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Twelfth dynasty of Egypt

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The twelfth dynasty of ancient Egypt (notated Dynasty XII) is often combined with Dynasty XI XII, XIII and XIV under the group title Middle Kingdom.


Known rulers of the twelfth dynasty are as follows [1]:

Dynasty XII pharaohs of Egypt
name of King Horus (Throne) Name date Pyramid Queen(s)
Amenemhat I Sehetepibre 1991 BCE - 1962 BCE Pyramid at El-Lisht Queen Neferitatjenen
Senusret I (Sesostris I) Kheperkare 1971 BCE - 1926 BCE Pyramid at El-Lisht Queen Neferu III
Amenemhat II Nubkhaure 1929 BCE - 1895 BCE White Pyramid Queen Kaneferu
Senusret II (Sesostris II) Khakheperre 1897 BCE - 1878 BCE Pyramid at El-Lahun Queen Khenemetneferhedjet I
Queen Neferet II
Queen Itaweret?
Queen Khnemet
Senusret III (Sesostris III) Khakaure 1878 BCE - 1839 BCE Pyramid at Dahshur Queen Meretseger
Queen Neferthenut
Queen Khnemetneferhedjet II
Amenemhat III Nimaatre 1860 BCE - 1814 BCE Pyramid at Dahshur Queen Aat
Queen Khenemetneferhedjet III
Amenemhat IV Maakherure 1815 BCE - 1806 BCE
Queen Sobekneferu Sobekkare 1806 BCE - 1802 BCE

The chronology of Dynasty XII is the most stable of any period before the New Kingdom. Manetho stated that it was based in Thebes, but from contemporary records it is clear that the first king moved its capital to a new city named "Amenemhat-itj-tawy" ("Amenemhat the Siezer of the Two Lands"), more simply called Itjtawy. The location of Itjtaway has not been found, but is thought to be near the Fayyum, probably near the royal graveyards at el-Lisht. Egyptologists consider this dynasty to be the apex of the Middle Kingdom.

The order of its rulers is well known from several sources — two lists recorded at temples in Abydos and one at Saqqara, as well as Manetho's work. A recorded date during the reign of Senusret III can be correlated to the Sothic cycle, consequently many events during this dynasty are frequently assigned to a year BC or BCE.

Amenemhat I and Senusret I

This dynasty was founded by Amenemhat I, who may have been vizier to the last pharaoh of Dynasty XI, Mentuhotep IV. His armies campaigned south as far as the Second Cataract of the Nile and into the Near East, and he reestablished diplomatic relations with Byblos and the rulers in the Aegean Sea. His son Senusret I followed his father's triumphs with an expedition south to the Third Cataract, but the next rulers were content to live in peace and enjoy the trade and tribute brought to them until the reign of Senusret III.

Senusret II

Finding Nubia had grown restive under the previous rulers, Senusret sent punitive expeditions into that land; he also sent an expedition into the Levant. These military campaigns gave birth to a legend of a mighty warrior named Sesostris, a story retold by Manetho, Herodotus, and Diodorus Siculus. This conqueror not only subdued the lands as had Senusret III, but also conquered Asia and had crossed over into Europe to annex Thrace.

Amenemhat III

Senusret's successor Amenemhat III reaffirmed his predecessor's foreign policy. However, after Amenemhat, the energies of this dynasty were largely spent, and the growing troubles of government were left to the dynasty's last ruler, Queen Sobekneferu, to resolve. Amenemhat was remembered for the mortuary temple at Hawara that he built, known to Herodotus, Diodorus, and Strabo as the "Labyrinth". Also under his reign the marshy Fayyum was first exploited.

Ancient Egyptian literature

It was during the twelfth dynasty that ancient Egyptian literature was refined. Perhaps the best known work from this period is The Story of Sinuhe, of which several hundred papyrus copies have been recovered. Also written during this dynasty were a number of didactic works, such as the Instructions of Amenemhat and The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant.

Pharaohs of Dynasties XII through XVIII are also credited with preserving for us some of the most remarkable Egyptian papyri:

  • 1900 BCE – Prisse Papyrus
  • 1800 BCE – Berlin Papyrus
  • 1800 BCE – Moscow Mathematical Papyrus
  • 1650 BCE – Rhind Mathematical Papyrus
  • 1600 BCE – Edwin Smith papyrus
  • 1550 BCE – Ebers papyrus


  1. Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, London 2004
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Twelfth dynasty of Egypt. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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