Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt

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The Twelfth Dynasty of ancient Egypt (Dynasty XII), is often combined with the Eleventh, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Dynasties under the group title Middle Kingdom.

Rulers[edit]

Known rulers of the Twelfth Dynasty are as follows:[1]

Dynasty XII pharaohs of Egypt
name of King Horus (Throne) Name date Pyramid Queen(s)
Amenemhat I Sehetepibre 1991 BC - 1962 BC Pyramid at El-Lisht Queen Neferitatjenen
Senusret I (Sesostris I) Kheperkare 1971 BC - 1926 BC Pyramid at El-Lisht Queen Neferu III
Amenemhat II Nubkhaure 1929 BC - 1895 BC White Pyramid Queen Kaneferu
Queen Keminub?
Senusret II (Sesostris II) Khakheperre 1897 BC - 1878 BC Pyramid at El-Lahun Queen Khenemetneferhedjet I
Queen Neferet II
Queen Itaweret?
Queen Khnemet
Senusret III (Sesostris III) Khakaure 1878 BC - 1839 BC Pyramid at Dahshur Queen Meretseger
Queen Neferthenut
Queen Khnemetneferhedjet II
Queen Sithathoriunet
Amenemhat III Nimaatre 1860 BC - 1814 BC Pyramid at Dahshur Queen Aat
Queen Hetepi
Queen Khenemetneferhedjet III
Amenemhat IV Maakherure 1815 BC - 1806 BC
Queen Sobekneferu Sobekkare 1806 BC - 1802 BC

The chronology of the 12th dynasty is the most stable of any period before the New Kingdom. The Ramses Papyrus canon (1290 BC) in Turin gives 213 years (1991–1778 BC). Manetho stated that it was based in Thebes, but from contemporary records it is clear that the first king moved its capital to a new city named "Amenemhat-itj-tawy" ("Amenemhat the Seizer of the Two Lands"), more simply called Itjtawy. The location of Itjtaway has not been found, but is thought to be near the Fayyum, probably near the royal graveyards at el-Lisht. Egyptologists consider this dynasty to be the apex of the Middle Kingdom.

The order of its rulers is well known from several sources — two lists recorded at temples in Abydos and one at Saqqara, as well as Manetho's work. A recorded date during the reign of Senusret III can be correlated to the Sothic cycle,[2] consequently many events during this dynasty are frequently assigned to a year BC or BCE.

Amenemhat I and Senusret I[edit]

This dynasty was founded by Amenemhat I, who may have been vizier to the last pharaoh of Dynasty XI, Mentuhotep IV. His armies campaigned south as far as the Second Cataract of the Nile and into southern Canaan. He also reestablished diplomatic relations with the Canaanite state of Byblos and Hellenic rulers in the Aegean Sea. His son Senusret I followed his father's triumphs with an expedition south to the Third Cataract, but the next rulers were content to live in peace until the reign of Senusret III.

Senusret II[edit]

Finding Nubia had grown restive under the previous rulers, Senusret sent punitive expeditions into that land; he also sent an expedition into the Levant. These military campaigns gave birth to a legend of a mighty warrior named Sesostris, a story retold by Manetho, Herodotus, and Diodorus Siculus. Manetho claimed the mythical Sesostris not only subdued the lands as had Senusret I, but also conquered parts of Canaan and had crossed over into Europe to annex Thrace. However, there are no records of the time, either in Egyptian or other contemporary writings that support these claims, nor is there mention of an actual king named Sesostris.

Amenemhat III[edit]

Senusret's successor Amenemhat III reaffirmed his predecessor's foreign policy. However, after Amenemhat, the energies of this dynasty were largely spent, and the growing troubles of government were left to the dynasty's last ruler, Queen Sobekneferu, to resolve. Amenemhat was remembered for the mortuary temple at Hawara that he built, known to Herodotus, Diodorus, and Strabo as the "Labyrinth". Also under his reign the marshy Fayyum was first exploited.

Ancient Egyptian literature[edit]

It was during the twelfth dynasty that Ancient Egyptian literature was refined. Perhaps the best known work from this period is The Story of Sinuhe, of which several hundred papyrus copies have been recovered. Also written during this dynasty were a number of Didactic works, such as the Instructions of Amenemhat and The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant.

Pharaohs of Dynasties XII through XVIII are also credited with preserving for us some of the most remarkable Egyptian papyri:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, London 2004
  2. ^ Parker, Richard A., "The Sothic Dating of the Twelfth and Eighteenth Dynasties," in Studies in Honor of George R. Hughes, 1977 [1]