Ancient Egypt / Middle Kingdom /
For this dynasty, there are several good sources. Two king lists give reliable data to, and since a few events can be established for specific years, many incidents can be dated accordingly.
The emergence of the 12th Dynasty is cast in legends, in which we hear of a king to redeem Egypt fom chaos and despair; Amenemhet 1. Still, it may well be that the end of the 11th Dynasty was more a question of weak central power, but nothing like a civil war.
This dynasty made Memphis capital on the cost of Thebes. Even a specific residence town for the king was etablished, Itj-towy, which has never been located, but it may have been 10-30 km south of Memphis. Some evidence suggest that the royal residence was moved north, into the Nile Delta.
Kings of this dynasty built pyramids, though poor in quality, but of respectable size. Their preferred grounds were usually further south of earlier pyramids, at locations like Illahun, Lisht and Hawara, but a few pyramids were also built at the old site of Dahshur.
Through this dynasty, more power were allowed to the nomarchs, the regional rulers, which is reflected in the high quality of nobles' tombs. The power of the nomarchs appear to have become a problem for the king in the middle of the 19th century BCE, and the nomes were disbanded, and Egypt reorganized into 4 regions, dividing the Nile Valley into a southern and northern section and the Nile Delta into a eastern and western part.
Several kings of this dynasty are noted for having made their sons co-regents, and their sons were usually very active in this role, usually dealing with foreign campaigns.
Especially early in this dynasty, campaigns were launched into both Nubia, Libya as well as Syria-Palestine.
Among the main achievements of this dynasty was the improvements of the important agricultural area of Fayoum.
Among other achievements of the 12th Dynasty kings, were the earliest known construction of a canal running through the Wadi Tumilat, to the Bitter Lakes (today in the middle of the Suez Canal).
Egyptian literature was much refined during this dynasty. Most famous are the "Story of Sinuhe," "Instructions of Amenemhet 1" and the "Tale of the Eloquent Peasant." Many excellent papyri are also preserved from this period.
The decline of the dynasty is usually attributed to the reign of Amenemhet 3, and the dynasty ended with the female ruler, Queen Sobekneferu, some 50-60 years later. The actual end of the dynasty may well have been linked to her not having heirs, rather than a forced change of rulers.
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