Senusret III

Last updated

Khakaure Senusret III (also written as Senwosret III or the hellenised form, Sesostris III) was a pharaoh of Egypt. He ruled from 1878 BC to 1839 BC during a time of great power and prosperity, [1] and was the fifth king of the Twelfth Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom. He was a great pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty and is considered to be, perhaps, the most powerful Egyptian ruler of the dynasty. Consequently, he is regarded as one of the sources for the legend about Sesostris. His military campaigns gave rise to an era of peace and economic prosperity that reduced the power of regional rulers and led to a revival in craftwork, trade, and urban development. [2] Senusret III was among the few Egyptian kings who were deified and honored with a cult during their own lifetime. [3]

Pharaoh Title of Ancient Egyptian rulers

Pharaoh is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the actual term "Pharaoh" was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until Merneptah, c. 1200 BCE. In the early dynasty, ancient Egyptian kings used to have up to three titles, the Horus, the Sedge and Bee (nswt-bjtj) name, and the Two Ladies (nbtj) name. The Golden Horus and nomen and prenomen titles were later added.

Ancient Egypt ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

Middle Kingdom of Egypt period in the history of ancient Egypt between about 2000 BC and 1700 BC

The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt following a period of political division known as the First Intermediate Period. The Middle Kingdom lasted from around 2050 BC to around 1710 BC, stretching from the reunification of Egypt under the reign of Mentuhotep II of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Twelfth Dynasty. The Eleventh Dynasty ruled from Thebes and the Twelfth Dynasty ruled from el-Lisht. Some scholars also include the Thirteenth Dynasty of Egypt wholly into this period as well, in which case the Middle Kingdom would finish around 1650 BC, while others only include it until Merneferre Ay around 1700 BC, last king of this dynasty to be attested in both Upper and Lower Egypt. During the Middle Kingdom period, Osiris became the most important deity in popular religion. The Middle Kingdom was followed by the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt, another period of division that involved foreign invasions of the country by the Hyksos of West Asia.

Contents

Family

Senusret III was the son of Senusret II and Khenemetneferhedjet I, also called Khenemetneferhedjet I Weret (the elder). Three wives of Senusret III are known for certain. These are Itakayt, Khenemetneferhedjet II and Neferthenut, all three mainly known from their burials next to the pyramid of the king at Dahshur. Several daughters are known, although they also are attested only by the burials around the king's pyramid and their exact relation to the king is disputable. These include Sithathor, Menet, Senetsenebtysy, and Meret. Amenemhat III was most likely a son of the king. Other sons are not known. [4]

Senusret II pharaoh of Egypt

Khakheperre Senusret II was the fourth pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from 1897 BC to 1878 BC. His pyramid was constructed at El-Lahun. Senusret II took a great deal of interest in the Faiyum oasis region and began work on an extensive irrigation system from Bahr Yussef through to Lake Moeris through the construction of a dike at El-Lahun and the addition of a network of drainage canals. The purpose of his project was to increase the amount of cultivable land in that area. The importance of this project is emphasized by Senusret II's decision to move the royal necropolis from Dahshur to El-Lahun where he built his pyramid. This location would remain the political capital for the 12th and 13th Dynasties of Egypt. The king also established the first known workers' quarter in the nearby town of Senusrethotep (Kahun).

Khenemetneferhedjet I Great Royal Wife, Khenemetneferhedjet

Khenemetneferhedjet I Weret was an ancient Egyptian queen of the 12th Dynasty, a wife of Senusret II and the mother of Senusret III.

Itakayt Ancient Egyptian princess and queen of the 12th Dynasty

Itakayt was an Ancient Egyptian princess and queen of the 12th Dynasty, around 1800 BC. She is mainly known from her small pyramid next to the one of Senusret III at Dahshur. She had the titles king's daughter of his body, powerful, graceful and beloved.

Initiatives

Granite statue of Senwosret III - he is shown wearing the nemes headcloth with a cobra image of Wadjet at the front, the pleated shendyt kilt, and the bull's tail, visible between his legs; beneath his feet are nine bows, symbolizing Egypt's traditional enemies under his power; unlike his predecessors, who were shown with idealized facial features, Senwosret has heavily lidded eyes, lined and haggard cheeks, and pursed lips; the reason for this stylistic change is not known, but imitations of his features by later kings and private individuals suggest that Senwosret's features were intended to convey his virtuous qualities. Brooklyn Museum Senwosret III, ca. 1836-1818 B.C.E. Granite.jpg
Granite statue of Senwosret III - he is shown wearing the nemes headcloth with a cobra image of Wadjet at the front, the pleated shendyt kilt, and the bull's tail, visible between his legs; beneath his feet are nine bows, symbolizing Egypt's traditional enemies under his power; unlike his predecessors, who were shown with idealized facial features, Senwosret has heavily lidded eyes, lined and haggard cheeks, and pursed lips; the reason for this stylistic change is not known, but imitations of his features by later kings and private individuals suggest that Senwosret's features were intended to convey his virtuous qualities. Brooklyn Museum

Senusret III cleared a navigable canal through the first cataract of the Nile River, [5] (this was different from the Canal of the Pharaohs, which apparently, Senusret III also tried to build). He also relentlessly pushed his kingdom's expansion into Nubia (from 1866 to 1863 BC) where he erected massive river forts including Buhen, Semna, Shalfak and Toshka at Uronarti.

Canal of the Pharaohs Forerunner of the Suez Canal, Egypt

The Canal of the Pharaohs, also called the Ancient Suez Canal or Necho's Canal, is the forerunner of the Suez Canal, constructed in ancient times. It followed a different course than its modern counterpart, by linking the Nile to the Red Sea via the Wadi Tumilat. Work began under the Pharaohs. According to Suez Inscriptions and Herodotus, the first opening of the canal was under Persian king Darius the Great, but later ancient authors like Aristotle, Strabo, and Pliny the Elder claim that he failed to complete the work. Another possibility is that it was finished in the Ptolemaic period under Ptolemy II, when Greek engineers solved the problem of overcoming the difference in height through canal locks.

Nubia region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt

Nubia is a region along the Nile river encompassing the area between Aswan in southern Egypt and Khartoum in central Sudan. It was the seat of one of the earliest civilizations of ancient Africa, with a history that can be traced from at least 2500 BC onward with the Kerma culture. The latter was conquered by the New Kingdom of Egypt under pharaoh Thutmose I around 1500 BC. Nubia was home to several empires, most prominently the kingdom of Kush, which conquered Egypt during the 8th century BC during the reign of Piye and ruled the country as its Twenty-fifth Dynasty.

Buhen Ancient Egyptian fortress

Buhen was an ancient Egyptian settlement situated on the West bank of the Nile below the Second Cataract in what is now Northern State, Sudan. It is now submerged in Lake Nubia, Sudan. On the East bank, across the river, there was another ancient settlement, where the town of Wadi Halfa now stands.

He carried out at least four major campaigns into Nubia in his Years 8, 10, 16, and 19. [6] His Year 8 stela at Semna documents his victories against the Nubians, through which he is thought to have made safe the southern frontier, preventing further incursions into Egypt. [7] Another great stela from Semna dated to the third month of Year 16 of his reign mentions his military activities against both Nubia and Canaan. In it, he admonished his future successors to maintain the new border that he had created:

Stele Stone or wooden slab erected for funerals or commemorative purposes

A stele, or occasionally stela, when derived from Latin, is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected in the ancient world as a monument. Grave stelae were often used for funerary or commemorative purposes. Stelae as slabs of stone would also be used as ancient Greek and Roman government notices or as boundary markers to mark borders or property lines.

Military Organization primarily tasked with preparing for and conducting war

A military is a heavily-armed, highly organised force primarily intended for warfare, also known collectively as armed forces. It is typically officially authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its members identifiable by their distinct military uniform. It may consist of one or more military branches such as an Army, Navy, Air Force and in certain countries, Marines and Coast Guard. The main task of the military is usually defined as defence of the state and its interests against external armed threats.

Canaan A Semitic-speaking region in the Ancient Near East

Canaan was a Semitic-speaking region and civilization in the Ancient Near East during the late 2nd millennium BC. The name Canaan appears throughout the Bible, where it corresponds to the Levant, in particular to the areas of the Southern Levant that provide the main setting of the narrative of the Bible: Phoenicia, Philistia, Israel, and other nations.

His final campaign, which was in his Year 19, was less successful because the king's forces were caught with the Nile being lower than normal and they had to retreat and abandon their campaign in order to avoid being trapped in hostile Nubian territory. [9]

Such was his forceful nature and immense influence that Senusret III was worshipped as a deity in Semna by later generations. [10] Jacques Morgan, in 1894, found rock inscriptions near Sehel Island documenting his digging of a canal. Senusret III erected a temple and town in Abydos, and another temple in Medamud. [11]

Sehel Island Island in the Nile

Sehel Island is located in the Nile, about 2 miles (3.2 km) southwest of Aswan in southern Egypt. It is a large island, and is roughly halfway between the city and the upstream Aswan Low Dam.

Temple structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities

A temple is a building reserved for religious or spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and sacrifice. It is typically used for such buildings belonging to all faiths where a more specific term such as church, mosque or synagogue is not generally used in English. These include Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism among religions with many modern followers, as well as other ancient religions such as Ancient Egyptian religion.

Town settlement that is bigger than a village but smaller than a city

A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages but smaller than cities, though the criteria to distinguish them vary considerably between different parts of the world.

His court included the viziers Sobekemhat, Nebit, and Khnumhotep. Ikhernofret worked as treasurer for the king at Abydos. Senankh cleared the canal at Sehel for the king.

Length of reign

The Year 16 border stela of Senusret III (Altes Museum), Berlin Ancient egyptian border marker (around 1860BC).jpg
The Year 16 border stela of Senusret III (Altes Museum), Berlin

A double-dated papyrus in the Berlin Museum shows Year 20 of his reign next to Year 1 of his son, Amenemhat III; generally, this is presumed to be a proof for a coregency with his son, which should have been started in this year. According to Josef W. Wegner, a Year 39 hieratic control note was recovered on a white limestone block from:

Wegner stresses that it is unlikely that Amenemhat III, Senusret's son and successor, would still be working on his father's temple nearly four decades into his own reign. He notes that the only possible explanation for the block's existence at the project is that Senusret III had a 39-year reign, with the final 20 years in coregency with his son Amenemhat III. Since the project was associated with a project of Senusret III, his Regnal Year was presumably used to date the block, rather than Year 20 of Amenemhat III. Wegner interprets this as an implication that Senusret was still alive in the first two decades of his son's reign.

Wegner's hypothesis is rejected by some scholars, such as Pierre Tallet and Harco Willems; according to them, it is more likely that such a coregency never occurred, and that the Year 39 control note still refers to Amenemhat III, who may have ordered some additions to Senusret's monuments. [13] [14]

Pyramid and complex

Plan of the Pyramid complex at Dashur Sesostris3-plan-complexe.jpg
Plan of the Pyramid complex at Dashur

Senusret's pyramid complex was built north-east of the Red Pyramid of Dashur. [15] It far surpassed those from the early twelfth dynasty in size, grandeur, and underlying religious conceptions.

There has been speculation that Senusret was not necessarily buried there, but rather, in his sophisticated funerary complex in Abydos and his pyramid more likely being a cenotaph. [2]

Senusret's pyramid is 105 meters square and 78 meters high. The total volume was approximately 288,000 cubic meters. The pyramid was built of a core of mud bricks. They were not made a consistent size implying that standardized moulds were not used. The burial chamber was lined with granite. Above the vaulted burial chamber was a second relieving chamber that was roofed with five pairs of limestone beams each weighing 30 tons. Above this was a third mudbrick vault.

The pyramid complex included a small mortuary temple and seven smaller pyramids for his queens. There is also an underground gallery with further burials for royal women. Here were found the treasures of Sithathor and queen Mereret. There was also a southern temple, however this has since been destroyed. [16]

Royal statuary

A statue of Senusret III at the British Museum, showing the traits that are peculiar for this king StatueOfSesotrisIII-EA684-BritishMuseum-August19-08.jpg
A statue of Senusret III at the British Museum, showing the traits that are peculiar for this king

Senusret III is well known for his distinctive statues, which are almost immediately recognizable as his. On them, the king is depicted at different ages and, in particular, on the aged ones he sports a strikingly somber expression: the eyes are protruding from hollow eye sockets with pouches and lines under them, the mouth and lips have a grimace of bitterness, and the ears are enormous and protruding forward. In sharp contrast with the even-exaggerated realism of the head and, regardless of his age, the rest of the body is idealized as forever young and muscular, in the more classical pharaonic fashion. [17] [18]

Scholars could only make assumptions about the reasons why Senusret III chose to have himself portrayed in such a unique way, and polarized on two diverging opinions. [17] Some argue that Senusret wanted to be represented as a lonely and disenchanted ruler, human before divine, consumed by worries and by his responsibilities. [19] [20] [21] At the opposite, other scholars suggested that the statues originally would convey the idea of a dreadful tyrant able to see and hear everything under his strict control. [22]

More recently, it has been suggested that the purpose of such peculiar portraiture was not to represent realism, but rather, to reveal the perceived nature of royal power at the time of Senusret's reign. [23]

Senwosret III's Name in Hieroglyphics Senwosret III in Hieroglyphics.jpeg
Senwosret III's Name in Hieroglyphics

Trivia

Senusret is a major character in Christian Jacq's historical fiction series The Mysteries of Osiris [24]

Many conservative biblical scholars consider Senusret the pharaoh mentioned in Genesis 39-47, who elevated Joseph to a high administrative post, answerable directly to him. [25]

See also

Related Research Articles

Amenemhat III pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt

Amenemhat III, also spelled Amenemhet III, was a pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from c. 1860 BC to c. 1814 BC, the highest known date being found in a papyrus dated to Regnal Year 46, I Akhet 22 of his rule. His reign is regarded as the golden age of the Middle Kingdom. He may have had a long coregency with his father, Senusret III.

Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt

The Twelfth Dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with the Eleventh, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Dynasties under the group title Middle Kingdom.

Sesostris

Sesostris was the name of a king of ancient Egypt who, according to Herodotus, led a military expedition into parts of Europe.

Amenemhat IV Pharaoh of Egypt

Amenemhat IV was the seventh and penultimate pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty of Egypt during the late Middle Kingdom period, ruling for over nine years in the late 19th century BC or the early 18th century BC.

Amenemhat I ruler of Egypt

Amenemhat I also Amenemhet I and the hellenized form Ammenemes, was the first ruler of the Twelfth Dynasty, the dynasty considered to be the golden-age of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. He ruled from 1991 BC to 1962 BC.

Amenemhat II pharaoh of Egypt

Nubkaure Amenemhat II was the third pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. Although he ruled for at least 35 years, his reign is rather obscure, as well as his family relationships.

Lisht Place in Giza Governorate, Egypt

Lisht or el-Lisht is an Egyptian village located south of Cairo. It is the site of Middle Kingdom royal and elite burials, including two pyramids built by Amenemhat I and Senusret I. The two main pyramids were surrounded by smaller pyramids of members of the royal family, and many mastaba tombs of high officials and their family members. They were constructed throughout the Twelfth and Thirteenth Dynasties. The site is also known for the tomb of Senebtisi, found undisturbed and from which a set of jewelry has been recovered. The pyramid complex of Senusret I is the best preserved from this period. The coffins in the tomb of Sesenebnef present the earliest versions of the Book of the Dead.

Neferhotep I Egyptian pharaoh

Khasekhemre Neferhotep I was an Egyptian pharaoh of the mid Thirteenth Dynasty ruling in the second half of the 18th century BC during a time referred to as the late Middle Kingdom or early Second Intermediate Period, depending on the scholar. One of the best attested rulers of the 13th Dynasty, Neferhotep I reigned for 11 years.

Sekhemre Khutawy Sobekhotep Egyptian pharaoh of the 13th Dynasty

Sekhemre Khutawy Sobekhotep was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 13th Dynasty during the Second Intermediate Period, who reigned for at least three years c. 1800 BC. His chronological position is much debated, Sekhemre Khutawy Sobekhotep being either the founder of the dynasty, in which case he is called Sobekhotep I, or its twentieth ruler, in which case he is called Sobekhotep II. In his 1997 study of the Second Intermediate Period, the Egyptologist Kim Ryholt makes a strong case for Sekhemre Khutawy Sobekhotep as the founder of the dynasty, a hypothesis that is now dominant in Egyptology. His tomb was believed to have been discovered in Abydos in 2013, but its attribution is now questioned.

Josef William Wegner is an American Egyptologist, archaeologist and associate professor in Egyptology at the department of near eastern languages and civilizations of the University of Pennsylvania, where he obtained his Ph.D. degree in Egyptology. His father is the astrophysicist, Gary A. Wegner.

<i>Loyalist Teaching</i>

The Loyalist Teaching, or The Loyalist Instructions, is an ancient Egyptian text of the sebayt ('teaching') genre. It survives in part from a stela inscription of the mid Twelfth dynasty of Egypt. The whole text can be found in papyrus scrolls of the New Kingdom period. Its authorship is uncertain, although it has been suggested that it was written by the vizier Kairsu of the early Twelfth dynasty. The text emphasizes the virtues of loyalty to the ruling pharaoh and the responsibilities one must maintain for the sake of society.

High Priest of Ptah position

The High Priest of Ptah was sometimes referred to as "The Greatest of the Directors of Craftsmanship" (wr-ḫrp-ḥmwt). This title refers to Ptah as the patron god of the craftsmen.

Menet was an Ancient Egyptian king's daughter living in the Twelfth Dynasty most likely under the kings Senusret III and Amenemhat III. Menet had the titles king's daughter and the one united with the white crown (Khenemetneferhedjet). She is only known from her sarcophagus and burial in a gallery tomb buried with other members of the royal family next to the pyramid of Senusret III at Dahshur. From the position of the tomb it seems likely that she was the daughter of the latter king.

The Abydos Dynasty is hypothesized to have been a short-lived local dynasty ruling over parts of Middle and Upper Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period in Ancient Egypt. The Abydos Dynasty would have been contemporaneous with the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Dynasties, from approximately 1650 to 1600 BC. It would have been based in or around Abydos and its royal necropolis might have been located at the foot of the Mountain of Anubis, a hill resembling a pyramid in the Abydene desert, close to a rock-cut tomb built for pharaoh Senusret III.

Pyramid of Senusret III building in Egypt

The Pyramid of Senusret III is an ancient Egyptian pyramid located at Dahshur and built for pharaoh Senusret III of the 12th Dynasty.

References

  1. Kim S. B. Ryholt, The Political Situation in Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, c.1800-1550 B.C., Museum Tusculanum Press, Carsten Niebuhr Institute Publications 20, 1997. p.185
  2. 1 2 "The Pyramids: Their Archeology and History", Miroslav Verner, Translated by Steven Rendall,p386-387 & p416-421, Atlantic, ISBN   1-84354-171-8
  3. "The Oxford Guide: Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology", Edited by Donald B. Redford, p. 85, Berkley, 2003, ISBN   0-425-19096-X
  4. Pierre Tallet: Sesostris III et la fin de la XIIe dynastie, Paris 2005, ISBN   2-85704-851-3, p. 14-30
  5. J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt , Part One, Chicago 1906, §§642-648
  6. J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part One, Chicago 1906, §§640-673
  7. J.H. Breasted, §652
  8. Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian literature: a Book of Readings, Berkeley CA, University of California Press, 1973. pp.119–120
  9. Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press 2003, p.155
  10. Peter Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames & Hudson Ltd, (1994),p.86
  11. "Senusret (III) Khakhaure". Petrie.ucl.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  12. Josef Wegner, The Nature and Chronology of the Senwosret IIIAmenemhat III Regnal Succession: Some Considerations based on new evidence from the Mortuary Temple of Senwosret III at Abydos, JNES 55, Vol.4, (1996), p. 251
  13. Tallet, Pierre (2005). Sésostris III et la fin de la XIIe Dynastie. Paris. pp. 28–29.
  14. Willems, Harco (2010). "The First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom". In Lloyd, Alan B. (ed.). A companion to Ancient Egypt, volume 1. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 93.
  15. Katheryn A. Bard, Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Routledge 1999, p.107
  16. Lehner, Mark The Complete Pyramids, London: Thames and Hudson (1997)p.177-9 ISBN   0-500-05084-8.
  17. 1 2 Robins, Gay (1997). The Art of Ancient Egypt. London: British Museum Press. p. 113. ISBN   0714109886.
  18. Freed, Rita E. (2010). "Sculpture of the Middle Kingdom". In Lloyd, Alan B. (ed.). A companion to Ancient Egypt, volume 2. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 900–902. ISBN   9781405155984.
  19. Bothmer, Bernard (1974). Brief Guide to the Department of Egyptian and Classical Art. Brooklyn, NY: The Brooklyn Museum. p. 39.
  20. Morkot, Robert G. (2005). The Egyptians: An Introduction. Routledge. p. 14.
  21. Cimmino, Franco (2003). Dizionario delle dinastie faraoniche (in Italian). Milano: Bompiani. p. 158. ISBN   88-452-5531-X.
  22. Wilkinson, Toby (2010). The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt. London: Bloomsbury. p. 179. ISBN   9781408810026.
  23. Laboury, Dimitri, Senwosret III and the Issue of Portraiture in Ancient Egyptian Art, in Andreu-Lanoë, Guillemette & Morfoisse, Fleur (eds.), Sésostris III et la fin du Moyen Empire. Actes du colloque des 12-13 décembre 2014, Louvre-Lens et Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille. CRIPEL 31 (2016-2017), pp. 71–84.
  24. "The Tree of Life (Mysteries of Osiris, book 1) by Christian Jacq". Fantasticfiction.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  25. Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament (3rd edition), Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009, p. 187.

Bibliography

Colchis