Ancient Egypt: The Old Kingdom , Fifth Dynasty Part I

The Fifth Dynasty started in 2494 BC and ended in 2345 BC. One big difference from the Fourth Dynasty to the Fifth was that the pyramids were smaller in size and were not as solidly constructed as the ones previously built. However, the carvings that researchers have found in the mortuary temples have lasted the test of time and are now considered some of the highest in quality. In this article, you will learn about some of the rulers of the Fifth Dynasty.

Fifth Dynasty Highlights

When taking a look at the papyri that has lasted throughout the years, the time period highlights highly developed methods of keeping records and accounting. For example, there is evidence of documenting the redistribution of goods between the royals, temples, and officials.

The first two kings that ruled during the Fifth Dynasty were offspring of a woman named Khentkaues, who belonged to a royal family of the Fourth Dynasty. For the first time, high officials were chosen outside of royalty.

Kings of the Fifth Dynasty

Some of the pharaohs that ruled during the Fifth Dynasty were the following:


Userkaf was the first ruler of the Fifth Dynasty, who led ancient Egypt from 2494 to 2487 BC. He is best known as the leader who jumpstarted the reforms that would weaken the Pharaoh and central government. He is also the first man to begin the tradition of constructing sun temples at Abusir. The Pyramid of Userkaf complex at Saqqara is also the doing of the king , which is located north of the Step Pyramid.

The bloodline of Userkaf is hazy with some historians believing that he was the grandson of Djedefra and the immediate successor of Khufu. Further research suggests that he was the father of two other pharaohs, Sahure and Neferirkare Kakai. In another scenerio, it is suggested that the first three rulers of the Fifth Dynasty were all brothers born to queen Khentkaus I.


The scenes from the causeway of Sahure’s pyramid complex in Abusir reveal that he was the son of queen Neferhetepes. It is most thought that his father was Userkaf. Queen Neferetnebty was the ruler’s consort and became the mother of his children, Ranefer and Netjerirenre. Ranefer succeeded his father as king, but took the name Neferirkare ,becoming the first king to have used separate names. There is also speculation that his brother Netjerirenre later assumed the throne using the name Shepseskare.

Sahure’s rule lasted from about 2487 BC to 2475 BC. Historical records and artworks depict Sahure as the ruler that established an ancient Egyptian navy that was sent to Punt for the purposes of trading with other cultures located in the Eastern Mediterranean. In his pyramid, there are illustrations that elaborate on some of the naval expeditions he was responsible for. He also was behind many campaigns against the Libyans from the western desert.

Many of his interactions with foreign people benefited the ancient Egyptians economically and weren’t really meant to boost true military efforts. When his ships returned, they brought goods, such as malachite, electrum, myrrh, livestock, and other exotic creatures, such as Syrian bears.