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EGYPT

Egypt Through the Ages

Beginning of Decline

   

 

Although the 5th Dynasty maintained prosperity with extensive foreign trade and military incursions into Asia, signs of decreasing royal authority became apparent in the swelling of the bureaucracy and the enhanced power of noadministrators. The last king of the dynasty, Unas, who reigned about 2428-2407 BC, was buried at Saqqara, with a body of religious spells, called Pyramid Texts, carved on the walls of his pyramid chamber. Such texts were also used in the royal tombs of the 6th Dynasty. Several autobiographical inscriptions of officials under the 6th Dynasty indicate the decreasing status of the monarchy; records even indicate a conspiracy against King Pepi I, who reigned about 2395-2360 BC, in which the ruler's wife was involved. It is believed that during the later years of Pepi II, who reigned about 2350-2260 BC, power may have been in the hands of his vizier (chief minister). Central authority over the economy was also diminished by decrees of exemption from taxes. The nomes (districts) were rapidly becoming individually powerful, as the nomarchs—governors of the districts—were beginning to remain in place rather than being periodically transferred to different nomes.

 


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