Senusret I (Middle Egyptian: z-n-wsrt; /suʀ nij ˈwas.ɾiʔ/), also anglicized as Sesostris I and Senwosret I, was the second pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from 1971 BC to 1926 BC (1920 BC to 1875 BC) and was one of the most powerful kings of this Dynasty. He expanded Egypt, which allowed him to rule over the age of prosperity. He was the son of Amenemhat I. Senusret I was known by his prenomen, Kheperkare, which means “the Ka of Re is created.”
He continued his father’s aggressive expansionist policies against Nubia by initiating two expeditions into this region in his 10th and 18th years. He established Egypt’s formal southern border near the second cataract, where he placed a garrison and a victory stele. He also organized an expedition to a Western Desert oasis. Senusret I established diplomatic relations with some rulers of towns in Syria and Canaan. His pyramid was constructed at el-Lisht. He also tried to centralize the country’s political structure by supporting nomarchs loyal to him. Senusret I is mentioned in the Story of Sinuhe, where he is reported to have rushed back to the royal palace in Memphis from a military campaign in Libya after hearing about the assassination of his father, Amenemhat I.
Family of Senusret I
The family relations of the king are well known. Senusret I was the son of Amenemhat I. His mother was a queen with the name Neferitatenen. His principal wife was Neferu III, his sister and mother of his successor Amenemhat II. The known children are Amenemhat II and the princesses Itakayt and Sebat. The latter was most likely a daughter of Neferu III as she appears with the latter together in one inscription. Later in life, his father was killed.
In his 18th year of reign, Senusret I launched a military campaign against Lower Nubia and conquered the region down to the Second Cataract. The military campaign is mentioned in several inscriptions of this king’s reign. The date of the expedition is mentioned on a stela from Buhen. Several local officials were involved with the military expedition. Amenemhat, governor of the Oryx nome, went there with the title overseer of troops. In year 25, Egypt was devastated by a famine caused by low Nile food.
Building by Senusret I
Senusret I dispatched several quarrying expeditions to the Sinai and Wadi Hammamat and built numerous shrines and temples throughout Egypt and Nubia during his long reign. He rebuilt the vital temple of Re-Atum in Heliopolis, which was the centre of the sun cult. He erected two red granite obelisks to celebrate his Year 30 Heb Sed Jubilee. One of the obelisks remains the oldest standing obelisk in Egypt. It is now in the Al-Masalla (Obelisk in Arabic) area of Al-Matariyyah district near the Ain Shams district (Heliopolis). It is 67 feet tall and weighs 120 tons or 240,000 pounds.
Senusret I is attested to be the builder of several major temples in Ancient Egypt, including the temple of Min at Koptos, the Temple of Satet on Elephantine, the Montu-temple at Armant and the Montu-temple at El-Tod, where a long inscription of the king is preserved.
A shrine (known as the White Chapel or Jubilee Chapel) with fine, high-quality reliefs of Senusret I was built at Karnak to commemorate his Year 30 jubilee. It was subsequently reconstructed from various stone blocks discovered by Henri Chevrier in 1926. Finally, Senusret remodelled the Temple of Khenti-Amentiu Osiris at Abydos, among his other major building projects.
The royal court
Some of the key members of the court of Senusret I are known. The vizier at the beginning of his reign was Intefiqer, known from many inscriptions and his tomb next to the pyramid of Amenemhat I. He seems to have held this office for an extended period and was followed by a vizier named Senusret. Two treasurers are known from the reign of the king: Sobekhotep (year 22) and Mentuhotep. The latter had a large tomb next to the pyramid of the king, and he seems to have been the leading architect of the Amun temple at Karnak. Several high stewards are attested. Hor is known from several stelae and an inscription in the Wadi el-Hudi, where he was the leader of an expedition for amethyst. One of the stelae is dated to year nine of the king. A certain Nakhr followed in office attested around year 12 of the king. He had a tomb at Lisht. A certain Antef, son of a woman called Zatamun, is known again from several stelae. One date to year 24 and another to year 25 of Senusret I. Another Antef was the son of a woman called Zatuser and was most likely a high steward in the king’s reign.
Senusret has crowned as coregent with his father, Amenemhat I, in his father’s 20th regnal year. Towards the end of his life, he appointed his son Amenemhat II as his coregent. The stele of Wepwawetō is dated to the 44th year of Senusret and the 2nd year of Amenemhet; thus, he would have appointed him some time in his 43rd year. Senusret is thought to have died during his 46th year on the throne since the Turin Canon ascribes him a reign of 45 Years.