Ammenemes III

King 1842-1797 BC.
    The son of *Sesostris III, Ammenemes III's reign saw Egypt reach the pinnacale of prosperity in the Middle kingdom. The country was well-organised and administered and, with *Nubia returned to Egyptian cntrol and the rulers of northern princedoms giving allegiance to Egypt, the king had an opportunity to concentrate on major domestic projects.
    The power of the provincial nobility had been reduced by *Sesostris III and no longer threatened royal supremacy, so with a period of internal and external peace it was possible to expand the economy by making improvements in irrigation and land reclamation. The most impressive scheme was in the Fayoum. Here, later Classical writers wrongly accredited Ammenemes III with inaugurating the excavation of the bed of Lake Moeris and naming it after himself. He did complete a scheme, perhaps started by his father, to reclaim 17,000 acres of arable land in the area of this lake (known today as the Birket Karun) and to enclose it within a semi-circular embankment. In this area, the Egyptologist W.M.Flinders Petrie discovered the bases of two colossal statues of the king; *Herodotus refers to two 'pyramids' which rose out of the 'Sea of Moeris', but this is probably a partly incorrect reference to these statues which, in *Herodotus' time, would have been surrounded by the waters of the lake.
    An important building which came to be known as the 'Labyrinth' was situated at Hawara in the Fayoum. It was described as a major feature by both *Diodorus and *Strabo while *Herodotus claimed that it was more impressive than a pyramid. Its main function was as the funerary temple of Ammenemes III, who had two pyramids, one at Hawara and the other at Dahshur. The Labyrinth probably also incorporated a palace and administrative headquarters as well as perhaps dwellings for the royal builders, similar to the pyramid workmen's town of Kahun, which was built by *Sesostris II.
    Ammenemes III's other building activities included additions to the temple of Sobek of Shedet (the crocodile god) and a temple to the cobra-goddess Renenutet at Medinet Maadi. He paid particular attention to the Fayoum and so great was his prestige in that area that he was deified and received a cult there which continued even two thousand years after his death. His pyramid complex at Dahshur was investigated (with that of *Sesostris III) by J. de Morgan and here, in shaft tombs belonging to the royal women, he found their magnificent jewellery, which is amongst the finest ever discovered in Egypt.
    Quarrying expeditions and an expansion of turquoise mining in Sinai helped to supplement the country's new wealth and power; at Serabit in Sinai, the temple to Hathor, the Mistress of Turquoise, was enlarged. Numerous fine scupltured portraits of the king also indicate the high level of craftsmanship which had been attained in this reign.
    The king's influence, extending from *Byblos in Syria to the Third Cataract on the Nile, was not destined to continue under his successors. Ammenemes IV, who probably acted as co-regent with his father for some time, had an insignificant reign and may have been ousted by his sister, Sebeknefru who, from association with her father, claimed the right, albeit briefly, to rule Egypt as a king.
BIBL. Herodotus, The Histories, Bk. ii, 149 ff; Gardiner, A.H. and Bell, H.I. The name of Lake Moeris. JEA 29 (1943) pp 37-50; de Morgan, J. Fouilles a Dahchour. (two vols) Vienna: 1895-1903.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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