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
Amenemhat I (r. 1991 - 1962) seized the power and throne after being
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 Amun
(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 cataract
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 (r. 1971 - 1926) resumed his father's activities as he
continued to send military campaigns to Nubia
where he extended his dominance to the 2nd cataract.
Senwosret I seen embracing
god Ptah in a bas relief
Photo by Raymon Kondos ©
He erected several fortresses at the place to defend the south against
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 obelisks
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 papyrus
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
Senwosret I allowed his son to be his co-ruler in the end of his reign.
(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 (r. 1897 - 1878) faced the rebellions of the Nubians
in the south. Nubian tribes began to activate and reached to the
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 (r. 1878 - 1841?) is one of the most famous Pharaohs
of the Middle Kingdom.
Fortress built by Senwosret III in Nubia
image 2004 ©
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
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.
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
Granite head of Amenemhat II
image courtesy of
The Egypt Archive
He also managed to make economic reforms bringing prosperity to
the country and making one of the countries best eras in the Middle
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
Amenemhat III ruled for about 47 years and as usual he appointed his
son Amenemhat IV as a co-ruler before his death.
(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