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Ancient Egypt
1. Introduction
2. People
3. Life styles
4. Culture
5. Education and Science
6. Society
7. Economy
8. Government
9. Cities and Villages
10. Language
11. Religion
12. Kings / periods
13. History
14. Map

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2498-2345 BCE

Open map of Ancient EgyptAncient Egypt / Old Kingdom /
5th Dynasty

The pyramid site at Abu Sir, Egypt
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The pyramid site at Abu Sir: To the left, the Pyramid of Sahure, in the middle the Pyramid of Nyuserre; to the right the Pyramid of Neferirkare.

Years BCE
Userkaf 2498-2491
Sahure 2491-2475
Neferirkare 2475-2455
Shepseskare 2455-2448
Raneferef 2448-2445
Nyuserre 2445-2421
Menkauher 2421-2414
Djedkare 2414-2375
Unas 2375-2345

Nyuserre's sun temple. Abu Ghurab, Egypt
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Nyuserre's sun temple. Abu Ghurab.

Valley temple linking the Nile to the pyramid complex of Unas. Saqqara, Egypt.
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Valley temple linking the Nile to the pyramid complex of Unas at Saqqara.

Statue of the notable Amenemipet (left) and his wife. Found at the pyramid complex of Unas at Saqqara. Now in Imhotep museum, Saqqara.
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Statue of the notable Amenemipet (left) and his wife. Found at the pyramid complex of Unas at Saqqara. Now in Imhotep museum, Saqqara.

Dynasty of Ancient Egypt 2498-2345 BCE, 153 years, consisting of 9 kings. It is defined as part of the Old Kingdom.
There are no clear theories as to why the 4th Dynasty came to and end and the 5th could take over control of the country. It may have been a dramatic transition, but when Userkaf established the new dynasty, this is assumed to have ended royal strife within the 4th Dynasty. In many respects, the 5th was a continuation of the 4th, the 5th Dynasty kings were of the same original royal family.
Kings of this dynasty were also pyramid builders, and Sahure, the 2nd king inaugurated a new burial ground, today known as Abu Sir. This relocation may have been a necessity from the fact that his projected pyramid would appear small if standing next to any of the older ones. Pyramids of 7 of the 9 kings have been located, Shepseskare and Menkauher being the exceptions. But Shepseskare is suggested to have been the builder of an unfinished pyramid at Abu Sir, and records show that Menkauher also had one built, but its location is unknown.
The smaller pyramids of this dynasty indicate a decline in central power compared with the 4th. Still, from this it may not be deducted that the national economy was weakened. People and nobles in the 5th Dynasty were painfully aware of the national cost the great pyramids had represented, and a king may no longer have had the position of forcing gigantic projects through. This on the other hand, may well have led to better living conditions for the common man.
Still, in one field the 5th excels the 4th; decorations in the funerary temples are of higher quality than ever before.
According to Manetho, kings of this dynasty ruled from Yabu (Elephantine), but archaeologic evidence show that palaces continued to be built at Memphis. The position of Memphis was, however, weakened as many religious functions were relocated to Heliopolis.
Evidence show that Egypt's foreign trade was as active as before, suggesting a wealthy and well-functioning society. But some territorial control seem to have been lost; in which the southern fortress of Buhen was apparently abandoned, and with it control over northern Nubia.
High officials were recruited also outside the royal family, a change from the 4th Dynasty. Eventually, the nobles would become more and more independent from the king. This is reflected in the fact that the tombs of the nobles were more and more being built away from the kings'. Tombs of nobles were also richly decorated, usually with biographies of the dead, reflecting their individual importance.
There were some changes in Egyptian religion in this period. Funerary prayers become inscribed on royal tombs, known as the Pyramid Texts. Also, Re becomes increasingly more important, marked by 6 of the kings constructing sun temples dedicated to Re near Abu Sir. It is suggested that these temples also had a funerary function. The elevation of Re would be temporary, as Osiris became increasingly important towards the end of the dynasty. This change seem to have happened before or during the reign of Menkauher.

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By Tore Kjeilen