When was the Middle Kingdom? - Ancient Egypt
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Middle Kingdom

Mentuhotep II
Mentuhotep II, Pharaoh
of the Middle Kingdom

The Middle Kingdom was formed after a series of wars between the rulers of Upper Egypt (the South) and Lower Egypt (the North). The rulers of Upper Egypt won, and they reunified the country about 2000 BC, with the capital first at Thebes in the south, and then at a new city just south of Memphis. The Pharaohs of this period are not as powerful as before.

They show themselves as taking care of their people, instead of as god-kings as in the Old Kingdom. They are the shepherds of the people now. The nomarchs (local officials) are powerful. In this period, the Pharaohs first started to control places further north of Egypt like Jerusalem, Jericho and Syria. There was a lot of trading with Byblos, near modern Beirut.

Learn by doing - Ancient Egypt projects
Go on to the Second Intermediate Period

Bibliography and further reading about the Egyptian Middle Kingdom:

Eyewitness: Ancient Egypt, by George Hart. Easy reading.

The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, by Ian Shaw (2002).

History of Ancient Egypt: An Introduction, by Erik Hornung (1999). A college textbook. On the conservative side - not much on new developments.

Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture, by William H. Stiebing (2002). Expensive for a paperback, but brief and very up to date. And yes, it includes Egypt in the Near East.

Old Kingdom (2686-2160 BC)
First Intermediate Period (2160-2040 BC)
Middle Kingdom (2040-1633 BC)
Second Intermediate Period (1786-1558 BC)
New Kingdom (1558-1085 BC)
Third Intermediate Period (1085-525 BC)
Persian rule (525-332 BC)
Greek rule (332-30 BC) (also called the Hellenistic)
Roman rule (30 BC-700 AD)
Islamic rule (700 AD to present)


Celebrating Black History Month with the pharaoh Hatshepsut, the queen Shanakdakhete, the poet Phillis Wheatley, the medical consultant Onesimus, the freedom fighters Toussaint L'Ouverture, Denmark Vesey, Yaa Asantewaa, and Samora Moises Machel, and the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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