For the prince of the 4th Dynasty, see Prince Rahotep.

Sekhemrewahkhau Rahotep was an Egyptian pharaoh who reigned during the Second Intermediate Period, when Egypt was ruled by multiple kings. The egyptologists Kim Ryholt and Darrell Baker believe that Rahotep was the first king of the 17th Dynasty.[1][4]


Rahotep is well known from a stele found at Coptos reporting the restoration of the temple of Min.[6] The stele, now in the Petrie Museum (UC 14327), reads[7][8]

(year ... under) the Majesty of Horus Wahankh, Two Ladies Weserrenput, Horus of Gold, Wad ... (... Son of) Re Rahotep, given life. His Majesty (said?) to his nobles and the courtiers who were in his following ... the temple ... My Majesty found (concerning) my father (Min), who is at the head of all gods, that his gates and doors had fallen into ruin, (They did obeisance ? before) his Majesty and said: What your ka (commands) shall come to pass, O king, our lord. It is Hu, indeed, who is in your mouth, and Sia (who is in your heart). Ptah-Sokar ... the gods fashioned you ... that you might act for them to found their temples ...

You have united Upper and Lower Egypt. May your heart be joyful upon the Horus-throne of the living ... You are ruling what the sun (encircles) ... the god (...) of the people, the refuge of all...night ... in sleeping ... the gods in seeking what is beneficial to this land. Re has placed you as his image ... what is removed (?)... as it was in the time of your fathers, the kings who followed Horus. Never was ... lost in my time ... which existed formerly. I made monuments for the gods ... wonders, which were brought ...

Rahotep is also attested on a limestone stele, now in the British Museum (BM EA 833),[9] which shows him making an offering to Osiris for two deceased, an officer and a priest. Finally Rahotep is mentioned on a bow of a king's son dedicated to "the service of Min in all his feasts".[4][10]
In the late New Kingdom tale Khonsuemheb and the ghost, the protagonist encounters a ghost who claims to have been in life "Overseer of the treasuries of king Rahotep". However, the ghost also claims to have died in regnal Year 14 of a later king Mentuhotep. These statements seem to contradict each other since none of Rahotep's successors named Mentuhotep is known to have reigned for so long, thus making the identification of both these kings problematic.[11]


Two scarabs bearing the inscription "Rahotep", believed by Flinders Petrie to referring to this king.[12]

While Ryholt and Baker propose that Rahotep was the first king of the 17th Dynasty, Jürgen von Beckerath sees him as the second king of that dynasty.[13][14] Alternatively Claude Vandersleyen has tentatively dated Rahotep to the 13th Dynasty on the grounds that he believes Rahotep to be related to Sobekemsaf I, which Vandersleyen also dates to the 13th Dynasty because of the quality and number of statues attributable to him.[15] Baker deems these arguments "slim and rejected by most scholars".[1]

If he was indeed a ruler of the early 17th Dynasty, Rahotep would have controlled Upper Egypt as far north as Abydos.[1] According to Ryholt's reconstruction of the Second Intermediate Period, Rahotep's reign would have taken place shortly after the collapse of the 16th Dynasty with the conquest of Thebes by the Hyksos and their subsequent withdrawal from the region. In the wake of the conflict the Hyksos would have looted and destroyed temples and palaces.[1] Rahotep consequently "boasts of restorations [he performed] in temples at Abydos and Coptos".[16] In Abydos he had the enclosure walls of the temple of Osiris renewed and in Coptos he restored the temple of Min of which "gates and doors [have] fallen into ruins".[1] This chronology of events is debated and some scholars contest that Thebes was ever conquered by the Hyksos. Rather, they believe the kings of Upper Egypt could have been vassals of the Hyksos.


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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Darrell D. Baker: The Encyclopedia of the Pharaohs: Volume I - Predynastic to the Twentieth Dynasty 3300–1069 BC, Stacey International, ISBN 978-1-905299-37-9, 2008, p. 341-342
  2. Wallis Budge: Hieroglyphic texts from Egyptian stelae, &c., in the British Museum, Part IV, London: Printed by order of the Trustees [by] Harrison and Sons, 1913, available not-in-copyright here, pl. 24.
  3. Wallis Budge: Hieroglyphic texts from Egyptian stelae, &c., in the British Museum, Part IV, London: Printed by order of the Trustees [by] Harrison and Sons, 1913, available not-in-copyright here, pl. 24.
  4. 1 2 3 4 K.S.B. Ryholt: The Political Situation in Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, c.1800–1550 BC, Carsten Niebuhr Institute Publications, vol. 20. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1997, excerpts available online here.
  5. Number 54 on the Karnak king list
  6. H.M. Stewart: Egyptian Stelae, Reliefs and Paintings from the Petrie Collection. Part Two: Archaic to Second Intermediate Period, Warminster 1979, 17-18, no. 78
  7. Image of the stele with translation
  8. Stele on the Petrie Museum catalogue
  9. Stele on the British Museum catalogue
  10. O. D. Berlev: Un don du roi Rahotep, OLP 6-7 (1975/1976), p. 31-41 pl II.
  11. Simpson, William K. (1973). The Literature of Ancient Egypt. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-01711-1., pp. 139–40
  12. Flinders Petrie: Scarabs and cylinders with names (1917), available copyright-free here, pl. XXIII
  13. Jürgen von Beckerath: Untersuchungen zur politischen Geschichte der Zweiten Zwischenzeit in Ägypten, Glückstadt, 1964
  14. Jürgen von Beckerath: Chronologie des pharaonischen Ägyptens, Münchner Ägyptologische Studien 46. Mainz am Rhein, 1997
  15. Claude Vandersleyen: Rahotep, Sébekemsaf Ier et Djéhouty, rois de la 13e Dynastie, Revue d'Égyptologie
  16. Janine Bourriau, Ian Shaw (edit), The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt Oxford University Press, 2000. p.205 ISBN 978-0-19-280458-7
Preceded by
Pharaoh of Egypt
Seventeenth Dynasty
Succeeded by
Sobekemsaf I
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