Chapter 1

Prelude

This story revolves around one of the great mysteries among the many royal tombs in Egypt. This one, found in the early 2000s, took some time to unravel and may not be yet. First, it was labeled as one queen's tomb and then found that the paintings and carvings overlaid another name. A queen, yes, but one buried sometime earlier.

This story involves a great deal of speculation and some facts.

The facts are that Ankesenpepi was a real person. She and her older sister did marry King Pepi I some four thousand years ago. From what I can figure, it was when he was quite elderly. The two sisters may have been as much as six years apart or more but the older, Khuit was probably barely of child bearing age and Iput perhaps six years old.

Their father was governor and perhaps also mayor of Abydos, the original burial town for pharaohs and traditional burial site for the body parts of the god Osiris. Osiris and his brother Set had a fight, Set won, killed Osiris and dismembered his brother leaving his parts in various parts along the Nile. Osiris' wife/sister, rescued the parts and buried them at Abydos but not until she impregnated herself and had her son Horus. So, to be in charge of this town was quite an honor to say the least. His name was Khui.

Their mother was the first Viceroy of Egypt and probably a close relative to Pepi I. Not only was she one of the very few women ever to hold such a position she was the only one to be Viceroy of the entire country. After that the country was divided into upper and lower kingdoms with a Viceroy for each. Her name was Nebet.

The two girls may have been meant more for the old king's comfort than to carry on his line but after 4,000 years, who knows. As it is, Khuit, the older sister gave birth to a son, Merenre. As was common then, the king showed how grateful he was by giving Khuit the name Ankesenpepi (Beloved by Pepi). At some point, Iput was given the same name. Was there any jealousy between the two sisters perhaps?

Now here is where the facts take a weird turn. The fact that Pepi I died isn't so strange but when Merenre turned fifteen, Iput/Ankesenpepi married her nephew and promptly became pregnant. Then after a relatively short reign, Merenre also died. This put Ankesenpepi (she'd dropped the Iput name by this time) in line as regent. Even then it was usually the men, the courtiers who took this job but somehow she managed to do it.

Okay, the rest is speculation. Was she a sociopath? If history tells us anything, many kings and queens had to be a bit ruthlessly mad to keep hold of their kingdoms. Did this rub off a bit onto her son? Again, possibly.

The thing is Pepi was the longest reigning pharaoh in Egypt's history. He was invested when he was about six and then took official reign when he was about fifteen or sixteen. He expanded Egypt's territories and brought in many riches. If he lived for more than sixty years he must have done something right. Unfortunately, by the time he was very old, he didn't do such a good job at ruling. There is speculation that he gave vast parts of the kingdom to his relatives to reign over in his name. As a result, the Old Kingdom became separated, one town or Nome from another, each mayor or governor declaring himself a king. This period known as the Intermediate lasted for nearly six hundred years.

Nothing is really known about what happened to Pepi II's mother Ankesenpepi. The fact that perhaps he built a tomb for her says one thing but what? Love for a parent can be a strange thing sometimes. Did he love her? Well, perhaps. Sometimes, we can declare a veneration for a parent and not have the slightest idea what that means.

Considering what the desert can do to the human mind, you'll have to be the judge here.

With or without the speculation, this story makes a ripping good tale in my book.