Text #8995The 2300 BC Event. Series: The 2300 BC Event. Vol. 1 .
At the beginning of the reign of Pepi II in the middle of the Sixth Dynasty, Redford reports that things were apparently going well - unobstructed travel, excellent trade with outlying areas, large private tombs, good quality of artifacts. By the last quarter of his reign, however, the picture changed dramatically - expeditions to mines and quarries suspended, caravans intercepted, royal administration lapses into inactivity, impoverishment, and usurpment of royal and noble titles. Later records are vague on rulers. The evidence strongly indicated general impoverishment of both the people and the government. […]
Bell reports that the specter of famine first appears at the end of the Fifth Dynasty on a well-known relief from the causeway of the pyramid of Unas, the last ruler of that dynasty. The relief depicts a group of emaciated people, evidently dying of hunger.1 The incidence of famine apparently increases in the late Sixth Dynasty (2345 BC to 2181 BC) and early FIP (First Intermediate Period).2 Fagan3 calls out Ankhtifi, a provincial governor in upper Egypt at 2210-2185 BC, who prided himself on being the first ruler to distribute famine supplies, indicating that famine conditions may have existed for some time before his authority. On his tomb was written “All of Upper Egypt was dying of hunger, to such a degree that everyone had come to eating his children, but I managed that no one died of hunger in this nome (province). I made a loan of grain to Upper Egypt … I kept alive the House of Elephantine during these years, after the towns of Hefat and Hormer had been satisfied. … The entire country had become like a starved (?) grasshopper, with people going to the north and south [in search of grain], but I never permitted it to happen that anyone had to embark from this to another nome.”4 Bell also discusses famine being so sever that cannibalism was practiced.5
By the cessation of the Sixth Dynasty, corresponding to the end of the Old Kingdom, Egypt slipped into a sharp decline that literally amounted to a Dark Age. This interval between the Old Kingdom and the Middle Kingdom is referred to as the First Intermediate Period (FIP).
B. Bell: “The Dark Ages in Ancient History, 1. The First Dark Age in Egypt”, American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 75 (1981), pp. 5, 8, 9. [OF] ↩
D. B. Redford: Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, (Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 61, 62. [OF] ↩
K. W. Butzer: “Sociopolitcal Discontinuity in the Near East C. 2200 B.C.E. Scenarios From Palestine and Egypt”, in H. N. Dalfes, G. Kukla, H. Weiss (eds): Third Millennium BC Change and Old World Collapse, (Springer, 1994), p. 254 ↩
B. Fagan: Floods, Famines and Emperors, (Perseus, 1999), p. 90. [OF] ↩
Ibid, pp. 5, 8, 9. [OF] ↩