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From Unis to Teti

Whether the transition from the Fifth Dynasty to the Sixth was plagued by a struggle for power between the priesthood of Re and the monarchy, and/or by some dynastic troubles, is uncertain. Following Menkauhor, the location of whose pyramid is still disputed, Djedkare/Isesi moved to South Saqqara. But whether by Menkauhor or Djedkare, the decision to abandon the site of Abusir, which had become associated with the sun temples, must have been for good reason(s). Although Isesi adopted the name Djedkare, ‘the ka of Re is stable’, he did not build a sun temple, and with him this Fifth Dynasty tradition came to an end. His successor, Unis, instead inscribed his burial chamber with the so-called Pyramid Texts, a new tradition which continued to the end of the Old Kingdom. The Pyramid Texts speak of a hereafter in the company of both Re and Osiris for the dead king, and it might be significant that Osiris appeared also in the offering formulae written in the tombs of officials under Djedkare or Unis. This rise in the importance, or the visibility, of Osiris, when viewed together with the abandonment of the construction of sun temples, may well have represented a challenge to the power of the priesthood of Re. Furthermore, the Pyramid Texts guaranteed a safe passage in the hereafter for the king, and their inscription in his burial chamber perhaps made him less dependent on the priesthood for his future well-being.