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Where Black
History Lives!​

The Standing on the Shoulders of Giants "Teach & Learn" Black History Curriculum​​

Specially designed for Parents, Teachers, Homeschool, or Independent Study, grades 5+


Unit 1: Ancient Africa - The Cradle of Civilization
(200,000 B.C. - 476 B.C.)

Unit 1: Class 9: Ancient Kemet (Egypt): The Middle Kingdom & Second Intermediary Period (2055 B.C. – 1650 B.C.) 

Ancient Kemet (Egypt): Middle Kingdom (2050 - 1640 B.C.) and Second Intermediate Period (1650 - 1650 B.C.) cont.

People To Know
Pharaoh Senusret III ruled from 1878 - 1839 B.C.E. during a time of great power and prosperity, and was the fifth monarch of the 12th Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom.
In his sixth year, he re-dredged an Old Kingdom canal around the first cataract to facilitate travel to upper Nubia. He used this to launch a series of brutal campaigns in Nubia in his sixth, eighth, tenth, and sixteenth years. After his victories, Senusret built a series of massive forts throughout the country to establish the formal boundary between Egyptian conquests and unconquered Nubia at Semna. The personnel of these forts were charged to send frequent reports to the capital on the movements and activities of the local Medjay natives, some of which survive, revealing how tightly the Egyptians intended to control the southern border. Medjay were not allowed north of the border by ship, nor could they enter by land with their flocks, but they were permitted to travel to local forts in order to trade. After this, Senusret sent one more campaign in his 19th year, but turned back due to abnormally low Nile levels, which endangered his ships. One of Senusret's soldiers also records a campaign into Palestine, perhaps against Shechem, the only reference to a military campaign against a location in Palestine from the entirety of Middle Kingdom literature.

Domestically, Senusret has been given credit for an administrative reform which put more power in the hands of appointees of the central government, instead of regional authorities. Egypt was divided into three waret, or administrative divisions: North, South, and Head of the South (perhaps Lower Egypt, most of Upper Egypt, and the nomes of the original Theban kingdom during the war with Herakleopolis, respectively). Each region was administrated by a Reporter, Second Reporter, some kind of council (the Djadjat), and a staff of minor officials and scribes. The power of the Nomarchs seems to drop off permanently during his reign, which has been taken to indicate that the central government had finally suppressed them, though there is no record that Senusret ever took direct action against them.

Senusret III had a lasting legacy as a warrior Pharaoh. His name was Hellenized by later Greek historians as Sesostris, a name which was then given to a conflation of Senusret and several New Kingdom warrior pharaohs. In Nubia, Senusret was worshiped as a patron God by Egyptian settlers. The duration of his reign remains something of an open question. His son Amenemhet III began reigning after Senusret's 19th regnal year, which has been widely considered Senusret's highest attested date. However, a reference to a year 39 on a fragment found in the construction debris of Senusret's mortuary temple has suggested the possibility of a long coregency with his son.

The reign of Amenemhat III was the height of Middle Kingdom economic prosperity. His reign is remarkable for the degree to which Egypt exploited its resources. Mining camps in the Sinai, which had previously been used only by intermittent expeditions, were operated on a semi-permanent basis, as evidenced by the construction of houses, walls, and even local cemeteries. There are 25 separate references to mining expeditions in the Sinai, and four to expeditions in wadi Hammamat, one of which had over 2,000 workers. Amenemhet reinforced his father's defenses in Nubia and continued the Faiyum land reclamation system. After a reign of 45 years, Amenemhet III was succeeded by Amenemhet IV, whose nine-year reign is poorly attested. Clearly by this time, dynastic power began to weaken, for which several explanations have been proposed. Contemporary records of the Nile flood levels indicate that the end of the reign of Amenemhet III was dry, and crop failures may have helped to destabilize the dynasty. Further, Amenemhet III had an inordinately long reign, which tends to create succession problems. The latter argument perhaps explains why Amenemhet IV was succeeded by Sobekneferu, the first historically attested female king of Egypt. Sobekneferu ruled no more than four years, and as she apparently had no heirs, when she died the Twelfth Dynasty came to a sudden end as did the Golden Age of the Middle Kingdom.

Decline into the Second Intermediate Period

After the death of Sobeknefru, the throne may have passed to Sekhemre Khutawy Sobekhotep, though in older studies Wegaf, who had previously been the Great Overseer of Troops, was thought to have reigned next. Beginning with this reign, Egypt was ruled by a series of ephemeral kings for about ten to fifteen years.

People To Know
Sphinx of Amenemhat III, diorite statue, from Tanis, Detail, Egyptian Civilization, Middle Kingdom, Dynasty XII
People To Know
Queen Sobekneferu was the daughter of Amenemhat III. She is the last ruler of the 12th Dynasty. She died with no apparent heir, which weakened the empire and brought about the Second Intermediary Period. 




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