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Ancient Egypt - Pharaoh Senusret II


Continuing the family tradition of alternating names, Senusret II became king after a 3-year coregency. He continued the expansion of cultivation in the Faiyum region and established a good rapport with the provincial elites during a peaceful reign.

Senusret II built his mud-brick pyramid at Lahun. Instead of the typical north side entrance, he constructed his on the south side under the paving stones in an attempt to deter the tomb robbers. Even this failed, but Flinders Petrie in 1889 did find a beautiful gold and inlaid royal uraeus in the flooded burial chamber that must have come from the king's despoiled mummy.

The pyramid was built around a framework of limestone radial arms, similar to the framework used by Senusret I. Instead of using an infill of stones, Senusret II used an infill of mud brick before cladding the structure with a layer of limestone veneer. The outer cladding stones were locked together using dovetail inserts, some of which still remain. A trench was dug around the central core that was filled with stones to act as a French Drain. The limestone cladding stood in this drain, indicating that Senusret II was concerned with water damage.

There were eight mastabas and one small pyramid to the north of Senusret's complex and all were within the enclosure wall. The wall had been encased in limestone that was decorated with niches, perhaps as a copy of Djoser's complex at Saqqara. The mastabas were solid and no chambers have been found within or beneath, indicating that they were cenotaphs and possibly symbolic in nature. Inside the pyramid, the builder's vertical access shaft had been filled in after construction and the chamber was made to look like a burial chamber. This was no doubt an attempt to convince tomb robbers to look no further. A secondary access shaft led to a vaulted chamber and a deep well shaft. This may have been an aspect of the cult of Osiris, although it may also have been to find the water table. A passage led northwards, past another lateral chamber that turned west. This led to an antechamber and a vaulted burial chamber, with a side chamber to the south. The burial chamber was encircled by a unique series of passages that may have referenced the birth of Osiris. A large sarcophagus was found within the burial chamber that was larger than the doorway and the tunnels, showing that it was put in position when the chamber was being constructed. The limestone outer cladding of the pyramid was removed by Rameses II so he could re-use the stone for his own use. He left inscriptions that he had done so.

Returning in 1913, Petrie discovered four shaft tombs on the south side of the pyramid that belonged to the royal family. The tomb of princess Sit-Hathor-Yunet, had been robbed, but a niche in the burial site escaped the looters' attention. In this niche were remains of several boxes filled with jewelry and cosmetic objects, including a crown and necklace. This discovered jewelry is considered to be among the highest quality examples ever found in Ancient Egyptian tombs.

Also found were two pectorals, one with the name of Senusret II, the other with the name of Amenemhet III. There was also a crown and several bracelets inscribed with the name of Amenemhet III. Most of the objects are made of gold with inlays of precious stone.

The Pyramid Town of Kahun

It was also here that Petrie found the pyramid town Kahun which yielded fascinating new information about the social and economic life of the ancient Egyptian pyramid workers. Kahun has been considered the Egyptian Pompeii, since it was suddenly abandoned, with many possessions left behind. Dozens of papyri have been found that reveal the administration and logistics of a multi-racial and work force. The difference in prosperity within the community is also revealed through the varying sizes and quality of houses.


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