Yasser Metwally

My life…and the world

Ancient Egyptian Middle Kingdom (2040 BC-1783 BC)

The author: Professor Yasser Metwally

http://yassermetwally.com


Amenemhat III, the last great ruler of the Middle KingdomThe pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom restored the country’s prosperity and stability, thereby stimulating a resurgence of art, literature, and monumental building projects. Mentuhotep II and his 11th Dynasty successors ruled from Thebes, but the vizier Amenemhat I, upon assuming kingship at the beginning of the 12th Dynasty around 1985 BC, shifted the nation’s capital to the city of Itjtawy located in Faiyum. From Itjtawy, the pharaohs of the 12th Dynasty undertook a far-sighted land reclamation and irrigation scheme to increase agricultural output in the region. Moreover, the military reconquered territory in Nubia rich in quarries and gold mines, while laborers built a defensive structure in the Eastern Delta, called the "Walls-of-the-Ruler", to defend against foreign attack.

Arts and crafts flourished during the Middle Kingdom as is shown in this lovely amulet of Sesostris III...Click to enlarge

Figure 1. Arts and crafts flourished during the Middle Kingdom as is shown in this lovely amulet of Sesostris III

Having secured military and political security and vast agricultural and mineral wealth, the nation’s population, arts, and religion flourished. In contrast to elitist Old Kingdom attitudes towards the gods, the Middle Kingdom experienced an increase in expressions of personal piety and what could be called a democratization of the afterlife, in which all people possessed a soul and could be welcomed into the company of the gods after death. Middle Kingdom literature featured sophisticated themes and characters written in a confident, eloquent style, and the relief and portrait sculpture of the period captured subtle, individual details that reached new heights of technical perfection.

The last great ruler of the Middle Kingdom, Amenemhat III, allowed Asiatic settlers into the delta region to provide a sufficient labor force for his especially active mining and building campaigns. These ambitious building and mining activities, however, combined with inadequate Nile floods later in his reign, strained the economy and precipitated the slow decline into the Second Intermediate Period during the later 13th and 14th dynasties. During this decline, the foreign Asiatic settlers began to seize control of the delta region, eventually coming to power in Egypt as the Hyksos.

Amenemhat III, the last great ruler of the Middle Kingdom...Click to enlarge

Figure 2.  Amenemhat III, the last great ruler of the Middle Kingdom


References

  1. The Egyptian dynasties [Full text]
  2. Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt [Full text]
  3. First Intermediate Period in Ancient Egyptian life [Full text]
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November 28, 2009 - Posted by | Ancient Egyptian panorama

2 Comments »

  1. […] Ancient Egyptian Middle Kingdom [Full text] […]

    Pingback by Second Intermediate Period and the Hyksos (1783-1540) « Yasser Metwally | November 28, 2009 | Reply

  2. […] Ancient Egyptian Middle Kingdom [Full text] […]

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