April 8, 2012

Senusret III king as Builder and Senusret III Pyramid

The king as builder
Much of the wealth acquired in the Nubian campaigns was directed towards the temples in Egypt and their renewal. An inscription from Abydos of the official Ikhernofret tells of the king's commission that he refurbish Osiris's barge, shrine and chapels with gold, electrum, lapis lazuli, malachite and other costly stones. A series of six life-size granite standing figures of the king wearing the nemes headdress were commissioned for the temple of Mentuhotep I at Deir el-Bahari, Thebes, where they lined the lower terrace. Local graffiti record the maintenance of a large body of priests associated with the cult of Amun, indicating that although the capital and burial ground of the kings had moved to the north, interest and respect were still maintained for the religious centre of Thebes.

Senusret III Pyramid
Just to the north of Karnak (Thebes) at Nag-el-Medamoud, Senusret III erected a large temple to the old god of the Theban area, the war god Montu. Remodelled in the New Kingdom, and also later in Ptolemaic and Roman times, the Middle Kingdom structure has disappeared, although the remains of two finely carved granite gateways of the original temple were found in 1920, together with some splendid statues and other inscriptions.

Senusret III built his pyramid in the Middle Kingdom cemetery at Dahshur. At 350 ft (107 m) square it is the largest of the 12th Dynasty pyramids, but the disappearance of the limestone casing has caused the mudbrick core to deteriorate severely. Like his father, he also attempted to conceal the entrance, this time under the paving of the surrounding court on the west side. Needless to say, the device was ineffective against tomb robbers. Excavations by Jacques de Morgan in 1894-95 in the northern section of Senusret's pyramid enclosure revealed the tombs of his queen, Mereret, and the princess Sit-Hathor - his sister and possibly wife. Both tombs produced some fine jewellery which survived because it was placed elsewhere in the tomb and not on the subsequently rifled mummies.

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