Page images


Northern Sûdân1 to subjection, and overcame all his enemies, both native and foreign. Choosing neither Thebes nor Memphis he built himself a fortified palace called Athet Taui, i.e., "Conqueror of the Two Lands," on the west bank of the Nile, about 30 miles to the south of Memphis. The king's policy in dealing with the nobles of the country is well illustrated by the inscription of Khnemuḥetep at Bani Hasan, which shows that Amenemhat was strong, wise and just. Towards the close of his life an attempt was made one night, through the connivance of the palace officials, to murder him, but he either slew or put to flight his would-be assassins. Probably as a result of this incident he associated his son Usertsen I (Sen-Usrit) with him in the rule of the kingdom. He built his pyramid Qa-nefer, 4, at Al-Lisht, probably near his fortified palace; he reigned in all 30 years. Shortly before his death his son and co-regent was conducting a campaign in the Western Delta, and with him was a young officer called Sanehat. When news reached the prince that his father was dead, he at once returned to substantiate his claim to the throne. But in the mind of Sanehat the news struck terror, and watching his opportunity he hid himself in the brushwood, and then fled from the army, and got out of the country into Palestine as fast as he could. He had many adventures, nearly died of thirst, was rescued by the nomads, and married a woman of quality and became a great shêkh. He won great fame and riches by slaying an insolent and arrogant mighty man of war of the Goliath type. The reason why Sanehat took to flight when he heard of the king's death is not clear; it has been suggested that he was a son of Amenemhat I, and was afraid that he might be put to death. The story of Sanehat was very popular among the Egyptians.3

Amenemḥat I was succeeded by his son Usertsen I (Sen-Usrit4), who reigned for 45 years, 10 of which he was co-regent with his father, and 3 co-regent with his son. Manetho calls him "Sesonchôsis,' with the variant "Sesortôsis," from which "Sesostris' was evolved.

[ocr errors]

1 The American excavations at Dafûfah, near the Island of Arķô, a little to the south of the Third Cataract, proved that the fort there was held by Amenemhat I, and by Pepi II of the VIth dynasty.

2 The king describes the attack in his "Teaching," a XIXth dynasty copy of which is preserved in the Brit. Mus. Papyrus Sallier II. Many parts of it have been translated by Maspero, Amélineau, Erman, Griffith and others.

* The hieratic text was published by Lepsius, Denkmäler, Abth. VI, Bll. 104–7. The best translations are those of Erman, Aus den Papyrus, pp. 14–29, and Gardiner, Die Erzählung des Sinuhe, Leipzig, 1904.


These words seem to mean "Brother (or associate) of Usrit,” ON'


[ocr errors]

a form of the goddess Isis worshipped at Thebes; she is mentioned in Chapters CX and CXLV of the Book of the Dead.

In this reign the old copper mines in Sinai were reopened and new ones worked, and many temples were repaired. Usertsen I refounded the great temple of Anu (Heliopolis) and had a description of his work cut upon a stele which was set up in it.1 One of the two obelisks, with metal pyramidions, which he set up in front of it is still standing, and is 65 feet high.2 He sent an expedition into Nubia under the leadership of Ameni, who was buried at BaniḤasan, and the great chiefs of Elephantine who owned the caravans that traded between their town and the South assisted the royal forces. Some of them, e.g., Sarenput, marched with them so far as the modern town of Dongola. An Egyptian fort and temple were built at Buhen (Wâdî Ḥalfah), and Haptchefa, an Egyptian, was appointed governor of the district round about the modern town of Karmah, at the head of the Third Cataract. This district is called Kas, and is the Kûsh, or Cûsh, of the Bible. The object of such expeditions, or raids, as they ought to be called, was to obtain gold and slaves and the products of the South, even as it was in the days of Seneferu. An Egyptian officer was sent also to the Oasis of Khârgah in the Western Desert to extend the authority of Pharaoh over the peoples of the Oases, and to take tribute from the caravans that traded with Dâr Fûr and Kordofân. The king's pyramid at Al-Lisht was excavated in 1908-14 by the Metropolitan Museum of New York, and 10 large statues of him were found in it.

[ocr errors]

Åmenemḥat II, the Ammanemês of Manetho, who says that he was slain by his eunuchs, reigned about 35 years, including 3 as co-regent with his father and 3 with his son. No military expeditions were undertaken during this reign, but the mines of Sinai were worked by a large colony of Egyptians at Sarâbît al-Khâdim, for whose benefit a temple to the goddess Hathor was erected. Several great officials were sent to the Sûdân to fetch gold, precious stones, etc., and fortified rest-houses were built by the Egyptians for the protection of the men who brought the gold to Elephantine. It is probable that most of them were by the river, at least as far as Buhen (Wâdî Halfah). Some officials were sent to Punt viâ the Wâdî Ḥammâmât, and thus the Egyptian Sûdân was being regularly opened up in two directions. Amenem

ḥat II built a pyramid called Kherp, ▲, at Dahshûr,

which was excavated by De Morgan.

Usertsen II (Sen-Usrit) reigned 19 years, during 3 of which he was co-regent with his father. Like his father he continued the

1 A copy of the opening lines of it is preserved on a leather roll now in Berlin; see Stern in Aeg. Zeit., 1874, p. 85 ff.

2 His obelisk at Begig, now fallen, is 46 feet in length; see Lepsius, Denkmäler, Abth. II, Bl. 119.


peaceful penetration" of the Sûdân by fostering trade with the South, and the import of gold into Egypt in his reign was very considerable. In the sixth year of his reign 37 Amu, or nomads of the Eastern Desert (Semites), brought a gift of mestchemut , i.e., antimony (Coptic Cтн), for eye-paint ;


the scene of the presentation is depicted on the walls of the tomb of Khnemuḥetep at Bani-Ḥasan. Usertsen II built a pyramid at the mouth of the great canal leading to the Fayyûm at a place now called Al-Lâhûn. It was built of sun-dried bricks cased with stone, and was opened by Mr. G. W. Fraser. About a mile and a-half from the ruins of this pyramid, at Kahûn, are the ruins of the town in which the workmen who built the pyramid lived; here were found several important, but fragmentary, papyri and many fragments of Minoan pottery.1

[ocr errors]

Usertsen III (Sen-Usrit) reigned about 38 years and effected the annexation of Nubia and of the Egyptian Sûdân so far as the head of the Second Cataract. In the eighth year of his reign he cleared out, repaired and enlarged the old canal which had been made in the First Cataract by Unå in the VIth dynasty, thus doing away with a difficult and time-wasting "portage." He carried out three or four very lucrative campaigns in Nubia and built the famous. fortresses at Samnah and Kummah, on rocky eminences overlooking the Nile, about 30 miles south of Wâdî Ḥalfah. He fortified Jazîrat al-Malik (Uronarti), where Crowfoot and Budge discovered the great red granite inscribed royal stele which they took to Khartûm in 1906, and many other places in the Second Cataract, especially Matûkah and Mirgissi. He despised the natives, whom he describes in his inscriptions as cowardly and mean-spirited," and he boasts that he reaped the crops which they had sown, and stopped their wells, and slew their cattle, and carried off their women. And he prohibited any "Black "Black" from passing Samnah and Kummah except for trading purposes. The Sesostris of later tradition, of whom Usertsen III was no doubt the original, is said to have been a mighty traveller, and to have conquered all Asia in nine years, and Europe so far as Thrace. But the monuments show that all his expeditions were in Nubia, and that only once did one of his officers, Khusebek by name, invade any other country. This official made a raid into Palestine, but its object seems to have been booty, not conquest. The pyramid built by Usertsen III at Dahshûr was excavated by De Morgan in 1894; outside the enclosing wall of the pyramid he found the royal funerary cedar-wood boat, which was about 30 feet long, and was broad enough to hold a double line of rowers and a sledge. Some have identified Usertsen III, or "Lachares," with the Nachares of Christian chronographers, in whose reign the patriarch Abraham is said to have visited Egypt.

1 On this pottery see Hall in Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. I, P.


Amenemḥat III, the greatest king of the XIIth dynasty, reigned about 48 years, and is called "Lamares" by Strabo. No great wars of conquest or raids for booty were undertaken by him, but he devoted himself to increasing the material prosperity of his country. Art, sculpture and architecture flourished under his powerful protection, and the monuments prove that his building operations continued throughout his reign. The quarries in Sinai were worked and vast quantities of stone were quarried in the Wâdî Ḥammâmât, Crocodilopolis and Turah. He carried out great works in connection with the irrigation of the country. He increased the area watered by the old canal now called Baḥr Yûsuf1 by means of a huge embankment, and reclaimed a large quantity of land from the bed of the great depression in the limestone which was known as Lake Moeris. The Birkat al-Kurûn in the western Fayyûm is all that is left of Lake Moeris, which, it has now been shown, was not an artificial lake, as Herodotus thought. Lake Moeris was said to be 150 miles in circumference and to have an area of 750 miles, and to be 50 paces deep; the surface of Birkat al-Kurûn is 150 feet below sea-level, and its cubic contents are equal to 1,500,000,000 cubic metres. Amenemḥat III had records kept of the height reached by the waters of the Nile at Samnah and Kummah, and these show that the river-level was 26 feet higher during the Inundation than it is at the present time. These are dated in years 3, 5, 7, 9, 14, 15, 22, 23, 24, 30, 32, 37, 40, 41 and 43 of the king's reign, and they may have been connected in some way with regulating the inflow of water into Lake Moeris. He built the great temple which Herodotus (II, 148), Strabo (XVII, 37) and Diodorus (I, 5) call the Labyrinth. This was nothing but the large temple dedicated to Sebek, the Crocodile-god, which he built to the south of his pyramid tomb, now known as the Pyramid of Hawârah1; this is said to have stood between the entrance to the Fayyûm and Crocodilopolis (Arsinoë) and to have had an area measuring 1,000 feet by 800 feet. The remains of the temple were used in building the railway! The king set up two great statues of himself, each about 40 feet high, not in the middle of Lake Moeris, as Herodotus thought, but close by. The remains of the pedestals on which they were placed existed a few years ago, and were called by the natives Pharaoh's Chairs (Kirasi al-Fir'aûn). The sphinxes which Mariette found at Şân (Tanis), and believed to be the work of the Hyksos,


1 It leaves the Nile a little to the north of Asyût and, passing through a gap in the Libyan mountains, enters the Fayyûm after a course of about 200 miles.

2 The average level of Lake Moeris was 80 feet above the Mediterranean Sea.

Opened by Petrie in 1889; for a description of the king's wonderful tomb see Kahun, Gurob and Hawara, p. 12.

• Petrie, Hawara, pp. 5 and 6.

were undoubtedly made for Amenemhat III.1 That the face of the Sphinx at Gîzah is a portrait of this king is not so certain. The Teaching of Seḥetepabrā was written during the reign of Amenemhat III.

[ocr errors]

The reigns of Amenemḥat IV and Sebekneferurā, the last monarchs of this dynasty, were unimportant; the latter, a woman, is called "Skemiophris by Manetho. The monuments mention Ḥer, a king with the prenomen of Auȧbrā, who must have reigned, probably as a co-regent, with Usertsen III or Amenemḥat, about this time, and also an Usertsen with the prenomen of Seneferȧbrā.

The Thirteenth Dynasty from Thebes and the Fourteenth Dynasty from Xois.

Manetho says that the Theban kings of the XIIIth dynasty were 60 in number, and that they reigned 453 years, and that the Xoïte kings of the XIVth dynasty were 76 in number, and that they reigned 184 or 484 years. The King-Lists and other monuments supply the names of about 108 kings who reigned during the period between the end of the XIIth dynasty and the beginning of the first Hyksos dynasty (the XVth), and it is possible that scarabs may supply a good many more, but very few of these kings had the right to assume the title of "King of the South


and North." When death removed the wise head and strong hand of Amenemḥat, all the great nobles in Egypt knew that he could have no real successor, and each proceeded to assert his independence and to usurp authority. At Thebes the families of the Antefs and the Menthuḥeteps and the Amenemḥats probably put forward claimants to the throne, and the nomarch of Lower Egypt no doubt did the same, and it is more than probable that there were two or more nobles who called themselves "King of the South and North" at the same time. Manetho's totals of the years of the reigns of these "kings must be too high, but at present there is no evidence available to correct them. When Amenemḥat III died he left Egypt rich and prosperous, for all the gold in the Sûdân and the Eastern Desert was at his disposal. In fact, Egypt was well worth plundering, and all her enemies were well aware of this fact, and not many scores of years can have passed before the people were robbed of their wealth, and they were reduced to the state of subjection to which they were accustomed when there was no really powerful central authority in Egypt.

The first king of the XIIIth dynasty was a Theban called Khutauira Ugaf (?)



but nothing is known of his reign or why he was permitted to ascend the throne. The

1 This is proved by Golénischeff in Recueil, XV, p. 131 ff.

« PreviousContinue »