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Ancient Egypt

Middle Kingdom

History >> Ancient Egypt

The "Middle Kingdom" is a period of time during the history of Ancient Egypt. It lasted from 1975 BC to 1640 BC. The Middle Kingdom was the second peak period of the Ancient Egyptian civilization (the other two being the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom). During this time all of Egypt was united under a single government and Pharaoh.

What dynasties ruled Egypt during the Middle Kingdom?

The Middle Kingdom period was ruled by the Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Dynasties. Historians sometimes include the Fourteenth Dynasty as well.

Mentuhotep II by Unknown
Rise of the Middle Kingdom

During the First Intermediate Period, Egypt was divided and in political chaos. The Tenth Dynasty ruled northern Egypt, while the Eleventh Dynasty ruled the south. Around 2000 BC, a powerful leader named Mentuhotep II became king of southern Egypt. He launched an attack on the north and eventually reunited Egypt under one rule. This began the period of the Middle Kingdom.

The City of Thebes

Under the rule of Mentuhotep II, Thebes became the capital of Egypt. From that point forward, the city of Thebes would remain a major religious and political center throughout much of Ancient Egyptian history. Mentuhotep II built his tomb and mortuary complex near the city of Thebes. Later, many pharaohs of the New Kingdom would also be buried nearby at the Valley of the Kings.

Mentuhotep II ruled for 51 years. During that time, he reestablished the pharaoh as the god-king of Egypt. He rebuilt the central government and expanded the borders of Egypt.

Peak of the Middle Kingdom

The Middle Kingdom reached its peak under the rule of the Twelfth Dynasty. The pharaohs of the time built a powerful standing army that protected the country from outside invaders and maintained control of the government. The greatest point of economic prosperity came during the reign of Pharaoh Amenemhat III which lasted for 45 years.


Block Statue by Unknown

The arts of Ancient Egypt continued to develop during this time. A type of sculpture called the "block statue" became popular. It would continue to be a mainstay of Egyptian art for 2,000 years. The block statue was sculpted from a single piece of rock. It showed a man squatting with his arms folded on top of his knees.

Writing and literature developed as well. For the first time in Ancient Egyptian history, writing was used for entertainment including writing stories and recording religious philosophy.

Fall of the Middle Kingdom

It was during the Thirteenth Dynasty that the pharaoh's control of Egypt began to weaken. Eventually, a group of kings in northern Egypt, called the Fourteenth Dynasty, split from southern Egypt. As the country fell into disarray, the Middle Kingdom collapsed and the Second Intermediate Period began.

Second Intermediate Period

The Second Intermediate Period is most famous for the rule of foreign invaders called the Hyksos. The Hyksos ruled northern Egypt from the capital city of Avaris until around 1550 BC.

Interesting Facts About the Middle Kingdom of Egypt Activities

More information on the civilization of Ancient Egypt:

Timeline of Ancient Egypt
Old Kingdom
Middle Kingdom
New Kingdom
Late Period
Greek and Roman Rule

Monuments and Geography
Geography and the Nile River
Cities of Ancient Egypt
Valley of the Kings
Egyptian Pyramids
Great Pyramid at Giza
The Great Sphinx
King Tut's Tomb
Famous Temples
Egyptian Food, Jobs, Daily Life
Ancient Egyptian Art
Entertainment and Games
Egyptian Gods and Goddesses
Temples and Priests
Egyptian Mummies
Book of the Dead
Ancient Egyptian Government
Women's Roles
Hieroglyphics Examples
Amenhotep III
Cleopatra VII
Ramses II
Thutmose III

Inventions and Technology
Boats and Transportation
Egyptian Army and Soldiers
Glossary and Terms

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Egypt

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