Khakheperre Senusret II, Pharaoh of Egypt

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About Khakheperre Senusret II, Pharaoh of Egypt

Khakeperre Senusret II was the fourth pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from 1897 BC to 1878 BC. His pyramid was constructed at El-Lahun. Senusret II took a great deal of interest in the Faiyum oasis region and began work on an extensive irrigation system from the Bahr Yusuf through to Lake Moeris by means the construction of a dike at El-Lahun and the addition of a network of drainage canals. The purpose of his project was to increase the amount of cultivable land here.[2] The importance of this project is emphasized by Senusret II's decision to move the royal necropolis from Dahshur to El-Lahun where he built his pyramid. This location would remain the political capital of the 12th and 13th Dynasties of Egypt. The king also established the first known worker's quarter in the nearby town of Senusrethotep (Kahun).[3]

Unlike his successor, Senusret II maintained good relations with the various local and influential nomarchs or provincial governors of Egypt who were almost as wealthy as the pharaoh himself.[4] His Year 6 is attested in a Wall painting from the tomb of a local nomarch named Khnumhotep at Beni Hasan.

Of the rulers of this Dynasty, Senusret II's reign-length is the most debated among scholars. The Turin Canon gives an unknown king of the Dynasty a reign of 19 Years, (which is usually attributed to him), but Senusret II's highest known date is currently only a Year 8 red sandstone stela found in June 1932 from a long unused quarry at Toshka.[5] Some scholars prefer to ascribe him a reign of only 10 Years and assign the 19 Year reign to Senusret III instead. Other Egyptologists, however, such as Jürgen von Beckerath and Frank Yurco have maintained the traditional view of a longer 19 Year reign for Senusret II given the amount of work which the king performed in his reign. Yurco noted that limiting Senusret II's reign to only 6 or 10 years poses major difficulties because this king:

“ ... built a complete pyramid at Kahun, with a solid granite funerary temple and complex of buildings. Such projects optimally took fifteen to twenty years to complete, even with the mudbrick cores used in Middle Kingdom pyramids."

Pectoral of Senusret II (tomb of Sit-Hathor Yunet)

Senusret II may not have shared a coregency with his son, Senusret III, unlike most other Middle Kingdom rulers. Some scholars support the view that he did, noting a scarab with both king's names inscribed on it, a dedication inscription celebrating the resumption of rituals begun by Senusret II and III, and a papyrus which was thought to mention Senusret II's 19th year and Senusret III's first year on it.[7] None of these three items, however, necessitate a coregency.[8] Moreover, the evidence from the papyrus document is now obviated by the fact that the document has been securely dated to Year 19 of Senusret III and Year 1 of Amenemhet III instead. At present, no document from Senusret II's reign has been discovered from Lahun, this king's new capital city.

In 1889, the English Egyptologist Flinders Petrie found "a marvellous gold and inlaid royal uraeus" that must have originally formed part of Senusret II's looted burial equipment in a flooded chamber of the king's pyramid tomb.[9] It is now located in the Cairo Museum. The tomb of Princess Sit-Hathor-Iunet, a daughter of Senusret II, was also discovered by Egyptologists in a separate burial. Several pieces of jewellery from her tomb including a pair of pectorals and a unique crown or diadem were found here; they are today displayed in either the Metropolitan Museum of New York or the Cairo Museum in Egypt.

In 2009, Egyptian archaeologists announced the results of new excavations. They described unearthing a cache of pharaonic-era mummies in brightly painted wooden coffins near the Lahun pyramid. The mummies were reportedly the first to be found in the sand-covered desert rock surrounding the pyramid.

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