Egypt: Neferefre, A King of the Fifth Dynasty

Neferefre, A King of the Fifth Dynasty

by Jimmy Dunn

Neferefre, A King of the Fifth Dynasty

There are some real problems concerning the kings list after Neferirkare. Most references today place an almost unknown king, Shepseskare next in line, but those same references will also often point out that he could have come after Neferefre's rule, who we are almost certain was a prominent son of Neferirkare. We are fairly certain of this from a block found near Abusir depicting Neferirkare, his wife Khentkaus II and a young son who we interpret to be Neferefre, though on the block his name is spelled somewhat differently. We are really unsure of Shepseskare's parentage.

Neferefre, A King of the Fifth Dynasty

The real problem is that it appears that after Neferirkare's death, his consort Khentkaus II acted as regent for a young king for a time and some believe that she may have even ruled Egypt alone for a short period. Yet the body we believe to be Neferefre, parts of which were found in his pyramid at Abusir, has been analyzed and a determination made that the young man died between the age of 20-23. Since we believe he only ruled for no more than three years and possibly only two, it seems strange that he would need a real regent acting on his behalf. If Neferefre did rule just after Neferirkare, then some of the evidence simply doesn't fit.

But again, most historians place Shepseskare, though tentatively, as ruler before Neferefre. The only scenario that fits most of the various evidence is that Shepseskare may have been an older brother, but not by very much, but this still does not explain Neferefre's sole presence in the pictured in the block with his mother and father.

In the block, the young son is referred to as Neferre, which means "Re is beautiful", but he probably later changed his name to Neferefre which means, "Re is his beauty" He is possibly also referred to as Reneferef or Raneferef, and his nomen was probably Izi, or Isi. Various references provide somewhat radical differences in the dates of his reign, with it beginning as early as 2419 or as late as 2460, with perhaps a two or no more than three year duration. However, the Chronicle of the Pharaohs by Peter A. Clayton gives his reign seven years.

Seals of Neferefre

Above: Seals of Neferefre

We are told that he built a solar temple named Hetep-Re, which has never been discovered, but we are also told that he died, apparently suddenly, before the first level of core could be completed at his pyramid and mortuary complex at Abusir. Only recently has this pyramid complex, known for many years as simply the "Unfinished Pyramid", been fully recognized as belonging to the young king.






Reference Number

Chronicle of the Pharaohs (The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt)

Clayton, Peter A.


Thames and Hudson Ltd

ISBN 0-500-05074-0

History of Ancient Egypt, A

Grimal, Nicolas



None Stated

Monarchs of the Nile

Dodson, Aidan


Rubicon Press

ISBN 0-948695-20-x

Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The

Shaw, Ian


Oxford University Press

ISBN 0-19-815034-2