Neferhotep I came from a military family. His grandfather Nehy held the title ‘officer of a town regiment’. Nehy was married to a woman called Senebtysy. Nothing is known about her, other than that she held the common title ‘lady of the house’. Their only known son was a person called Haankhef. He appears in the sources always as ‘God’s father’, who was married to a certain Kemi. These are the parents of Neferhotep I.
The family of Neferhotep I seems to have come from Thebes; at least, the brother king Sobekhotep IV states that he was born there, on a stela set up during his reign in the temple of Amun at Karnak. However, the main capital in the Thirteenth Dynasty was still Itjtawy in the North, near the modern village el-Lisht.
A woman called Senebsen is known as his wife. King Neferhotep I is known from a relatively high number of objects found across all parts of Egypt and Egyptian-controlled Lower Nubia. In the Turin King List he is given a reign of eleven years, one of the longest of this period. He is also known from a relief found at Byblos.
The most important monument of the king is a large, heavily eroded stela dating to year two of the king’s reign, found at Abydos. The inscription on the stela is one of the few ancient Egyptian royal texts to record how a king might conceive of, and order the making of a sculpture.
From the reign of Neferhotep I there are also numerous inscriptions in the Aswan region, mentioning his name, the name of family members and officials serving under this king. It is from these inscriptions that we know his wife (Senebsen) and the children.
It is not known under which circumstances Neferhotep I died after his reign of eleven years. His successor was his brother, who is known in Egyptology as Sobekhotep IV and who is perhaps the most important ruler of the Thirteenth Dynasty. Another brother, Sihathor appears in the Turin King List as successor, but there is no real proof that he ever became king.
There are several monuments mentioning Neferhotep I and Sobekhotep IV together, and there is therefore a possibility that they reigned for some time together. However, this is nothing more than a guess and is not proven by any monuments found. Nevertheless the reigns of these two brothers in the Thirteenth Dynasty mark the peak of this otherwise rather shaky era. There are many private monuments datable under these kings, and especially in sculpture some remarkably high quality art works were produced.
- K.S.B. Ryholt, The Political Situation in Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period (Carsten Niebuhr Institute Publications, vol. 20. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1997).
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