Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
Late Middle Kingdom
- Author(s): Grajetzki, Wolfram
- et al.
In the Egyptian late Middle Kingdom (from Senusret III in the mid 12th to the 13th Dynasty), innovations are visible at all levels of Egyptian culture and administration. At this time, the country was heavily centralized, and there are several indications of a wish for tighter control in administration, while local governors lost much of their power. Royal activities were mainly focused on the Memphis-Fayum region, with Abydos and Thebes being two other important centers. At Avaris in the east Delta, the population grew substantially, also due to the influx of many foreigners from the Near East. Senusret III launched military campaigns against Nubia and Palestine, on a scale not attested before. In addition to his pyramid at Dahshur, he had a great funerary complex at Abydos. Amenemhat III is mainly known for his huge funerary complex at Hawara, later called the “Labyrinth” by the ancient Greeks. In sculpture, a new style of portraiture for both kings shows them at an advanced age, rather than the usual idealized young ruler. The 12th Dynasty ends with the little known ruling queen Neferusobek. The transition to the following dynasty remains enigmatic. In stark contrast to the 12th Dynasty, the 13th Dynasty consisted of about 50 kings ruling for just 150 years. Culture and administration went on without any major break. Many kings still built pyramids in the Memphite region. Neferhotep I and Sobekhotep IV belong to the better attested kings of the dynasty: production of Abydos stelae seems to peak under them, and a dense network of officials is attested on the stelae. Far fewer sources survive for later rulers, but a stark decline on all levels is visible, perhaps related to the takeover of the east Delta fringe by foreigners living there.