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Ancient Egypt Magazine

Volume 7 issue 1 August 2006




This month’s NETFISHING continues its look at the history of Egypt by seeing what the World Wide Web has to say about The Middle Kingdom, a period of history which often gets overlooked when compared with the magnificence of the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom. This month we present an historical outline of the period, whist in the next issue we will look at its military, artistic and literary heritage in more detail.

The truce between the kings of the Tenth Dynasty and the Eleventh Dynasty Inyotef princes of Thebes lasted until the Tenth Dynasty king Merykara broke the treaty and attacked Abydos, in the fourteenth year of the reign of Montuhotep II.

Montuhotep II immediately counter-attacked and pushed the army of Merykara back out of Theban territory. The Tenth Dynasty was overcome, and Theban control was established as far north as the Mediterranean sea. Egypt was unified once more under the strong rule of King Neb-Hetep-Ra Montuhotep II, and Egypt was again to experience a period of greatness, known as the Middle Kingdom (c.2055-1650 BC).

The conquests of Montuhotep II (here referred to Mentuhotpe I) and the events of the Eleventh Dynasty are described at while the reign of Montuhotep II is described more fully at A general background to the Middle Kingdom can be found at a number of sites such as at: and Quite when the Middle Kingdom actually begins is a matter for debate, as many authorities date it not from the reign of Neb- Hetep-Ra Montuhotep II, but rather from the beginning of the Twelfth Dynasty, an outline of which is given at: The Twelfth Dynasty can be conveniently subdivided into the reigns of its kings, and the major monuments that mark their reigns, as below: 

Amenemhat I 1991-1962 BC
his pyramid

Senusret I 1971-1926 BC
his pyramid
the White Chapel  

Amenemhat II 1929-1895 BC
his pyramid

Senusret II 1897-1878
his pyramid

 Senusret III 1878-1841 BC
his pyramid

Amenemhat III 1842-1797 BC
his Pyramid at Dahshur
his Pyramid at Hawara  

The end of the Twelfth Dynasty is still not fully understood, but it appears that a king Amenemhat IV ruled for a short period before a queen called Sobeknefru ruled in her own right, refer:

Two unnamed pyramids exist at Mazghuna and these have tentatively been ascribed to the last two rulers of the Twelfth Dynasty, refer: The Middle Kingdom was a period of great sophistication when the fine arts and literature once again assumed a place of importance in the lives of the nobility. Despite this, for the first time, Egyptians left their borders and conquered lands to the south of Aswan. We will consider these additional aspects of the Middle Kingdom in the next issue.

Victor Blunden

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