement of Egypt’s Middle Kingdom Period.