Userkare was the second pharaoh of ancient Egypt's 6th dynasty. His name means "powerful soul." He reigned in the late 24th century to early 23rd century BC for a period of 1 to 5 years. Userkare's relationship with his predecessor Teti and his successor is unknown. He had an enigmatic reign and references to him in the historical sources are not detailed. However, it is surprising to note that Userkare is totally absent from the tomb complex where other Egyptian pharoahs from his reign were buried. He may have even been a short-lived usurper considering the fact that his predecessor, Teti, was murdered. This could explain why he was not buried with the other leaders.
Presence In The Historical Sources
Userkare's name was mentioned in the list of kings written over 1,000 years later. He occupies the 35th entry is the list of kings between Teti and Pepi. This implies that he was the second pharaoh of his dynasty. Apart from that, he was also listed in the Turin canon. Very few artifacts containing his name survive today. Two cylinder seals contain an inscription of his name and title, and this is considered to be one of the most secured proofs of Userkare's reign. Historians have also discovered a copper ax head in Syria that might have belonged to Userkare.
Disappearance From History
When Pepi took control over the reins of the 6th dynasty, king Userkare completely disappeared from history. Finding his tomb was one of the major aims of modern archaeologists and historians. Moreover, they believed that the walls of his burial might contain some copies of the texts of pyramids. In fact, the missing pyramid of the obscure pharaoh could now lie in an obscure area of Saqqara, according to the latest discovery of the tomb. In fact, all the monuments seem to be connected through a pattern of diagonally invisible lines.
The Stone At South Saqqara
There are some important details about the kingdom of Userkare written on the stone found at South Saqqara. This is a royal annal of the sixth dynasty and it continues to list information up until the reign of Pepi II. However, it is estimated that more than 92% of the original text was lost when the stone was polished roughly and reused in the First Intermediate period.
What Was The Nature Of Userkare's Reign?
Egyptians and historians believe that Userkare ruled as one of the legitimate stop gaps or even as a regent with the queen.
Some sources reveal that Userkare was very young when his father died. Because of this he was too young to ascend the throne immediately. Evidence for this exists in the fact that Userkare is well attested in different historical sources including on the Saqqara stone. Therefore, it cannot be said that he was illegitimate and the murder of Teti was his plan. Apart from that, there is no direct evidence of the nature or cause of Userkare's difficulties with Pepi.