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Middle kingdom – The XI Dynasty End


Posted on April 1, 2020

On the death of Mentuhotep II he was succeeded by the throne of the son of the Great Royal wife Tem, Mentuhotep III, (Horo Sanktauef), during the period of Middle kingdom – XI Dynasty.

Considering the long reign of his father, 51, it is believed that Mentuhotep III came to the throne in advanced age and ruled, according to the Royal papyrus of Turin, for about 12 years an Egypt in peace and reunified by his father.

Faithful also to the god Montu who included in his first name, it is believed that he had at least two other praenomen, the most famous Sanktauef and also “snfr-k3-ra”, (He who beautifies the Soul of Ra).

He is mentioned in a long inscription on the rocks of Huadi Hammamat.

The sovereign organized an expedition formed by 3,000 strong men under the command of Henenu who, after leaving Coptos, restored the caravan route to the Red Sea and dug 12 wells for future expeditions, at the same time freeing the region of the rebels.

Memorable is the expedition he ordered, during the eighth year of his reign, towards the land of Punt, which was no longer carried out by the Old Kingdom and from which large quantities of incense, rubber, and perfumes were brought to him.

Mentuhotep III also had a mud-brick temple built at Thoth Hill to the west of Thebes dedicated to Montu-Ra.

The temple was probably destroyed by an earthquake. Nothing is known about his family, it is believed that he was the father of Mentuhotep IV had by his wife, the queen Imi.

On this there is no agreement among scholars, certainly we know that the mother of Mentuhotep IV was the queen Imi. The funerary complex of Mentuhotep III was never found.

Mentuhotep IV, (Hor Nebtawy), was the last king of the 11th dynasty of Egypt. It is not mentioned in the list of Abydos in the Royal papyrus of Turin where, however, seven years are added to the Dynasty XI.

Some have put forward the hypothesis that he is a usurper despite his name being inserted in the Hall of the Ancestors of Thutmose III.

The failure to quote his name in some lists may be due to the fact that Mentuhotep IV was the son of a secondary wife of his predecessor, in an inscription in Wadi Hammamat he is cited as “son of Imi” just a secondary wife of Mentuhotep III.

It seems that during his reign he built the fortress of El-Gezira, between the first and second cataracts of the Nile, in order to protect the caravan route that led to the gold mines of Berenice Pancrisia in the Wadi Allaqi.

In the second year of his reign, he appoints vizier Amenemhat and sends him to the sandstone quarries of the Wadi Hammamat.

The vizier will become his successor and first pharaoh of the 12th dynasty with the name of Amenemhat I.

The succession of Mentuhotep IV does not appear entirely clear, there are several elements that suggest that in the Nubian regions, controlled by Egypt, it has come to form a peripheral power where three pretenders to the throne would have alternated in power who adopted the entire royal title of sovereigns of Upper and Lower Egypt.

Kakara Ini, (Horo Senefertuaf), his name does not appear in any Royal List but only in inscriptions from Nubia on which he may have reigned for a brief period simultaneously with Mentuhotep IV, at the same time with two other claimants to the throne of Egypt: Ibkhenetra and Segerseni. Also mentioned only in inscriptions from Nubia, Segerseni also appears on an inscription found at Umbarekab still in Nubia.

With Mentuhotep IV the XI dynasty closes, Amenemhat I will begin the 12th dynasty and with it the true Middle Kingdom.

By: Piero Cargnino

Sources and bibliography:

Cimmino Franco, “Dictionary of Pharaonic dynasties”, Bompiani, Milan 2003
Alan Gardiner, “The Egyptian civilization”, Oxford University Press 1961, Einaudi, Turin 1997
Nicolas Grimal, “History of Ancient Egypt”, Rome-Bari, Biblioteca Storica Laterza, 2011)

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