The nobles of El-Qusiya in the sixth dynasty: archaeological and historical study
The nobles of El-Qusiya were of Memphite origin and remained closely connected to the capital, with no evidence of a change in the ruling family from Khewenwekh (Pepy I) to Heni (end of Dynasty 6 or slightly later). Artists, particularly painters, were prominently depicted in the tombs of these nobles and appear in the company of the tomb owners on private occasions, bearing the title ‘scribe/painter of the house of sacred records of the palace’. Wall scenes in the tombs of El-Qusiya are clearly inspired by the Memphite tombs of the mid-Fifth Dynasty to the end of Pepy I’s reign, such as those of Tjy, Metjetji, Ankhmahor and Mereruka, with El-Qusiya artists probably being trained at Memphis. The clearest similarities are however found between the tombs of Mehu at Saqqara and Pepyankh the middle at Meir, which were probably decorated by the same painter, Kaiemtjenenet, who was certainly innovative.
As in other provinces, the rank titles of the nobles of Meir fluctuated between ‘sole companion’ and ‘hereditary prince’. Their regular office was that of ‘overseer of priests’, occasionally with reference to Hathor. Pepyankh the middle and Pepyankh the black held the vizierate, and the evidence suggests the presence of two contemporary viziers in Upper Egypt, one for the south and the other for the middle provinces. Pepyankh the middle was the first to hold the title of ‘overseer of Upper Egypt’ at El-Qusiya, with authority over the middle provinces. Evidence suggests that the South was not divided into three parts, but into two almost equal sections, with the dividing line positioned between Abydos and Akhmim. Thus the ‘middle provinces’ refer to the area between the southernmost provinces and the Delta. Heny the eldest son of Pepyankh the black became ‘great overlord of the NDft’, perhaps referring to nomes 13 and 14. This may have been the Memphite response to the rise of Khui at Dara, in UE13, who claimed some royal prerogatives.