Period: Middle Kingdom
Dynasty: Dynasty 12
Reign: reign of Amenemhat I–Senwosret I
Date: ca. 1981–1952 B.C.
Geography: From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, Pyramid Temple of Amenemhat I, MMA excavations, 1907
Medium: Limestone, paint
Dimensions: H. 36.8 cm (14 1/2 in.); W. 172.7 cm (68 in.); D. 13.3 cm (5 1/4 in.)
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1908
Accession Number: 08.200.5
Amenemhat I, Theban by birth, was a vizier in the court of Mentuhotep IV and was responsible for expeditions to the quarries of Wadi Hammamat. Early in his reign, he moved the capital from Thebes to a new city, Itj-Tawy, just south of Memphis. He also established a coregency with his son, Senwosret I, to ensure the stability of his new dynasty. This block was found in the foundations of his mortuary temple at Lisht, the royal cemetery for the new capital. It was reused from an earlier building.
King Amenemhat I is shown celebrating his sed festival or jubilee. He is flanked by the gods Anubis with a jackal head (in front) and Horus with a falcon head (behind), both of whom offer him the ankh, or symbol of life. At the left of the block stands the goddess Nekhbet of Upper Egypt and on the right the goddess Wadjet of Lower Egypt. The king wears a tightly curled wig with the uraeus on his brow and the false beard of kingship. He carries the flail and a ceremonial instrument. The low-relief carving is delicate and rich in detail; in style, it is transitional between the Theban reliefs of Dynasty 11 (07.230.2) and that of the Memphite school, which would become the classical style of the Middle Kingdom.