TETI, FIRST RULER OF THE SIXTH DYNASTY by Jimmy Dunn.
Egypt's 6th Dynasty marks the decent into the darkness of the First Intermediate Period in Egypt's history. At times, the rule of
these kings is somewhat obscure, including that of Teti (sometimes also known as Othoes, from Manetho), who was the first king and the
founder of the 6th Dynasty His reign settled some of the accession problems following the death of Unas. In fact, he adapted the Horus
name, Seheteptawy, which means, "He who pacifies the Two Lands".
He ruled Ancient Egypt from around 2345 until 2333 BC, though of course Egyptologists differ on these dates, as well as his length of
rule. The Turin King's List gives him less then one year's rule, which most scholars find very unlikely. Manetho suggests thirty, to
thirty-three years, but there is no evidence of his jubilee festival, so this also seems unlikely. The latest known date from Teti's
reign is that of the "sixth census", an event that took place on average every two years, or possibly every year and a half. Therefore
many Egyptologists give him a reign of twelve years.
His wife, Queen Iput I, was probably the daughter of King Unas who was the last king of the 5th Dynasty. The queen was the mother of
Teti's heir, King Pepi I. Historians believe that she is the one that gave him the royal power, legitimizing his rule. She is buried
in her own pyramid near Teti's at Saqqara. Other wives included Khuit and Weret-Imtes. Along with his son, Pepi I, he also probably
had another son named Teti-ankh-km, which means "Teti-ankh the Black", and a daughter named Seshseshet (also called Watet-khet-her).
Her marriage to the vizier Mereruka probably furthered Teti's political stability, creating good will within the increasingly powerful
Almost all the major court officials of King Unas remained in power during Teti's reign, including his other vizier, Kagemni. As
stated, we know little about Teti's reign, though there is evidence that quarry work was performed on his behalf at Hatnub near
Abydos, and that he maintained commercial and diplomatic relations with Byblos. He also may have maintained relations with Punt and
Nubia, at least as for south as the site of Tomas in northern Nubia.
We have evidence of his exempting the temple at Abydos from taxes, and he was the first ruler to be particularly associated with the
cult of Hathor at Dendera.
Teti granted more lands to Abydos and his name was inscribed in Hatnub. He built a pyramid in Saqqara which is called by modern
Egyptians the "Prison Pyramid". Egyptologists discovered a statue of him made of black and pink granite. The statue is located at the
The king was murdered by his guards for mysterious reasons, according to the Manetho. However, there is no other evidence of this
violent death, though it might help to explain the possible short rule of a King Userkare, possibly between that of of Teti and his
son, Pepi I. It is interesting to note that this king, arbitrarily left out of most modern lists of kings, is better attested to then
most histories of Egypt allow. Many references today point out that the only references we have for Userkare are from the Turin and
Abydos king's lists, but this is not so. Other documents bearing his name have survived, including one referring to workers at Qau
el-Kebir south of Asyut who were possibly engaged in building his tomb. Userkare means the "Ka of Ra is powerful", and therefore has a
strong resonance of the 5th Dynasty. Therefore, Userkare may have been a surviving rival of Teti from the 5th Dynasty. However, he may
have also simply been a regent associated with Queen Iput after Teti's death, as Pepi I may have been too young to ascend the throne
at that time.
Teti, less commonly known as Othoes, was the first Pharaoh of the Sixth dynasty of Egypt and is buried at Saqqara. The exact length of
his reign has been destroyed on the Turin King List, but is believed to have been about 12 years.
Teti had several wives:
Queen Iput, likely the daughter of King Unas, the last king of the Fifth dynasty. Iput I was the mother of Pepi I
Queen Khuit, who may have been the mother of Userkare (according to Jonosi and Callender) 
Queen Khent (or Khentkaus III). Known from a relief of Pepi I's mortuary temple. She may have been buried in a mastaba.
Weret-Imtes? This queen is mentioned in the autobiography of Wenis. It may be a reference to the title of the queen instead of her
personal name. She was involved in a harem plot to overthrow Pepi, but apparently was caught before she succeeded. In the tomb of the
official Wenis there is mention of "a secret charge in the royal harem against the Great of Sceptre".
Teti is known to have had several children. He was the father of Pepi I and he may have been the father of Userkare and a prince by the
name of Teti-ankh-kem. A daughter by the name of Seshseshet Watet-khet-her was married to Mereruka who served as vizier. Another
daughter named Nebty-nubkhet Sesheshet (D) was married to Kagemni, who served as vizier at some point. A third possible daughter is
During Teti's reign, high officials were beginning to build funerary monuments that rivaled that of the Pharaoh. His vizier, Mereruka,
built a mastaba tomb at Saqqara which consisted of 33 richly carved rooms, the biggest known tomb for an Egyptian nobleman. This is
considered to be a sign that Egypt's wealth was being transferred from the central court to the officials, a slow process that
culminated in the end to the Old Kingdom.
Manetho states that Teti was murdered by his palace bodyguards in a harem plot, but he may have been assassinated by the usurper
Userkare . He was buried in the royal necropolis at Saqqara. His pyramid complex is associated with the mastabas of officials from his
reign. Teti's Highest date is his Year after the 6th Count 3rd Month of Summer day lost (Year 12 if the count was biannual) from Hatnub
Graffito No.1. This information is confirmed by the South Saqqara Stone Annal document from Pepi II's reign which gives him a reign
of around 12 years.
3rd "subsidiary" pyramid to Teti's tomb
Teti's mother was the Queen Sesheshet, who was instrumental in her son's accession to the throne and a reconciling of two warring
factions of the royal family. Sesheshet lived between 2323 BC to 2291 BC. Egypt's chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass, secretary general
of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, announced, on November 11, 2008, that she was entombed, in a 4,300-year-old headless 5 metre (16-
foot-tall) Saqqara most complete subsidiary pyramid. This is the 118th pyramid discovered thus far in Egypt, the largest portion of its
2 metres wide beautiful casing was built with a superstructure 5 metres high. It originally reached 14 metres, with sides 22 metres
The ruins of Teti's pyramid (Saqqara)
Pyramid texts from Teti I's pyramid at Saqqara
Once 5 stories tall, it lay beneath 23 feet (7 meters) of sand, a small shrine and mud-brick walls from later periods. The 3rd known
"subsidiary" pyramid to Teti's tomb, was originally 46 feet (14 meters) tall and 72 feet (22 meters) square at its base, due to its
walls having stood at a 51-degree angle. Buried next to the Saqqara Step Pyramid, its base lies 65 feet underground and is believed to
have been 50 feet tall when it was built.