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Pharaoh Mentuhotep II

The Pharaohs - The People

The Pharaoh who ended the First Intermediate Period, commenced the Middle Kingdom and reunited Egypt

Quick Bio

Parents: Father was Pharaoh Intef III and Queen Iah
Reign: Approx. 2,061 – 2,010 BC, roughly 51 Years: 6th Pharaoh of the 11th Dynasty
Name Meaning: Mentu is Satisfied
Other Names: Nephepetre, meaning The Lord of the Rudder is Ra
Consorts: Neferu II, Henhenet, Kawit, Ashayet, Tem, Kemsit and Sadeh
Children: Mentuhotep III

Family

Son of Pharaoh Intef III and Queen Iah, Pharaoh Mentuhotep II went on to have at least 7 wives:

Tem: probable Great Royal Wife with whom he had the next Pharaoh, Mentuhotep III

Neferu II: known as ‘The Beautiful’, she was buried in Tomb TT319 at Deir el Bahri

Kawit: a secondary wife, she was also a Priestess of Goddess Hathor who was buried under Pharaoh’s Deir el Bahri Mortuary Temple

Other Wives: Sadeh, Kemsit, Ashayet & Henhenet: all were secondary wives and again, all were Priestesses of Goddess Hathor, and again, who was buried under Pharaoh’s Deir el Bahri Mortuary Temple, but separately to Kawit

Reign

Mentuhotep inherited the Throne from his father, Pharaoh Intef III, who ruled for 8 years over Upper Egypt in Thebes as Egypt was divided in what Egyptologists refer to as the First Intermediate Period. He ruled the area from the 1st Cataract near modern day Aswan to the area encompassing Abydos.

Pharaoh is thought to have been the one who reunited Egypt after this Intermediate Period and then commenced the Middle Kingdom Period. Why do Egyptologists believe this? Due to Pharaoh amending his Titles to include the word Shematawy, literally meaning He who Unifies the Two Lands, in Regnal Year 39.

In total it is believed that he reigned for approx. 51 years.

Unification

Pharaoh’s first 14 years of ruling in Upper Egypt seem to have been uneventful and no records have survived to show any report to the contrary. The peace was shattered by the Rulers of Lower Egypt, the Herakleopolitan kings who followed through with their threats to invade Upper Egypt and desecrated the ancient necropolis at Abydos. Click here to learn more about the Royal Abydos Necropolis.  Mentuhotep could not ignore the invasion or the desecration, so he assembled and sent his Armies to the North to deal with the incursion.

The subsequent battle looks like it was won by Pharaoh Mentuhotep II and it appears as though the Lower Egyptian Ruler was killed. How do we know this? Lower Egypt became aimless in its policies and directions; furthermore, commoners were being buried with weapons rather than the usual religious symbols, and Stelae depicts Officials bearing weapons instead of their Regalia of State. It can be extrapolated that the stability of Leadership was dented at the very least. Mentuhotep’s deceased warrior’s bodies have been located together in a Tomb at Deir el Bahri, all carefully wrapped in Linen with their wraps being emblazoned with the Cartouche of Pharaoh. The losing side in a battle would not have had the ability either physical or financially to collect and bury their dead in this way.

It took Pharaoh Mentuhotep II a further 19 years to achieve full unification of Lower and Upper Egypt

Ruling over a Unified Country

Pharaoh’s work to unify the country was not completed after he announced his achievement. He then had to set to the role of stabilising the country and bringing it back to bring a whole. He commenced this by reforming the Government, centralising the power back in the Royal Court, stripping the hereditary appointed Nomarchs of their previous unwieldy powers, and ensuring that new Nomarchs only inherited a post if they were loyal to the Throne and up to the job. To keep control of this he appointed Theban men to be the Governor of Upper Egypt and his ‘Royally appointed Court Officials’, and the Governor of Lower Egypt and his ‘Royally appointed Court Officials’. These men were loyal only to him and were instructed to travel regularly across the country to keep the regional Nomarchs under the ultimate control of the King. One of these was his Chancellor and High Steward called Meketre who is buried near Pharaoh’s Mortuary Temple at Deir el Bahri. Click here to visit the site.

Pharaoh then upheld his military prowess by posting a Garrison in a Fort on the Island of Elephantine, today near modern day Aswan. From where they launched Campaigns, in Regnal Years 29 and 31, into Nubia which had regained their country during the First Intermediate Period. He also looked to the north and undertook Campaigns in Canaan and Libya.

 

 

Deification

Mentuhotep was accredited as the saviour of Egypt when the reunification happened, and he used the adoration to his advantage. He added his deification to the Reliefs which portrayed himself in his Temples wearing the Deity Crowns of Min and Amun. Pharaoh resurrected this deification whilst still alive policy from the Old Kingdom Period which had been vastly ignored by either the Lower or Upper Egyptian Rulers during the First Intermediate Period.

Building Achievements

As with nearly every other Pharaoh of this ancient dynasty Mentuhotep built, repaired, and added many of his own buildings to the architecture of Egypt. Click on the Images to visit the places he built:

Mortuary Temple at Deir el Bahri

Mahat Funerary Temple at Abydos

Original Temple on the current site of Goddess Hathor’s Temple at Dendera

Additions to other Temples in Upper Egypt

There is potential that the Temple of Heryshaf at Het Nesut, later known as Herakleopolis Magna, was constructed under the orders of Mentuhotep II but evidence is for this is scarce

Death and Burial

It has been assumed that Mentuhotep either succumbed to an illness or perhaps to old age given his lengthy reign. In any case there has not been anything found to suggest that it was due to a military campaign or any form of murder.

Pharaoh was buried underneath his Mortuary Temple at Deir el Bahri and was the very first where its occupant identified himself with the God Osiris which later inspired his neighbour’s Mortuary Temple at Deir el Bahri, Pharaoh Hatshepsut. His Tomb is located 45 meters underground after a you have descended a Corridor which could better be described as a Tunnel for approx. 150 meters. Inside was his wooden coffin, found in a chamber which was lined with Red Granite and topped with a pointed roof.