First Intermediate Period

The First Intermediate Period was a period of decay following the collapse of royal power at the end of the 6th Dynasty . Many local nomarchs (provincial governors) gained increasing independence at the cost of central authority and several rival Dynasties competed with each other. Of these, the ruling families of Herakleopolis, located near the Faiyum, and of Thebes were the most successful, though neither managed to gain control over all of Egypt. Of the many kings that followed each other in quick succession, only the names of a few are known, with almost no surviving monuments. The disintegration of royal power coincided with the breakdown of government and the decline of the arts throughout the country. Foreign tribes were able to invade Egypt, occasionally there were famines, and tombs and pyramids were plundered, leading to the realisation that no measure was sufficient to guarantee life after death. Despite, or rather because of, the omnipresent decay, this was a period of important mental and literary developments. Eventually, conflict broke out between the two royal families, though it remains unclear whether this was a diplomatic or a military struggle. It resulted in king Montuhotep II of Thebes being acclaimed as ruler over the whole country.