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]

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]

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.

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:

Year 16, third month of winter: the king made his southern boundary at Heh. I have made my boundary further south than my fathers. I have added to what was bequeathed me. (...) As for any son (i.e., successor) of mine who shall maintain this border which my Majesty has made, he is my son born to my Majesty. The true son is he who champions his father, who guards the border of his begetter. But he [who] abandons it, who fails to fight for it, he is not my son, he was not born to me. Now my majesty has had an image made of my majesty, at this border which my majesty has made, in order that you maintain it, in order that you fight for it. [8]

The Sebek-khu Stele, dated to the reign of Senusret III (reign: 1878 – 1839 BC), records the earliest known Egyptian military campaign in the Levant. The text reads "His Majesty proceeded northward to overthrow the Asiatics. His Majesty reached a foreign country of which the name was Sekmem (...) Then Sekmem fell, together with the wretched Retenu", where Sekmem (s-k-m-m) is thought to be Shechem and "Retenu" or "Retjenu" are associated with ancient Syria. [9]

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. [10]

Such was his forceful nature and immense influence that Senusret III was worshipped as a deity in Semna by later generations. [11] 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. [12]

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:

...a securely defined deposit of construction debris produced from the building of the Senwosret III mortuary temple. The fragment itself is part of the remnants of the temple construction. This deposit provides evidence for the date of construction of the mortuary temple of Senwosret III at Abydos. [13]

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. [14] [15]

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. [16] 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. [17]

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. [18] [19]

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. [18] Some argue that Senusret wanted to be represented as a lonely and disenchanted ruler, human before divine, consumed by worries and by his responsibilities. [20] [21] [22] 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. [23]

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. [24]

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 [25]

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. [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

Abydos, Egypt City in ancient Egypt

Abydos is one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt, and also of the eighth nome in Upper Egypt. It is located about 11 kilometres west of the Nile at latitude 26° 10' N, near the modern Egyptian towns of El Araba El Madfuna and El Balyana. In the ancient Egyptian language, the city was called Abdju. The English name Abydos comes from the Greek Ἄβυδος, a name borrowed by Greek geographers from the unrelated city of Abydos on the Hellespont.

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.

Middle Kingdom of Egypt Reunified ancient Egypt c. 2000-1700 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 approximately 2050 to 1710 BC, stretching from the reunification of Egypt under the reign of Mentuhotep II in the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Twelfth Dynasty. The kings of the Eleventh Dynasty ruled from Thebes and the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty ruled from el-Lisht.

Amenhotep II Egyptian Pharaoh

Amenhotep II was the seventh pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Amenhotep inherited a vast kingdom from his father Thutmose III, and held it by means of a few military campaigns in Syria; however, he fought much less than his father, and his reign saw the effective cessation of hostilities between Egypt and Mitanni, the major kingdoms vying for power in Syria. His reign is usually dated from 1427 to 1401 BC.

Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt Egyptian dynasty from 1991 to 1802 BCE

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.

Mentuhotep II Egyptian pharaoh of the 11th Dynasty

Mentuhotep II, also known under his prenomen Nephepetre, was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh circa 2061–2010 BCE, the sixth ruler of the Eleventh Dynasty. He is credited with reuniting Egypt, thus ending the turbulent First Intermediate Period and becoming the first pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom. He reigned for 51 years, according to the Turin King List. Mentuhotep II succeeded his father Intef III on the throne and was in turn succeeded by his son Mentuhotep III.

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.

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 Pharaoh 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.

Senusret I pharaoh of Egypt

Senusret I also anglicized as Sesostris I and Senwosret I, was the second pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from 1971 BC to 1926 BC, and was one of the most powerful kings of this Dynasty. He was the son of Amenemhat I. Senusret I was known by his prenomen, Kheperkare, which means "the Ka of Re is created."

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).

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.

Instructions of Amenemhat literary work

Instructions of Amenemhat is a short ancient Egyptian poem of the sebayt genre written during the early Middle Kingdom. The poem takes the form of an intensely dramatic monologue delivered by the ghost of the murdered 12th Dynasty pharaoh Amenemhat I to his son Senusret I. It describes the conspiracy that killed Amenemhat, and enjoins his son to trust no-one. The poem forms a kind of apologia of the deeds of the old king's reign. It ends with an exhortation to Senusret to ascend the throne and rule wisely in Amenemhat's stead.

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.

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.

Articles related to ancient Egypt include:

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. Pritchard, James B. (2016). Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament with Supplement. Princeton University Press. p. 230. ISBN   978-1-4008-8276-2.
  10. Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press 2003, p.155
  11. Peter Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames & Hudson Ltd, (1994),p.86
  12. "Senusret (III) Khakhaure". Petrie.ucl.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  13. 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
  14. Tallet, Pierre (2005). Sésostris III et la fin de la XIIe Dynastie. Paris. pp. 28–29.
  15. 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.
  16. Katheryn A. Bard, Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Routledge 1999, p.107
  17. Lehner, Mark The Complete Pyramids, London: Thames and Hudson (1997)p.177-9 ISBN   0-500-05084-8.
  18. 1 2 Robins, Gay (1997). The Art of Ancient Egypt. London: British Museum Press. p. 113. ISBN   0714109886.
  19. 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.
  20. Bothmer, Bernard (1974). Brief Guide to the Department of Egyptian and Classical Art. Brooklyn, NY: The Brooklyn Museum. p. 39.
  21. Morkot, Robert G. (2005). The Egyptians: An Introduction . Routledge. p.  14.
  22. Cimmino, Franco (2003). Dizionario delle dinastie faraoniche (in Italian). Milano: Bompiani. p. 158. ISBN   88-452-5531-X.
  23. Wilkinson, Toby (2010). The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt . London: Bloomsbury. p.  179. ISBN   9781408810026.
  24. 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.
  25. "The Tree of Life (Mysteries of Osiris, book 1) by Christian Jacq". Fantasticfiction.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  26. Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament (3rd edition), Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009, p. 187.

Bibliography

Colchis