Ninth Dynasty of Egypt

The Ninth Dynasty of ancient Egypt (notated Dynasty IX) is often combined with Dynasties VII, VIII, X and XI (Thebes only) under the group title First Intermediate Period. Dynasties IX and X date approximately from 2160 to 2025 BC.

Dynasty IX was founded at Herakleopolis Magna, and Dynasty X continued there. At this time Egypt was not unified, and there is some overlap between these and other local dynasties. The Turin Canon lists eighteen kings for this royal line, but their names are damaged, unidentifiable, or lost.

This dynasty was also known as the Herakleopolis Dynasty because the rulers controlled lower Egypt from Herakleopolis. This dynasty is also often called the "House of Khety" because many of the ruler's names were Khety, but it is considered to be fairly unstable due to frequent changes in rulers. The Herakleopolitans expelled Asiatic immigrants from the Nile delta and fortified the eastern border of Egypt. This dynasty was responsible for establishing the importance of Memphis.

The Herakleopolitans improved irrigation works, reopened trade with Byblos, and began the "Coffin Texts". One of the kings wrote the "Instruction to Merikara." They also had frequent outbreaks of fighting against the Thebans north of Abydos. Eventually they were conquered by the Thebans and this marked the end of the Herakleopolis Dynasty and the beginning of the Middle Kingdom.

The only person from this era to have left an impression on posterity is a woman called Nitokris who appears to have acted as king. There are no contemporary records but Herodotus wrote of her:

She killed hundreds of Egyptians to avenge the king, her brother, whom his subjects had killed, and had forced her to succeed. She did this by constructing a huge underground chamber. Then invited to a banquet all those she knew to be responsible for her brother's death. When the banquet was underway, she let the river in on them, through a concealed pipe. After this fearful revenge, she flung herself into a room filled with embers, to escape her punishment."

For a time petty warlords ruled the provinces. Then from the city of Herakleopolis there emerged a ruling family led by one Khety who for a time held sway over the whole country. However, this was short lived and the country split into two, the north ruled from Herakleopolis and the south ruled from Thebes.

Whereas the Theban dynasty was stable, kings succeeded one another rapidly at Herakleopolis. There was continual conflict between the two lands which was resolved in the 11th dynasty.

King Ouakha-Re Khety III (2110to 2075 BC) taught his son, the future king Merikare of the 10th dynasty (2075 to 2060BC), thus : (Papyrus of the Hermitage Museum - N0. 1115 at Copenhagen.)

"Life on earth passes quickly, and happy are those without sin, because a million men will serve as nothing to the king of heaven and earth when they appear as sinners in the next life. The memory of the good man will live for ever. The essence of life is in the word of the ancestors; it is contained in books. Open and read them.

Practice justice as long as you are on earth, Comfort those that cry, do not oppress the widow and the orphan. (sentences that the Bible repeats often.)

God knows the treacherous and paid for their sins in His blood... Go down the difficult path, because the soul of the man is drawn to the place that it knows, does not depart from the way of truth; and no-one can prevent it!

Know that the judges in the courthouse of the next world will examine a life as if it were only an hour. Happy is the one that reaches the next life : he will be like a god, he will move freely like the masters of eternity, because there is no-one who can oppose the Creator, who is omnipresent and omniscient. Honor your invisible God on your way, practice truth and justice,

Act for God so that he can do the same for you. After having punished men (in the deluge?), his light (Re) again shines in the sky, so that men may see it.

These sublime words were written toward 2080BC, within one or two hundred years of the birth in UR in the Chaldees of a young man called Abraham."


Known rulers in the Ninth Dynasty are as follows (dates are uncertain):

Wakhare Khety I

Wakhare Khety I was a pharaoh in the Ninth dynasty of Egypt. His name is mentioned in the Turin King List.

Merykare I

No information available.

Neferkare III

Neferkare III, sometimes numbered VII, VIII, or IX, was the third pharaoh of the ninth dynasty of ancient Egypt, ca. 2140 BCE (during the First Intermediary Period), according to the Turin King List, where his name, Neferkare, is inscribed in the register 4.20. Neferkare is not included on the Abydos King List or the Saqqara King List, nor can the existence of his reign be positively confirmed through archaeological finds.

This otherwise unattested ruler of Herakleopolis Magna has been controversially identified by various scholars with a king named Ka-nefer-re, who is mentioned in an obscure and isolated tomb inscription of Ankhtifi, nomarch of Hieraconopolis and prince of Moala, about 30 km south of Thebes. Ankhtifi led a coalition of his nome and Edfu against Thebes.

Merykare I

Wankhare Khety II was a local ruler of the Egyptian 9th / 10th Dynasty who governed the 13th nome of Upper Egypt, serving under the Heracleopolitan pharaoh Merykare during the First Intermediate Period (ca. 21st century BC). His unfinished tomb at Asyut has been excavated several times since the late 19th century, most recently in 2003-2006.

There is lots of confusion as to how many rulers named Khety (Akhtoy) may have existed in this period; some scholars, relying on the Turin Canon, count as many as seven, but most of these are unknown from other sources. H. R. Hall believed Khety II was the Akhthoes of Manetho's list. According to Manetho, "He became more terrible than all those who had gone before him that he did evil unto the people in all Egypt and that he finally went mad and was devoured by a crocodile." This fate is similar to other kings whom Manetho felt had ruled cruelly; Menes, who unified Upper and Lower Egypt, was also said to have been devoured by a crocodile.

While seen as a local ruler, as there was not real central authority during much of the First Intermediate Period, Khety II (or an earlier king of the same name) appears to have held sway over much of Middle and Upper Egypt, as his name is found in inscriptions north of the First Cataract.