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Tomb of Tutankhamun (King Tut)

Tut Chalice Lamp 
It is not the grandest tomb in Egypt, and was certainly not occupied by one of Egypt's most powerful rulers. But in general, the population of the world know the tomb of Tutankhamen (KV 62) better than any other, because of all the royal tombs, it was found mostly intact. What was found in this tomb surely gives us pause to understand the motive behind ancient tomb robberies. If such a vast fortune in treasure (in all, some 3,500 items were recovered) was found in this tiny tomb owned by a relatively minor king, what must have dazzled the eyes of the thieves who first entered the huge tomb of Ramesses II, or one of Egypt's other grand kings? Of course, the list of funerary equipment was very useful to Egyptologists, giving them an idea of what had been removed from other royal tombs.

Wonderful Artwork found in the Tutankhamun Tomb
A top from one of the Canopic Jar
The tomb, which lies in an area that was not normally used for royal burials in the Valley center, was apparently quickly buried deep below the surface of the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes). It was forgotten about until Howard Carter discovered it on November 4th, 1922. Part of Howard Carter's luck was that it was not discovered earlier when, his predecessor in the Valley, Theodore Davis who was American, came within little more than a meter of finding it himself.
It is a little known fact that Howard Carter did not excavate every part of the Kings Valley, down to bedrock in his search for Tutankhamun. Having identified the area, in the centre of the Valley, most likely to produce the sort of find his patron desired; & which would indeed do so, many years before he seems to have expended much of his efforts in the search for answers to much more academic questions; such as the hunt for foundation deposits in order to clarify which king was actually responsible for the construction of which tomb, & only went flat out in his search for Tutankhamuns tomb, when it became apparent that his source of funds might be about to dry up.

From "Recent Excavations in the Valley of the Kings by the Amarna Royal Tombs Project" by Glen
Howard Carter was told, prior to finding the tomb, that Lord Carnarvon was withdrawing from the project, but after pleading his case, was given one more season of excavation in order to find it.

Actually, we are told that after having initially discovered the steps of the tomb on November 4th, Carter initially telegraphedLord Carnarvon, who was still in England at his Hampshire estate, after which Carter refilled the stairway to await his benefactor's arrival. Upon Lord Carnarvon's arrival on November 24th, work was resumed and by November 26th, the interior was observed for the first time since antiquity.
After its discovery, the worldwide media spectacle the discovery created along with movies about the curse of the mummies which are still produced every so often, is probably as interesting as the actual tomb itself. What many people do not realize is that it took Carter, with his attention to details, another ten years to fully explore, excavate and clear the tomb. Legend has it that Carter posted the first notice of discovery of the tomb on the bulletin board at the Old Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor.
Tutankhamen was certainly not one of the greatest of Egyptian pharaohs. In fact, prior to the discovery of his tomb in 1922, little of his life was known. Today, we know much more about this king, but surprisingly little of that knowledge comes from the treasures of his tomb. Tutankhamen died about 1325 BC, after only nine years of rule. Apparently he died fairly suddenly, because a proper royal tomb, to our knowledge, was never prepared for this pharaoh. Instead, the tomb of Tutankhamen is relatively small and follows a design more often found in non-royal tombs. Some scholars believe that the tomb that King Ay was eventually interred in was actually begun for Tutankhamen.
Actually, Tutankhamen's tomb is not nearly as interesting as other tombs in the Valley of the Kings. It consists of an entrance leading to a single corridor, followed by several annexes for funerary equipment. At a 90 degree right angle is the small burial chamber, with another annex attached leading back in the direction of the entrance. This is not much of a tomb compared to other royal tombs, and most all of thefunerary equipment will not be found here, but rather in theEgyptian Antiquities Museum inCairo, if it is not elsewhere on exhibit.

Only the burial chamber received decorations. Here, all of the walls have the same golden background. On the west wall we find scenes depicting the apes of the first hour of theAmduat. On the south wall the king is followed by Anubis as he appears beforeHathor. Here, there is also a scene of the King being welcomed into the underworld by Hathor,Anubis andIsis. The north wall depicts the King beforeNut with the royalka embracingOsiris. On the same wall, we also find the scene of Ay performing the opening of theMouth ritual before the mummy of Tutankhamun. Finally, on the east wall, Tutankhamun's mummy is depicted being pulled on a sledge during the funeral procession. Within the procession are twoviziers to the king, and a third person who might beHoremheb.
It should be noted that this tomb was not found completely intact. In fact, there had been at least two robberies of the tomb, perhaps soon after Tutankhamen's burial, probably by members of the tomb workers.

Thirty-four wooden statues were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, seven portraying the pharaoh and the other twenty-seven depicting various divinities from the Egyptian pantheon. The majority of the statues had been placed in the treasure chamber inside black wooden cabinets mounted on sleds and set along the south wall. Two of these pieces, placed together in the same cabinet, are identical and depict the pharaoh stepping on the back of a panther.

The image of the sovereign is sculpted with great realism in a very hard wood, stuccoed and covered with a thin layer of gold leaf. Tutankhamun is gripping a long staff in one hand and the flail symbolizing his power in the other. He is wearing the crown of Upper Egypt, adorned with the royal asp on the forehead. The body of the snake is painted black.

The modeling of the head and body reflects the influence of Amarna-era art in the emphasis and exaggeration of certain physical details such as the long, forward-tilted neck, the protruding breasts, the swollen belly, and the low waist. It is therefore legitimate to suggest that the statue may have been made for Akhenaten, a hypothesis supported by the fact that when it was discovered it was wrapped in linen cloths that carried inscriptions datable to the third year of this pharaoh's reign.

With its serene, youthful expression, the face features eyes inlaid with obsidian, bronze, and glass. The sovereign is bare chested but is wearing a large collar that covers his breast and shoulders and terminates with a droplet motif. The pharaoh's clothing consists of a long, tightly-fitting loincloth, knotted at the front and lined with thin incisions imitating the folds in the cloth, and sandals on his feet.

The statue stands on a black-painted, rectangular pedestal fixed to the arching back of a panther, also black. The animal is portrayed with great realism, pacing slowly and furtively. Its body has a sinuous, elegant profile and the head, with gilded ears and muzzle, is slightly dipped. A second black-painted pedestal constitutes the base for the entire sculptural group.

The composition is not intended to evoke a hunting scene, since the sovereign is not bearing arms, but rather it has a symbolic value. The panther might constitute an allegorical image of the sky, which in the Predynastic era was depicted as a feline that swallowed the sun in the evening before regenerating it in rejuvenated form the following morning. With the extensive gilding of his body the sovereign could represent the sun god. According to another interpretation supported by a pictorial scene in the tomb of Sety I, the sovereign whose gilding identifies him as the sun god, is located in the under world. The panther is in fact painted black like all the inhabitants of the under world


At this point, it almost seems to be repetitive to remind readers that Tutankhamun (King Tut) was not a major player in Egypt Pharaonic history, or at least, in comparison with other pharaohs. In fact, prior to Howard Carter's discovery of his tomb, almost nothing was known of him and interestingly, the one disappointment in Carter's discover was that there was little in the way of documentation found within his tomb. Therefore, we still know relatively little about Tutankhamun. For example, even who is father was remains a topic of some debate. That has not prevented writers from producing volumes of material on the Pharaoh.
We believe Tutankhamun ruled Egypt between 1334 and 1325 BC. He was probably the 12th ruler of Egypt's 18th Dynasty.
Tutankamun was not given this name at birth, but rather Tutankhaten (meaning "Living Image of the Aten), squarely placing him in the line of pharaohs following Akhenaten, the heretic pharaoh, who was most likely his father. His mother was probably Kiya, though this too is in question. He changed his name in year two of his rule to Tutankhamun (or heqa-iunu-shema, which means "Living Image of Amun, Ruler of Upper Egyptian Heliopolis", which is actually a reference to Karnak) as re reverted to the old religion prior to Akhenaten's upheaval. Even so, this did not prevent his name from being omitted from the classic kings lists of Abydos and Karnak. We may also find his named spelled Tutankhamen or Tutankhamon, among other variations. His throne name was Neb-Kheperu-re, which means "Lord of Manifestations is Re.

Tutankhamun from the back of his gold throne.
We do know that he spent his early years in Amarna, and probably in the North Palace. He evidently even started a tomb at Amarna. At age nine he was married to Ankhesenpaaten, his half sister, and later Ankhesenamun. We believe Ankhesenpaaten was older then Tutankhamun because she was probably of child bearing age, seemingly already having had a child by her father, Akhenaten. It is possible also that Ankhesenamun had been married to Tutankhamun's predecessor. It seems he did not succeed Akhenaten directly as ruler of Egypt, but either an older brother or his uncle, Smenkhkare (keeping in mind that there is much controversy surrounding this king). We believe Tutankhamun probably had two daughters later, but no sons.
At the end of Akhenaten's reign, Ay and Horemheb, both senior members of that kings court, probably came to the realization that the heresy of their king could not continue. Upon the death of Akhenaten and Smenkhkare, they had the young king who was nine years old crowned in the old secular capital of Memphis. And since the young pharaoh had no living female relatives old enough, he was probably under the care of Ay or Horemheb or both, who would have actually been the factual ruler of Egypt.

Kiya, a lesser wife of Akhenaten who was probably Tutankhamun's mother..
We know of a number of other officials during the reign of Tutankhamun, two of which include Nakhtmin, who was a military officer under Horemheb and a relative of Ay (perhaps his son) and Maya, who was Tutankhamun's Treasurer and Overseer of the Place of Eternity (the royal necropolis). Others included Usermontju and Pentu, his to viziers of upper and lower Egypt, as well as Huy, the Viceroy of Nubia.
Immediately after becoming king, and probably under the direction of Ay and Horemheb, a move was made to return to Egypt's traditional ancient religion. By year two of his reign, he changed his, as well as Ankhesenpaaten's name, removing the "aten" replacing it with "amun". Again, he may have had nothing to do with this decision, though after two years perhaps Ay's and Horemheb's influence had effected the boy-king's impressionable young mind.
One reason why Tutankhamun was not listed on the classical king lists is probably because Horemheb, the last ruler of the 18th Dynasty, usurped most of the boy-king's work, including a restoration stele that records the reinstallation of the old religion of Amun and the reopening and rebuilding of the temples. The ownership inscriptions of other reliefs and statues were likewise changed to that of Horemheb, though the image of the young king himself remains obvious. Even Tutankhamun's extensive building carried out at the temples of Karnak and Luxor were claimed by Horemheb. Of course, we must also remember that little of the statues, reliefs and building projects were actually ordered by Tutankhamun himself, but rather his caretakers, Ay and Horemheb.

Kiya, a lesser wife of Akhenaten who was probably Tutankhamun's mother.
His building work at Karnak and Luxor included the continuation of the entrance colonnades of the Amenhotep III temple at Luxor, including associated statues, and his embellishment of the Karnak temple with images of Amun, Amunet and Khonsu. There were also a whole range of statues and sphinxes depicting Tutankhamun himself, as well as a small temple in the king's name. We also know, mostly from fragments, that he built at Memphis. At Kawa, in the far south, he built a temple. A pair of granite lions from that temple today flank the entrance to the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery at the British Museum.
Militarily, little happened during the reign of Tutankhamun, a surprising fact considering that Horemheb was a well known general. Apparently there were campaigns in Nubia and Palestine/Syria, but this is only known from a brightly painted gesso box found in Tutankhamun's tomb. It portrays scenes of the king hunting lions in the desert and gazelles, while in the fourth scene he is smiting Nubians and then Syrians. There are paintings in the tomb of Horemheb and as well as the tomb of Huy that seem to confirm these campaigns, though it is unlikely that the young Tutankhamun actually took part in the military actions directly. The campaigns in Palestine/Syria met with little success, but those in Nubia appear to have gone much better.
Though we know that Tutankhamun died young, we are not certain about how he died until very recently. Both forensic analysis of his mummy and clay seals dated with his regnal year support his demise at the age of 17 or no later then 18. As to how he died, a small sliver of bone within the upper cranial cavity of his mummy was discovered from X-ray analysis, suggesting that his death was not due to illness. It has been suggested that he was possibly murdered, but it is also just as likely the result of an accident. In fact, a recent medical examination now seems to indicate that he may very well have died from infection brought about by a broken leg.
Yet it is clear that others certainly had eyes on the throne.
After Tutankhamun's death, Ankhesenamun was a young woman surrounded by powerful men, and it is altogether obvious that she had little interest or love for any of them. She wrote to the King of the Hittites, Suppiluliumas I, explaining her problems and asking for one of his sons as a husband. Suspicious of this good fortune, Suppiluliumas I first sent a messenger to make inquiries on the truth of the young queen's story. After reporting her plight back to Suppilulumas I, he sent his son, Zannanza, accepting her offer. However, he got no further than the border before he was murdered, probably at the orders of Horemheb or Ay, who, both had both the opportunity and the motive. So instead, Ankhesenamun married Ay, probably under force, and shortly afterwards, disappeared from recorded history. It should be remembered that both Ay and Horemheb were military men, but Ay was much older then Horemheb, and was probably the brother of Tiy who was the wife of Amenhotep III. Amenhotep III was most likely Tutankhamun's grandfather. He was also probably the father of Nefertiti, the wife of Akhenaten. Therefore, he got to go first, as king, followed a short time later by Horemheb.

Tut's famous gold funeral mask.
Tutankhamun's famous tomb is located in the Valley of the Kings on the West bank across from modern Luxor (ancient Thebes). It is certainly less magnificent then other pharaohs of Egypt, yet, because of it, Tutankhamun has remained in our memory for many years, and will probably continue to do so for many years to come. Regardless of all the myths surrounding his tomb's discovery, including the "curse of the mummy" and other media hype, it is all a blessing to the boy-king. The ancient pharaohs believed that if their name was remembered, their soul would live on, so not even the powerful Rameses the Great's soul can be as healthy as King Tut's.

Queen Sobeknefru (Sobekkare)


She was the daughter of Pharaoh Amenemhat III. Manetho states she also was the sister of Amenemhat IV, but this claim is unproven. Sobekneferu had an older sister named Nefruptah who may have been the intended heir. Neferuptah's name was enclosed in a cartouche and she had her own pyramid at Hawara. Neferuptah died at an early age however.[2]

Sobekneferu is the first known female ruler of Egypt, although Nitocris may have ruled in the Sixth Dynasty, and there are five other women who are believed to have ruled as early as the First Dynasty.[citation needed]
Amenemhat IV most likely died without a male heir; consequently, Amenemhat III's daughter Sobekneferu assumed the throne. According to the Turin Canon, she ruled for 3 years, 10 months, and 24 days[3] in the late 19th century BC.
She died without heirs and the end of her reign concluded Egypt's brilliant Twelfth Dynasty and the Golden Age of the Middle Kingdom as it inaugurated the much weaker Thirteenth Dynasty.

Few monuments have been discovered for her, although many of her (headless) statues have been preserved including the base of a representation of a king's royal daughter that was discovered in Gezer and bears her name.[4] It is known that she made additions to the funerary complex of Amenemhat III at Hawara (called a labyrinth by Herodotus) and also built structures at Herakleopolis Magna.
A fine cylinder seal bearing her name and royal titulary is today located in the British Museum.[5] A Nile graffito, at the Nubian fortress of Kumma records the Nile inundation height of 1.83 meters in Year 3 of her reign.[6] Her monumental works consistently associate her with Amenemhat III rather than Amenemhat IV, supporting the theory that she was Amenemhat III's royal daughter and was perhaps only a stepsister of Amenemhat IV.[4] The Danish Egyptologist, Kim Ryholt, notes that the contemporary sources from her reign show that Sobekneferu never adopted the title of "Queen" or King's sister"--only 'King's Daughter'--which supports this hypothesis.[4]
Her tomb has not been identified positively, although she may have been interred in a pyramid complex in Mazghuna that lacks inscriptions, immediately north of a similar complex ascribed to Amenemhat IV. A place called Sekhem-Neferu is mentioned in a papyrus found at Harageh. This might be the name of her pyramid.

Amenemhet IV (Maakherure)

Amenemhat IV was the son of a woman named Hotepti, whose only royal title was King's Mother, a title that she obtained when her son became king.

The fact that Hotepti's titulary did not include King's Wife, King's Daughter or King's Sister indicates that she was not a member of the royal family, neither by birth nor by marriage. This means that Amenemhat IV was not of royal birth either.

Aside the fact that Amenemhat III must have had no male offspring that survived him, we can only guess at the reasons why the old king chose Amenemhat IV to be his successor.

Contrary to Manetho, there is no evidence for a marrige between Amenemhat IV and Nefrusobek, a daughter of Amenemhat III, which would support his rights to the throne, as Nefrusobek nevers seems to have held the title King's Wife.

According to Manetho, this king ruled for only 8 years, a number that is confirmed by the 9 years, 3 months and 27 days credited to him in the Turin Kinglist. This short reign is confirmed by the relatively few sources that have survived from his reign. It might also indicate that Amenemhat IV was already an elderly man when he came to power.

He shared the first year of his reign in co-regency with Amenemhat III.

Amenemhat IV completed several temples that were started during by Amenemhat III. Inscriptions in Nubia also show that he still controlled the territory that was conquered during the reign of Sesostris III. Like his predecessor, he abandonned a Nubian fortress, a process that would be continued during the 13th Dynasty. That this abandonment did not happen from South to North, is seen as an indication that it was motivated by economical reasons rather than being the result of a loss of territory to the Nubians.

Expeditions to the rich mining areas of the Sinai appear to have suddenly ceased during this reign. This, along with a conspicuous absence of monuments in the Nile Delta, probably means that Amenemhat IV had lost control over an important part of the Eastern Delta, where the 14th Dynasty started asserting its independance.

Eventhough he was survived by at least two sons, he was succeeded by Nefrusobek. This may hint at some opposition from some members of the ruling elite towards his family becoming the new royal family. If so, the result was only temporary as Nefrusobek too seems to have died without any male heirs and was succeeded by Amenemhat IV's sons.

He is sometimes assumed to have been buried in an unfinished pyramid in Mazghuna, but there is no evidence to support that assumption.

Amenemhet III (Nymaatre)

Amenemhet III was handed a peaceful reign, his father Sesostris III had given him a land on good diplomatic terms with her northern neighbours, Nubia firmly under Egypt's control and the power of the Nomarchs finally ended.

His long reign of 45 years once more followed the policies of his predecessors of the 12th Dynasty - economic growth in Egypt was at an all time high, agriculture increased at the Fayium (it was here that Amenemhet III completed a land reclamation scheme probably started by his father, Sesostris III, this scheme was to gain 17,000 acres of farm land from the lake).

Amenemhet III also built temples at the Faiyum to the god Sobek at Shedet / Crocodilopolis ( Kiman Faris), and a temple to the cobra goddess Renenutet at Medinet Maadi. 
Mining operations also were concentrated on heavily - inscriptions show that mining in either the quarries of Egypt or the tuquoise mines in the Sinai date from Year 2 right up to Year 45 of his reign (at the Sinai Amenemhet III enlarged the temple to Hathor).

His principal wife was Aat, her tomb was discovered in Amenemhet III's first pyramid at Dahshur (the king abandoned this pyramid for his own burial due to major structural problems discovered while the pyramid was still being built). - this same pyramid was also used for the burials of other female royal family members.

Two colossal statues of Amenemhet III (left) were erected at Biyahmu to commerate his achievement (the high bases were discovered by Petrie).

The final few years of Amenemhet III's reign were spent in co-rule with his son, Amenemhet IV.

The Labyrinth of Amenemhet III

On the south of Amenemhet III's second pyramid, a tremendous structure was built - his mortuary temple. When classical writers visited this building (1000 x 800ft - 305 x 244m) they referred to its huge number of rooms as a great Labyrinth.

Sadly very little remains of this structure - the site has been virtually completely destroyed over the centuries (when Petrie discovered the site in 1888-9 he had great difficulty in finding any real architecture to match the description given from ancient times.

 Herodotus on the Labyrinth:

"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 labour 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 storeys 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 storey, 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".

Senusret III, the 5th King of the 12th Dynasty

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 than 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 than 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 than 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 than 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.

Senusret III Stele from Aswan
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 than 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.
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.

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 II, 4th King of Egypt's 12th Dynasty

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.

Above: Nefret
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.

Left: A Stele of Senusret II in Brown Quartzite
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.
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.

Above: Senusret II

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.

Amenemhat II

Amenemhet II was the son of Senusret I and one of his chief queens, Nefru. Like his father, he served the first three years of his reign as co-regent with his father. During this time 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. He had four daughters - Ita, Khnemet, Itiueret and Sithathormeret


According to Manetho, Amenemhat II ruled for 38 years, a number which is generally accepted. The Turin King list is fragmentary at this point and only confirms 10 or more years. In view of the long reign of his predecessor, it is not impossible that Amenemhat II was already quite aged when he came to the throne, in which case a shorter reign is to be favored. 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.


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.

Foreign Policy:

The foreign policy of Amenemhat II appear to have been a continuation of his father's. There is evidence of extensive trade with parts of the Near East, Mesopotamia and even Crete. Several Egyptian objects, among them small statues and scarabs, were found at several Near Eastern sites. Among them a sphinx of princess Ita, that was probably sent to Syria as a trading gift. Especially favored were the Syrian port of Byblos, where the native ruling elite even made short inscriptions in hieroglyphic, referring to Egyptian gods. The foundation deposits of the temple of Tod, dated to the reign of Amenemhat, contained objects of Mesopotamian and Cretan origin.

Not all contacts with Asia were as peaceful, however, as is shown by raids of Bedouin, probably in the Sinai and some Egyptian military activity against two unnamed Asian cities.

There was also at least one military expedition against Nubia and during his 28th year, Amenemhat II sent the official Khentikhetaywer as an envoy to Punt.


Not many buildings from the time of Amenemhat II remain. A pylon at Hermopolis, in Middle Egypt and the foundation deposits at Tod are, along with his pyramid at Dashur, the only notable monuments that were left from his reign.

The choice of location for his pyramid at Dashur, not far from the Bent and Red Pyramids built by 4th Dynasty king Snofru, raises the question why he did not build his funerary monument at El-Lisht like his father and grandfather. It is possible that Amenemhat sought to create a relationship between his dynasty and that of Snofru by doing so.

The pyramid complex is poorly preserved and is mostly known because of the exquisite jewelry that was found in some of the tombs of Amenemhat's daughters, located in the forecourt of the complex. The jewelry included rings, braces, necklaces and diadems and shows the excellent craftsmanship of the era.

From 1894 through 1895, Jacques de Morgan made a cursory investigation of the ruins. Unfortunately he was too focused on the jewelry finds in some surrounding princess' tombs that he never examined the mortuary temple, the causeway or the valley temple. In fact, no casing stones have ever been found nor even the base of the pyramid cleared for a proper measuring. Therefore, we are not sure of its size, the angle of its slop, or its height.

The mortuary temple was almost completely destroyed, though we know it was probably called "Lighted is the place of Amenemhet's pleasures". The ruins, which stand to the east of the pyramid have yet to be closely examined, though they must be very inviting to archaeologists. There are many building fragments, some of which include relief decorations. Most interesting, however, might be the massive, tower-like structures resembling pylons in the temple's east facade.

The causeway, which was broad with a steep slope and enters the enclosure wall on the middle of the east side, has not been investigated at all, and we are told that the valley temple has not even been found. The core of the pyramid was built much like that of Senusret I's pyramid , with a core that had corners radiating out. A framework was made with horizontal lines of blocks to form a grid, or framework between the corners. Here, however, the filling was sand. The entire complex was surrounded by an enclosure wall that was much more rectangular then that found in older pyramids. It was oriented east-west.

Behind the pyramid between it and the west part of the enclosure wall are found tombs of the royal family. The belong to his other son prince Amenemhetankh and princesses Ita, Khnemet, Itiueret and Sithathormeret. Within these tombs, Morgan found the remains of funerary equipment, including wooden coffins, canopic chests and alabaster vessels for perfumes. But of course he also found wonderful jewelry in the tombs of Ita and Khnemet, that stole his attention. These pieces may now be found in the Treasure Chamber of the Cairo Museum.

Books: Genut

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'.

They 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 acquired royal and private statuary. 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.

The Shipwrecked Sailor

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-Ra¹s 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".