Sesostris I


Sesostris I
King 1971-1928 BC.
    Ammenemes I associated his eldest son, Sesostris I, with him as co-regent in Year 20 of his reign, and thereafter Sesostris undertook all the major campaigns in Syria, *Nubia and *Libya. It was while he was away on one of these expeditions to Libya that he learnt of his father's assassination at his palace, and returned immediately to take control of the country and to avert a crisis. The events surrounding his accession are mentioned in two literary sources—the instruction of King *Ammenemes I for his son Sesostris (a propoganda exercise that was almost certainly composed by a scribe in the reign of Sesostris I himself), and the Story of *Sinuhe.
    Using skilful propoganda and firm government, Sesostris I was able to restore the power and prestige of the monarchy, and to extend Egypt's influence abroad. He sent punitive expeditions against the *Libyans, and protected Egypt's northern border against incursions, but his general policy in the north was primarily defensive and diplomacy was his main method of dealing with Syria/Palestine. There is evidence that Egyptians settled in these areas and there were trading and other contacts with the region. In Sinai, mining operations were vigorously pursued, and Egypt's foreign policy was developed against a domestic background of stability, prosperity, and a firm centralised government.
    In foreign policy, Sesostris I (together with his descendant, *Sesostris III) is remembered for his action in *Nubia where, in Year 18, he launched a ruthless campaign to conquer and occupy Lower Nubia. Sesostris I effectively subjugated and annexed the region so that the Egyptians now exercised a degree of control between the Second and Third Cataracts and were again able to obtain the gold, copper, diorite, granite and amethyst that *Nubia offered.
    At home, Sesostris I pursued a prodigious building programme, enlarging and enhancing almost all the existing temples. Today, a single obelisk is all that remains of the great temple to Re-Atum that he built at Heliopolis; this obelisk was originally one of a pair erected there to mark his jubilee festival. At Karnak, it is still possible to admire his exquisite limestone chapel which was dedicated to Amun on the occasion of the king's jubilee; the reliefs that decorate this chapel are of the finest quality and indicate the standard of contemporary craftsmanship. His pyramid at It-towy (el Lisht) was more impressive than that of his father, and is the best preserved of the whole dynasty; it revived the layout of the Old Kingdom complexes, and the style of ten limestone statues of the king from the same site indicates that the Memphite art forms had also been reintroduced.
    Even in the Twelfth Dynasty Sesostris I already received a divine cult, and in later legends he is remembered in the person of 'Pharaoh Sesostris' who performed great and miraculous deeds; this individual—representing the Egyptian ideal of an omnipotent king—was actually a compilation of three historical rulers—Sesostris I, *Sesostris III and *Ramesses II.
    Sesostris I continued the policy of co-regency, used by this dynasty to ensure a smooth and troublefree succession, and associated his son and heir, *Ammenemes II, with him on the throne.
BIBL. AEL i. pp. 135-8, 222-35; Gardiner, A.H. The accession day of Sesostris I. JEA 32 (1946) p 100; Simpson, W.K. The single-dated monuments of Sesostris I: an aspect of the institution of co-regency in the Twelfth Dynasty. JEA 15 (1956) pp. 214-19; Lacau, P. and Chevrier, H. Une chapelle de Sesostris ler a Karnak. Cairo: 1956.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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