The Middle Kingdom 2040 – 1783 BC
Dynasties XI and XII restored the central authority, based on Thebes, and resumed a high level of civilization.
Dynasty XI (2040-1991) – Mentuhotep II (2061-2010) created a basic renaissance of the Egyptian culture by re-unifying the Two Lands and returning to the Old Kingdom canon of art. After taking the Horus-name of Smataui, “He-who-unites,” Mentuhotep II moved the capital to Thebes, (which replaced the older nome capital of Hierakonopolis) and built his tomb at Deir el-Bahri, on the west bank of Thebes. Expeditions to Punt, through Waddi Hammamat, were re-instituted.
Dynasty XII (1991-1783) – Amon-em-het (1991-1962) became Pharaoh after asuccessful overseas expedition; capital moved to Itj-towy, south of memphis near the entrance to the Fayyum; tombs and pyramids at Itj-towy, Dashur, el-Lahun, El-Lisht, Beni Hasan, El Beresh, Aswan, Beni Suef and Hawara; period of increasing central authority. Nomes and nomarchs are re-organized, foreign trade, etc, encouraged; borders in the Delta fortified against eastern nomads and southern border extended to the second cataract. Dynasty and Middle Kingdom ends with first great Egyptian Queen, Neferu-sobek, (1787-1783).
The first Egyptian dynasty from Thebes, with names that reflect a local Theban war god, Montu.
These local rulers of a fragmented county ended up counting as a dynasty only because Mentuhotep I succeeded in reuniting Egypt. This is usually taken as the proper beginning of the Middle Kingdom, so the XI Dynasty, starting in the First Intermediate Period, is the only dynasty in Egyptian history that is taken to straddle two such divisions.
In the course of his long reign Mentuhotep I employed three different Horus names. Earlier historians took this to mean that they were dealing with three different kings, in the table (see below) this has been corrected.
The last Mentuhotep seems to have been overthrown by his own vizier, Amenemhet, who thus founded the XII Dynasty. Some ill feeling may have persisted, since Amenemhet himself was assassinated, a sort of act that was, as far as we know, rather rare in Egyptian history.