Here in this article, we are going to talk about king Amenemhat I, the self-made man who founded the 12th dynasty in ancient Egypt.
In 1991 B.C, the vizier Amenemhat usurped the throne and gave himself the name “Sehtep Ab Re”, which means the man who satisfies god re.
At the same time, he kept his original name, and then, he established the 12th dynasty and became king Amenemhat I.
The scholars until now do not have definite information about the circumstances of his seizure of power, but they are quite sure that he was a self-made man who faced many problems and obstacles to become the king of Egypt as we knew from a preserved papyrus in Leningrad Museum called Nefrti predictions.
This papyrus dates back to the beginning of this dynasty, most probably it was written as a political propaganda to protect king Amenemhat I.
It was written in the papyrus that there was a prediction in the reign of king Senfru, who asked the head of goddess Bastet priests, Nefrti to know what would happen in the future.
The priest Nefrti told him that the chaos will spread to the kingdom and then king Amenemhat I would save the country.
The next paragraph is included in this papyrus:
A king from Upper Egypt called Ameni would come, his mother is Tatsi, he was born in the south, and he would merge both the red and white crown.
In other meaning, the man who called Ameni, Amenemhat I, would be the king of Egypt by the choice of the gods to save the kingdom from the political anarchy and turmoil that happened at the end of the 11th dynasty.
The reign of king Amenemhat I
King Amenemhat I rescued the country from the political turmoil and corruption that spread during the last years of king Montuhotep IV, the last ruler of the 11th dynasty.
He ordered to regulate the internal affairs of the country and setting the borders between Egypt and its neighbors and moving the capital from Thebes at the south to a city called “Eset Tawy”, which means the controller of the two lands, at the north.
We do not know the real site of this city nowadays, but most probably it locates in an area near Lesht. King Amenemhat I has chosen this site to build his pyramid.
During the 20 years of his sole role, the king paid a great attention to build the temples and restore the old ones in different sites like Thebes, Tall Basta, and Fayum.
But he paid a special care to Lesht and built his pyramid because it was located in the heart of the two lands. He also cared about the political, social, and administrative aspects of the country.
Reasons for reign transmission from 11th to 12th dynasty
- Nefrti predictions papyrus – a political reason
It was a political propaganda to give king Amenemhat I the legitimacy to rule Egypt.
It talks about a political turmoil and chaos happened in Egypt at the end of the 11th dynasty and someone called Amene would come to save the county.
- Hka Nakht messages – an economic reason
These messages have referred to economic crisis happened during the reign of king Montuhotep IV because of the lack of Nile inundation.
- The significance of king’s coronation name
The coronation name of king Amenemhat I was Sehtep Iaab Re, which means who presents the heart of god Re, this name helped him a lot to rule the country.
The origin of king Amenemhat I
He was not mentioned in the records and scenes of the 11th dynasty, so we can infer that he belonged to another dynasty. His father called Senusert, he was an ordinary man and did not hold any royal title.
When king Amenemhat I became the ruler of Egypt, he granted his father the title of “it ntr”, which means the divine father or father of god.
His mother Nfrt did not also belong to the royal blood, so the king decided to make the divine birth or political propaganda to add the legitimacy to his rule as we mentioned above.
The internal policy
Amenemhat I was not from a royal blood, so he decided to start his new era with a new capital.
He chose a place in the middle of Egypt called Lesht. He called it “Ethyt Tawy”, which means the king who controls the two lands.
The current place of this city is near Fayoum. The king has chosen this site for a number of reasons:
- A fertile land, which locates between the north and south of the kingdom.
- A new land for a new era; as Amenemhat wanted to be the first one to be buried there.
- A middle area to be near from the events in east and west of Delta.
His relations with nomes’ governors
Some nomes’ governors were opposed to the policy of the king. The most famous opponents were “Antef” and another governor in Nubia called “Seger Seni”.
Khnum Hotep, one of the followers of King Amenemhat I, said that the king has sent military campaigns to all the opponents and enabled to kill them.
Co-regency with the crown prince
Amenemhat I have followed a new policy, that was never been followed before him, which was the co-regency with his son, Senusert I.
A stele displayed at the Egyptian Museum shows that king Amenemhat I in the thirtieth year of his rule beside his son king Senusert I in the tenth year of his co-regent with his father.
The king has redistributed the share of inundation to the nomes, in addition to redistributing the taxes; as he appointed an employee called the general supervisor of nomes and collecting taxes.
The external policy with Asia, Libya, and Nubia
The external policy with Asia
He expelled the Asiatic people outside Egypt as the Nefrti prediction talked about a king that would rescue Egypt from the danger of Asiatic people.
king Amenemhat I has sent a campaign to the east of Delta and established the forts to siege them.
His external policy with Libya
King Amenemhat I sent a military campaign led by his son Senusert I to fight and defeat the Temehu tribes at the west of Delta to protect the western borders from their incursion.
His external policy with Nubia
king Amenemhat I has made diplomatic and commercial relations with Nubia, in addition to sending a military campaign to defeat his opponents there.
The end of his rule