Mentuhotep I

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Mentuhotep I (also Mentuhotep-aa, i.e. "the Great" [3] ) may have been a Theban nomarch and independent ruler of Upper Egypt during the early First Intermediate Period. Alternatively, Mentuhotep I may be a fictional figure created during the later Eleventh dynasty, which rose to prominence under Intef II and Mentuhotep II, playing the role of a founding father.

Thebes, Egypt Ancient Egyptian city

Thebes, known to the ancient Egyptians as Waset, was an ancient Egyptian city located along the Nile about 800 kilometers (500 mi) south of the Mediterranean. Its ruins lie within the modern Egyptian city of Luxor. Thebes was the main city of the fourth Upper Egyptian nome and was the capital of Egypt for long periods during the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom eras. It was close to Nubia and the Eastern Desert, with its valuable mineral resources and trade routes. It was a cult center and the most venerated city of ancient Egypt during its heyday. The site of Thebes includes areas on both the eastern bank of the Nile, where the temples of Karnak and Luxor stand and where the city proper was situated; and the western bank, where a necropolis of large private and royal cemeteries and funerary complexes can be found.

A nomarch was a provincial governor in Ancient Egypt; the country was divided into 42 provinces, called nomes. A nomarch was the government official responsible for a nome.

Upper Egypt strip of land on the Nile valley between Nubia and Lower Egypt

Upper Egypt is the strip of land on both sides of the Nile that extends between Nubia and downriver (northwards) to Lower Egypt.



Mentuhotep was possibly a local Egyptian nomarch at Thebes during the early first intermediate period, ca. 2135 BC. The Karnak king list found in the Festival Hall of Thutmose III preserves, in position No. 12, the partial name "Men-" in a royal cartouche, distinct from those of Mentuhotep II (No. 29) or Mentuhotep III (No. 30). The available fragments of the Karnak list do not seem to represent past pharaohs in any chronological order, and thus one cannot ascertain if or when this "Men-" pharaoh lived. Many scholars have argued from the list that a Mentuhotep I, who might have been merely a Theban nomarch, was posthumously given a royal titulary by his successors; thus this conjectured personage is referred to conventionally as "Mentuhotep I". [4] [5] [6] [7]

Karnak king list Wikimedia list article

The Karnak king list, a list of early Egyptian kings engraved in stone, was located in the southwest corner of the Festival Hall of Thutmose III, in the middle of the Precinct of Amun-Re, in the Karnak Temple Complex, in modern Luxor, Egypt. Composed during the reign of Thutmose III, it listed sixty-one kings beginning with Sneferu from Egypt's Old Kingdom. Only the names of thirty-nine kings are still legible, and one is not written in a cartouche.

Festival Hall of Thutmose III

The Festival Hall of Thutmose III (Akh-menu) is an ancient shrine in Luxor (Thebes), Egypt. It is located at the heart of the Precinct of Amun-Re, in the Karnak Temple Complex. The edifice is normally translated as "the most glorious of monuments", but "monument to living spirit" is an alternative translation since akh can mean either glory or blessed/living spirit.

Mentuhotep III Egyptian pharaoh

Sankhkare Mentuhotep III of the Eleventh dynasty was Pharaoh of Egypt during the Middle Kingdom. He was assigned a reign of 12 years in the Turin Canon.

The fact that no contemporary monument can safely be attributed to a king "Mentuhotep I" has led some Egyptologists to propose that he is a fictional ancestor and founder of the Eleventh dynasty, invented for that purpose during the later part of the dynasty.

Karnak king list showing the partial name "Men..." in a cartouche (No. 12). Lepsius.jpg
Karnak king list showing the partial name "Men..." in a cartouche (No. 12).

On the base of a statue from the sanctuary of Heqaib on Elephantine, a Mentuhotep is referred to as "Father of the gods". [8] [9] This title probably refers to Mentuhotep's immediate successors, Intef I and Intef II who reigned as kings over Upper Egypt. From this title, many Egyptologists argued that this Mentuhotep was probably the father of Intef I and II, [4] [8] [10] and also that he was never a pharaoh, as this title was usually reserved for the non-royal ancestors of pharaohs. [5] [6] [7] [8]

Heqaib ancient Egyptian nomarch

Heqaib, also Hekaib or Hekayeb, was an ancient Egyptian nomarch of the 1st nomos of Upper Egypt under king Pepi II Neferkare, towards the end of the 6th Dynasty. He was also an officer in charge of military expeditions in Nubia.

Elephantine Island in the Nile

Elephantine is an island on the Nile, forming part of the city of Aswan in Upper Egypt. There are archaeological sites on the island.

Intef I 11th dynasty (Theban) Pharaoh

Sehertawy Intef I was a local nomarch at Thebes during the early First Intermediate Period and the first member of the 11th Dynasty to lay claim to a Horus name. Intef reigned from 4 to 16 years c. 2120 BC or c. 2070 BC during which time he probably waged war with his northern neighbor, the Coptite nomarch Tjauti. Intef was buried in a saff tomb at El-Tarif, known today as Saff el-Dawaba.

The throne name of Mentuhotep is unknown; since he might not have been a king, or no subsequent 11th Dynasty king bore any throne name until Mentuhotep II, it is probable that he never had one. His Horus name Tepi-a, "The ancestor" was certainly given to him posthumously. [11]


Mentuhotep's wife might have been Neferu I and the statue from Heqaib may be interpreted to show that he was the father of Intef I and II. The Karnak king list has apparently one non-royal personage (without cartouche), named Intef, in position no. 13. This could possibly refer to Intef the elder, son of Iku , a Theban nomarch loyal to the Herakleopolitan kings in the early first intermediate period. However, the kings on the remaining fragments are not listed in chronological order, so this is not at all certain.

Neferu I was the first queen of Ancient Egyptian Eleventh dynasty. She was a wife of the Pharaoh Mentuhotep I.

Intef the Elder Egyptian nomarch, ancestor of the 11th dynasty

Intef, whose name is commonly accompanied by epithets such as the Elder, the Great or born of Iku, was a Theban nomarch during the First Intermediate Period c. 2150 BC and later considered a founding figure of the 11th Dynasty, which eventually reunified Egypt.


As Theban nomarch, Mentuhotep's dominion perhaps extended south to the first cataract. Mentuhotep might hypothetically have formed an alliance with the nomarch of Coptos, which then brought his successor Intef I to war with the Herakleopolitan kings of the 10th Dynasty ruling over Lower Egypt and their powerful nomarch allies in Middle Egypt, in particular Ankhtifi.

Lower Egypt northernmost region of Egypt

Lower Egypt is the northernmost region of Egypt, which consists of the fertile Nile Delta, between Upper Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea — from El Aiyat, south of modern-day Cairo, and Dahshur. Historically, the Nile River split into seven branches of the delta in Lower Egypt. Lower Egypt was divided into nomes and began to advance as a civilization after 3600 BC. Today, it contains two major channels that flow through the delta of the Nile River.

Middle Egypt is the section of land between Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt, stretching upstream from Asyut in the south to Memphis in the north. At the time, Ancient Egypt was divided into Lower and Upper Egypt, though Middle Egypt was technically a subdivision of Upper Egypt. It was not until the 19th century that archaeologists felt the need to divide Upper Egypt in two. As a result, they coined the term "Middle Egypt" for the stretch of river between Cairo and the Qena Bend. It was also associated with a region termed Heptanomis, generally as the district which separates the Thebaïd from the Delta.

Ankhtifi ancient Egyptian nomarch

Ankhtifi was a nomarch of Hierakonpolis and a supporter of the pharaoh in Herakleopolis Magna, which was locked in a conflict with the Theban based 11th Dynasty kingdom for control of Egypt. Hence, Ankhtifi was possibly a rival to the Theban rulers Mentuhotep I and Intef I. He lived during the First Intermediate Period, after the Egyptian Old Kingdom state had collapsed, and at a time when economic hardship, political instability, and foreign invasion challenged the fabric of Egyptian society.

Related Research Articles

First Intermediate Period of Egypt period in ancient Egyptian history after end of the Old Kingdom

The First Intermediate Period, often described as a "dark age" in ancient Egyptian history, spanned approximately one hundred and twenty-five years, from c. 2181–2055 BC, after the end of the Old Kingdom. It comprises the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and part of the Eleventh Dynasties. Very little monumental evidence survives from this period, especially from the beginning of the era. The First Intermediate Period was a dynamic time where rule of Egypt was roughly equally divided between two competing power bases. One of those bases was at Heracleopolis in Lower Egypt, a city just south of the Faiyum region. The other was at Thebes in Upper Egypt. It is believed that during this time temples were pillaged and violated, artwork was vandalized, and the statues of kings were broken or destroyed as a result of the postulated political chaos. These two kingdoms would eventually come into conflict, leading to the conquest of the north by the Theban kings and the reunification of Egypt under a single ruler, Mentuhotep II, during the second part of the Eleventh Dynasty. This event marked the beginning of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt.

History of ancient Egypt aspect of history

The history of ancient Egypt spans the period from the early prehistoric settlements of the northern Nile valley to the Roman conquest, in 30 BC. The Pharaonic Period is dated from the 32nd century BC, when Upper and Lower Egypt were unified, until the country fell under Macedonian rule, in 332 BC.

The Eleventh Dynasty of ancient Egypt is a well-attested group of rulers. Its earlier members before Pharaoh Mentuhotep II are grouped with the four preceding dynasties to form the First Intermediate Period, whereas the later members are considered part of the Middle Kingdom. They all ruled from Thebes in Upper Egypt.

Intef II Egyptian Pharaoh

Wahankh Intef II was the third ruler of the Eleventh Dynasty of Egypt during the First Intermediate Period. He reigned for almost fifty years from 2112 BC to 2063 BC. His capital was located at Thebes. In his time, Egypt was split between several local dynasties. He was buried in a saff tomb at El-Tarif.

Intef III was the third pharaoh of the Eleventh Dynasty of Egypt during the late First Intermediate Period in the 21st century BC, at a time when Egypt was divided in two kingdoms. The son of his predecessor Intef II and father of his successor Mentuhotep II, Intef III reigned for 8 years over Upper Egypt and extended his domain North against the 10th Dynasty state, perhaps as far north as the 17th nome. He undertook some building activity on Elephantine. Intef III is buried in a large saff tomb at El-Tarif known as Saff el-Barqa.

Senakhtenre Ahmose seventh king of the Seventeenth dynasty of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period

Senakhtenre Ahmose was the seventh king of the Seventeenth dynasty of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. Senakhtenre reigned for a short period over the Theban region in Upper Egypt at a time where the Hyksos 15th dynasty ruled Lower Egypt. Senakhtenre died c.1560 or 1558 BC at the latest.

El-Tarif village in Egypt

El-Tarif is a necropolis on the West Bank of the Nile, at the site of ancient Thebes (Luxor), Egypt. It is located in the northwestern outskirts of Luxor and southeast of the Valley of the Kings, opposite Karnak, just to the southwest of the modern village of At-Tarif. It is the oldest of West Thebes' necropolises. It is a small mortuary temple, and the farthest north of the Tombs of the Nobles, and contains tombs of the late First Intermediate Period, Second Intermediate Period and early Middle Kingdom. Old Kingdom mastabas are possibly attributed to local rulers of the Fourth or Fifth Dynasty. Eleventh Dynasty tombs of local rulers have also been noted in the form of a series of rock-cut tombs dated to 2061-2010 B.C.E, the largest of which are Intef I to Intef III, who were kings of this dynasty.

Sobekhotep IV Egyptian pharaoh of the 13th Dynasty

Khaneferre Sobekhotep IV was one of the more powerful Egyptian kings of the 13th Dynasty, who reigned at least eight years. His brothers, Neferhotep I and Sihathor, were his predecessors on the throne, the latter having only ruled as coregent for a few months.

Sobekhotep VIII Pharaoh of Egypt

Sekhemre Seusertawy Sobekhotep VIII was possibly the third king of the 16th Dynasty of Egypt reigning over the Theban region in Upper Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. Alternatively, he may be a ruler of the 13th or 17th Dynasty. If he was a king of the 16th Dynasty, Sobekhotep VIII would be credited 16 years of reign by the Turin canon, starting c. 1650 BC, at the time of the Hyksos invasion of Egypt.

Wahkare Khety Egyptian Pharaoh of the 9th Dynasty

Wahkare Khety was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 9th or 10th Dynasty during the First Intermediate Period.

Merikare Egyptian pharaoh

Merikare was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 10th Dynasty who lived toward the end of the First Intermediate Period. His name cannot be recognized in the Turin King List. The dates of his reign are uncertain and debated among scholars.

Djehuti Egyptian Pharaoh

Sekhemre Sementawy Djehuti was possibly the second king of the Theban 16th Dynasty reigning over parts of Upper Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. Alternatively, he may be a king of the late 13th Dynasty or the fourth king of the 17th Dynasty. Djehuty is credited with a reign of 3 years in the first entry of the 11th column of the Turin canon. According to Egyptologists Kim Ryholt and Darrell Baker, he was succeeded by Sobekhotep VIII.

Ibiaw (vizier) ancient Egyptian vizier

Ibiaw or Ibiau was an ancient Egyptian vizier and Chief of the town during the 13th Dynasty, likely under pharaohs Wahibre Ibiaw and/or Merneferre Ay.

Khety II (nomarch) ancient Egyptian nomarch

Khety II was an ancient Egyptian nomarch of the 13th nomos of Upper Egypt during the reign of pharaoh Merykare of the 10th Dynasty.

Sarenput I ancient Egyptian nomarch

Sarenput I was an ancient Egyptian official during the reign of pharaoh Senusret I of the 12th Dynasty.


  1. Annales du Service des Antiquités de l´Egypt Le Caire. Nr. 55, 1900, p. 178.
  2. Clayton, Peter A. Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. p72. 2006. ISBN   0-500-28628-0
  3. Wolfram Grajetzki, The Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt: History, Archaeology and Society, Duckworth Egyptology, London 2006, ISBN   978-0715634356, pp. 10–11
  4. 1 2 William C. Hayes, The Middle Kingdom in Egypt. Internal History from the Rise of the Heracleopolitans to the Death of Ammenemes III., in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. I, part 2, Cambridge University Press, 1971, ISBN   0 521 077915, p. 476
  5. 1 2 Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt (Oxford: Blackwell Books, 1992), p. 143.
  6. 1 2 Jürgen von Beckerath, Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen (= Münchner ägyptologische Studien, vol 46), Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1999. ISBN   3-8053-2310-7, pp. 76–77.
  7. 1 2 Kim Ryholt, The Royal Canon of Turin, in Erik Hornung, Rolf Krauss and David A. Warburton (eds.), Ancient Egyptian Chronology, Brill, Leiden/Boston, 2006, ISBN   978 90 04 11385 5, p. 30.
  8. 1 2 3 Labib Habachi: "God's fathers and the role they played in the history of the First Intermediate Period", ASAE 55, p. 167ff.
  9. Labib Habachi: The Sanctuary of Hequaib, Mainz 1985, photos of the statue: vol. II, pp. 187-89.
  10. Louise Gestermann: Kontinuität und Wandel in Politik und Verwaltung des frühen Mittleren Reiches in Ägypten, Wiesbaden 1987, p. 26.
  11. The name is preserved only on an old drawing of Émile Prisse d'Avennes, see Habachi, Figure 4.
Preceded by
As nomarch of Thebes:
Intef the Elder
Pharaoh of Egypt
Eleventh Dynasty
Succeeded by
Intef I