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Amenemhat III

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Amenemhat III

See Amenemhat, for other individuals with this name.

Amenemhat III, also spelled Amenemhet III was a pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from c.1860 BC to c.1814 BC, the highest known date being found in a papyrus dated to Regnal Year 46, I Akhet 22 of his rule.[2] His reign is regarded as the golden age of the Middle Kingdom.[3] He may have had a long coregency (of 20 years) with his father, Senusret III.[4]

Pectoral of Amenemhat III, tomb of Mereret.
Pyramidion or Capstone of Amenemhat III's pyramid.

Towards the end of his reign he instituted a coregency with his successor Amenemhet IV, as recorded in a now damaged rock inscription at Konosso in Nubia, which equates Year 1 of Amenemhet IV to either Year 46, 47 or 48 of his reign.[5] His daughter, Sobekneferu, later succeeded Amenemhat IV, as the last ruler of the 12th Dynasty. Amenemhat III's throne name, Nimaatre, means "Belonging to the Justice of Re."

His pyramids

He built his first pyramid at Dahshur (the so-called "Black Pyramid"), but there were construction problems and it was abandoned.[6] Around Year 15 of his reign the king decided to build a new pyramid at Hawara, near the Faiyum.[7] The pyramid at Dahshur was used as burial ground for several royal women.

The mortuary temple attached to the Hawara pyramid and may have been known to Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus as the "Labyrinth".[8] Strabo praised it as a wonder of the world. The king's pyramid at Hawara contained some of the most complex security features of any found in Egypt and is perhaps the only one to come close to the sort of tricks Hollywood associates with such structures. Nevertheless, the king's burial was robbed in antiquity. His daughter or sister, Neferuptah, was buried in a separate pyramid (discovered in 1956) 2 km southwest of the king's.[9][10] The pyramidion of Amenemhet III's pyramid tomb was found toppled from the peak of its structure and preserved relatively intact; it is today located in the Cairo Egyptian Museum.[11]

The Great Canal (Mer-Wer)

During his long rule Amenemhat continued the work probably started by his father to link the Fayum depression with the Nile. The area had been a mere swamp previously. A canal 16 km and 1.5 km wide was dug, known as Mer-Wer (the Great Canal); it is now known as Bahr Yussef. The banks for the central deep side were at a slope of 1:10, to allow the use of non-cohesive soil and rock fill. A dam called Ha-Uar run east-west and the canal was inclined towards the Fayum depression at the slope of 0.01 degrees. The resultant Lake Moeris was able to store 13 billion cubic meters[12] of flood water each year This immense work of civil engineering was eventually finished by his son Amenmehat IV and brought prosperity to Fayum. The area became a breadbasket for the country and continued to be used until 230 BC when the Lahun branch of the Nile silted up. After the Islamic conquest Lake Moeris was renamed Lake of Qarun and the branch of the Nile The Sea of Joseph but there is no relationship between King Amenmehat III and the Biblical or Quranic Prophet Joseph or Yussef.

The vizier Kheti held this office around year 29 of king Amenemhet III's reign. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus is thought to have been originally composed during Amenemhat's time.[13] The monuments of Amenemhat III are fairly numerous and of excellent quality. They include a small but well decorated temple at Medinet Maadi in the Faiyum, which he and his father dedicated to the harvest goddess Renenutet.

Sehetepibre stela

The treasurer, commissioner and official Sehetepiblre had the following inscribed on a memorial stela:

Adore the king, Nematre (Amenemhet III), living forever,
in the midst of your bodies;
Enthrone his majesty in your hearts.
He is Esye in the hearts;
His two eyes, they search every body.
He is the Sun, seeing with his rays;

He illuminates the Two Lands more than the sun-disk.
He makes the Two Lands green more than a great Nile;
He hath filled the Two Lands with strength.
(He is) life, cooling the nostrils;
When he begins o rage, he is satisfied to [-]
The treasures which he gives are food
for those who are in his following;

He feeds those who tread his path.
The King is food,
His mouth is increase.
He is the one creating that which is;

He is the Khnum of all limbs;
The Begetter, who causes the people to be.
He is Bast protecting the Two Lands.
He who adores him shall escape his arm.
He is Sekhmet toward him who transgresses his command.
He is gentle toward him who has [-]

Fight for his name,
Purify yourselves by his oath.
And ye shall be free from trouble.
The beloved of the king shall be blessed;
There is no tomb for one hostile to his majesty;
But his body shall be thrown to the waters.
Do ye this, and your limbs shall be sound;
Ye shall be glorious [—] forever.

(Breasted Records, Vol I, p. 327)

Other names

  • Ammenemes
  • Lamares, Ameres (According to Manetho)
  • Moeris


  1. ^ a b c d e Amenemhat (III) Nimaatre (1807/06-1798/97 BC) accessed January 4th, 2014
  2. ^ Francis Llewellyn Griffith, The Petrie Papyri, London 1898, T. XIV (Pap. Kahun VI, 19)
  3. ^ Callender, Gae (2003). "The Middle Kingdom Renaissance". In Shaw, Ian. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. p. 156. 
  4. ^ Kim S. B. Ryholt, The Political Situation in Egypt During the Second Intermediate Period, C. 1800-1550 B.C., Museum Tusculanum Press 1997, pp.211f.
  5. ^ Kim S. B. Ryholt, The Political Situation in Egypt During the Second Intermediate Period, C. 1800-1550 B.C., Museum Tusculanum Press 1997, p.212
  6. ^ Miroslav Verner, The Pyramids: The Mystery, Culture, and Science of Egypt's Great Monuments, Grove Press 2002, p.427
  7. ^ Lehner, Mark (2001). The Complete Pyramids: Solving the Ancient Mysteries. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 182.  
  8. ^ Miroslav Verner, The Pyramids: The Mystery, Culture, and Science of Egypt's Great Monuments, Grove Press 2002, p.428
  9. ^ Nagib Farag, Zaky Iskander, The Discovery of Neferwptaḥ, 1971, p.103
  10. ^ Callender, Gae (2003). "The Middle Kingdom Renaissance". In Shaw, Ian. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. p. 158. 
  11. ^ Callender, Gae (2003). "The Middle Kingdom Renaissance". In Shaw, Ian. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. p. 157. 
  12. ^ Chanson, Hubert (1999). Hydraulics of Open Channel Flow. Edward Arnold/Butterworth-Heinemann.  
  13. ^ Marshall Clagett, Ancient Egyptian Science: A Source Book, 1989, p.113

Further reading

  • W. Grajetzki, The Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt: History, Archaeology and Society, Duckworth, London 2006 ISBN 0-7156-3435-6, 58-61

External links

  • Amenemhat (III) Nimaatre
  • The Pyramid of Amenemhet III from Talking Pyramids
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