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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.)

Mentuhotep II
Pharaoh Mentuhotep II, reigned from 2061 – 2010 B.C.E. (51 years). He is the last ruler of the 11th dynasty and considered by most to be the the first Pharaoh of Middle Kingdom. He often had himself painted jet-black, which was the color reserved for the gods. We believe he did this to legitimize his rule, as he reunified Upper and Lower Kemet. His Royal Wife, below, was from Nubia.
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt (also known as The Period of Reunification) is the period in the history of ancient Egypt between about 2000 BC and 1700 BC, stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Twelfth Dynasty, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate Period. During this period, Osiris became the most important deity in popular religion.

The period comprises two phases, the 11th Dynasty, which ruled from Thebes and the 12th Dynasty onwards which was centered on el-Lisht. These two dynasties were originally considered to be the full extent of this unified kingdom, but historians now consider the 13th Dynasty to at least partially belong to the Middle Kingdom.

Reunification under the Eleventh Dynasty

After the collapse of the Old Kingdom, Egypt entered a period of weak Pharaonic power and decentralization called the First Intermediate Period. Towards the end of this period, two rival dynasties, known in Egyptology as the Tenth and Eleventh, fought for power over the entire country. The Theban 11th Dynasty only ruled southern Egypt from the first cataract to the Tenth Nome of Upper Egypt. To the north, Lower Egypt was ruled by the rival 10th Dynasty from Herakleopolis. The struggle was to be concluded by Mentuhotep II, who ascended the Theban throne in 2055 B.C. During Mentuhotep II's fourteenth regnal year, he took advantage of a revolt in the Thinite Nome to launch an attack on Herakleopolis, which met little resistance. After toppling the last rulers of the 10th Dynasty, Mentuhotep began consolidating his power over all Egypt, a process which he finished by his 39th regnal year. For this reason, Mentuhotep II is regarded as the founder of the Middle Kingdom.

Mentuhotep II commanded military campaigns south as far as the Second Cataract in Nubia, which had gained its independence during the First Intermediate Period. He also restored Egyptian hegemony over the Sinai region, which had been lost to Egypt since the end of the Old Kingdom. To consolidate his authority, he restored the cult of the ruler, depicting himself as a god in his own lifetime, wearing the headdresses of Amun and Min. He died after a reign of 51 years, and passed the throne to his son, Mentuhotep III.

Mentuhotep III reigned for only twelve years, during which he continued consolidating Theban rule over the whole of Egypt, building a series of forts in the eastern Delta region to secure Egypt against threats from Asia. He also sent the first expedition to Punt during the Middle Kingdom, by means of ships constructed at the end of Wadi Hammamat, on the Red Sea. Mentuhotep III was succeeded by Mentuhotep IV, whose name significantly is omitted from all ancient Egyptian king lists. The Turin Papyrus claims that after Mentuhotep III came "seven kingless years." Despite this absence, his reign is attested from a few inscriptions in Wadi Hammamat that record expeditions to the Red Sea coast and to quarry stone for the royal monuments. The leader of this expedition was his vizier Amenemhat, who is widely assumed to be the future pharaoh Amenemhet I, the first king of the 12th Dynasty.

Mentuhotep IV's absence from the king lists has prompted the theory that Amenemhet I usurped his throne. While there are no contemporary accounts of this struggle, certain circumstantial evidence may point to the existence of a civil war at the end of the 11th dynasty.Inscriptions left by one Nehry, the Haty-a of Hermopolis, suggest that he was attacked at a place called Shedyet-sha by the forces of the reigning king, but his forces prevailed. Khnumhotep I, an official under Amenemhet I, claims to have participated in a flotilla of 20 ships to pacify Upper Egypt. Donald Redford has suggested these events should be interpreted as evidence of open war between two dynastic claimants. What is certain is that, however he came to power, Amenemhet I was not of royal birth.

Early Twelfth Dynasty

From the 12th dynasty onwards, pharaohs often kept well-trained standing armies, which included Nubian contingents. 

Queen Kemsit, Royal Wife of Mentuhotep II. Queen Kemsit was buried at Mentuhotep II's mortuary complex at Thebes. Queen Kemsit is from Nubia. Here she is depicted being attended to by Libyan women servants. Would you have believed this if you had not seen it? Many Egyptologists try to claim that the ancient Egyptians always painted themselves "reddish pink." This is not true. The ancient Egyptians painted themselves many shades of black and brown - as they appeared. If this is Mentuhotep II's wife, how would you expect their children to look? 


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