Fifth Dynasty of Egypt

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Ancient Egypt
Common languagesEgyptian language
ancient Egyptian religion
GovernmentAbsolute monarchy
• 7–8 years (first)
• 13 years
• c. 10 years
Neferirkare Kakai
• c. 2 years
• Few months
• 24–35 years
Nyuserre Ini
• 8–9 years
Menkauhor Kaiu
• 33 up to over 44 years
Djedkare Isesi
• 15–30 years (last)
Historical eraOld Kingdom of Egypt
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Fourth Dynasty of Egypt
Sixth Dynasty of Egypt

The Fifth Dynasty of ancient Egypt (notated Dynasty V) is often combined with Dynasties III, IV and VI under the group title the Old Kingdom. The Fifth Dynasty pharaohs reigned for approximately 150 years, from the early 25th century BC until the mid 24th century BC.


The Fifth Dynasty of Egypt is a group of nine kings ruling Egypt for circa 150 years in the 25th and 24th centuries BC.[note 1] The relative succession of kings is not entirely secured as there are contradictions between historical sources and archaeological evidences regarding the reign of the shadowy Shepseskare.


Known rulers in the Fifth Dynasty are listed below.[7] Manetho assigns 248 years of rule to the Fifth Dynasty; however, the pharaohs of this dynasty more probably ruled for an approximate 150 years.[19] This estimate varies between both scholar and source. The Horus names[18] and most names of the queens[20] are taken from Dodson and Hilton.[21]

Dynasty V pharaohs
Name of King Horus (throne) Name Estimated reign duration Pyramid Queen(s)
Userkaf Irimaat 7 years Pyramid in Saqqara Khentkaus I ?
Sahure Nebkhau 13 years, 5 months and 12 days Pyramid in Abusir Neferetnebty
Neferirkare Kakai Neferirkare 20 years Pyramid in Abusir Khentkaus II
Neferefre Neferkhau 2 to 3 years Unfinished Pyramid of Neferefre in Abusir Khentakawess III ?
Shepseskare Shepseskare Likely a few months Possibly in Abusir
Nyuserre Ini Nyuserre 24 to 35 years Pyramid in Abusir Reptynub
Menkauhor Kaiu Menkauhor 8 or 9 years "Headless Pyramid" in Saqqara Meresankh IV?
Djedkare Isesi Djedkare 33 to more than 44 years Pyramid in Saqqara Setibhor
Unas Wadjtawy 15 to 30 years Pyramid in Saqqara Nebet

Manetho writes that the Dynasty V kings ruled from Elephantine, but archeologists have found evidence clearly showing that their palaces were still located at Ineb-hedj ("White Walls").

As before, expeditions were sent to Wadi Maghareh and Wadi Kharit in the Sinai to mine for turquoise and copper, and to quarries northwest of Abu Simbel for gneiss. Trade expeditions were sent south to Punt to obtain malachite, myrrh, and electrum, and archeological finds at Byblos attest to diplomatic expeditions sent to that Phoenician city. Finds bearing the names of several Dynasty V kings at the site of Dorak, near the Sea of Marmara, may be evidence of trade but remain a mystery.


How Pharaoh Userkaf founded this dynasty is not known for certain. The Papyrus Westcar, which was written during the Middle Kingdom, tells a story of how king Khufu of Dynasty IV was given a prophecy that triplets born to the wife of the priest of Ra in Sakhbu would overthrow him and his heirs, and how he attempted to put these children – named Userkaf, Sahure, and Neferirkare – to death; however in recent years, scholars have recognized this story to be at best a legend and admit their ignorance over how the transition from one dynasty to another transpired.

During this dynasty, Egyptian religion made several important changes. The earliest known copies of funerary prayers inscribed on royal tombs (known as the Pyramid Texts) appear. The cult of the god Ra gains added importance, and kings from Userkaf through Menkauhor Kaiu built temples dedicated to Ra at or near Abusir. Then late in this dynasty, the cult of the deity Osiris assumes importance, most notably in the inscriptions found in the tomb of Unas.

Djedkare Isesi[edit]

Amongst non-royal Egyptians of this time, Ptahhotep, vizier to Djedkare Isesi, won fame for his wisdom; The Maxims of Ptahhotep was ascribed to him by its later copyists. Non-royal tombs were also decorated with inscriptions, like the royal ones, but instead of prayers or incantations, biographies of the deceased were written on the walls.


  1. ^ Several dates have been proposed by the scholars for the Fifth Dynasty: 2513–2374,[1][2] 2510–2370,[3] 2510–2460,[4] 2504–2345,[5] 2498–2345,[6] 2494–2345,[7][8][9][10] 2465–2323,[11][12] 2454–2297,[5] 2450–2335,[13][14] 2450–2325,[15] 2435–2306,[16][17] 2392–2282[18]


  1. ^ Verner 2001b, pp. 588–590.
  2. ^ Altenmüller 2001, pp. 597–600.
  3. ^ Verner 2001d, p. 473.
  4. ^ Grimal 1992, p. 390.
  5. ^ a b von Beckerath 1997, p. 188.
  6. ^ Clayton 1994, p. 60.
  7. ^ a b Shaw 2000, p. 482.
  8. ^ Bard 1999, p. xlv, Chronology of Ancient Egypt.
  9. ^ Málek 2000, pp. 98 & 100.
  10. ^ Rice 1999, p. xlix, Chronoloy.
  11. ^ Lehner 2008, p. 8.
  12. ^ Allen et al. 1999, p. xx.
  13. ^ Verner 2001a, p. 418.
  14. ^ Krauss 1998, p. 56.
  15. ^ Arnold 2003, p. 267.
  16. ^ Hornung 2012, p. 491.
  17. ^ Bárta 2017, p. 3.
  18. ^ a b Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 288.
  19. ^ Altenmüller 2001, p. 597.
  20. ^ Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 65.
  21. ^ Dodson & Hilton 2004, pp. 65 & 288.


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Preceded by
Fourth Dynasty
Dynasty of Egypt
c. 24942345 BC
Succeeded by
Sixth Dynasty