Lintel of Amenemhat I and Deities

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, known to have been by birth from the south of Egypt, may have served as vizier to King Mentuhotep IV and as such may have been responsible for expeditions to the quarries of Wadi Hammamat before he ascended the throne. Early in his reign, he moved the capital from Thebes to a new city, Itj-tawy, just south of Memphis. He also appears to have established a coregency with his son, Senwosret I, ten years before his demise in order 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 that stood either at the same site or somewhere else in the area of Itj-tawy (Lisht).

In the relief King Amenemhat I is shown celebrating his thirty-year jubilee (Heb Sed). 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, but many details are only indicated in paint.