Egypt at this stage:
The country suffered in the previous period but now power was restored to Egypt under the rule of Amenemhat I. It was at this time that the country had a ‘rebirth’ or a renewal. Amenemhat was the first ruler of this period and for security reasons, he decided to move the capital north to a place called Itji-Tauy “She who grasps the two lands”. Under his rule, Egypt once again was prosperous and strong.
People did not give much importance to great building projects as the Old Kingdom pharaohs did. They were more concerned with agricultural reforms and projects as seen by the Bahr Yusuf canal.
These complexes were decorated in vivid detail as seen by their architectural design. Much of what was done was inspired by the Old Kingdom. In the courtyard at Karnak in the “Cachette”, three pink granite statues of king Senusret III were found. These were extremely beautiful and are examples of the great artworks of this period. Amenemhat III built his great funerary complex, also known as the Ladyrinth, at Hawara in the Fayum. Many pyramids were built during this period and they were extraordinary but according to Herodotus, “the ladyrinth surpasses the pyramids”. Another well known area for tombs during this period as well as during the Predynastic Period was at Naga where an entire necropolis was discovered.
The complex holding the two pyramids of Senusret I and Amenemhat I was designed in the Old Kingdom design. The temple was placed lower, the ramp was covered and the walls were decorated in beautiful art. Positioned towards the east side of the pyramid was a funerary temple and there was also a small pyramid near the enclosure wall. The Osirian pillars stood in intervals on either side’s of these walls. The pillars depict the god Osiris as a mummy and he was wearing the red and white crowns indicating his kingship over Upper and Lower Egypt.
The temple of Mentuhotep I was beautiful and it consisted of a large stepped podium with pillars cut in the shape of squares.
Pyramids in the Middle Kingdom:
Many beautiful pyramids were built. Amenemhat III was buried in his pyramid in Hawara. At Dahshur, a cenotaph was built near where his predecessors were buried. This was named the Black Pyramid because of its basalt pyramidion which contrasted with the limestone which covered the rest of the construction. A funerary temple and a pyramid covered in plaster were built. The pyramid was crowned by a pyramidion. This pyramidion was decorated in hieroglyphs and reliefs – a winged sun disk with two uraeus serpents. Two eyes are present under the wings. The hieroglyphs tell us about the beauty of the sun god Ra. From these inscriptions we can see that the sun was a very important symbol to the Egyptians and everyday it would shine above the pyramid.
There are many cartouches; one cartouche holds the name of Amenemhat III as well as the words “son of Ra” and the other contains the name Nimaatra and the title “king of Upper and Lower Egypt”. There are also wishes for the pharaoh to live a long and healthy life. Amenemhet III’s pyramid at Hawara stood at 102 meters and his pyramid at Dahshur stood at 104 meters. They were built of mud-brick and covered in limestone. Located at al-Lisht, 28 miles south of Cairo is a complex that holds the pyramids of the first two pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom – Amenemhat I and Senusret I. Amenemhet I’s pyramid was built in a similar way to the Old Kingdom pyramids. The interior was constructed of limestone blocks and the exterior was decorated in white limestone. Senusret II’s pyramid was built of limestone and it had an outer cast of limestone. Found near his pyramid was the workers village, a town belonging to the workers who constructed the pyramid. Senusret III built his pyramid in Dahshur. It stands at 107 meters and it is the largest of all the Middle Kingdom pyramids.