Amenemhat II was the son and successor of Sesostris I. His principal queen was named Neferu, attested through an inscription in the Sinai. He also had at least one son, Sesostris, who was to become his successor, and four daughters named Ita(-Weret), Khenemet, Sat-Hathor and Men-nebi.
A queen named Kemi-nebu, buried at his pyramid complex in Dashur, has recently been identified as a 13th Dynasty queen and was therefore not one of Amenemhat's wives.
According to Manetho, Amenemhat II ruled for 38 years, a number which is generally accepted. The Turin Kinglist is fragmentary at this point and only confirms 10 or more years. In view of the long reign of his predecessor, it is not impossible that Amenemhat II was already quite aged when he came to the throne, in which case a shorter reign is to be favoured.
Amenemhat shared the throne with his father as the junior partner in a co-regency during the first three years of his reign. It is tempting to explain this co-regency as a way of the ageing Sesostris to make sure that the royal line would be preserved and that his son would not have to face the same problems that he himself probably had to face at the start of his own reign.
The foreign policy of Amenemhat II appear to have been a continuation of his father's. There is evidence of extensive trade with parts of the Near East, Mesopotamia and even Crete. Several Egyptian objects, among them small statues and scarabs, were found at several Near Eastern sites. Among them a sphinx of princess Ita, that was probably sent to Syria as a trading gift. Especially favored were the Syrian port of Byblos, where the native ruling elite even made short inscriptions in hieroglyphic, referring to Egyptian gods. The foundation deposits of the temple of Tod, dated to the reign of Amenemhat, contained objects of Mesopotamian and Cretan origin.
Not all contacts with Asia were as peaceful, however, as is shown by raids of Bedouin, probably in the Sinai and some Egyptian military activity against two unnamed Asian cities.
There was also at least one military expedition against Nubia and during his 28th year, Amenemhat II sent the official Khentikhetaywer as an envoy to Punt.
Not many buildings from the time of Amenemhat II remain. A pylon at Hermopolis, in Middle Egypt and the foundation deposits at Tod are, along with his pyramid at Dashur, the only notable monuments that were left from his reign.
The choice of location for his pyramid at Dashur, not far from the Bent and Red Pyramids built by 4th Dynasty king Snofru, raises the question why he did not build his funerary monument at El-Lisht like his father and grandfather. It is possible that Amenemhat sought to create a relationship between his dynasty and that of Snofru by doing so.
The pyramid complex is poorly preserved and is mostly known because of the exquisite jewelry that was found in some of the tombs of Amenemhat's daughters, located in the forecourt of the complex. The jewelry included rings, braces, necklaces and diadems and shows the excellent craftsmanship of the era.
- History -
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Last update: 25 July, 2009