Shepseskare was known as Shepseskara in the ancient Egyptian language, which meant ‘Noble is the soul of Ra’, in keeping with the tradition of the faith in the Egyptian Sun God. He was the fourth or the fifth Pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Historians are not sure of the exact timeline of Shepseskare, as there are certain disputes regarding his predecessor.
Most historians believe that Shepseskare succeeded his brother Neferirkare Kakai as the fourth ruler of this dynasty, but quite a few scholars believe he actually succeeded Neferefre, the fourth king, and thus, he would have been the fifth king of this line. Because of this, there is also uncertainty regarding Shepseskare's successor. Some people think that his nephew Neferefre succeeded him, while others argue that Nyuserre Ini, another son of Neferirkare Kakai, might have ascended the throne after him.
Shepseskare ruled Egypt for a short period, either one year or perhaps seven years, according to a few historians, but one year is the prevailing theory due to the features of the unfinished pyramid of this Pharaoh in North Abusir, which probably stopped due to his untimely death, within a year of his rule. Moreover, almost nothing is written about Shepseskare's reign in the records of the officials of that period or in any tomb inscriptions, confirming the theory that his tenure as a king was too short to mention.
The Likely Family Tree Of Shepseskare
Due to the unavailability of much information about Shepseskare, the information about his parentage or his wife and children are all totally assumed and highly uncertain. As his incomplete pyramid is located very near to that of Sahure, it is assumed by all that he was a son of Pharaoh Sahure and his wife Queen Meretnebty. According to the reliefs found in Sahure’s mortuary temple, he had two twin sons, as both were mentioned as ‘King’s eldest son’, and their names were written as Ranefer and Netjerirenre. These pictures further indicate Ranefer as Pharaoh Neferirkare Kakai, and it has led many historians to guess that it was Netjerirenre, who adopted the title of Shepseskare when he seized the power after the death of his brother Neferirkare following the untimely death of his nephew Neferefre. Nothing at all can be known about the wife or children of Shepseskare.
The Buildings Constructed By Shepseskare
The Pyramid of Shepseskare was abandoned despite being unfinished. It is located in north Abusir, just next to the Pyramid of Sahure, Shepseskare's assumed father. Most likely, Shepseskare could only get time to dig the large square foundation with a T-shaped channel at its center. It can be easily assumed that the construction of this site continued only for a few weeks or just one month.
It is also believed by some scholars that Shepseskare started the construction of a Sun temple, which was probably named ‘Hotepibre’ which means ‘Satisfied is the heart of Ra’. But the credit of this temple has not been proved in favor of Shepseskare, as the seal found here does not bear his name clearly.