Intef II.

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Intef II.

The first rulers of the 11th dynasty, Mentuhotep I. and Intef I., ruled only fifteen years each. But brother and successor of Intef I. Intef II. went down in new monarchy development. His reign lasted 50 years and a lot of archaeological, epigraphic and artistic documents preserved from that time, which enable us to look at the character of the Theban kingdom in detail.

Intef II. laid claim to traditional dual expression of the royal power (nesu – bity) and also to the title „the son of Ra“, which is associated with dogma of the ruler's divine origin. But he didn't accept the whole royal protocol with its five "great names", so-called fivefold royal titulary.

Intef II. only accepted the "name of Horus" Wahankh ("never-ending life") to his "personal name" Intef and he didn't have any "throne name" (that traditionally contained the name of sun God Ra). Unfortunately, there are only few preserved depictions of the ruler and it is not possible to say if he used the whole set of royal crowns and other insignia. However, the actual remainder of the documents indicates that this is not likely much.

The first Theban kings were obviously aware of the fact that their power was limited. According to the fact that Intef II. came from a social class of provincial rulers, he let inscribe a biographical stele, which was placed into entrance chapel of his saff tomb in el-Tarif. He is depicted there in company of his five favourite dogs and also successes of his reign are recapitulated there. Information on this stele are also richly confirmed in texts of his adherents.

There is a good reason to believe that the last non-royal Theban nomarch already ruled over a large area of the southern Upper Egypt. However, it was only Intef II. who raided the north. Intef II. conquered Abydos Nome, which was the most important administrative centre of the Upper Egypt since the Old Kingdom period. He continued even further and attacked the area of the 10th Nome of the Upper Egypt. He started politics of open hostility towards Herakleopolis Kings this way and he had to wage a war in strip territory between Abydos and Asyut, which lasted with intermissions for several decades.

Hetepi from el-Qa'ab

We know names of several men, who served Intef II.. For example the Theban commandant Djar, who fought with Herakleopolis army in Abydos Nome and fought his way to the north into 10th Nome; Hetepi from el-Qa'ab, who administered the three most southern Nomes for the King and Intef's cashier Cecej, whose beautiful stele is a part of the British Museum collections in London today. Even if the main aim of biographical signs of these men is praise of their own successes, there is no doubt, who was the highest authority there. It was only Hetepi from el-Qa'ab.

Ruler's men

So says Hetepi: I was the one, who was loved by my master and who was praised by the lord of this land; and His Majesty really gratified his servant [it means Hetepi]. His Majesty said: "There is nobody, who [...](my) good orders than Hetepi!", and this servant did it very well and His Majesty praised this servant for it. And his courtiers said: "Let your name be praised!"

Buildings and art

Intef II. built a lot of temples for Gods. The pylon of Intef II. is the eldest preserved fragment of the royal building in temple complex in Karnak. The researches on Elephantina revealed intact building stages in the temple of Goddess Satis. The eldest of them came from the Archaic period. The Kings of the Old Kingdom dedicated the Goddess Satis only several votive sacrifices on Elephantina, but only Intef II. was the first ruler who built a temple not only to Satis, but also to Khnum and who had made ceremonial signs on doorframes. All his successors from the 11th dynasty followed his example.

Both non-royal and royal buildings from Intef II. period contain wonderful representatives of the 11th dynasty Theban art. Some of smaller objects, for example Djar's stele, still demonstrated ponderous artistic style of the Upper Egypt of the First Intermediate period, but the royal workshops began to create beautifully well-balanced works at the same time. These works had deep round shape and often gained a special esthetic effect through a contrast between large smooth surfaces and finely chiselled details here and there such as detailed folds of pleated kilt or complicated hairstyles. An effort to create a suitable style for expression of new dynasty aspirations is evident there in these works.

If we focus on the southern part of the Upper Egypt development it is possible to track down of new political system formation, which gradually led to the Middle Kingdom creation. Thus process had a great impact to Egypt's future and we might consider it as the most important aspect of the First Intermediate period's history. On the other hand, we shouldn't forget that the Theban manor occupied only a small, remote and relatively unimportant part of the whole Egypt. According to this fact we have to consider the wars and conflicts periods as local and short-term episode, even if they make the biographical stories so thrilling and exciting.

Message from the Nile

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    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

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    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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