Egyptian Dynasties > Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt

Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt

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The Twelfth Dynasty was a series of rulers during the Middle Kingdom of Egypt who reigned between 1991 BCE and 1802 BCE. The Twelfth Dynasty was one of the most stable periods in Egyptian history and has produced many great archaeological artifacts and papyrus scrolls still available today. A period of great Egyptian military conquest, the reign of the Dynasty XII kings was marked by both political and social stability as well as an expansion of Egyptian borders.

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.

12th Dynasty Kings

Amenemhat I

The Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt was founded by Amenemhat I who was believed to have been a vizier to the last king of Dynasty XI: named Mentuhotep IV. He was an impressive military commander and managed to conquer as far south as the Second Cataract of the Nile River as well as into southern Canaan. He was able to reestablish diplomatic and economic relationships with the Caananite city-state of Gebal/Byblos as well as the Greeks in the northern Aegean Sea. In doing this he was able to bring Egypt into one of the greatest periods of prosperity not seen again until the New Kingdom.

Senusret I

Amenemhat I was succeeded in rule by his son Senusret I who was able to capitalize on the successes of his father and launched a military campaign of his own to successfully capture the Third Cataract in southern Nubia. However, following the rule of Senusret I the next rulers Amenemhat II and Senusret II were simply content to sustain the borders and enjoy the wealth and prosperity of Egypt.

Senusret III

Upon succeeded the previous king Senusret III found that the southern area of Nubia as well as the Levant had been discontent under the benign rule of his ancestors and was beginning to revolt. Senusret III sent military expeditions to both locations and in the process gave birth to one of the great ancient legends. According to a story retold by ancient historians Manetho, Herodotus, and Diodorus Siculus, Senusret III was described as a mythical warrior named Sesostris who managed to conquer all of the lands of his ancestors as well as possibly cross into Europe and annex the territory of Thrace. However, despite the ancient legend there is no written records or archaeological evidence to corroborate these claims (but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist either).

Amenemhat III

Senusret was succeeded by Amenemhat III who was able to relatively sustain the territory and stabilize Egypt. However, following the end of his reign his successor was unable to maintain the success of the dynasty and eventually reign passed onto Queen Sobekneferu.


Building the Dahshur pyramids was an extremely important learning experience for the Egyptians (who were transitioning from step-sided to smooth-sided pyramids) before they could build the Great Pyramid of Giza. Two of the Dahshur Pyramids, The Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid, were constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Sneferu (2613-2589 BC). The Bent Pyramid was the first attempt at a smooth-sided pyramid but ultimately wasn't successful. One design flaw was that there was a very unstable base for it made of desert gravel and clay that has the tendency to subside when a large amount of weight is put on top of it.Another design flaw in this pyramid is that the engineering of it consisted of the blocks being cut in such a way that the weight angles down, causing all of the weight of the pyramid to push down towards the center. This in turn is thought to be the reason the pyramid is "bent" and changes angles about halfway up the sides. Sneferu was not pleased with this pyramid, so he built another called the Red Pyramid.Getting its name from the red hue the pyramid gives off after a nice rain, the Red pyramid was the first true smooth-sided pyramid. Standing more than 30 stories tall, it is thought to be Sneferu's pride and glory and the place where he is believed to be buried. The Red pyramid was the largest smooth-sided pyramid standing until Sneferu's son, Khufu, outdid his father by building the Great Pyramid of Giza, which stands 490 feet tall. Though Khufu's pyramid is larger, he would not have been able to build it without the knowledge that his father discovered before him.The pyramid of the 12th Dynasty king Amenemhat II (1929-1895 BC) is now badly damaged. Next to it were found several undisturbed tombs of royal women still containing a large amount of jewellery. The pyramid of Sesostris III was part of a huge complex, with several smaller pyramids of royal women, along with another pyramid to the south. In a gallery tomb next to this pyramid were found two treasures of the king's daughters (Sithathor).The Black Pyramid dates from the later reign of Amenemhat III and, although badly eroded, it remains the most imposing monument at the site after the two Sneferu pyramids. The polished granite pyramidion or capstone of the Black Pyramid is on display in the main hall of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Next to the pyramid was found the partly disturbed tomb of 13th Dynasty king Hor and the undisturbed burial place of Nubhetepti-khered, possibly his daughter.Several other pyramids of the 13th Dynasty were built at Dahshur. Only the one of the reign of Ameny Qemau has been excavated so far. Ahmad Fakhri was an archaeologist who worked at this site.Extensive cemeteries of officials of the Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom have been found around Dahshur's pyramids. Dahshur was Egypt's royal necropolis during the reign of the 12th Dynasty king Amenemhat II.Contemporary history[edit]In July 2012, Dahshur's entire Christian community, which some estimate to be as many as 100 families, fled to nearby towns due to sectarian violence. The violence began in a dispute over a badly ironed shirt, which in turn escalated into a fight in which a Christian burned a Muslim to death. This, in turn, sparked a rampage by angry Muslims, while the police failed to act. At least 16 homes and properties of Christians were pillaged, some were torched, and a church was damaged during the violence. This incident was reported internationally.[1]As of January 2013, and due to the security vacuum that still prevails in Egypt following the 2011 uprising, the site is under threat of desecration and damage due to encroachment by locals of surrounding urban settlements.[2]

Papyrus Scrolls

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:1900 BC – Prisse Papyrus1800 BC – Berlin Papyrus1800 BC – Moscow Mathematical Papyrus1650 BC – Rhind Mathematical Papyrus1600 BC – Edwin Smith papyrus1550 BC – Ebers papyrus

12th Dynasty Artifacts

12th Dynasty Kings

King NameHorus-NameReignConsortPyramid
Amenemhat ISehetepibre1991-1962 BCEQueen NeferitatjenenPyramid of Amenemhet I
Senusret I (Sesostris I)Kheperkare1971-1926 BCEQueen Neferu IIIPyramid of Senusret I
Amenemhat IINubkhaure1929-1895 BCEQueen Kaneferu
Queen Keminub
White Pyramid
Senusret II (Sesostris II)Khakheperre1897-1878 BCEQueen Khenemetneferhedjet I
Queen Neferet II
Queen Itaweret
Queen Khnemet
Pyramid at El-Lahun
Senusret III (Sesostris III)Khakaure1878-1839 BCEPyramid at DahshurQueen Meretseger
Queen Neferthenut
Queen Khnemetneferhedjet II
Queen Sithathoriunet
Amenemhat IIINimaatre1860-1814 BCEQueen Aat
Queen Hetepi
Queen Khenemetneferhedjet III
Black Pyramid
Pyramid at Hawara
Amenemhat IVMaakherure1815-1806 BCESouthern Mazghuna Pyramid
SobekneferuSobekkare1806-1802 BCENorthern Mazghuna Pyramid

Middle Kingdom of Egypt

Egyptian Dynasties

Egyptian Dynasties List


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