Thursday, March 19, 2015

Senwosret I (Kheperkaré) (d. 1926 B.C.E.)

The 12th Dynasty Pyramid of Senwosret I at Lisht is one of best preserved funerary complexes of the Middle Kingdom. Excavations by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and others have uncovered the remains of a central pyramid, ka pyramid, pyramid temple, nine subsidiary pyramids, a causeway, and a finely carved enclosure wall. In 2001 The Metropolitan Museum of Art commissioned computer reconstructions of the site for exhibition in its gallery of artwork from the pyramid of Senwosret I. The Supervising Archaeologist was Dr. Dieter Arnold, Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s excavations at Lisht. David Johnson of The Museum of Reconstructions was the Digital Architect. This reconstruction is based primarily on drawings and data from Dieter Arnold’s The Pyramid of Senwosret I and The Pyramid Complex of Senwosret I, volumes 22 and 25 in the Publications of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Egyptian Expedition.

Second ruler of the Twelfth Dynasty He reigned from 1971 B.C.E. until his death. The son of AMENEMHET I and Queen NEFRU-TOTENEN, he served as coregent with his father for 10 years before ascending the throne. As a prince, Senwosret I began his Nubian and Libyan campaigns. Amenemhet I was assassinated while Senwosret I was campaigning in Libya, beyond the WADI NATRUN. The event is an element of the popular tale known as SINUHE THE SAILOR, as the character Sinuhe was supposedly a servant of Senwosret I’s consort, Queen NEFRUSHERI, daughter of Amenemhet I. Senwosret I raced back to Egypt to crush the HAREM conspiracy responsible for the murder and to punish the intended usurpers. The capital at the time was at ITJ-TAWY, a site on the border between Upper and Lower Egypt.

Militarily active, Senwosret I campaigned in NUBIA (modern Sudan) all the way to the third cataract and also founded the great fortress of BUHEN. He used quarries and mines and controlled the oases of the LIBYAN DESERT and the resources in the SINAI. He built KERMEH fortress in Nubia and regulated operations at the mines of WADI HALFA as well as regional diorite quarries. Copper was mined in Wadi Hudi, and red granite was taken from a quarry south of ASWAN.

Senwosret I was not interested in wholesale conquest and limited his campaigns to the defense of Egypt’s borders and to the exploitation of available resources. He also promoted trade with Crete and other Aegean isles and with Palestine and Syria. Within Egypt, he was a prolific builder, refurbishing the temple of RÉ-Atum in HELIOPOLIS. The famed WHITE CHAPEL dates to his reign, and he is credited with establishing the core of the KARNAK complex itself. He also erected two obelisks there.

Senwosret I was active in restoring the FAIYUM region, adding to the irrigational monuments there. He founded a temple to SEKHMET-Hathor at IMU, now called Kom el-Hisn, the Mound of the Fort, in the Delta. The temple was rectangular and contained a bark chapel and pillars. He is also credited with building 35 separate religious structures from the Faiyum to the Delta.

A stone stela made for a temple in Heliopolis and dating to Senwosret I’s reign was copied by a scribe serving AMENHOTEP III (r. 1391–1353 B.C.E.). Five hundred years old when copied, the stela vanished. The copy indicates a text in the form of a poem, actually serving as a temple inscription commemorating an addition built by Senwosret I, given with other elaborate donations.

The INSTRUCTIONS OF AMENEMHET I date also to his reign. His father was supposed to have dictated the instructions, a text that warns of the perils of a weak monarch. This work is also called Amenemhet’s Instructions or the Testament of Amenemhet.

Senwosret I’s son and heir was AMENEMHET II, who served as his coregent. His daughters were ITEKUYET, NEFRU-SOBEK (2), NEFERU-PTAH (2), and Nenseddjedet. They were buried with Senwosret I and Queen NEFRUSHERI in el-LISHT, where a pyramidal complex was constructed. The pyramid was filled with rubble with a limestone covering. Smaller pyramids served as gravesites for the family members. The great pyramid was called “Senwosret Surveys the Two Lands.”

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