Late Eleventh Dynasty
In general, the so-called First Intermediate Period has not really been well defined in terms of dynasties and its chronology. In principle, experts use to distinguish between the declining period of Neferkare Pepi II at the demise of the Old Kingdom, including the later ramifications of such a power as expressed by the Memphite Dynasties VII and VIII (ca. 2185-2160 BCE), and the transfer of the Old Kingdom tradition to the centre of Herakleopolis Magna, whose Dynasties IX and X (ca. 2160-2040 BCE) gave name –under the auspices of the "House of Khety"– to a significant period of Memphite tone that is still unknown in multiple aspects.
No doubt, the archaeological excavations currently conducted by the Spanish Mission of the National Archaeological Museum (MAN) –directed by María del Carmen Pérez Die– will provide us in the next years with new discoveries and evidence to reassess the events of a period with political and social fragmentation as well as significant cultural and religious changes.
The Theban Dynasty XI would confront the Herakleopolitan House for the control of resources, the territory, and the contacts along the country (ca. 2130-1990 BCE). First, the Theban faction had to ensure the control of the southern territories that, due to the lack of a central power, were organized in its own entities. The triumph over these territories, including the great coalition of the three southernmost provinces achieved by Moalla, ensure its responsible, Nebhepetre Mentuhotep (II), the possibility to become the unifier and king of the Two Lands. This southern king achieved the Double Crown in his 39th regnal year (around 2020 BCE) and founded a new period in the Egyptian history in which politics, religion, society and art reached a peak beyond Old Kingdom antecedents.
One of the most important features to take into consideration at studying the First Intermediate Period is how a territory whose inadequate climatic conditions and fragmented political and social system could show in a few years such a cultural development. The impact of a central figure such as the re-unifier of the country, king Mentuhotep II, is evident, but it is also true that other factors such as the reorganization of the central and local administrations, the development of royal propaganda, and the re-activation of the trade and exploration royal expeditions had significant influence on the recuperation. In the context of these important reforms for the country and the reconfiguration of the new state, the Middle Kingdom Theban Project focuses on the evidence about the multiple officials who contributed, since the reign of Mentuhotep II on, including the reigns of his successors Mentuhotep III and IV, who gave way to the inception of the Twelfth Dynasty.