1929 -1895 BC
Senusret was succeeded after his death c. 1926 BC by his son Amenemhet II, who continued the longevity of the family with a reign of 34 years. It was around this time that the Egyptians first began to recognize the opportunities available in the Faiyum area for hunting, fishing and cultivating, and it was thus to render the irrigation system more effective that the great Bahr Yusuf canal that feeds the Faiyum from the Nile was widened and deepened.
|Great sphinx thought to have been originally carved for Amenemhat II, now on display in the Louvre, Paris|
Amenemhet II strove mainly to consolidate the work of his predecessors in foreign affairs, although there are records of an expedition to the Red Sea and, in Year 28, of another to the Land of Punt (p. 106). There is ample evidence of the exchange of diplomatic gifts between Egypt and the Levant during this period. Jewellery bearing the king's cartouche has been found in the royal tombs at Byblos in Lebanon (especially in that of the local prince, Ipshemuabi), together with local copies of typical 12th Dynasty jewellery. In Egypt, a great treasure was discovered in the foundations of the temple of Montu at Tod, just south of Luxor (Thebes), consisting of four bronze boxes inscribed on the lid in hieroglyphs with the name of Amenemhet II. The boxes contained a large number of silver cups of Levantine and Aegean origin, as well as Babylonian cylinder seals and lapis lazuli amulets from Mesopotamia. The whole hoard was probably either a diplomatic gift or tribute; the silver cups represented an extremely high intrinsic value at the time, since silver was far more precious than gold in Egypt.
There is also an apparent increase at this time in the number of Levantine names recorded in Egypt, presumably belonging to those brought in as domestic servants. Contacts with Crete to the north-west across the 'Great Green' (wdj-wi), as the Egyptians called the Mediterranean, are evident from Egyptian finds in Crete at Knossos (including the lower half of a statue of a man named User) and typical Minoan pottery - Kamares ware - in Egypt, at town sites such as Lahun and in a tomb at Abydos.
Amenemhet II built his pyramid at Dahshur to the east of the earlier 4th Dynasty pyramids of Snefru. Why he should have turned to that site is not known, although the choice may have been connected with the building projects close by in the Faiyum. All that now remains of his pyramid is a great mass of eroded mud brick, originally the core of a pyramid some 263 ft (80 m) square.