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  11th Dynasty   History    
  Antef III   Statues and Reliefs    
  Mentuhotep II   Titulary    
  Mentuhotep III        
             
             


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Mentuhotep II was the son of the Theban ruler Antef III and a woman named Iah. When he came to power, his predecessors had already conquered a territory that stretched far beyond Thebes, from the 1st cataract in the south, to the region of Qaw el-Kabir in the north.

The Turin King-lists credits this king with a reign of as much as 51 years. In light of the many events that occurred during his reign, this is not unlikely.

The first years of his reign have left us with only few testimonies. This could mean that he reached the throne at a young age, something that is also suggested by the long duration of his reign. His 14th regnal year was apparently a turning-point in the life of Mentuhotep. Its name "year of the crime of Thinis" suggests that there was some trouble in the Thinite province, where the age-old holy city of Abydos was located. Apparently the Heracleopolitan king Kheti of the 9/10th Dynasty had succeeded in re-conquering this province and was threatening to do the same with the rest of Upper-Egypt. During this re-conquest, a large part of the old necropolis of Abydos was destroyed.

Mentuhotep immediately reacted and not only repelled the Heracleopolitans from Abydos, he also continued the war against them, conquering Assiut, Middle-Egypt and finally Heracleopolis itself. With the fall of the Heracleopolitan Dynasty, nothing stood in the way for the final re-unification of Egypt under Theban rule. At the latest by his 39th year, but presumably somewhere around his 30th year, Egypt was united again and Mentuhotep II was the first Theban who could rightfully call himself King of Upper- and Lower-Egypt.

Mentuhotep's military efforts were not only aimed at reuniting the Two Lands. Inscriptions in Nubia show his desire to re-establish the Egyptian supremacy over this region. A mass-tomb found in Deir el-Bahari contained 60 bodies of slain Egyptian soldiers who perhaps lost their lives in Nubia. That these soldiers were given a burial so near the king's own funerary monument, demonstrates how much importance was attached to them.

Even during the re-conquest of Egypt, Mentuhotep built or restored several temples throughout his territory. He was particularly active in Upper-Egypt as is shown by monuments in Dendara, Abydos, Elkab and Elephantine. The warrior-king paid special homage to the war-god Montu, who, at that time, was the principal god of the Theban province. For him he built temples in Medamud, Armant and Tod.
 

  Statue of Mentuhotep II

Painted statue of Mentu-hotep II (more...)

Mentuhotep's mortuary temple  

A view on the remains of Mentuhotep's funerary temple (foreground). The larger building in the background is Hatshepsut's temple, the design of which was largely based on Mentuhotep's.

The most famous monument built by Mentuhotep II was his funerary monument. Unlike his predecessors, who were buried in relatively simple tombs in Dra Abu el-Naga', Mentuhotep chose to build his mortuary temple and tomb at Deir el-Bahari. The design of this building was unique: a terrace was built against the cliffs of Deir el-Bahari. Upon the roof of that terrace was built a massive stone construction, identified by some archaeologists as a pyramid, by others as a mastaba. The tomb of the king was located in the rock behind and underneath the temple.