- History -

  12th Dynasty   History    
  Amenemhat I   Titulary    
  Sesostris I   Tomb    
  Amenemhat II        


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Sesostris I was the son and successor of Amenemhat I. His mother may have been a queen named Neferi-ta-tjenen. He was at least married to a woman named Nofret and had at least one son, Ameny, who would later succeed him as Amenemhat II.

Although Amenemhat I was the actual founder of the 12th Dynasty, Sesostris I is often considered the political father of the dynasty. This is probably why Manetho has added Amenemhat to the end of the 11th Dynasty, putting Sesostris I at the head of the 12th Dynasty.

Manetho has credited Sesostris I with a 46 year reign, which is confirmed by the Turin Kinglist, which grants him 45 years and a lost number of months. The highest recorded date is regnal year 44 and was found on a stela now in the Leyde Museum. This corresponds with the number of regnal years given by the Turin Kinglist and Manetho.

It has often been assumed that Sesostris spent the first 10 years of his reign as a co-regent with his father and the last 3 or 4 years in co-regency with his son. This assumption is reflected in the dates used throughout this site. It must be noted, however, that there has been some recent doubt as to the co-regency between Sesostris and his father, Amenemhat I.

Sesostris I appears to have begun his (sole) reign in rather difficult circumstances. Several literary sources indicate that Amenemhat I was murdered while Sesostris was leading a military campaign in Libya. The fact that the co-regent (or crown-prince) was away on a campaign may indicate that Amenemhat's murderers tried to seize the power in his absence.

Egypt's foreign policy during the reign of Sesostris I was aimed particularly at Nubia, in the South. A first campaign was sent during the king's 10th year. During the 18th year, a second campaign pushed Egypt's southern border as far back as Buhen, at the 2nd cataract, where a fortress was built as a basis for raids further south. The region between the 1st and 2nd cataract thus became an Egyptian province.

The relationship with Asia seems to have been of a more passive and defensive nature. Apparently the "Walls of the Ruler", built by Amenemhat I, were effective in repelling Bedouin and protecting the trade routes with Asia.

Sesotris' internal policy is probably best reflected by the many monuments that he built from Lower Nubia in the south to Heliopolis and Tanis in the north. He is likely to have started building the temple of Amun at Karnak, a temple that would continue to be extended for centuries to come. The finest example of craftsmanship during the reign of Sesostris I is the so-called White Chapel at Karnak, a limestone chapel which was (probably) built on the occasion of one of the king's Heb-Sed.


The prenomen of Sesostris I.


Atum leads Sesostris I to Amun-Re, presenting the symbol of life to him in this exquisite relief of the White Chapel in the temple of Amun at Karnak.

At Abydos, near the Early Dynastic royal cemetery of Umm el-Qa'ab, Sesostris remodeled the temple of Khent-amentiu-Osiris. This not only stressed the importance of Abydos as a religious site, it also promoted the cult of Osiris as a funerary god. The temple of Osiris at Abydos was also very popular with the ruling elite and the population in general, making the cult of Osiris one of the most popular in the country.

Sesostris I shared the throne with his son and successor, Amenemhat II, during the last three years of his life. He was buried in his pyramid at el Lisht, not far from the funerary monument of his father.