Queen Sobeknefru (Sobekkare)
1785 – 1782
Married to Amenemhet IV, who was possibly also her brother and on his death she became ruler of Egypt. Like Amenemhet IV there are very little records of her reign now remaining. Statues of her were found in the Faiyum and she added to the Labyrinth of Amenemhet III.
Sobeknefru had a very brief reign of 4 years (she may have actually been co-regent with Amenemhet IV), she has been identified with a pyramid near Dahshur (with similar problems about truly identifying the pyramid with her as with identifying Amenemhet IV and his pyramid).
Sobeknefru (aka Nefrusobek)
1785 – 1782bc
Horus name: Merytre
Nebty name: Zatsekhemnebettawy
Golden Falcon name: Djedetkha
One of the few, and possibly the first confirmed female pharaoh of Egypt, who’s name means “Beautiful of the God Sobek.” Sobeknefru was the wife and possible half sister, of Amenemhet IV (“Amun is at the Head“) who had ruled Egypt for only 8 or 9 years following the successful 45 year reign of his father, Amenemhet III. Upon Amenemhet IV’s death Sobeknefru assumed the throne for a reign of less then 4 years before her death. Its currently debated whether or not she was Amenemhet III’s wife, a rival or a regent for an infant son.
Because fewer of her monuments survive she is less commonly known as say Hatshepsut, King Tut or Ramses the Great. This is not surprising as her monuments were mainly in the less well preserved sites of the Fayum and Lower Egypt. The importance of the Fayum in this dynasty, especially economically, had been greatly increased since much of the land had been reclaimed from the marshes for cultivation by Senwosret II, who was a pharaoh earlier in the dynasty. With her dynasty being so closely linked to the Fayum it is not at all surprising that Sobeknefru herself possibly gained her basis of power from there.
The fact that her name also appears in conjunction with Shedty which could link her with being involved in the creation of a religious center in Fayum called Shedet. Shedet was a cult that worshiped the crocodile god Sobek, so it is possible that the priests of this old local deity backed her bid for the throne. This could also explain her break with tradition by assuming a crocodile name as a pharaoh for the first time. In either event, her tomb and mummy has not been found, however, there is remnants of a pyramid near Dahshur that could be hers. If that is true that would indicate the possibility that later in her rule she left the Fayum for the traditional capitals of Memphis and/or Heliopolis. Where Sobeknefru actually maintained her capital throughout her reign is unknown.
As stated previously, physical evidence from her reign is limited however. She is mentioned in Manetho‘s text, in the Turin Canon, the Karnak, Turin and Sakkara king lists but not noted in the canon from Abydos temple wall. Additionally, inscriptions at the second cataract in Nubia, a cylinder seal with her names, a headless statue fragment that has breasts with a male kilt over a female shift and the nemes head cloth found at the site Tell el Dab’a (Avaris) and now at the Louvre Museum.
Texts associating her with her father have also survived. She completed her fathers mortuary temple, the Labyrinth of Amenemhet III, where her name appears many times (of her husband, Amenemhat IV? nothing). Of these artifacts, some bear female titulary and others male. Thus far no complete depiction of her has in any form. However, there is an intact depiction of a female pharaoh with a unusual crown and wearing a Hebsed cloak at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Some think that it could be her based solely on the style of the statue.
While its possible there were other female pharaohs prior to Sobeknefru, she is the first who we have concrete proof that she reigned and unlike the more well known Hatshepsut, her reign (3 years, 10 months and 24 days) are still recorded in the Turin King list. Her reign was the last in the 12th dynasty, all in all, a very prosperous period.