Saturday, December 1, 2007

12th Dynasty

This dynasty should bring back the values from the Old Kingdom with
divine kingship, but all in the minds of the pharaohs themselves.
Its glory lies in the fact that the rulers were able leaders
developing agricultural methods and exploiting
the Faiyum. They all tried to imitate the
great pharaohs from the passed.
Egypt was prosperous and
the era saw at least
seven more

Amenemhet I (Sehetepibre)
Other spellings: Amenenkhet
1st King of the 12th Dynasty

Parents: Senwosret and Neferet I.
SonsSenwosret I.
Neferitatenen, King’s Mother: She is mentioned on a statue belonging to her son Senusert I. Titles: King’s Mother (mwt-niswt).
Dedet: Possibly a wife of Amenemhat I.

Neferu III: King's Daughter, King's Wife and King's Mother. Neferu married her brother Senusert. She is mentioned in the Story of Sinuhe. Neferu III had her own pyramid in the funerary complex of her brother/husband. It is possible that she was eventually buried in the funerary complex of her son Amenemhat II.
Neferusherit: King's Daughter. Buried in one of the shaft tombs near Amenemhat I's pyramid at Lisht.
Kayet: King's Daughter of his body. Mentioned in a relief at Lisht.

Statue from the time of Amenemhat I.From the tomb of Meketre.

Amenemhet I was the first ruler of the 12th Dynasty, and some Egyptologists believe that recovery from the First Intermediate Period into the Middle Kingdom only really began with his rule. He was almost certainly not of royal blood, at least if he is the same Vizier that functioned under his predecessor, Mentuhotep IV. Perhaps either Mentuhotep IV had no heir, or he was simply a weak leader. This vizier, named Amenemhet, recorded an inscription when Mentuhotep IV sent him to Wadi Hammamt. The inscription records two omens. The first tells us of a gazelle that gave birth to her calf atop the stone that had been chosen for the lid of the King's sarcophagus. the second was of a ferocious rainstorm that, when subsided, disclosed a well 10 cubits square and full of water. Of course that was a very good omen in this barren landscape.

Early part of reign: Horus Sehetepibtawy, Sehetepib-Re, Amenemhat

Later part of reign: Horus Wehemmesut, Sehetepib-Re, Amenemhat

Many Egyptologists believe that Amenemhet's inscription implies that a great ruler will come to the throne of Egypt upon the death of Mentuhotep IV, who will lead the country into prosperity. It is fairly certain that Amenemhet the vizier was predicting his own rise to the throne as Amenemhet I. However, we are told that he had at least two other competitors to the throne. One was called Inyotef, and the other a Segerseni from Nubia. It would appear that he quickly dealt with these obstacles. We believe that he ruled Egypt for almost 30 years. Peter A. Clayton places his reign between the years of 1991 and 1962 BC while the Oxford History of Ancient Egypt gives him a reign lasting from 1985 through 1956 BC. Dodson has his reign lasting from 1994 until 1964 BC.

Image of Amenemhet I from his mortuary complex at el-lisht

Amenemhet I's Horus name, Wehem-mesut, means "he who repeats births", and almost certainly was chosen to commemorate the new dynasty and a return to the values and prosperity of a united Egypt. Amenemhet (Amenemhat) was his birth name and means "Amun is at the Head". He was called Ammenemes I by the Greeks. His throne name was Sehetep-ib-re, which means "Satisfied is the Heart of Re".

Neferu, who was the principal wife of Senwosret I, the kings mother, Nefret, and a principal wife, Nefrytatenen .Amenemhet was probably the son of a woman named Nofret (Nefret), from Elephantine near modern Aswan, and a priest called Senusret, according to an inscription at Thebes. So his origins are probably southern Egypt. We know of three possible wives including Neferytotenen (Nefrutoteen, Nefrytatenen), who may have been the mother of Amenemhet I's successor, Senusret I, Dedyet, who was may also have been his sister, and Sobek'neferu, Neferu). It is fairly clear that Amenemhet established Egypt's first co-regency with his son, Senusret I, in about the older kings 20th year of rule. He was not only seeking to assure the succession of his proper heir, but also providing the young prince valuable training under his tutelage. Senusret was given several active roles in Amenemhet I's government, specifically including matters related to the military matters.

We know of several pieces of literature that probably date from his reign, some of which appears to support his reign with fables of kingship. One, the Discourse of Neferty, has a ruler emerging named Ameny, who was foretold by a prophet in the Old Kingdom (Neferty). Neferti was a Heliopolis sage who seems familiar to us from Djedi in the Papyrus Westcar. He is summoned to the court of Snofru, during who's reign the story is suppose to have taken place. This tale has Ameny delivering Egypt from chaos, but it should be noted that it is the chaos of the late 11th Dynasty, not the First Intermediate Period.

Then a king will come from the South,Ameny, the justified, my name,Son of a woman of Ta-Seti, child of Upper Egypt,He will take the white crown,he willjoin the Two Mighty Ones (the two crowns)
Asiatics will fall to his sword,Libyans will fall to his flame,Rebels to his wrath, traitors to his might,As the serpent on his brow subdues the rebels for him,One will build the Walls-of-the-Ruler,To bar Asiatics from entering Egypt..

We do not know what year this literature dates to within Amenemhet I's reign. But while there are other text that refer to the chaos before the arrival of new kings, the references to Asiatics and the Walls-of-the-Ruler are new.

Offering table inscribed with the name Sehetepibre, Lepsius Abt II, Band 4, Bl 118

Amenemhet I set about consolidating the country in a very purposeful manner. He moved his capital north to the capital he apparently established named Amenemhet-itj-tawy, which means, "Amenemhet the Seizer of the Two lands". It was located south of Memphis, on the edge of the Fayoum Oasis, though the city ruins have not yet been discovered. This gave him a more central control of Egypt, as well as placing him nearer to problem areas in the Delta. It also signaled the end of an old era and new beginnings. This move was perhaps only carried out a short time after he took the throne.

The pyramid complex of Amenemhet I at Lisht also has five mastabas (brown), underground galleries and 22 burial shafts (left) for royal women. Pharaoh's grave chamber (red) was placed at the bottom of a vertical shaft (green) in the very centre deep under the monument.

Many Egyptologists believe that the move was made at the very beginning of his reign, while a few believe it may have been much later, around the time of his twentieth year as ruler. However, he did begin a tomb at Thebes, and then abandoned it for a pyramid at el-Lisht, near the new capital. It appears that the work on the tomb at Thebes may have taken between three and five years to complete. Also, there are very few of his monuments located near Thebes, suggesting that he soon moved away.

Granary from the tomb of Wah

His pyramid at el Lisht is instructional, for it seems to portray a return to some of the values of the Old Kingdom, while still embracing the Theban concepts of the region of his birth. Egyptologists who believe Amenemhet I may have waited until his twentieth year to make the move to his new city base their evidence on an inscription found on the foundation blocks of the pyramid's mortuary temple. It records Amenemhet's royal jubilee, and also that year one of a new king had elapsed, suggesting that the pyramid was started very late in the king's reign. Therefore, considerable debate remains over the timing of his move.

He also reorganized the administration of the country, keeping the nomarchs who had supported him, while weakening the regional governors by appointing new officials at Asyut, Cusae and Elephantine. An inscription records that he also divided the nomes (provinces) into different sets of towns and redistributed the territories by reference to the Nile flood. We see a steady march during Amenemhet I's rule back to a more centralized government, together with an increase in bureaucracy. Another move, both to dilute the army's power and to raise personnel for coming conflicts, was his reintroduction of conscription.

Undoubtedly, in the Discourse of Neferty, Asiatics refer to the people who were causing trouble on the Egypt's eastern frontier. One of Amenemhet I's earliest campaigns were against these Asiatics, though the scale of these operations is unknown. He drove these people back, and indeed did build the Walls-of-the-Ruler, as series of fortifications along Egypt's northeastern frontier. However, even as late as his 24th year of rule, we still find inscriptions recording expeditions against these "and-dweller". None of these fortifications has ever been found, though the remains of a canal in the region may date from the period. Apparently, in the midst of the Asiatic campaign, he also found time to crush a few unrepentant local governors (nomarchs).

Riverboat model from the tomb of Meketre

In Nubia, Amenemhet I first pushed his army southward to Elephantine, where he consolidated his rule and seems to have been satisfied for a number of years. This expedition was apparently lead by Khnemhotpe I, governor of the Oryx nome, who traveled up the Nile with 20 boats. But by year 29 of his rule, the king appears to have no longer been happy with the lose trading and quarrying network with Nubia that we find in the Old Kingdom. The new policy was one of conquest and colonization with the principle aim of obtaining raw materials, especially gold. An inscription at the northern Nubian site of Korosko about half way between the first and second cataracts (rapids) states that the people of Wawat (northern Nubia) were defeated in his 29th year, and he apparently drove his army as far south as the second cataract. In order to protect Egypt and fortify captured territory in Nubia, he founded a fortress at Semna and Quban in the region of the second Nile Cataract, which would begin a string of future 12th Dynasty fortresses. Along with protecting his newly acquired territory and the gold mines in Wadi Allaqi, he also created a stranglehold over economic contacts with Upper Nubia and further south. We also know that he constructed a fortress at Mendes named Rawaty.

From a foreign relations standpoint, we also know that diplomatic and commercial relations were renewed, after a long absence, with Byblos and the Aegean world.

Amenemhet I took part in a number of building projects. Besides his fortresses, we know he built at Babastis, el-Khatana and Tanis. He undertook important building works at Karnak, from which a few statues and granite naos survive. He may have even established the original temple of Mut to the south of the Temple of Amun. He also worked at Koptos (Coptos), where he partly decorated the temple of Min, at Abydos, where he dedicated a granite altar to Osiris, at Dendera, where he built a granite gateway to Hathor and at Memphis, where he built a temple of Ptah. Also a little north of Tell el-Dab'a, he apparently began a small mudbrick temple at Ezbet Rushdi, that was later expanded by Senusret III.

Religiously, being from southern Egypt, Amenemhet I's allegiance was probably to the god Amun, and in fact, we find from this period forward the rise of Amun, at the expense of Montu, god of war, as the supreme deity of Thebes.

It is also notable that we find an increase in the mineral wealth of the royal family. We find a huge increase in the jewelry caches found in several 12th Dynasty royal burials. It is obvious from several sources of evidence that even the standard of living form middle class Egyptians was on the increase, though their level of wealth was proportional to their official offices.

The metmuseum describes this block:"This block was found in the foundations of his mortuary temple at Lisht, the royal cemetery for the new capital. It was reused from an earlier building.King Amenemhat I is shown celebrating his sed festival or jubilee. He is flanked by the gods Anubis with a jackal head (in front) and Horus with a falcon head (behind), both of whom offer him the ankh, or symbol of life. At the left of the block stands the goddess Nekhbet of Upper Egypt and on the right the goddess Wadjet of Lower Egypt. The king wears a tightly curled wig with the uraeus on his brow and the false beard of kingship. He carries the flail and a ceremonial instrument."

Amenemhet I appears to have been a very wise leader, setting about to correct the problems of the First Intermediate Period, protecting Egypt's boarders from invasion and assuring a legitimate succession. Yet he was murdered in an apparent harem plot while his co-regent was leading a campaign in Libya. Again, we find two literary works, the Tale of Sinuhe and the Instructions of Amenemhet I, reflecting this king's tragic end. One literary work from the time of Senusret I presents the account of Amenemhet I's murder, supposedly provided by the king himself from beyond the grave:

"It was after supper, when night had fallen, and I had spent an hour of happiness. I was asleep upon my bed, having become weary, and my heart had begun to follow sleep. When weapons of my counsel were wielded, I had become like a snake of the necropolis. As I came to, I awoke to fighting, and found that it was an attack of the bodyguard. If I had quickly taken weapons in my hand, I would have made the wretches retreat with a charge! But there is none mighty in the night, none who can fight alone; no success will come without a helper. Look, my injury happened while I was without you, when the entourage had not yet heard that I would hand over to you when I had not yet sat with you, that I might make counsels for you; for I did not plan it, I did not foresee it, and my heart had not taken thought of the negligence of servants."

Apparently, his foresight in creating the co-regency with his son proved successful, for Senusret I succeeded his father and their seems to have been little or no disruption in the administration of the country.


Senusret I
Other spellings: Seostris, Senusert, Senwosret
2nd King of the 12th Dynasty

Senusret I was the son of Amenemhat I and Neferitatenen.
Wife: Neferu III, King's Daughter, King's Wife and King's Mother. Neferu married her brother Senusert. She is mentioned in the Story of Sinuhe. Neferu III had her own pyramid in the funerary complex of her brother/husband. It is possible that she was eventually buried in the funerary complex of her son Amenemhat II.
Son:Amenemhat II, called Ameny in some inscriptions
Sebat: King's Daughter. Mentioned in Amenemhat II's shrine of Senusert I
The following women may be daughters of Pharaoh Senusert, but the evidence is not very definitive.
Itakayet: Possibly a daughter of Senusert I. Owned a pyramid in Senusert I's pyramid complex. She may not have been buried there and it is possible that this lady was actually identical to Itakayet (B) who was a daughter of Amenemhat II.
Neferusobek: A possible daughter of Senusert I. Known from an inscribed bowl found near his pyramid. It is possible however that this bowl was an offering by the lady Sobekneferu, the daughter of Amenemhat III and later female ruler of Egypt.
Neferuptah: A possible daughter of Senusert. Her name appears on an ivory wand, found near his pyramid.
Nensed : A possible daughter of Senusert. Her name appears on a fragment of a dish, found near his pyramid

Senusret I was the second king of the 12th Dynasty and ascended to the throne after the murder of his father, Amenemhet I. There had apparently been a harem plot, and with good timing, Amenemhet I was assassinated in the absence of his son, who was fighting in Libya. It would seem that his son either swiftly left the campaign, or was already heading home at the time of the murder. However, this was not the first harem conspiracy, and Amenemhet I had performed his due diligence in respect to assuring a successful transition for his heir. For the first time that we know of in Egyptian history, Senusret I was made a co-regent in the 20th year of Amenemhet I's rule, and so was by the time of his father's death firmly established as the heir to the throne. Therefore, regardless of the intentions of the conspirators, he managed to ascend the throne with little difficulty.

Senusret I was this king's birth name, and means "Man of goddess Wosret". However, it was also the name, we believe, of his non-royal grandfather and so it may give little insight into his character. In references, he is also sometimes called Senwosret I, or Sesostris I (Greek). His throne name was Kheper-ka-re, which means, "The Soul of Re comes into Being". His mother was probably Neferytotenen (Nefrutoteen, Nefrytatenen), one of Amenemhet I's chief wives. He married a Queen Nefru, who was the mother of his successor son, Amenemhet II. Like his father, Amenemhet II was also made a coregent, but only perhaps three years prior to Senusret I's death. The coregency was recorded by a private stele of Simontu that is now in the British Museum. From her pyramid near her father's we also know that he had a daughter (or possibly a wife) by the name of Itakaiet. He may have had other daughters, including princesses Nefru-Sobek, Nefru-Ptah and Nenseddjedet.

Senusret I probably ruled Egypt for a period of about 34 years after his father's death during a period in Egypt's history where literature and craftsmanship was at its peek. We believe he may have been a co-regent of his father far perhaps another ten years. He probably ruled Egypt from about 1956 through 1911 BC.

It was a period of affluence, and a remarkable time for mineral wealth, gold and the fine jewelry produced with this abundance. Jewelry masterpieces have been found, particularly in the tombs of the royal ladies at Dahshur and Lahun, attributable to his reign. Considerable efforts were made to procure amethyst, turquoise, copper and gniess for both jewelry and sculptures. But it was also a time of great stability and development

Senusret I embraces the creator god, Ptah at Karnak

However, we also learn from letters of an old farmer named Hekanakhte to his family, that there was apparently a famine during the time of Senusret, a fact that is also implied by an inscription in the tomb of a nomarch (governor) named Amenemhat at Beni Hassan. But along with this news, we also are provided considerable insight into the life of the common Egyptians of this period by Hekanakhte's letters, and a better understanding of the details of agricultural.

Tablet attributable to Senusret I at Elephantine

He continued many of his father's policies, including the expansion in northern Nubia. We know that he sent one expedition to Nubia in his tenth year of reign, and that eight years later, he sent another army as far south as the second cataract. His general, Mentuhotep, went even deeper into Nubia. However, Senusret I established Egypt's southern border at the fortress of Buhen near the second cataract, where he placed a garrison and a victory stele, thereby adding to the already substantial military presence established by his father. Now, there were at least 13 fortresses that extended as far as the Second Cataract, and while Egypt's border may have been at the Nile's second cataract, he exercised control of Nubia as far as the Third Cataract. Inscriptions attributable to Senusret I can be found as far south as the island of Argo, north of modern Dongola.

Jewelry from the reign of Senusret I

He also protected the Delta region and the Western desert Oases from Libyan invasion by means of a series of military campaigns and by establishing control over oases in the Libyan Desert. Several of the expeditions also appear to have been lead by him personally.

However, he radically changed the policy towards Syria/Palestine by seeking stable commercial and diplomatic relations rather then a policy of expansion and control. Trading caravans passed between Syria and Egypt exchanging cedar and ivory for Egyptian goods.

Religiously, Senusret contributed considerable attention to the cult of Osiris, and over his long rule, this deity's beliefs and practices flourished in Egypt. Osiris was a god of the people and in expanding this cult, Senusret I gave his subjects what John Wilson has described as the "democratization of the afterlife".
Senusret I had already established himself as a builder during the co-regency with his father by extending and and embellishing some majortemples, particularly at Karnak, where he is considered to have founded the temple of Ipet sut (Karnak), and Heliopolis. As early as year two of his reign, he rebuilt the very important temple of Re-Atum at Heliopolis, a center of the sun cult. He probably even personally participated in the foundation ceremonies for the temple's reconstruction. He also had two, massive 20 meter (66 foot) red granite obelisks erected at the same temple on the occasion of his jubilee celebrating his 30th year in office. These monoliths would have weighed 121 tons each. One of the pair remains the oldest standing obelisk in Egypt. He also built the famous bark shrine, or White Chapel, that has been reconstructed by Henri Chevrier in the Open Air Museum at Karnak. It was built in order to celebrate his sed festival (Jubilee) in the 30th year of his reign, but the blocks for the temple were reused to build the third Pylon at Karnak. A scene within the White Chapel records the coronation of Senusret I, and is the oldest such scene so far discovered.

The more important projects included remodeling the temple of Khenti-amentiu-Osiris at Abydos. He also erected many memorial stele and small shrines, or cenotaphs, at Abydos, a practice that would be followed by many Middle and New Kingdom pharaohs. We also find temples built by Sunusret I at Elepantine and Tod. In fact, he is attested to at almost three dozen sites from Alexandria to Aswan and down into Nubia where he carried out building projects.

Senusret I also set up a program to build monuments in each of the main cult sites all over Egypt. This was really an extension of an Old Kingdom policy, but in reality he was following his fathers efforts to consolidate and centralize power. This move undermined the power bases of local temples and priests.

In order to facilitate these building projects, he sent expeditions to exploit the stone quarries of Wadi Hammamat, the Sinai at Serabit el-Khadim, Hatnub, where two expeditions were sent in years 23 and 31 of his reign for alabaster, and Wadi el Hudi. One of these expeditions extracted enough stone to make sixty sphinxes and 150 statues. Many of his statues did not survive the ages, but the Egyptian Antiquity Museum includes a large collection of those that did.

Fragment from Karnak pillar with King and Horus

He also built a large pyramid, very reminiscent of older complexes, at Lisht, near Itjtawy, the capital apparently founded by his father. His pyramid is located just to the south of his father's pyramid at el-Lisht.

Obelisks at the Fayoum and Heliopolis

Obelisk of Senusret I, Kheperkare from HeliopolisFor better quality image see: Lepsius Abt II, Band 4, Bl 118

Obelisk of Senusret I, from the FayoumFor better quality image see: Lepsius Abt II, Band 4, Bl 119


Amenemhet II

3rd King of the 12th Dynasty

Parents: Senwosret I and Neferu III.


Senet: Likely a wife of Amenemhat II and the mother of Senwosret II. Known from statues in the Delta.Titles: Hereditary Princess (iryt-p`t), King’s Mother (mwt-niswt), King’s Wife (hmt-nisw).

Keminub: Buried in tomb in her husband’s funerary complex in Dashur.Titles: King’s Wife (hmt-nisw).

Kanefru: Probably a wife of Amenemhat. Mentioned on a seal with Amenemhat. Had the title Mistress of all women.


Amenemhat-ankh: probably a son of Amenemhat.

Senusret II: son and heir to the throne.


Ita: King's daughter. Owner of a Sphinx in Syria. Buried in double tomb with her sister Khnemet.

Itakayet B: Probably a daughter of Amenemhat II. It is also possible she was his grand-daughter.

Itaweret: Daughter of Amenemhat II and probably wife of her brother Senusret II. Buried in a double tomb wit Sithathormeryet in their father's pyramid complex.

Khnemet: Daughter of Amenemhat II and probably wife of her brother Senusret II. Buried in a double tomb wit Ita in their father's pyramid complex.

Neferet II: Daughter of Amenemhat II and wife of her brother Senusret II. Known from two statues and possible owner of a small pyramid in the funerary complex of Senusert II.

Khnemetneferhedjet: Daughter of Amenemhat II, and possibly identical with Khnemetneferhedjet I Weret, a wife of Senusret II.

Sithathormeryet: A female relative of Amenemhat II (possibly his daughter?). Buried in a double tomb with Itaweret in their father's pyramid complex.

Amenemhet II was the son of Senusret I and one of his chiefqueens, Nefru. He was the third ruler of Egypt's 12th Dynasty. Like his father, he served the first part of his reign as co-regent (perhaps for only two years) with Senusret I. His co-regency may have been short, but we are told that during this co-regency, Amenemhet II led a Nubian expedition. Apparently, Amenemhet II also took his son, Senusret II as a co-regent, but also for only a brief time before his own death. Amenemhet II apparently ruled Egypt for a period of some 30 years after his co-regency. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt gives his reign as lasting from 1911 through 1877 BC, while Clayton gives it as 1926 through 1895 BC.

His birth name, Amenemhet, means "Amun is at the Head". He is also sometimes referred to as Amenemhat II, or Ammenemes II (Greek). His throne name was Nub-kau-re, which means "Golden are the Souls of Re". We are not sure of who exactly Amenemhet II was married to but at least one source lists Mereret I. However, this source also lists Kem-a'nub, who is now considered to have been a 13th Dynasty queen. There was also apparently a prince named Amenemhetankh and princesses Ita, Khnemet, Itiueret and Sithathormeret. Of course, another son was Senusret II, who succeeded his father on the throne.

The Sphinx of red granite is from Tanis and is probably the face of Amenemhet II.

We have considerable knowledge of Amenemhet II's reigns because of a number of important documents. Some historical information about the 12th Dynasty comes from a set of official records know as the genut, or "day-books". There were found in the temple at Tod. Some of Amenemhet II's buildings also contain parts of these annals. They describe the day to day process of running the royal palace. One very important set of annuals were discovered at Mit Rahina (a part of ancient Memphis) that record detailed descriptions of donations made to temples, lists of statues and buildings, reports of both military and trading expeditions and even royal activities such as hunting. These documents not only provide information on Amenemhet II, but other kings of the period as well.

Amenemhet II is probably best known for consolidating the work of his predecessors in foreign affairs. He exchanged gifts with other rulers in the Mediterranean (Levant) region. We find jewelry inscribed with his name in royal tombs at Byblos in Lebanon, as well as local copies of Egyptian jewelry. These items were particularly prevalent in the tomb of a local prince named Ipshemuabi. In addition, native rulers at Byblos even wrote short inscriptions in hieroglyphs, held the Egyptian title of count, and made references to Egyptian gods. They even acquired royal and private statuary.

Trove from the Montu Temple at Tod

On the other hand, four bronze boxes found at the temple of Montu at Tod and inscribed on their lids with the name of Amenemhet II bore a large number of silver cups of Lavantine and Aegean origin. There were also cylinder seals and lapis Lazuli amulets from Mesopotamia. These items were probably either a gift, or tribute, and it is noteworthy that at the time, silver was more rare then gold in Egypt, so also more valuable.

Cylinder seal from of Mesopotamia origin

In addition, Egyptian evidence from this period has been found in Crete at Knossos, and common Minoa pottery, called Kamares ware, has been found from this period at Lahun and in a tomb at Abydos in Egypt. There is also an increase in the mention of Levantine names, many of whom were possibly domestic servants, within Egypt. The annals found at Mit Rahina also identify the Syrian northern city of Tunip as an Egyptian trading partner.

However, the annals mentioned above provide some evidence that the sweeping peace with the Levant was probably more selective then formerly believed, because apparently Egypt had treaties with only certain countries in the region. Herodotus even speaks of Asiatic wars about this time (or only slightly later).

In fact, these same annals also refer to a small group of Egyptians who enter Bedouin territory (probably referring to the Sinai) in order to "hack up the land", and two more campaigns were directed against unknown walled cities. These towns were referred to as "Aamu" (Asiatic), and 1,554 prisoners were reported to have been taken by the Egyptian forces. This may very well be the reason we find the increase in Levantine names working as domestic servants.

There were also expeditions to the south and the biography in the tomb of a Amenemhet at Beni Hassan mentions an expedition to Kush (Upper, or southern Nubia) and also a visit to the East African kingdom of Punt by the king's official, Khentykhetaywer. This trip was made in the 28th year of Amenemhat II's reign.

One story during the time of Amenemhet II tells of the travels of a ship captain who had been to a magic island in the sea far south beyond Nubia. The sailor told the vizier (prime minister) about a tempest which arose suddenly and drove the ship towards a mysterious land. He suddenly heard a noise like thunder, and saw a huge serpent with a beard. Upon hearing that the sailor was sent by the pharaoh, the serpent let him go back, with gifts to "Amenemhet". It told him that it was Amon-Ra’s blessing that has made this island rich and lacking nothing. Upon hearing this amusing story, "Amenemhet II" ordered it to be documented on a papyrus. The story is known to historians as "The Shipwrecked Sailor".

Domestically, Amenemhet II failed in one important respect. Under the rule of his predecessors, nomarchs, who were basically the governors of the various nomes (provinces), had been personally appointed by the king. This was a measure taken to assure the centralization of government. The First Intermediate Period was at least partially caused the chaos resulting from strong regional rulers who destabilized this central control. However, Amenemhat II apparently allowed this important office to revert back to a hereditary position.

The nomarchs soon took advantage of this change by adapting pretentious titles sometimes imitating those of the royal court. However, Amenemhat did keep a firm hand on these matters and appears to not let these local rulers forget their allegiance to the crown. In return for royal favors, they were expected to help protect the Egyptian borders, to undertake expeditions for the king and to generally act as his deputies.

Siltsone fragment with Amenemhet's Horus name, Hekenmaat

In fact, the nomarchs began to disappear during the time of Senusret III because of a practice that was probably initiated by Amenemhet II. The children of nomarchs were sent to the king for their training, afterwards being sent to diverse posts. This ended up dissipating the power of the local nomarchs.

Amenemhet II does not appear to have done much building, unlike many of his predecessors. Little is known of any building works with the exception of his Pyramid, though some projects may have been usurped by future rulers. Amenemhet II built his pyramid in Dahshure, for reasons we do not know. His two immediate predecessors, Amenemhet I (pyramid) and Senusret I (pyramid) had built their pyramids at Lisht near the Fayoum. Arnold refers to Amenemhet II's pyramid as a new phase in pyramid development, that incorporates both ancient design with experimental components.

His is also attested to by a stele with his name found in the Wadi Um Balad, a gateway at Hermopolis, a large sphinx with his inscription now in the Louvre museum, and he is mentioned in several inscriptions near Aswan, together with his son.

Amenemhet II built the "White Pyramid" to the east of Sneferu's pyramids in central Dashur. The mortuary temple was almost completely destroyed. Its ruins are located in front of the pyramid's east wall. The Valley Temple has not been found. The mortuary temple and the pyramid were enclosed by a large wall. Within this enclosure the tomb of Prince Amenemhat-ankh was found, as well as the tombs of the princesses Ita, Khnemet, Itaweret, and Sithathormeryet. These tombs still contained some tomb furnishings. The most spectacular discovery was however the jewelry from the double tomb of Ita and Khnemet.

The pyramid of Amenemhet II at Dahshur was built within a narrow rectangular enclosure wall of third dynasty style. The massive pylons (green) were of fifth dynasty fashion and west of the monument were underground tombs (grey i the picture above) intended for his children.

Sinai (Serabit el-Khadim): A statue fragment depicting Amenemhat II was found in the Sinai. The Global Egyptian Museum mentions:"Lower part of a roughly sculpted figure of a king seated on a block throne, with hieroglyphic inscription on the (figure's) left side of the throne identifying him as 'the son of Re Amenemhat, beloved of Hathor lady of turquoise(-land)', and on the right side as '... Nubkaura, beloved of Hathor lady of turquoise(-land)'. Nubkaura is the throne name of Amenemhat II, and this is the only surviving statue inscribed with that king's name. The figure is now much eroded, and the feet as well as the torso and head are missing, but the right lower arm appears to have lain flat on the lap. The figure was found by Flinders Petrie at the shrine of Hathor on the Sinai plateau at Sarabit el-Khadim."

Sinai Inscription (from GEM): Son of Re Amenemhat beloved of Hathor lady of turquoise(-land).... Hathor ... Nubkaura beloved of Hathor lady of turquoise(-land).


Senusret II

4th King of Egypt's 12th Dynasty

Parents: Amenemhat II and Senet.

Itaweret : Daughter of Amenemhat II and probably wife of her brother Senusret II. Buried in a double tomb wit Sithathormeryet in their father's pyramid complex. Titles: King’s Daughter (s3t-niswt), United with the White Crown (khnmt-nfr-hdjt).
Khnemet : Daughter of Amenemhat II and probably wife of her brother Senusret II. Buried in a double tomb with Ita in their father's pyramid complex. Titles: King’s Daughter (s3t-niswt), United with the White Crown (khnmt-nfr-hdjt).
Neferet II : Daughter of Amenemhat II and wife of her brother Senusret II. Known from two statues and possible owner of a small pyramid in the funerary complex of Senusert II. Titles: King’s Daughter of his body (s3t-niswt-nt-kht.f), Great one of the hetes-sceptre (wrt-hetes), Mistress of the Two Lands (hnwt-t3wy).

Queen Nefret

Khnemetneferhedjet I Weret : Wife of Senusret II, and mother of Senusret III. She was probably buried in a small pyramid in the funerary complex of her husband in Lahun. She owned a cenotaph in the pyramid complex of her son (Pyramid VIII). Titles: King’s Mother (mwt-niswt), King’s Wife (hmt-nisw), Mistress of the Two Lands (hnwt-t3wy), Hereditary Princess (iryt-p`t), Great one of the hetes-sceptre (wrt-hetes), Great of Praises (wrt-hzwt), King’s Wife, his beloved (hmt-nisw meryt.f), Foster Child of Wadjet (sdjtit-w3djt), Priestess of Sobek, lord of Sumenu (hmt-ntr-sbk-nb-swmnw), Daughter of Geb (s3t-Gb).

Queen Weret


Senusret III : son of Senusret II and heir to the throne.

Senusret-sonbe : Son of Senusret II. Known from a papyrus from Kahun.


Itakayet C : Probably a daughter of Senusret II. Buried in pyramid III, in the funerary complex of her brother Senusret III at Dashur.

Neferet B : Possibly a daughter of Senusret II. Known from a papyrus from Kahun.

Sit-hathor-iunet : Daughter of Senusret II. Priobably married her brother Senusret III. Buried in Lahun.

Senusret II, the birth name of the fourth king of Egypt's 12th Dynasty, means "Man of Goddess Wosret". It was the name that seems to enter the royal linage because of this king's non-royal, great, great grandfather, the original Senusret and father of the founder of the Dynasty, Amenemhet I. Senusret II's name is also found in various references as Senwosret II, or the Greek form, Sesostris II. His throne name was Kha-khaeper-re, meaning "Soul of Re comes into Being". We are told that he succeeded his father, Amenemhet II in about 1895 BC, after a short co-regency of at least three years. References differ on the length of his rule, varying between about seven and fifteen years. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt gives his reign as 1877-1870, while Clayton gives him a reign from 1897-1878 BC.

A group of statues was discovered, two of which had been usurped by Ramesses II, portraying Senusret II with wide, muscular shoulders like his father, but with a more vigorous face, lacking the blandness of older 12th Dynasty statuary. Indeed, this was a period of fine portraitures art, reflected in the distinctive broad cheekbones and other characteristics portrayed in the statues. In fact, even a number of private statues have been found that also reflect this high art, and the late 12th dynasty is seen as a milestone of human portraiture in Egyptian art.

Better known then Senusret II's statues are a pair of of highly polished black granite statues of a lady Nefret, who did not carry the title of "Royal Wife", but who was probably either a wife of Senusret II's who died before he ascended the throne, or a sister. She did, however, have other titles usually reserved for queens. His principal royal wife was Khnumetneferhedjetweret (Weret), who's body was found in a tomb under the pyramid of her son, Senusret III at Dahshure. Senusret III would become Senusret II's successor, though so far their is no evidence of a co-regency with his father as their had been for every king from the time of Amenemhet I. Senusret II probably also had several daughters, one of which would have probably been Sathathoriunet (Sithathoriunet) , who's jewelry was discovered in a tomb behind the king's pyramid.

Like his his father's, Senusret II's reign is at least considered to be a peaceful one, with more diplomacy with many neighbors then warfare. We are told that trade with the Near East was particularly prolific. His cordial relations with the regional leaders in Egypt is attested to at Beni Hassan, for example, and especially in the tomb of Khnumhotep II, who he gave many honors. In fact, we are told of no military campaigns during his rule, though he undoubted protected Egypt's mineral interests and their expanded territory in Nubia.

His efforts seem to have been more directed at expanding cultivation within the Fayoum rather then making war with his neighbors and regional nobles. In the Fayoum, his projects turned a considerable area from marshlands into agricultural land. He established a Fayoum irrigation project, including building a dyke and digging canals to connect the Fayoum with a waterway known today as Bahr Yusef.

A Stele of Senusret II in Brown Quartzite

He seems to have had a great interest in the Fayoum, and elevated the region in importance. Its growing recognition is attested to by a number of pyramids built before, and after his reign in or near the oasis (though the Fayoum is not a true oasis). It should also be remembered that kings usually built their royal palaces near their mortuary complexes, so it is likely that many of the future kings made their home in the Fayoum. These later kings would also continued and expanded upon Senusret II's irrigation projects in the Fayoum. Senusret II built a unique statue shrine of Qasr es-Sagha on the north eastern corner of the region, though it was left undecorated and incomplete.

His father, Amenemhet II built his pyramid at Dahshure, but Senusret II built his pyramid closer to the Fayoum Oasis at Lahun. His pyramid definitely established a new tradition in pyramid building, perhaps begun by his father. But, for example, beginning with Senusret II, the location of the door was less important from a religious then from a security standpoint, so rather then being on the north side of the structure, it was hidden in the pavement of the south side.

To the south side of the pyramid Petrie excavated four shaft tombs that belonged to Senusret II's family and in one of these, discovered a fine, gold inlaid uraeus that may have come from the king's mummy.

Senusret II is further attested to by a sphinx, now in the Egyptian Antiquity Museum in Cairo and by inscriptions of both he and his father near Aswan.

It should also be mentioned that the pyramid town associated with Senusret II's complex, known as Lahun (Kahun) after the nearby modern village, provided considerable information to archaeologists and Egyptologists on the common lives of Egyptians. Pyramid towns were communities of workmen, craftsmen and administrators that grew up around a king's pyramid project.

Pyramid of Senwosret II at Lahun Eight mastabas (brown) and a minor pyramid was situated by the north side and instead of a mortuary temple to the east a small chapel was placed there. Causeway and valley temple have not been found so far (2002) but may have once been there and was later dismantled for reusing, like the pyramid's casing of fine smooth white limestone.


Senusret III

the 5th King of the 12th Dynasty

Son of Senusret II and Queen Khnemetneferhedjet I Weret.


Sit-Hathor-Iunet: Daughter of Senusret II. Priobably married her brother Senusret III. Buried in Lahun in the funerary complex of her father. Titles: King’s Daughter (s3t-niswt), King’s Wife (hmt-nisw)

Meretseger: Depicted in Semna in a temple built by Tuthmosis III in honor of her husband. Titles: King’s Wife (hmt-nisw), Great King’s Wife (hmt-niswt-wrt)

Khnemetneferhedjet II Weret: Buried in Pyramid IX in Dashur. Known from statues. Her skeleton appears to be of a woman about seventy years old. Titles: King’s Wife (hmt-nisw), Great one of the hetes-sceptre (wrt-hetes).

Khnemet-nefer-hedjet-khered: Wife of Senwosret III. Khnemet-nefer-hedjet-“the child” is mentioned on a papyrus from Lahun. Possibly Khnemet-nefer-hedjet-khered II ? Titles: King’s Wife (hmt-nisw)

Khnemet-nefer-hedjet: Wife of Senwosret III. Possibly Khnemet-nefer-hedjet-khered II again? Known from a canopic jar and two scarabs. Titles: Hereditary Princess (iryt-p`t), King’s Wife (hmt-nisw), Mistress of the Two Lands (hnwt-t3wy)

Neferhenut: Buried in tomb II in Dashur. Titles: King’s Wife (hmt-nisw), United with the White Crown (khnmt-nfr-hdjt).

Son: Amenemhat III


Khnemet : King's Daughter of his body. Known from her father's funerary complex in Dashur.

Menet: King's Daughter. Buried in Dashur

Mereret B: King's Daughter. Buried in Dashur

Senetsenbetes: King's Daughter. Buried in Dashur

Sithathor A. : King's Daughter. Buried in Dashur

Senusret III is probably the best attested king of the New Kingdom. He ruled the country for perhaps as long as 37 years as the 5th pharaoh of Egypt's 12th Dynasty from around 1878 until 1841 BC. He is probably also the best known of the Middle Kingdom pharaohs to the public because of his many naturalistic statues showing a man with often heavy eye-lids and lined continence. Later statues seem to portray him with increasing "world-weariness". Taken along with contemporary text, these statues seem to wish us to believe Senusret III was a king possessed of a concerned, serious and thoughtful regard for his high office.

Egyptologists make a great deal out of Senusret III's statuary. It is much loser in terms of the rigid ideological representations of earlier kings and illustrates a shift in both the function of art and a change in the ideology surrounding the king. The human qualities of the statues give a sense of age and tension, rather then the all powerful king portrayed in older works. We see in these statues a shift away from the king as god, and more towards the king as leader.

Senusret was this king's birth name, which mean, "Man of Goddess Wosret". He is also sometimes referred to as Senwosret III and Senusert III, or by the Greeks, Sesostris III. His throne name was Kha-khau-re, meaning "Appearing like the Souls of Re". Senusret III was most surely the son of Senusret II, changing a trend of having alternate leaders named Senusret and Amenemhet. We know of no co-regency with his father, though most of the previous 12th Dynasty kings shared at least a few years of their reign with their sons, and a co-regency would clear up some questions about Senusret III's long reign. His mother may have been Khnumetneferhedjetweret (Khanumet, Weret), who we believe was buried in a tomb near his pyramid at Dahshur. He was married to a principle queen named Mereret, who probably outlived him, and may have also been married to his sister, Sit-Hathor. His son and successor was Amenemhet III.

A Papyrus commemorating Senusret III's Sed-festival

Senusret III must have been a very dominant figure within his time. Manetho describes him as a great warrior, not surprisingly, because he also says he was "of great height at 4 cubits, 3 palms and 2 fingers" (over 6 ft, 6 in or 2 meters). In addition, he may also have been the model for the Sesostris of Maetho and Herodotus, who was probably a composite, heroic Middle Kingdom ruler who was suppose to be a model for future kings.

While there had been fortifications built in Nubia, Amenemhet II and Senusret II, Senusret III's predecessors, had not been extremely active in Nubia militarily, and some Nubian groups had gradually moved north past the Third Cataract. Senusret III initiated a series of devastating campaigns in Nubia very early in his reign (perhaps year 6) in order to secure his southern borders and protect the trading routes and mineral resources. Apparently, the Nubians were a troublesome lot during his reign, for Senusret III would again have to mount campaigns in at least the years 8, 10, 16 and 19 of his reign. Regardless, these campaigns seem to have been for the most part successful, for the king had inscribed on a great stele at Semna erected in year 8 of his rule, now in Berlin, "I carried off their women, I carried off their subjects, went forth to their wells, smote their bulls; I reaped their grain, and set fire thereto". In other words, he killed their men, enslaved their women and children, burnt their crops and poisoned their wells. The stele also provides that no Nubians were allowed to take their herds or boats to the north of the specified border.

Fortification at Buhen

To facilitate these military actions in Nubia, he had a an existing bypass canal around the First Cataract (rapids) at Aswan, originally dug in the Old Kingdom by Merenre (or Pepi I) cleared, broadened and deepened. According to an inscription, he had it repaired again in year eight of his reign. This canal was near the island of Sehel.

His predecessors had also established a policy of building fortresses in Nubia, but in order to further secure the area, Senusret III built more fortresses then any of the the other Middle Kingdom rulers. In the 64 km (40 mile) length of the Second Cataract in Lower (northern) Nubia there were no less then eight such fortresses between Semna and Buhen However, many Egyptologists disagree with exactly how many of these fortresses were built by Senusret III, or were instead, simply rededicated or enlarged.. These fortresses were in close contact with each other, and with the region's vizier, reporting the slightest movements of Nubians. At least some of the fortresses appear also to have been specialized. For example, the one at Mirgissa was more involved with trade, whereas others, such as the fortress at Askut, were used as supply depots for campaigns into Upper (southern) Nubia.

Senusret III managed to expand Egypt's boarders further south then anyone ruler before him, of which he was proud. A stele at Semna with a duplicate at Uronarti records:

"I have made my boundary further south than my fathers,I have added to what was bequeathed me.I am a king who speaks and acts,What my heart plans is done by my arm.One who attacks to conquer, who is swift to succeed,ln whose heart a plan does not slumber.Considerate to clients, steady in mercy,Merciless to the foe who attacks him.One who attacks him who would attack,Who stops when one stops,Who replies to a matter as befits it.To stop when attacked is to make bold the foe's heart,Attack is valor, retreat is cowardice,A coward is he who is driven from his border.Since the Nubian listens to the word of mouth,To answer him is to make him retreat.Attack him, he will turn his back,Retreat, he will start attacking.They are not people one respects,They are wretches, craven-hearted.My majesty has seen it, it is not an untruth.I have captured their women,I have carried off their subjects,Went to their wells, killed their cattle,Cut down their grain, set fire to it.As my father lives for me, I speak the truth!It is no boast that comes from my mouth."

In fact, he not only stabilized Egypt's southern border at Semna, his troops regularly penetrated the area beyond and we know of a record recording the height of the inundation as far south as Dal, many miles beyond Semna. This stele continues with an admonishes later kings,

"Now as for every son of mine who shall maintain this boundary, which My Majesty has made, he is my son, he is born of My Majesty, the likeness of a son who is the champion of his father, who maintains the boundary of him that begat him. Now, as for him who shall relax it, and shall not fight for it; he is not my son, he is not born to me."

Certainly his son, Amenemhet III heeded this warning, and interestingly, Senusret III was later deified in Nubia as a god.

However, we also know that, in what we believe to be his final campaign in Nubia in year 19 of his reign, his efforts were less successful. Apparently, due to a drop in the Nile's water level, his forces had to make a retreat to avoid being trapped.

Most of Senusret III's military attention was directed towards Nubia, but he is also noted for a campaign in Syria against the Mentjiu, where rather then a goal of expansion, he seems to have been after retribution and plunder. We owe this information to a a stele belonging to an individual named Sobkkhu, who apparently also participated in the Nubian campaigns. The king apparently led this campaign himself, capturing the town of Sekmem, which may have been Shechem in the Mount Ephrain region.

Right: Senusret III Stele from Aswan

It was probably during Senusret III's reign that we also find the "Execration Texts". These were inscriptions found in Nubia and Egypt, usually inscribed either on magical figurines or on pottery. The inscriptions were usually a list of enemies of Egypt. These objects were often ritualistically smashed, and the shards placed under the foundations of new building, thus "smothered", or nailed at the edge of the area they were meant to protect.

The plunder from the Nubian and Syrian campaigns was mostly directed towards the temples in Egypt, and their renewal. For example, at Abydos, an inscription by a local official named Ikhernofret states that the king commissioned him to refurbish Osiris's barge, shrine and chapels with gold, electrum, lapis lazuli, malachite and other costly stones. He also adorned the temple of Mentuhotep II at Deir el-Bahari (West Bank at Luxor) with a series of six life size granite standing statues of himself wearing the nemes headdress. They once lined the lower terrace.

Religiously, we are told in a graffiti that, even though his capital, burial ground and other interests were in Northern Egypt, he also helped maintain a large number of priests associated with the cult of Amun in Upper (southern) Egypt at Thebes. He also had built a large temple to the old Theban war god, Montu, just north of Karnak at Nag-el-Medamoud. While this temple was refurbished in the New Kingdom and again in the Greek and Roman period, nothing remains of it save two finely carved granite gateways that were discovered in 1920, along with some very splendid statues and a few inscriptions.

The pyramid of Senwosret III at Dahshur. At first a mortuary temple was built by the east side (top) later to be replaced by a new and bigger within the expanded enclosured area to the south. Its plan has not been reconstructed.

Domestically, Senusret III was able to carry on his military campaigns and building projects because he had matters at home largely under control. He divided the country into three administrative divisions (waret), including a North, South and the Head of the South (Elephantine and Lower Nubia), that were each administered by a council (djadjat) of senior staff who in turn reported to a vizier. This sufficiently weakened the power of local nomarchs (governors) and other high officials who had once again begun to challenge the central government and the monarch. Decentralization due to powerful local officials and nobles had, in the past, created chaos and ultimately led to the dark times of the First Intermediate Period. It would seem that most all of the Middle Kingdom rulers were aware of this threat, and were constantly on guard.

This new administrative scheme apparently also had another effect, in that it promoted the rise of the middle class, many of whom were incorporated into the administration, and were no longer under the influence and control of the local nobles.

Sunusret III had his pyramid built at Dahshur, a mostly Middle Kingdom necropolis. It was the largest of the 12th Dynasty pyramids, but like the others with mudbrick cores, after the casing was removed it deteriorated badly. In the excavation season of 1894-1895, Jacques de Morgan also found the tombs of Queen Mereret and princess Sit-Hathor near the northern enclosure wall of Senusret III's pyramid complex. Also found with these tombs were some fine jewelry, missed by earlier robbers.

However, some Egyptologists doubt that Senusret III was buried in this pyramid. He also had an elaborate tomb and complex built in South Abydos. This huge complex stretches over a kilometer between the edge of the Nile floodplain and the foot of the high desert cliffs that form the western boundary of the valley. This complex consists of an underground tomb which, at least at one time, was considered to be the largest in Egypt (that may have been eclipsed by the discovery of the Tomb of Ramesses II's Sons in the Valley of the Kings). Other components include a mortuary temple at the edge of the cultivated fields and a town south of the tomb that supported the complex. The name of this funerary complex was "Enduring are the Places of Khakaure Justified in Abydos".

Senusret III is further attested by blocks from a doorway found near Qantir and by his rock inscriptions near the island of Sehel south of Aswan that record the reopening of the bypass canal.

Offering Table Inscription (Semna)Life (to) the Horus divine of forms, he of the Two Ladies Divine of births, the Golden Horus who has come into being, Dual King Khakaura, son of Ra Senwosret beloved of Dedwen lord of the Land of the bow, given life stability and power like Ra eternallybeloved of Khnum lord of the cataract and of Satet (?) lady of Elephantine, given life like Ra eternally.

Lintel from Karnak showing the name of Senusert III


Amenemhet III

the 6th Ruler of Egypt's 12th Dynasty

The Younger God, Lord of Action Nimaatre, Son of Re Amenemhat

Aat: She is reported to have died at the age of 35, and was buried in Amenemhat III's pyramid complex in Dashur. Titles: King’s Wife (hmt-nisw), King’s Wife, his beloved (hmt-nisw meryt.f), United with the White Crown (khnmt-nfr-hdjt)
Hetepi: Mother of Amenemhat IV. Titles: King’s Mother (mwt-niswt), United with the White Crown (khnmt-nfr-hdjt), Mistress of the Two Lands (hnwt-t3wy)
Sons: Amenemhat IV
Neferuptah B: Obtained a cartouche towards the end of her life. May have been groomed for the throne. Buried in her own pyramid in Hawara. Titles: Great one of the hetes-sceptre (wrt-hetes), King’s Daughter of his body (s3t-niswt-nt-kht.f)
Sobekneferu: King's Daughter, Later Ruled as King for 3 to 4 years
Hathorhetepet: King's Daughter, probably of Amenemhet III.
Nubhotepet: King's Daughter, probably of Amenemhet III.
Sithathor B: King's Daughter, probably of Amenemhet III.

Amenemhet III was the son of Senusret III and the last great ruler of the Middle Kingdom. Amenemhet III appears to have shared the throne with is father as co-regent for at least a while before the death of his father. The king's principle wives were buried in his pyramid at Dahshur in their own chambers, a very unusual feature at this time. The Chief wife was probably Aat. The second queen we are unsure of. We also know of a daughter named Neferuptah and of course his successor who was probably his son, Amenemhet IV. However, Amenemhet IV may have been a grandson, but in any event, Amenemhet III probably made him a co-regent. It is also possible that the queen who ruled as the last pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty, Sobkhotpe IV, was also his daughter.

Every king before him or after him in the 12th Dynasty, with perhaps the exception of the last female ruler, would either be named Amenemhet, as the dynasty's founder was, or Senusret, the first of whom was probably the non royal father of Amenemnet I. This is the king's birth name, meaning "Amun is at the head". His throne name was Ny-maat-re, meaning "Belonging to the Justice of Re". To the Greeks, he was Ammenemes III. Amenemhet III was the 6th ruler of the 12th Dynasty, and may have reigned for as long as 45 years. According to Clayton he ruled from 1842 through 1797 BC.

It was a good thing he ruled this long, because his first tomb, his pyramid at Dahshur, started collapsing about the time it was finished. It took about 14 or 15 years to build, and he had to start completely over with a new pyramid near to the Fayoum at Hawara. At Hawara, we believe the complexity and splendor of his mortuary temple made it commonly known as the Labyrinth. Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo and Pliny all make reference to this structure. According to Diodorus, Daedalus was so impressed by the temple that he built his own labyrinth for Minos in Crete based on Amenemhet III's temple.

Pyramid at Hawara

After the dismantling of the fine white casing stones the whole Hawara pyramid has decayed to a pile of mudbrick rubble. Under the sand are the scanty remains of the attraction that brought tourists here already in Roman times - The Labyrinth.This was the mortuary temple.

The Dahshur pyramid

has two entrances. The grave chamber (red) was never used for a burial and held the king's empty pink granite coffin. Two queens were buried within the pyramid (blue) and the other family members had tombs by the north side. One of them (green) was later used by king Hor from the 13th dynasty.

In some respects, the disaster associated with his first pyramid worked in this king's favor, for it provided him the opportunity to build his tomb closer to the region that he seemed to flourish with attention. Because of his interest in the agricultural economics of the Fayoum, his reign became perhaps the apex of the Middle Kingdom and he reciprocated with an interest in its needs, as well as founding temples and building statues.

Building activity in the Fayoum, besides his pyramid, included the the Temple of Sobek, the principle local deity, in the city the Greeks called Crocidopolis. (Kiman Faris or Faras). In the Fayoum, Sobek was closely related to a more national god, the falcon, Horus the Elder. He also built a chapel dedicated to Renenutet, the goddess of the harvest, at Medinet Maadi. He participated in agricultural projects in the Fayoum as well. For example, he built a barrage to regulate the flow of water into the large lake, Birket Qarun from the Bahr Yousef canal. This reclaimed a large fertile area, perhaps as much as 17,000 acres, that was further protected by an earthen embankment. To celebrate this achievement, he erected two colossal statues of himself at Biyahmu. The statues stand upon very impressive bases, and overlook the lake. He was so much connected to the Fayoum that during the Greco-Roman era, during which time there was a revival of the area, he was probably worshipped as a god under the name Lamares.

Probably because of the connecting mortuary temple, his pyramid complex at Hawara was world renown. The mortuary temple was complex with many columned courtyards, chambers and passages. It was known in antiquity to travelers as the Labyrinth. Herodotus wrote of it:

"To strengthen the bond between them, they decided to leave a common memorial of their reigns, and for this purpose constructed a labyrinth a little above Lake Moeris, near the place called the City of Crocodiles. I have seen this building, and it is beyond my power to describe; it must have cost more in labor and money than all the walls and public works of the Greeks put together - though no one would deny that the temples at Ephesus and Samos are remarkable buildings. The pyramids, too, are astonishing structures, each one of them equal to many of the most ambitious works of Greece; but the labyrinth surpasses them. It has twelve covered courts - six in a row facing north, six south - the gates of the one range exactly fronting the gates of the other, with a continuous wall round the outside of the whole. Inside, the building is of two stories and contains three thousand rooms, of which half are underground, and the other half directly above them. I was taken through the rooms in the upper story, so what I shall say of them is from my own observation, but the underground ones I can speak of only from report, because the Egyptians in charge refused to let me see them, as they contain the tombs of the kings who built the labyrinth, and also the tombs of the sacred crocodiles. The upper rooms, on the contrary, I did actually see, and it is hard to believe that they are the work of men; the baffling and intricate passages from room to room and from court to court were an endless wonder to me, as we passed from a court-yard into rooms, from rooms into galleries, from galleries into more rooms, and thence into yet more courtyards. The roof of every chamber, courtyard, and gallery is, like the walls, of stone. The walls are covered with carved figures, and each court is exquisitely built of white marble and surrounded by a colonnade. Near the corner where the labyrinth ends there is a pyramid, two hundred and forty feet in height, with great carved figures of animals on it and an underground passage by which it can be entered".

Outside of the Fayoum, we also know that he built a temple of Quban in Nubia and expanded the temple of Ptah at Memphis.

Considering his building projects, it is not surprising that Amenemhet III was very active in various quarries. He was especially interested in the turquoise mines in Sinai such as those at Serabit el-Khadem. He probably at least extensively rebuilt and enlarged the Temple dedicated to Hathor and other gods at Serabit el-Khadem. In fact, there were some 49 rock inscriptions there, as well as ten more at Wadi Maghara and Wadi Nasb in the Siani that record almost continuous mining operations between years two and forty-five of his reign. Yet within Egypt, is is curious that we actually have very few inscriptions from Amenemhet III. But he was also active at Wadi Hammamat, where alabaster is mined, in the diorite quarries of Nubia, at Tura for its fine while limestone, and other mining sites.

What we do not see during Amenemhet III's time is a lot of military action, other then perhaps strengthening the defenses at Semna. The military activities of his predecessors allowed him a peaceful reign upon which to build, as well as to exploit the mineral wealth of the quarries. He does build, politically, reorganizing the domestic administration. He continued to reform the national administration as did his father. It was probably his father that divided the country into three administrative regions, controlled by departments based at the capital. This "federal bureaucracy" oversaw the activities of local officials, who no longer possessed any extensive power. Amenemhet III continued to refine this new administration.

Pyramidion from pyramid

Collar from the pyramid of Neferuptah at Hawara

Statue of Sobek from the temple at Hawara

Apparently Amenemhet III was also able to continue with good foreign relations also without much military action. It is said that he was honored and respected from Kerma to Byblos, and during his reign many eastern workers, including peasants, soldiers and craftsmen, came to Egypt.

However, the extensive building works, together with possibly a series of low Nile floods, may have exhausted the economy by the end of his reign. Ironically, all of these foreign workers, many employed for building activities, may have also encouraged the Hyksos to settle in the Delta, thus leading eventually to the collapse of native Egyptian rule. Upon the king's death, he was buried in his second pyramid at Hawara.

Amenemhet III is also attested to by an unusual set of statues probably of Amenemhet III and Senusret III that shows the two in archaic priestly dress and offering fish, lotus flowers and geese. These statues are very naturalistic. but show the king in the guise of a Nile god.. There was also a set of sphinxes that were once thought to have been attributable to the later Hyksos rulers, but are now believed to have been built on the orders of Amenemhet III. Originally all these statues were discovered reused in the Third Intermediate Period temples at Tanis. We also know of an inscription by the king at Koptos (Coptos).


Amenemhet IV
Other spellings: Maakherure
the 7th Ruler of Egypt's 12th Dynasty

This seventh king of the 12th Dynasty was probably the son of Amenemhet III. He co-ruled with Amenemhet III and a temple at Medinet Madi in the Faiyum was probably built by both kings.

Due to his father’s long reign, Amenemhet IV was old when he assumed the throne. According to some theories, he is suggested to have been the historical Moses.He was was preceded by Amenemhet 3 and succeded by his half-sister, Sobeknefru.

Amenemhet IV had the Horus name Kheperkheperu which means "Horus (is) the Multiple Transformer", seen within the serek in picture right. He was probably a son of his predecessor and had a brief period as pharaoh of about ten years at the most.He was married to his half sister (below) and poss- ibly built a pyramid at Mazghuna. No name of his has been found at the site and the estimated age of the monument has been made by looking at the architectural and technical details.

A small golden plaque of unknown provenance showing Amenemhet IV (at right) offering to creator god Atum. It is a so called openwork cutting made from a single sheet of gold. It measures only 3 by 2,8 cm and the details are made with a brilliant technique showing even the tiny feathers of the owl in the middle. Its purpose is not known but it was likely for decoration, possibly for a small jar containing ointment or perfumed oil.


The First Certain Female King of Egypt

Undoubtedly, the structuring of Egyptian royalty was meant to focus upon a male king, who was considered to be the earthly manifestation of Horus, a male god. Normally, a king would be succeeded by his senior surviving son, but every so often in Egyptian history, a woman rose to power, sometimes acting as regent for a young son, but at other times taking the throne completely, as in the case of Hatshepsut. However, Hatshepsut was not the first nor the last woman to rule Egypt. In fact, the last ruler of a pharaonic Egypt is frequently considered to be Cleopatra, prior to Egypt's fall into Roman hands.

Perhaps the first woman to wield executive power in Egypt was Merytneith, a probable wife of Djet who acted as regent during her son's (Den) early years. However, few claim that she was a king in her own right.

So who was the first woman to rule Egypt? The earliest candidate for an actual female king of Egypt is Khentykaues I, who lived at the end of the 4th Dynasty. Her unusual tomb is located at Giza, and on its granite doorway is recorded a set of titles that can be read either as "Mother of Two Kings" or "King and Mother of a King". In support of the latter title is her image, which was altered to show her in a kingly pose, including a false beard.

Khentykaues I may have ruled during the youth of her presumed son, Sahure, possibly in conjunction with Userkaf, the founder of the 5th Dynasty. However, despite the fact that she was apparently considered the ancestress of the 5th Dynasty and was commemorated in the mortuary chapel at Abusir of Khentykaues II, the wife of Neferirkare and mother of Reneferef (and probably Nyuserre Ini), her name has never been found in a royal cartouche. It should be pointed out that most modern lists of Egyptian kings do not include Khentykaues I as a ruler.

A more mysterious candidate for the first female king of Egypt is recorded many centuries later in the work of the Egyptian Historian, Manetho. He, in an obvious error known to us today, says that Nitokris built the third pyramid. Herodotus also mentions Nitokris, telling us that she killed hundreds of Egyptians to avenge the king, her brother, whom his subjects had killed. She accomplished this by constructing a huge underground chamber where she invited to a banquet all those she knew to be responsible for her brother's death. Then, when the banquet was underway, she let the river in on them through a concealed pipe. Afterwards, in order to escape her punishment, she was reported to have flung herself into a room full of embers. Interestingly, Herodotus does not ascribe the third pyramid at Giza to this woman, but rather to another female courtesan of the 26th Dynasty.

Nitokris is actually a Greek rendering of the Egyptian name Neitaqerti, and in the Turin king-list, which can be dated to the 19th Dynasty, this Egyptian name appears on a fragment that seems to belong to the late 6th Dynasty portion of the papyrus. Initially, many scholars linked this name to the legendary queen. However, work on linking the misplaced parts of the papyrus during the mid 1990s has suggested that the Nitokris cartouche is actually part of the titulary of a clearly male king named Siptah. Furthermore, it has also been suggested that "Neitaqerti" is actually the result of a faulty transcription of the prenomen, "Netjerkare", which was assumed by a king on his accession.

This would fit nicely with the only other kings-list, at Abydos, that covers the period. It places a "Netjerkare" in exactly the right spot, though it is clear that by the early 19th Dynasty, when both lists were compiled, that there was some confusion that resulted in a "Neitaqerti" being inserted in some historical documents concerning the period after Pepi II, though no others. This does give us one possibility for the link between Nitokris and the third pyramid at Giza. Three reigns after Pepi II, the Abydos list records a King Menkare, a name which is very close to Menkaure, the actual 4th Dynasty builder of the third pyramid at Giza. Given Manetho's claim that the third pyramid belonged to Nitokris, a transformation from Menkaure to Menkare to Neitaqerti could be used to suggest that the prenomen of Neitaqerti was Menkare. It is also possible that the Giza pyramid female connection might actually be with the tomb of Khentykaues I, the size of which has sometimes led to its being called the "fourth pyramid" at Giza.

It should be note, however, that several sources list Nitokris (Nitiqret) as a king of Egypt, including the Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Aidan Dodson's Monarchs of the Nile and Nicolas Grimal's A History of Ancient Egypt. However, it should be noted that each of these sources appears to rely completely on Manetho and the kings-lists. Other evidence for her rule is practically nonexistent, and there is no contemporary trace of a King Nitakris (the English term "queen" can mean both a female king and the wife of a king, but in Egyptian the terms for the two are completely distinct). Hence, her rule is very suspect.

It is not until the end of the Middle Kingdom that we find, for the first time, clear evidence for a female king of Egypt. Her name was Sobekneferu (Nefrusobk, Neferusobek, Sobekkara). The name 'Sobekneferu' means, "The beauties of Sobek", the crocodile god. The rulers of the 12th Dynasty established a religious and economic center in the Fayoum where the crocodiles were nurtured and worshipped.

During the prosperity and innovations of this period, it is possible that Amenemhat III may have even contemplated a female as his heir. A daughter of the king named Nefruptah was invested with a cartouche around her name, something never before done for anyone other than a king, and she was given titles often used by a king's wife, though apparently she was never married to a king. After her death, she was first buried in her father's burial chamber, but was then reburied in her own pyramid some two kilometers away.
However, she did not succeed Amenemhat III. After Amenemhat III's death, Amenemhat IV came to the throne, but he died early and was succeeded on the throne by a woman named Sobekneferu, who was presumably a sister of Nefruptah. She may have been the wife and sister of Amenemhat IV as well. Sobekneferu apparently ruled for only some four years, but is known from a number of monuments and artifacts, including five statues, fragments relating to the mortuary temple of Amenemhat III at Hawara, scarabs, seals and beads, as well as from a Nile inundation record. This latter document from the Nubian fortress of Kumma relates a poor flood of some 1.83 meters, and dates to Sobekneferu's last year.

Usually, the queen uses feminine titles, but several masculine ones were also used. Three headless statues of the queen, discovered in the Fayoum, and a few other items contain her name. In one damaged statue of the queen of unknown origin, the costume she wears is unique in its combination of elements from male and female dress, echoing her occasional use of male titles in her records. In another intriguing statuette of the queen now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the queen wears a sed-festival cloak and a most unusual crown, which may have resulted from an attempt to combine unfamiliar iconographic elements of male and female rulers. She contributed to Amenemhat III's Labyrinth, and also built at Herakleopolis Magna.

Generally, Sobekneferu is known as the last Egyptian king of the Middle Kingdom, prior to the confusion of the Second Intermediate Period. She is the last ruler prior to the New Kingdom to appear in the offering lists found at Abydos and Saqqara, which suggests some kind of posthumous verdict that separates her from the kings who followed her with equally short reigns.

Nothing is known of Sobekneferu's death or burial. Some have suggested that her burial might be one of the pyramids at Mazghuna, but this is very unlikely. Thus, one of the most powerful women of early world history final destiny remains a mystery to us.