Mentuhotep II Nebhepetra: Reunifying Egypt under Theban Rule BY AlexThepanda95 Mentuhotep II Nebhepetra Describe the most important features known from that king’s reign and the surviving sources of evidence about them. Mentuhotep II Nebhepetra is considered to be most famous for reunifying Egypt under Theban rule, thus ending the turmoil of the First Intermediate period and establishing the far more stable Middle Kingdom.
The beginning of his reign seems relatively peaceful until evidence suggests that 14 ears in, the last phase of civil war between Herakleopolis and Thebes (Mentuhotep’s region) erupted, culminating in Mentuhotep defeating the Herakleopolitans and reunifying Egypt. As to how Mentuhotep actually unified Egypt remains broadly unknown. Historians have argued that a collection of unmummified bodies of 60 “soldiers” found not far from his mortuary complex prove that there was a battle.
This collaboration of Egypt, regardless of how it actually occurred, is considered a ‘tremendous achievement’l in the history of Egypt and its significance is not only ecognised today, but was by the Ancient Egyptian’s themselves. Discoveries have been made as late as the 20th Dynasty of private tombs containing inscriptions ‘celebrating [Mentuhotep’s] role as founder of the Middle Kingdom’2. Among Mentuhotep’s achievements as king were his various temple buildings, the most famous being his ‘innovative mortuary complex at Deir el-Bahri’3 (see Fig 1) which was entirely ‘unique’4 when built.
Its novel plan was the inspiration for Hatshepsut’s later neighbouring monument. The complex is seen to be ‘evidence f the transition from the Old Kingdom pyramid temple to the ‘houses of millions of years’ of the New Kingdom’S and so is significant in the movement of Ancient Egyptian architecture. Within the complex, a series of painted sandstone statues of Mentuhotep were found which ‘are the earliest to represent the dead king in the so- called ‘Osirian’ pose’6 (see Fig 2).
Additionally, Mentuhotep seems to have been the first king to build a ‘grand stone hypostyle hall in Egyptian architecture, with 80 octagonal columns’7 of which remains can still be seen today (see Fig 3). Mentuhotep reorganised multiple elements of government during his reign. He ruled from Thebes, which ‘had not been a particularly prominent town in Upper Egypt’8 until this move – thus making it into a prime location.
He also rearranged the government’s organisation by re-establishing many roles, such as moving the post of vizier to head the administration. Moreover, in previous king’s reigns, the power of the nomarchs had been increasing but Mentuhotep diminished their power and their movements began to be monitored by officials from the royal court. Mentunotep’s reign Is tnereTore rememoerea mostly Tor nls Importance In reunltlng Egypt after the instability of the First Intermediate period.
Mentuhotep’s apparent military campaigns abroad, focusing on Libya, Nubia and the Eastern desert, reinforce the stability of the state during this time as ‘such Journeys suggest that Egypt was beginning to restore its influence in the outside world’9 – something only done when their own state was secure enough to expand. Such actions are depicted within his mortuary complex (see Fig 4). Bibliography Arnold, D. Encyclopaedia of Ancient Egyptian Architecture (London: 1. 8. Tauris, 2003) p. 149 Lehner, M. The complete pyramids (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 1997) p. 167 Murray, M. , Egyptian Temples (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co Ltd, 1931) p. 129 Shaw, 1. , The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) pp. 139-142 Taylor, J. , Death and the afterlife in Ancient Egypt (London: The British Museum Press, 2001) p. 167 Wilkinson, T. , Dictionary of Ancient Egypt (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2005) p. 1 50 Fig 1 Reconstruction by Naville, 1910 Sourced from: http://en. wikipedia. rg/wiki/File:Temple-montouhotep. Jpg Fig 2 Seated statue of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II, in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Painted Sandstone, 1 lth Dynasty Sourced from: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/ File:Mentuhotep_Seated. Jpg Aerial view of Mentuhotep’s temple complex, modern day. Sourced from: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/File:Mentuhotep_Deir_el-Bahri. Jpg Fig 4 1 1 th dynasty stone relief showing the cartouche of Mentuhotep, illustrating him defeating Asiatics. Sourced from The British Museum online archive.