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Was Nitocris a female pharaoh in the 6th dynasty?

The Shrouded History of Nitocris: Was the Last Pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty a Woman?

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Nitocris is claimed by some sources to have been a female pharaoh of ancient Egypt. However, prior to the Ptolemaic Dynasty, there were few female rulers in the history of ancient Egypt. Many of these women ruled only as regents for their underage sons.

The most famous of these early female rulers is arguably Hatshepsut, a pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. Although she officially ruled jointly with her nephew and step-son, Thutmose III (who was still a child when he ascended the throne), Hatshepsut assumed the title of pharaoh several years into her reign. Despite efforts by her successors to completely erase her from history, there are enough artifacts from her reign to attest to her existence and status.

Unlike Hatshepsut, Nitocris is a much more mysterious figure. Apart from being mentioned by Herodotus and Manetho, there is little else at present that points towards her existence.

Female pharaohs of ancient Egypt. (QuotesGram)

The Debated Last Pharaoh of the 6th Dynasty

Nitocris is believed to have lived around the 22nd century BC, which was towards the end of the 6th Dynasty. Some have suggested that Nitocris was the last pharaoh of this dynasty. On a fragment of the Turin King List (known also as the Turin Papyrus and the Turin Royal Canon), there is an unknown pharaoh by the name of Netiqerti, who was the successor of Nemtiemsaf II. It has been speculated that this was Nitocris.

By comparison, the Abydos King List (known also as the Abydos Table) has Netjerkara occupying the position of Netiqerti. It has been argued that as the name Netjerkara is a male name, it is not possible that Netiqerti and Nitocris were one and the same person.

[left]The cartouche of Merenre Nemtyemsaf II on the Abydos king list. (CC BY 3.0) [right] The cartouche of Netjerkara, from the Abydos King List. (CC BY 2.5) 

[left]The cartouche of Merenre Nemtyemsaf II on the Abydos king list. (CC BY 3.0) [right] The cartouche of Netjerkara, from the Abydos King List. (CC BY 2.5)

The Turin King List may have been written as early as during the reign of Ramesses II, or as late as the end of the 20th Dynasty. As for the Abydos King List, it was discovered on a wall of the mortuary temple of Seti I, and was almost certainly written during Seti’s reign. Neither of these sources name Nitocris explicitly, and the only known source regarding Nitocris (which was written by an ancient Egyptian) is Manetho’s Aegyptiaca (‘History of Egypt’).

Drawing of the Turin King list.

Drawing of the Turin King list. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Manetho’s Writings About Nitocris

Manetho was an Egyptian historian and priest who lived around the 3rd century BC during the reign of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Compared to the Egyptians who made the Turin King List and Abydos King List, Manetho may be said to be separated from Nitocris by a much larger span of time. Therefore, it is entirely possible that Manetho’s writings regarding Nitocris are less accurate than we desire. For instance, in the Aegyptica (from the ‘Armenian Version of Eusebius’), Manetho wrote that:

There was a queen Nitôcris, the noblest and loveliest of the women of her time; she had a fair complexion, and is said to have built the third pyramid.

In another fragment of the Aegyptica (from George Syncellus, a Byzantine chronicler), the number of years that Nitocris reigned for is also given:

Nitôcris, the noblest and loveliest of the women of her time, of fair complexion, the builder of the third pyramid, reigned for 12 years.

Papyrus Baden 4:59, Verso (fifth century AD..): Suspected partial copy of the Epitome, based on the Aegyptiaca Manetho.

Papyrus Baden 4:59, Verso (fifth century AD..): Suspected partial copy of the Epitome, based on the Aegyptiaca Manetho. (Public Domain)

Although Manetho recorded that the “third pyramid” was built by Nitocris, it has been established that this monument was built by Menkaura, a pharaoh from the 4th Dynasty. Some have speculated that Manetho had misread Menkaura for Menkaura, hence the mistake.

This speculation also suggests that Menkaura could have been Nitocris’ praenomen or throne name (identified by a cartouche surrounding it, and the ‘sedge and the bee’). This praenomen does appear in the Abydos King List, though after Netjerkara, the other praenomen thought to belong to Nitocris.

Greywacke statue of Menkaure, Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

Greywacke statue of Menkaure, Egyptian Museum, Cairo. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Apart from that, it seems that nothing more was written by Manetho regarding Nitocris. Thus, even if Manetho was a reliable source regarding Nitocris, there is little that we can find out about Nitocris from him.

Herodotus on Nitocris

By far, the most colorful account of Nitocris comes from the Greek historian Herodotus. Like many of the other fanciful stories found in Herodotus’ work, this one too ought to be taken with a pinch of salt, despite the historian’s claim that this tale was related to him by Egyptian priests. The story of Nitocris in Herodotus’ The Histories goes like this:

The name of the queen was Nitocris – the same as that of the Babylonian queen. They said that she avenged her brother. Despite the fact that he was their king, the Egyptians killed him and then handed the kingdom over to her, but in order to avenge him she killed a lot of them by a trick. What she did was construct a massive underground chamber, and although in reality she had other plans, she claimed to want to hold an inauguration ceremony for it. She invited the Egyptians she knew to have been the ringleaders in her brother’s murder – and there were quite a few of them – to the reception; while they were in the middle of the meal she had the river flood in on them through a large secret passage. That is all the information I was given about Nitocris, except that afterwards she threw herself into a chamber full of ashes, to avoid retribution.

Thus the story of Nitocris remains wrapped in myths and legends, did she really have the role of a 6th dynasty pharaoh? If so, under what praenomen? And why was she erased?

Top Image: An ancient Egyptian Queen. Was Nitocris a female pharaoh in the 6th dynasty? Source: denissimonov /Adobe

By Ḏḥwty


Dollinger, A., 2016. Herodotus on Nitocris. [Online]
Available at:

Herodotus, The Histories,

[Waterfield, R. (trans.), 1998. Herodotus’ The Histories. Oxford: Oxford University Press.]

Jones, A., 2010. Nitocris: Important but Little Known Egyptian Queen. [Online]
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Lewis, J. J., 2015. Female Pharaohs. [Online]
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Lundström, P., 2015. Abydos King list. [Online]
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Lundström, P., 2015. The Turin Papyrus king list. [Online]
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Manetho, History of Egypt [Online]

[Waddell, W. G., (trans.), 1940. Manetho’s History of Egypt, in The Fragments of Manetho]

Available at:, 2010. Ancient Egyptian Female Pharaohs. [Online]
Available at:, 2016. Sixth Dynasty of Egypt. [Online]
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Gary Moran's picture

I always enjoy reading the interesting, occasionally peciliar, and often amusing theories espoused by some comments. Makes one think though, is that really possible? So little has been proven without a doubt about our truly ancient history. So many things that seem impossible were actually done in the past that must have employed technologies or magic that we just cannot comprehend. But female pharaohs, sure, why not. 

I think female pharoahs were more common than historians believe

Please always keep in mind the misconception that these dynasties ran consecutively...they did not. Usually there were two or three "Egyptian" kingdoms running concurrently...but sometimes as many as six. And keep in mind the occupying Iranians (Persian), the Greeks, Romans and then the Ottomans looted, destroyed and REWROTE THE RECORDS. Which begs the question: if professor David O'Conner is accurate that ancient Abydos remains were destroyed and leveled down to less than 1 inch today...then how and why did "Ramses II" and "Seti I"s temples at Abydos remain almost intact after an alleged 3370 years? Not possible. These are the lies of academic Gatekeepers. That image of Menkaure in above article...that is the guy depicted on the "Narmer Palette"...go look for yourself...and believe your own eyes. This is a king from India...calling himself an avatar of Shiva named Naram-Simha...see his simha/lion's tail he wears? The Sphinx...was that the image of Naram-Simha that killed the Anatolian green "Bullman" with his iron sword? is. See the Greek sailors on palette swimming away in fear of what looks like a microchip?? That is the "Shavista"... the symbol of Shiva...and that is "Yuya" he is driving a stake into...blinding him...and see him wearing a mask to hide it on reverse side. That is the masked statue of those "mysterious" Chinese bronze statues of "unknown origins" to be found right here at ancient origins. And one image of him with stakes in his eyes... That is Yuya/YAHWEH. Calling himself "Saurid" and falsely claiming to have built the pyramids... enraging the true builders...even "Khufu" (the Ku named Fu...ku is "Teacher") has iconography showing him driving a stake into Yuya's eye. He was the "asafJa" or "Joseph" of the Chedi king...that came to Mudraya/"Egypt" enraged at his mercenary SIKHS for "acting asif " they were kings. The "Hyksos" are Sikhs spelled as an anagram. Chronology is faked and maintained by academic gatekeepers. Btw: I was not allowed to post my comment at siberiantimes even though I entered the proper random code ten still said "incorrect code entered, please try again." Happens everywhere they have a code...I am silenced. Think about that...and thanks for allowing uncensored comments here.

There is zero chance a queen or woman was an " msef"...that is a "mes"...a Buddhist coppersmith/miner/smelter from Mes Aynak. See article on this at National Geographic online. These are the " Moses"...metal-workers. See the metal plough in left cartouche? See the mislabeled axe...which is called a "Yue" in Chinese archaeology...those are "mes king's" pride and joy...metal tools. So that name on right cartouche? I see the "ra" and the "ka" hieroglyphs...where is the YUE in this name? These were Ptah worshipers...E Wallace Budge called him "Butah"...Vishnu's avatar known today as Buddha. Go see the article today at Siberiantimes on the thousands of gold artifacts found in Tuva, Russia, of Iranian Scythians royals...dressed in red and gold...just like images of Gautama the Saka (Scythian) prince in Buddhist temples holding a sword exactly like the one buried with Tut. Oh yeah...this Tuvan king had an iron sword...Tut's was "celestial" and "pulled from a stone"...the Nantan meteorite...proven by metallurical testing. The Guldestrup Cauldron or the "Holy Grail" depicts Tut being wrapped in linen by Kohannim priests...and as Buddha...with his deer...go see the one in article on Tuva.

I completely indulge in this history and keep on searching more history related to this! such a brilliant post, never seen before. Keep it up writer.
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dhwty's picture


Wu Mingren (‘Dhwty’) has a Bachelor of Arts in Ancient History and Archaeology. Although his primary interest is in the ancient civilizations of the Near East, he is also interested in other geographical regions, as well as other time periods.... Read More

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