Ancient Egypt - Pharaoh Senusret III


Senusret III came to the throne and ended the alternation of names. The Greaco-Roman priest Manetho described Senusret III as a great warrior and over 6-ft-6-inches in height. In the beginning of his reign, he divided the country into three administrative sections: the North, the South, and the Head of the South, which was Elephantine and Lower Nubia. Each area was headed by a council of senior staff that reported to a vizier. This new system of government curtailed the activities of the local nomarchs that had once again risen to challenge the monarchy.


After securing the internal stability, Senusret III initiated a series of devastating campaigns in Nubia in order to safeguard access to the trade routes. He strengthened the forts and dug a canal around the First Cataract at Aswan in order to better serve his fleet. A great stele from Elephantine records how he crushed the Nubians:


“I carried off their women, I carried off their subjects, went forth to

their wells, smote their bulls. I reaped their grain, and set fire thereto.”



Senusret III pushed Egypt's southern boundary farther than any of his predecessors and left an admonition for future kings in another stele at Semna which states:


“Now, as for every son of mine who shall maintain this boundary, which

my majesty has made, he is my son, he is born of my majesty, the likeness

of a son who is the champion of his father, who maintains the boundary

of him that begat him. Now, as for him who shall relax it, and shall not

fight for it; he is not my son, he is not born to me.” -Translated by Peter Clayton


He would eventually be worshiped as a god in Nubia and later generations would strive to keep this inheritance.


Senusret III built the largest of the 12th Dynasty pyramids at Dahshur, and, like his father, also attempted to conceal the entrance by placing it under the paving of the surrounding court on the west side. This, too, was ineffective against tomb robbers.

The pyramid was built of a core of mud bricks. They were not made a consistent size implying that standardized molds weren't used. The burial chamber was lined with granite. Above the vaulted burial chamber was a second relieving chamber that was roofed with five pairs of limestone beams each weighing 30 tons. Above this was a third mudbrick vault.


The pyramid complex included a small mortuary temple and seven smaller pyramids for his queens. There was also an underground gallery with further burials for royal women.


The Portraits of the Pharaoh

Senusret III is probably the best known, visually, of all the Middle Kingdom pharaohs. His statues have more realistic features and depart from the tradition of appearing god-like and serene. He is easily identifiable by his hooded eyes and world-weary features.


The king is depicted at different ages and, in particular, on the aged ones, he appears more of a somber king: his eyes appear tired and worn, the mouth and lips have a grimace of bitterness, and the ears are big and protruding forward. In sharp contrast with the realism of the head and, regardless of his age, the rest of the body depicts the more classical pharaonic fashion as being strong and invincible.

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