Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Twelfth dynasty of Egypt
|Senusret I (Sesostris I)||1971-1926|
|Senusret II (Sesostris II)||1897-1878|
|Senusret III (Sesostris III)||1878-1841|
The chronology of the Twelfth dynasty is the most stable of any period before the New Kingdom. 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 Siezer of the Two Lands"), more simply called Itjtaway . 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. Because a recorded date during the reign of Senusret III can be correlated to the Sothic cycle, many events during this dynasty are frequently assigned to a year BC or BCE.
This dynasty was founded by Amenemhat I , who had been vizier to the last Pharaoh of the Eleventh dynasty, Mentuhotep IV . His armies campaigned south as far as the Second Cataract of the Nile and into the Near East, and he reestablished diplomatic relations with Byblos and the 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 and enjoy the trade and tribute brought to them until the reign of Senusret III.
Finding Nubia had grown restive under the previous rulers, Senusret sent punitve expeditions into that land; he also sent an expedition into Palestine and Syria. These military campaigns gave birth to a legend of a mighty warrior named Sesostris, a story retold by Manetho, Herodotus, and Diodorus Siculus. This conqueror not only subdued the lands as had Senusret III, but also conquered Asia and had crossed over into Europe to annex Thrace!
Senusret's successor Amenemhat III reaffirmed Sesostris' foreign policy, but under his reign the marshy Fayyum was also first exploited, and he was remembered for the mortuary temple at Hawara he built known to Herodotus, Diodorus, and Strabo as the "Labyrinth". 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 handle.
It was during the Twelfth dynasty that we find the earliest examples of Egyptian literature . Perhaps best known 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 Instruction of Amenemhat I and the Protests of the Eloquent Peasant.
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