Episode 35: From Father to Son

Senuseret I (Part II) and the Teachings of Amenemhat.


In the wake of his father's unexpected murder, Senuseret I ascends the throne as sole ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt. His early years must be spent navigating the transition of power: although this was greatly facilitated by ten years of co-regency, the king must now find his own way.

To strengthen his ethical reputation among the country's elites, Senuseret commissions and publishes The Teachings of Amenemhat. Puporting to be written by the late king, the work promotes the new king's view of his situation and courtly society, with special warnings to trust no one. 

Whether the work is full of Senuseret's own ideas, or perhaps composed from teachings given by the late Amenemhat during their co-regency, it is a fascinating piece of Egyptian didactic literature.

An 18th Dynasty copy of the Teachings, written in hieratic.


The pyramid of Amenemhat I at al-Lisht. A modern cemetery in the foreground.


The cartonnage and wood coffin of Hapy-Ankhtyfy, Twelfth Dynasty.

Nakht, a steward for Amenemhat I and Senuseret I. Buried in the cemetery at al-Lisht. 

The mummy mask of Khnum-hotep, a Twelfth Dynasty official.



A New Kingdom piece of cartonnage: linen or papyrus coated in plaster, left to set, and then painted.


Dorothea Arnold. "Amenemhat I and the Early Twelfth Dynasty at Thebes." Metropolitan Museum of Art Journal. 1991 (Free Download from MMA).

Wolfram Grajetzki. Court Officials of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom. 2009.

Gay Robins. The Art of Ancient Egypt. 2008.

William C. Hayes. The Scepter of Egypt. 1976 (Free Download from the MMA).