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Middle Kingdom

The Middle Kingdom period covers the time between the end of the First Intermediate Period around 2055 BC and the beginning of the Second Intermediate Period around 1782 BC. It was a time of political and cultural resurgence, during which the Egyptians reestablished a strong centralized government and experienced a great flourishing of art, literature, and culture.

The Middle Kingdom period began with the reunification of Egypt under the pharaoh Mentuhotep II, who established the 11th Dynasty and ushered in a period of stability and prosperity. The Middle Kingdom pharaohs enjoyed great power and wealth, and they oversaw the construction of many impressive structures, including temples, palaces, and fortresses.

The Middle Kingdom was also a time of great artistic and literary achievement. The Egyptians produced some of their most famous works of art and literature during this period, including the Coffin Texts, a collection of funerary spells and rituals that were inscribed on coffins and sarcophagi, and the Tale of Sinuhe, a famous story about an Egyptian courtier who flees to Syria.

In this section, we will explore the key events and developments of Egypt's Middle Kingdom period, including the reigns of some of its most famous pharaohs, such as Amenemhat I, Senusret III, and  Amenemhat III. We will examine the cultural and artistic achievements of the  period, and we will explore the social, economic, and political conditions that  allowed Ancient Egyptian civilization to flourish during this time.

AI image of a female pharaoh in a mask and desert with pyramids. Source: MiaStendal

The Pharoah Who Made Her Mark: Sobekneferu's Legacy (Video)

Sobekneferu , often overshadowed by her more famous successors, left an indelible mark as Egypt's first official female pharaoh. Rising to power during the declining years of the Middle Kingdom , she...
A view of the The Dahshur necropolis in Egypt, from the Saqqara necropolis.  Source: Blumesser/Adobe Stock

Exposing Egypt's Military Zone Protected Dahshur Necropolis

The cult of death played a crucial role in the history of ancient Egypt - they believed that their souls would continue to exist in the afterlife after they died. The concept of the afterlife was...
The Story of Sinuhe, one of ancient Egypt’s treasures. Source: art_of_line/Adobe Stock

The Captivating Story of Sinuhe: A Powerful Glimpse into Ancient Egypt

One of the most captivating tales in Egyptian history is The Story of Sinuhe, one of the most well-preserved works recovered from the Middle Kingdom Period (2055-1650 BC). Set during the reign of...
Head end and left side of the Nakhtkhnum coffin showing an example of coffin texts. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art/CC0

Unveiling the Mystical World of the Egyptian Coffin Texts

One of the most fascinating discoveries of ancient Egypt was the discovery of the Egyptian Coffin Texts, a collection of spellbinding funerary spells and incantations inscribed on coffins, sarcophagi...
Representative image of crocodile skulls.      Source: Akkharat J./Adobe Stock

Nine Crocodile Heads Found in Ancient Egyptian Tombs a “First of Its Kind” Discovery

Archaeologists excavating the Theban Necropolis in Egypt have made the extraordinary discovery of nine crocodile heads placed inside two tombs belonging to high-ranking nobles. The discovery was made...
Representation of ancient Egyptian military unit going to battle.        Source: Acrogame / Adobe Stock

Ancient Egyptian Military: Fiercest Fighting Force of the Ancient World

One of the key reasons that the study of history is vital is to ensure we learn from our past mistakes in order to improve. While this is true in all aspects of life, it is especially true for...
Relief of Mentuhotep II and the Goddess Hathor, circa 2010-2000 BC Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mentuhotep II and the Emergence of the Middle Kingdom

The iconic ancient Egyptians are perhaps the best and grandest example of an ancient civilization that was both technologically advanced and spiritually rich. It was during the Archaic Period that...
Sobekneferu’s Legacy: The Sacred Places of Egypt’s First Female Pharaoh

Sobekneferu’s Legacy: The Sacred Places of Egypt’s First Female Pharaoh

In part one , we saw how Egypt’s first female pharaoh Sobekneferu (also written Neferusobek) has emerged as a major character both in literary fiction and in the cinema. Her mysterious life and...
Goddess of the Seven Stars: The Rebirth of Sobekneferu

Goddess of the Seven Stars: The Rebirth of Sobekneferu

In 2017 cinema audiences were treated to the latest reboot of the classic movie franchise surrounding the resurrection of an ancient Egypt mummy. Titled, inevitably, The Mummy, and starring Tom...
Temple of Edfu passage with glowing walls of Egyptian hieroglyphs on either side.	Source: Konstantin / AdobeStock

Decrypting the Temple of Edfu and the Edfu Texts

Edfu city is located between Luxor and Aswan in the southern area of Egypt. The city, which is situated on the west bank of the Nile , is world famous for its temple, which was built during the...
Trade in Ancient Egypt portrayed in ‘Israel in Egypt’ by Edward Poynter  Source: Edward Poynter / Public Domain

The Vagaries of Trade in Ancient Egypt

Along with a lust for building enigmatic and long lasting structures, trade was an important feature of Ancient Egypt . The ancient Egyptians traded with many lands that bordered their country,...
An etched pot sherd with an image of a scribe holding an ink palette. Found near an ancient Egyptian amethyst mine.

3,900-Year-Old Lost Inscriptions Surface at the Ancient Egyptian Amethyst Mines

Archaeologists working in the timeworn deserts of Egypt have uncovered more than ‘100 ancient inscriptions' at Wadi el-Hudi, where ancient miners once collected amethysts which were believed to be...
Kom Ombo Temple

Kom Ombo: An Egyptian Temple Dedicated to Two Rival Gods

Kom Ombo (meaning the ‘Mound of Ombo’) is an ancient Egyptian town located in what is today the Aswan Governorate of Upper Egypt, about 50 km (31 miles) to the north of Aswan. Kom Ombo is notable...
The rulers of the Oryx Nome created some elaborate tombs for themselves in Beni Hasan.

Plenty of Wiggle Tomb: The Intriguing Monuments of the Middle Kingdom Rulers of the Oryx Nome

Even in periods we might not think of as being glamorous, ancient Egyptians still knew how to be stylish. Take Khnumhoteps I and II, nomarchs (governors/administrators) of the Oryx nome (province)...
Lisht Middle Kingdom necropolis area.

800 Ancient Egyptian Tombs Discovered at Middle Kingdom Necropolis

The Ministry of Antiquities and the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt have announced the discovery of over 800 ancient tombs, including some completely new finds. The newly found tombs are in a...
Unique Scarab Seal from Egyptian Thirteenth Dynasty Discovered in Israel

Unique Scarab Seal from Egyptian Thirteenth Dynasty Discovered in Israel

A rare scarab seal has been found in Tel Dor on the Carmel Coast of Israel, south of Haifa. It is dated back to the 18th - 17th centuries BC and belonged to the period of Egypt’s Thirteenth Dynasty...
Sobeknefru, Powerful Pharaoh and Queen of the Dragon Court

Sobeknefru, Powerful Pharaoh and Queen of the Dragon Court

Named after the crocodile God Sobek, Sobeknefru, whose name means ‘she who shows the beauty of Sobek’, succeeded her brother to the throne of Egypt. At the time she came to power, the cult of Sobek...