- History -

  12th Dynasty   History    
  Sesostris III   Titulary    
  Amenemhat III   Pyramids    
  Amenemhat IV   Dashur    
        Hawara (tomb)    


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The 6th king of the 12th Dynasty, Amenemhat III is the only known son and successor of Sesostris III. The name of his mother is not known. His first funerary complex in Dashur housed the sarcophagi two two of his queens, one of which was named Aat.

A princess named Nefruptah, who was intended to be buried in his second funerary complex at Hawara, is believed by some Egyptologists to have been his daughter, whereas others tend to favour the view that she was his sister.

Queen Nefrusobek, the last ruler of the 12th Dynasty, is also believed to have been one of his daughters.

The numerous inscriptions and monuments left by this king contradict the short reign of 8 years credited to him by Manetho, and favours the 40 years or more recorded in the Turin Kinglist. It is not impossible that Manetho originally mentioned 48 years and that subsequent copies erroneously reduced this number to a mere 8 years.

As he was not survived by any sons, he appointed a man of non-royal birth, Amenemhat IV, as coregent towards the end of his reign. The coregency lasted for 1 or 2 years.

Contrary to his father, Amenemhat III's external policy was of a more peaceful nature. The south border with Nubia was strengthened at Semna and several fortresses that were intended to control the Nubians were enlarged, but that would be the extent of his Nubian policy. He also abandonned one fortress in Nubia, but as it was located in a cluster of fortresses, this may have been done for economical reasons or perhaps because it was felt that Nubia was sufficiently secured.

There was an increased mining activity in the Sinai, where some 51 graffiti show that the area was worked on an almost permanent basis, as well as at the quarries of Wadi Hammamat, to the East of the Nile Valley, Tura, Aswan and throughout Nubia.

Amenemhat's internal policy was a continuation of his father's and aimed at increasing the power and wealth of the central government. As a result of this policy, the rights of the upper classes to have private property were limited, as well as the ability to inherit specific official functions.

Numerous shrines and temples were built throughout the country, among which a huge structure in the northwestern Fayum with two colossal statues of the king facing the lake; a large temple for Sobek, the local crocodile deity of the Fayum; and expanding the ancient temple of Ptah in the old capital of Memphis.

This extensive building policy shows the wealth of the country during the reign of Amenemhat's reign. In order to maintain all the works, Asiatics were encouraged to come to Egypt. This would probably eventually lead to the decline of the Middle Kingdom, when a group of Asiatics seized power and founded their own dynasty.

The end of Amenemhat's reign was plagued by a drastic decrease in the annual floods of the Nile, which was to have its impact on the country's wealth and economy. This too was a major factor in the decline of the 12th Dynasty and of the Middle Kingdom in general.

Alabaster head od Amenemhat III  

Fragment of an alabaster statue of Amenemhat III at the Louvre Museum.

Two funerary complexes were built for Amenemhat III. The first was started at Dashur, a place also favoured by 4th Dynasty king Snofru, as well as by Amenemhat II and Sesostris III. Even though this pyramid complex was finished, it was never used by Amenemhat III himself. instead, it was used for the burial of two of his queens.

Amenemhat's second pyramid complex, and the one where he would eventually chose to be buried, was built at Hawara, in the southeastern Fayum. The mortuary temple attached to the pyramid would become known as the Labyrinth because of its maze of corridors and rooms. Most of this Labyrinth is now lost.