Mentuhotep II


Mentuhotep II
(Nebhepetre) King 2060-2010 BC.
    Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II had a successful and impressive reign and later came to be regarded as the pharaoh who had reunited Egypt after the troubles and dissension of the First Intermediate Period.
    The rulers of Heracleopolis and their supporters who, by trying to recover the city of This, had reopened the conflict with the Thebans, fell to Mentuhotep II (the Theban leader) in c.2040 BC. A chapel relief from Gebelein records this action of destroying the Heracleopolitan supporters and consequently gaining the submission or support of the local governors (nomarchs) of Lower and Middle Egypt. It is evident that Mentuhotep II did not obliterate the entrenched nomarchs of Middle Egypt, but probably imposed only limited restrictions on them so that, as at Hermopolis and Assiut, they could continue to prosper. He appointed his own men to all the key positions of authority and consolidated his power at Thebes, thus gaining a firm control of the country.
    This was a time of military activity since it was necessary to consolidate Egypt's neglected borders and to re-open the trading routes, mines and quarries. Punitive expeditions were sent out to quell the disturbances caused by the *Libyans of the western desert and the *Beduin who wandered in Sinai and the eastern desert. The necessary commodities of timber and gold were once again acquired from *Byblos and *Nubia, and routes across the desert from Koptos to the Red Sea were restored to provide access to the incense-land of *Punt.
    Nubia required special attention and the king himself sailed south to deal with the problem. Probably since the late Old Kingdom, when Egypt was itself in turmoil, an independent dynasty of rulers had established itself in Nubia; in fact, this may have been inaugurated by an Egyptian official. Mentuhotep II wished to regain control of Nubia and to restore the power that the kings of the Sixth Dynasty had enjoyed, which had enabled them to easily acquire both commodities and manpower from there. He was successful in restoring Egyptian supremacy in the region of Lower Nubia as far as the Second Cataract and in renewing the tribute levy, but the Egyptians did not as yet have a permanent military presence there.
    The famous Chancellor, Achthoes, concentrated on exploiting Lower Nubia, and evidently *Nubians came to fight as auxiliaries in the Egyptian army. A tomb at Deir el Bahri was found to contain the bodies of sixty Egyptian soldiers who had been killed while attacking a fortress or town which was perhaps in Nubia, but there were also Nubian servants in the Theban royal household. From tombs of this dynasty (the Eleventh), there are elaborate funerary models of Nubian as well as Egyptian soldiers who were designed to fight on behalf of their deceased Egyptian owner in his afterlife, (e.g. Mesehti, now in the Cairo Museum.)
    Mentuhotep II built extensively throughout Upper Egypt, at Elephantine, El Kab, Gebelein, Tod, Abydos and Denderah, but his most impressive monument was his unique burial complex at Deir el Bahri, which was later overshadowed by Queen *Hatshepsut's own funerary temple. Mentuhotep II's building incorporated a pyramid and a temple, which were combined in an innovative way, and the complex also housed the burials of the royal women, including the king's mother and sister. The complex was approached by an avenue lined with sandstone statues of the king wearing his jubilee-festival garments, and both the setting and architectural features would have made this a most impressive monument to a great king.
    The renewal of great building projects emphasised the strength and confidence of this reign, and the selection of Montu, god of war, as the patron deity of this dynasty expressed the attitude of Mentuhotep II as the founder of the line.
BIBL. Winlock, H.E. Excavations at Deir el Bahri, 1911-31. New York: 1942; Winlock, H. E. The rise and fall of the Middle Kingdom in Thebes. New York: 1947; Winlock, H.E. The slain soldiers of Neb-hepet-Re Mentu-hotpe. New York: 1945; Naville, E. The Xlth Dynasty Temple at Deir el Bahari. London: 1907-13.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David
* * *
(reigned c. 2055–2004 BC)
   Throne name Nebhepetre. Son of Intef III and Iah, ruler of Thebes of Dynasty 11. He reestablished the unity of Egypt c. 2040 BC by defeating the ruler of Herakleopolis during Dynasty 10, thus ending the First Intermediate Period and inaugurating the Middle Kingdom. He established Thebes for the first time as capital of Egypt. Mentuhotep II appears to have undertaken campaigns in Nubia, in Sinai, and against the Libyans to safeguard and possibly expand Egypt’s borders. He built his tomb and mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri. He married his sister, Nefru, and the lady Tem, mother of his successor, Mentuhotep III.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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