Sesostris II was the son and successor of Amenemhat II. Two principal queens have been identified for him: Nofret II and Khenemet-nefret-hedjet. He had at least two sons, Senuseret-seneb-wer and Khakawre, the later Sesostris III. Four of his daughters are also known: Ita-kayt, Nofret (?), Sithathor Iunit and Hatshepsut. The latter is not to be confused with the 18th Dynasty queen of the same name.
There is some debate about the length of the reign of this king. Manetho has credited him with a reign of 48 years, but this is generally viewed as too long. Even the 19 years recorded by the Turin Kinglist is viewed by some Egyptologists as too long. The highest recorded date for this king is his 6th year. This could, of course, be due to a gap in our sources rather than the reign of this king being so short.
Sesostris II shared the throne with his father, Amenemhat II, during the first 3 years of his reign. It has been suggested that there may also have been a co-regency with his successor, Sesostris III, but there are no sources to confirm this view.
The main reason for this debate is the fact that there are very few remains from this reign. Quarrying activity seems to be a lot more limited than in the previous and following reigns, and there are fewer monuments from Sesostris II as well. Sarenput II, the local governor of Elephantine during the reign of Sesostris II, is likely to have been born during the reign of Amenemhat II and was still in office during the reign of Sesostris III. This too suggests a reign shorter than the 48 years given by Manetho.
The foreign policy of Sesostris II was a continuation of that of his predecessors. The relationship was Western Asia was stable and peaceful. The presence of Egyptian objects dated to Sesostris II in Western Asia shows that trade was flourishing.
The oldest objects found in the fortress of Mirgissa in Nubia are dated to the reigns of Amenemhat II and Sesostris II. It is likely that the fortress was built during their 3 year co-regency, an indication that the relationship with Nubia had remained an aggressive one. The fortress at Quban, also in Nubia, seems to have been used during the reign of Sesostris II as well, although there is no record of warlike activity with the south.
In Egypt itself, Sesostris II appears to have been responsible for the building of a dyke and the digging of some canals linking the Fayum oasis with the Bahr Yussuf, a sidearm of the Nile. This effectively changed the irrigation system of the Fayum, preventing most of the water from simply flowing in the Fayum lake and using that water to irrigate more land.
Sesostris II built his pyramid complex at Illahun, at the southeast of the Fayum. The pyramid consisted of a massive mud-brick structure built around a rocky core and supported by large limestone walls. This structure was completed with a limestone casing. The layout of the corridors and rooms in the pyramid is unique and may reflect beliefs concerning the underworld.
Eight solid mastabas and a satellite pyramid, aligned with the northern side of the main pyramid, may represent the tombs for the queens and princesses of Sesostris II. They are, however, solid structures and therefore only had a symbolic function.
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Last update: 25 July, 2009