April 6, 2012

Mentuhotep III Pharaoh 1997-1991 BC

Mentuhotep III
Nebtawyre
1997-1991 BC

Mentuhotep III
Mentuhotep II is given in both the Saqqara and the Abydos king lists as the last king of the 11th Dynasty, immediately preceding Amenemhet I, founder of the 12th Dynasty, but the fragmentary Royal Canon of Turin papyrus says that there was a period of seven years without a king after Mentuhotep II. Into this lacuna must fit Nebtawyre Mentuhotep III and his short reign of about six years.

Records of this shadowy king are sparse. His name, together with that of Amenemhet I, occurs on a fragment of a slate bowl found at Lisht in the first nome and must date to the latter's reign as first king of the 12th Dynasty. Mentuhotep Ill's vizier and Governor of the South were also called Amenemhet, and it seems highly probable that he and Amenemhet I am one and the same. The vizier Amenemhet is well attested from a long inscription that he left in the Wadi Hammamat. He records that he went with an army of 10,000 men into the Wadi to seek and retrieve a fine block of stone suitable for the lid of the king's sarcophagus. They were led to the block by a pregnant gazelle which, having dropped its young on to the stone to mark it, was immediately sacrificed upon it. A further wonder occurred with a shower of rain. Eventually, the huge block was detached from the rock, and Amenemhet returned with it to Thebes. Unfortunately neither the tomb nor the sarcophagus of Mentuhotep III has ever been found. Perhaps the king was never able to use the stone, since it seems that Amenemhet, with the backing of his 10,000 men, overthrew his master and proclaimed himself king and thus, in what was rapidly becoming the norm, founded a new dynasty.

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