HomeAncient HistoryAncient EgyptArt and Architecture of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt

Art and Architecture of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt



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The Kings of the Twelfth Dynasty started again to build pyramids.

Amenemhat III – two pyramids: in Dahshur and Faiyum.

In Heliopolis on the same place where today stands Sun’s temple obelisk from the Old Kingdom, was standing a temple of Sesostris I, of which today there are no residues. The most important structure from this period is certainly the temple of Mentuhotep I.

A temple itself is dug into the mountain, and it contained two covered terraces that are surrounded by square pillars. At its top, perhaps there was a small pyramid. Right next to it there is a temple of the Queen Hatshepsut.

Ushabti and mummy with sarcophagus
Ushabti and mummy with sarcophagus

The biggest technical achievement at the time was the arrangement of the lake area (depression) in Faiyum and transformation of this Egyptian part into the large agricultural area. In the art, the emphasis was not on Pharaoh’s apotheosis. Pharaoh’s were presented as serious and thoughtful kings, which are a reflection of the times in which they ruled; times of crises and wars. A novelty in the funeral ceremonies were figurines ushabti (shauabti, shabt, usheb) which means to listen, to be submissive.

These were figurines in the form of mummies held an agricultural tool in its hands, while on the back they carried a basket.

On those figurines, a magic text was written by which an owner (a deceased) can manage these figures and ask from them to carry out his duties. These figurines replace the custom of putting wooden servant figurines into the grave and they were associated with the popular belief into the equality of this life and afterlife.

This belief does not have a ground on the official theological doctrine of any religious center in ancient Egypt.