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When Pepi I took the throne, he had the name of his predecessor, Userkare, removed wherever he could find it (tombs, king lists, etc), which may indicate that there was a conflict over who should rule, and supports the theory that Userkare was a usurper and not a legitimate king.
Militarily, Pepi took the offense when it came to military campaigns. he attacked the Bedouins in the Sinai and in Palestine, and established a garrison and trading post in Nubia. Both of these campaigns are predictable -- every pharaoh before him waged the same wars and maintained the same diplomatic ties. Pepi just changed the playing field a bit by attacking th em first.
Internally, he continued his father's attempt to consolidate power into the central government, pulling power back from the regional administrations. While the Sixth Dynasty was successful for a time in maintaining Egypt as a singular state under a single pharaoh, the rising influence and wealth of the nobles outside of the royal court led to the decline of the power of the pharaoh. Eventually the dynasty would disintegrate into the First Intermediate Period and a series of loose dynasties and regional kings and warlords.
In addition, the traditional solar cult that was so powerful in the Fifth Dynasty had begun to wane, even though Pepi remembered it through one of his names, "The Ka of Re is Powerful.
Pepi built a large pyramid, called "Men-never-ma-re", the name of which was adopted as the name for the whole area, Mennefer. (The capital city was renamed Mennefer and then to Menfi. The greeks mangled it further to Memphis.) The pyramid complex is just to the south of Teti's pyramid, and about 400 meters from Djoser's complex and even closer to the pyramid of the Fifth dynasty king, Djedkare. The real estate was getting a bit overbuilt in Saqqara, it appears.
The pyramid was restored in the 19th dynasty, which notes that all of the buildings in the area were in good condition. When the pyramid was entered by archeologists in the late 1800s,the first instance of the Pyramid Texts were found in the burial chamber , although they are not the first to be inscribed. Currently, the pyramid is a crumbled, 12-meter high ruin. Outside, the valley temple and causeway show few remains and have not yet been completely excavated. In all, the mortuary complex was a duplicate of Teti's complex -- even the pyramid was the same size (roughly 79 meters square)
Pepi was an ambitious builder, with temples at Tanis, Bubastis, Abydos, Dendara, and Coptos. Little of his monuments remains, and many have been incorporated into later monuments, as was normally the case. Each successive pharaoh "added on" to the monuments of the previous kings. Inscriptions in quarries around Egypt -- alabaster from Hatnub, turquoise and copper from the Sinai, greywacke from Wadi Hammamat -- show that he initiated a number of trading expeditions for materials for his building projects. He probably also maintained diplomatic relationships with Byblos and Ebla.
His first wife, Were-Imtes, disappeared (probably killed) after she was discovered in a harem plot to kill the pharaoh. This conspiracy may have occurred in the 42nd year of Pepi's reign. Her accomplish may have been Rewer, a vizier of Pepi (since his name has been erased from the tomb, it is assumed he performed some heinous act), or, the conspiracy may have been the plot of Userkare's mother to return him to the throne. Obviously, there is some argument about the matter.
Pepi had a number of wives (at least six that we know of), including two sisters, the daughters of a local leader, Khui, whom he renamed Ankhnesmerire I and Ankhnesmerire II. He married the first Ankhnesmerire late in his reigned (possibly even after he found out about the harem conspiracy) . It's not as confusing as it sounds -- he married the younger sister after Ankhnesmerire died, and renamed her then. The first Ankhnesmerire bore him a son, Merenre I, and with the second, a son named Pepi II, who was born around the time of Pepi Is death. It is likely that he married both of them for political reasons, as their father was a powerful noble in Abydos. Pepi made their brother, Djau, a vizier. Many of his queens are buried in subsidiary pyramids in Saqqara.
The Turin king list only allots him 20 years on the throne, but it is usually assumed that this is an error, as there are 25 cattle-counts accounted for in his reign -- which means 50 years on the throne (assuming cattle counts are consistent and done every two years, as is believed). Inscriptions from alabaster quarries in Hatnub mention the 25th cattle count, and other quarries contain inscriptions of the Heb-sed festivals for this pharaoh. he is also mentioned in decrees found at Coptos and Dashur, and in the tomb biographies of Weni (who led his military campaigns), Djau, his vizier, in Abydos; Ibi in his tomb in Deir el-Gabrawi, Mery-ankh-ptah-mery-re in Giza, Qar in Edfu, and others.
Pepi also left a number of artifacts behind, including one of the most remarkable finds in Egyptian history -- a large copper statue of Pepi , found in Hierakonpolis in 1897-1898. It is the oldest known large-scale metal statue, and is now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. A slightly smaller copper statue represents Pepi's eldest son, Merenre. It was assumed that this smaller statue, which was made in the same style as the larger one, was part of a group of statues.
An alabaster statue of the king on the throne, and another of him kneeling and offering rounded bowls to hathohr have also been found. Pepi has a long association with the goddess Hathor, and reliefs at her temple in Dendara indicate that the statue was probably from that temple.
temple of Dendara