The Sixth Dynasty of Egypt is considered by many authorities as the last dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, although The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (ed. Ian Shaw, 2000) includes the Seventh and Eighth dynasties as part of the Old Kingdom. Manetho writes that these kings ruled from Memphis, or Egyptian Mennefer, taken from the name of the pyramid of Unas which was built nearby; archeologists concur with Manetho on this.
This dynasty was founded by Teti, who had married Iput, commonly believed to be the daughter of king Unas of the Fifth dynasty. Other notable members of this dynasty include Pepy II, who is credited with a reign of 94 years, the longest in the history of Ancient Egypt; and the last ruler Nitiqret (also known by the Greek name Nitocris), who is believed by some authorities to have not only been the first female ruler of Egypt, but the first in the world.
During this dynasty, expeditions were sent to Wadi Maghara in the Sinai to mine for turquoise and copper, as well as to the mines at Hatnub and Wadi Hammamut. Pharaoh Djedkara sent trade expeditions south to Punt and north to Byblos, and Pepy I not only sent expeditions to these locales, but also as far as Ebla.
With a growing number of biographical inscriptions in non-royal tombs, our knowledge of the contemporary history broadens from the monolithically formal facade of earlier rulers. For example, we hear of an unsuccessful plot against Pepy I. We also read a letter written by the young king Pepy II, excited that one of his expeditions will return with a dancing pygmy from the land of Yam, located to the south of Nubia.
These non-royal tomb inscriptions are but one example of the growing power of the nobility, which further weakened the absolute rule of the king. As a result, it is believed that on the death of the long-lived Pepy II his vassals were entrenched enough to resist the authority of his successors, leading to the rapid end of the Old Kingdom.