Pepi I Meryre (reigned 2332 – 2283 BC) was the third king of the Sixth dynasty of Egypt. His first throne name was Neferdjahor which the king later altered to Meryre meaning "beloved of Re.
Pepi was the son of Teti and Iput. He needed the support of powerful individuals in Upper Egypt in order to put down an usurper named Userkare who had murdered his father and win back his rightful throne. These individuals would remain a strong presence in his court thereafter, and two of his queens were daughters of his Upper Egyptian vizier. Pepi I's reign was marked by aggressive expansion into Nubia, the spread of trade to far-flung areas such as Lebanon and the Somalian coast, but also the growing power of the nobility. One of the king's officials named Weni fought in Asia on his behalf. His mortuary complex, Mennefer Pepy, eventually became the name for the entire city of Memphis after the 18th Dynasty..
The decline of the Old Kingdom arguably began during Pepi I’s reign, with nomarchs (regional representatives of the king) becoming more powerful and exerting greater influence. Pepi I married two sisters who were the daughters of a nomarch and later made their brother a vizier. Their influence was extensive, both sisters bearing sons who were later to become pharaohs: Merenre Nemtyemsaf I and Pepi II.
An analysis of the damaged Dynasty 6 South Saqqara Stone
Annal document gives him a reign of c. 48-49 years but this is not confirmed by the Turin King List
which apparently assigns him 44 years, according to the Danish Egyptologist Kim Ryholt
's analysis of this document. The latter figure may be closer to the truth since it would imply that Pepi I's cattle count dating system was not always biennial. That this is the case is suggested by a famous Year after the 18th Count, 3rd Month of Shemu day 27
inscription from Wadi Hammamat No. 74-75 which mentions the "first occurrence of the Heb Sed"
in that year for Pepi. (This would be Year 36 if the Biannial dating system was used.) This information is significant because the Heb Sed Feast was always celebrated in a king's Year 30. If Pepi I was following a biennial counting system, the inscription should have been dated to the Year after the 15th Count instead. This implies that the cattle count during the 6th dynasty was not regularly biannual.
Pepi I's highest dated document is the Year of the 25th Count, 1st Month of Akhet day [lost] from Hatnub Inscription No.3. The South Saqqara Stone also confirms that Pepi I's last year was his Year of the 25th Count.
Two copper statues of Pepi I and his son Merenre were found at Hierakonpolis; they depict the two royals symbolically "trampling underfoot the Nine bows
," a stylized representation of Egypt's conquered foreign subjects. Pepi I was a prolific builder who ordered extensive construction projects in Upper Egypt at Dendera
. One of his most important court officials was Weni the Elder
who had a great canal built at the First Cataract for the king. Weni was also put in charge of the highly sensitive task of putting on trial a certain Queen Weret-yamtes
, a wife of Pepi I, who had conspired to murder the king.