Senwosret I, c. 1961-1917 B.C.

Kheperkare Senwosret I was the son of Amenemhat I, who became Co-Regent alongside his father, sometime after his father’s 20th Regnal Year.
Senwosret, following in the footsteps of his father, led brutal campaigns south into Nubia, dominating the region all the way down to the Second Cataract of the Nile, documented on the Buhen Stela.

Seated limestone statue of Senwosret I, from el-Lisht. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. CG417

With various expansions, Senwosret developed numerous constructions, including the Heliopolis temple of Re-Atum, dedicated to the Sun Cult, along with two red granite obelisks, erected in celebration of his Heb Sed Jubilee. He led quarrying expiditions far into the Sinai, and to the Eastern Desert region of Egypt, Wadi Hammamat.

One of Senwosret I’s most known constructions is the beautiful limestone “White Chapel”, made to celebrate his 30th Jubilee festival. Beautifully carved images of the king along with numerous deities adorned the walls. Sadly, the White Chapel was demolished during the New Kingdom, and recycled as material for the Third Pylon of the temple of Karnak. However, in the late 1920s, these pieces were found and the remnants of the White Temple have since been reconstructed to present its former glory to the modern world.

It is believed, Senwosret I’s father Amenemhat I was assassinated. This is documented in an ancient Egyptian poem, referred to as the Instructions of Amenemhat. In the poem the ghost of Amenemhat comes and speaks to his son of his murder, telling him he was assassinated by his own guards. He warns Senwosret, not to trust anyone and to take the throne of Egypt.  

“It was after supper, when night had fallen, and I had spent an hour of happiness. I was asleep upon my bed, having become weary, and my heart had begun to follow sleep. When weapons of my counsel were wielded, I had become like a snake of the necropolis. As I came to, I awoke to fighting, and found that it was an attack of the bodyguard. If I had quickly taken weapons in my hand, I would have made the wretches retreat with a charge! But there is none mighty in the night, none who can fight alone; no success will come without a helper. Look, my injury happened while I was without you, when the entourage had not yet heard that I would hand over to you when I had not yet sat with you, that I might make counsels for you; for I did not plan it, I did not foresee it, and my heart had not taken thought of the negligence of servants.”

  • Instruction of Amenemhat, Middle Kingdom Literature

Seated limestone statue of Senwosret I, from el-Lisht. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. CG417