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Middle Kingdom
(2040 - 1783 BC)
11th Dynasty                      12th Dynasty
12th Dynasty
(1991 - 1783 BC)
Amenemhat I
This dynasty featured one of Egypt's most luxurious eras. In fact it is the Middle Kingdom's golden age. The dynasty did not only maintain stability inside the country but also flourished Egypt's relations with other nations.

Amenemhat I (r. 1991 - 1962) seized the power and throne after being a vizierWhat does it mean? for King Montuhotep III of the 11th dynasty. He is said to have ruled for about 30 years. In his era the famine ended. The worshipping of god AmunWho is this deity? (a.k.a. Amen or Amon) appeared as shown from the syllable "Amen" in his name. He shifted the administration from Thebes (Luxor) northward to a place that he called Itjtawy near Fayoum. He chose this place to be close to Asiatics who used to infiltrate into Egypt. A story tells his erection for "the wall of the prince" in Sinai in order to block Asiatics' entrance.

He reached as far as the second cataractWhat does it mean? at Aswan and is said to have established diplomatic relations with Syrian princes. He kept the authority of regions' rulers who were his allies while ousting rivals. That led to their wealth and they had their own tombs as in Bani Hassan. He erected temples at various places. There are remains of his temple at Fayoum. And he had also a pyramidal complex at Lisht. Amenemhat I decided when he was 70 years old to let his son participate in the rule. It seems that a plot led to his death while his son Senwosret I was on a military campaign on the Libyan borders. It is said that a plot may have caused the death of King Amenemhat I as told by "the tale of Sinuhe the sailor", a magnificent literary art dated back to that period.

Senwosret I
Senwosret I
Senwosret I seen embracing
god Ptah in a bas relief
Photo by Raymon Kondos ©
Senwosret I (r. 1971 - 1926) resumed his father's activities as he continued to send military campaigns to NubiaWhat does it mean? where he extended his dominance to the 2nd cataract.
He erected several fortresses at the place to defend the south against Nubian attacks.

Senwosret I gave attention to internal affairs. He sent mining expeditions to bring Copper, gold and granite. Availability of natural sources subsequently led to the development of architecture. And so he built temples shrines alongside the Nile. He also built a pyramid in Lisht close to his father's.
In a jubilee celebration erected a pair of granite obelisksWhat does it mean? at Heliopolis where he originally built a temple. The temple was destroyed but for one of those obelisks that still stands there.

Among the important artifacts found belong to this era is a papyrusWhat does it mean? that includes advises from Amenemhat I to his son Senwosret I on how to deal with rivals, urging him to be a strong king in order to cope with threats.
Senwosret I allowed his son to be his co-ruler in the end of his reign.

Amenemhat II
(r. 1929 - 1892) Followed his ancestors' steps in sending mining campaigns. Moreover, he sent an expedition to Punt.
Amenemhat II built his pyramid, known as the White Pyramid at Dahshur. He, also, took his son Senwosret II as a co-ruler before his death.

Senwosret II
Senwosret II (r. 1897 - 1878) faced the rebellions of the Nubians in the south. Nubian tribes began to activate and reached to the second cataract.
Senwosret II was the first to care about agriculture at Fayoum. He began to organize the usage of water in irrigation.

He ruled for 19 years and built shrines at Herakleopolis. In addition, he erected a pyramid at Lahun that is now dilapidated and built a nearby city called Kahun for the builders. A number of mastabas beside his pyramid were found. They were built to house contains corpses of his wives and senior officials. Senwosret II died before appointing his son as a co-ruler as habit dictates in this dynasty.

Senwosret III
Fortress built by Senwosret III in Nubia
Fortress built by Senwosret III in Nubia
image 2004 ©
Senwosret III (r. 1878 - 1841?) is one of the most famous Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom.
He maintained the policy of his ancestors and preserved Egypt sovereignty. In this context he sent troops to suppress Nubians in the south. He dug a canal near the first cataract in his reign to pass his fleet easily.
He is also said to have fought in the north and reached to Syria, thus maintaining the Egyptian power in the north.
Senwosret erected many shrines especially in Abydos and built a pyramid at Dahshur. Before his death, he appointed his son, Amenemhat III, as his heir.

Amenemhat III
Amenemhat III
Granite head of Amenemhat II
image courtesy of
The Egypt Archive
After succeeding his father Senwosret III, Amenemhat III (r. 1844 - 1797) tended to introduce new irrigation systems at Fayoum, completing a system of water regulation. His developments including the construction of canals.
He also managed to make economic reforms bringing prosperity to the country and making one of the countries best eras in the Middle Kingdom.

Amenemhat III erected his pyramid at Hawara. He also built the famous labyrinth nearby. Labyrinth is the Greek name given to Amenemhat III's mortuary complex. It was given such name because of its complicated design, as it comprises courts, halls, corridors and columns in great perplexity. The labyrinth was once considered as a miracle. A Sicilian historian once said the labyrinth couldn't be toured without guidance, as visitors would sure be lost in its corridors.

Unfortunately the temple was ruined through different eras. Its stones were used in quarrying in some periods. The king also built a pyramid at Dahshur and he probably initiated building at Medinet Madi temple in Fayoum.
Amenemhat III sent campaigns as usual to Nubia forcing Egypt's boundaries to extend until the third cataract. He also sent mining expeditions to Sinai.

Amenemhat III ruled for about 47 years and as usual he appointed his son Amenemhat IV as a co-ruler before his death.

Amenemhat IV
(r. 1799 - 1787) Amenemhat IV ruled for a short period. Perhaps his reign lasted for 12 years.
He continued building the temple of Medinet Madi after his father. He probably built a pyramid of his own, even if it's not identified. Amenemhat IV died without a male heir, and thus his sister Nefrusobek (r. 1787 - 1783) assumed the power as the queen and became the sole ruler of Egypt.

The 12th dynasty thus ends, leaving a great milestone of Egypt's legendary history.

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