People > Sobekneferu


Egypt History - Egyptian Chapter Decoration


Sobekneferu, also spelled Neferusobek, was a queen of ancient Egypt who ruled as the last pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty during the Middle Kingdom. She is notable for being one of the earliest female pharaohs in Egyptian history. Her reign marked a significant moment in the history of Egypt, demonstrating that women could hold the highest office in the land, although her rule was relatively short. Here is an overview of Sobekneferu and her reign:


  1. Family and Lineage:

    • Sobekneferu was the daughter of Pharaoh Amenemhat III, one of the most powerful and successful rulers of the 12th Dynasty.
    • Her predecessor and likely brother was Amenemhat IV. There is evidence suggesting that Amenemhat IV's reign was short and possibly fraught with difficulties.
  2. Ascension to the Throne:

    • Following the death of Amenemhat IV, Sobekneferu ascended to the throne. She ruled from approximately 1806 BCE to 1802 BCE.
    • Her rise to power is significant because it highlights the possibility of female rulership in ancient Egypt, a society predominantly governed by male pharaohs.

Reign of Sobekneferu

  1. Duration:

    • Sobekneferu's reign lasted for about four years, making it relatively short compared to other rulers of the Middle Kingdom.
  2. Titles and Representation:

    • Sobekneferu adopted several royal titles traditionally reserved for male pharaohs, demonstrating her legitimacy and authority as a ruler.
    • She is depicted in statues and reliefs wearing both traditional female and male royal regalia, including the nemes headdress and the uraeus (royal serpent).
  3. Construction Projects:

    • Despite her short reign, Sobekneferu is credited with several construction projects, particularly at the Faiyum region, which was an important center during the Middle Kingdom.
    • She completed the funerary complex of her father, Amenemhat III, at Hawara. This site includes the famous "Labyrinth," a complex series of corridors and chambers that served as a mortuary temple.
  4. Cultural and Religious Contributions:

    • Sobekneferu's name reflects her association with the crocodile god Sobek, who was particularly venerated in the Faiyum region.
    • Her reign continued the religious traditions of her predecessors, maintaining the stability and continuity of religious practices in Egypt.


  1. Historical Significance:

    • Sobekneferu is one of the few confirmed female pharaohs of ancient Egypt, following earlier figures like Merneith and preceding others like Hatshepsut.
    • Her reign marked the end of the 12th Dynasty and a brief interlude before the 13th Dynasty. The transition was relatively smooth, indicating her effective governance.
  2. Documentation and Archaeological Evidence:

    • Information about Sobekneferu is limited compared to other pharaohs, but she is mentioned in various king lists and historical records.
    • Statues, inscriptions, and architectural remains from her reign provide insights into her rule and contributions to Egyptian society.
  3. Role Model for Future Female Rulers:

    • Sobekneferu's successful reign, albeit short, set a precedent for future female rulers in Egypt. Her ability to assume the highest office and maintain stability demonstrated that women could effectively govern the nation.


Sobekneferu was a pioneering female pharaoh of ancient Egypt, ruling at the end of the 12th Dynasty during the Middle Kingdom. Her reign, though short, was marked by significant contributions to construction, religious practices, and the affirmation of female leadership in a predominantly male-dominated society. Sobekneferu's legacy as one of the earliest female pharaohs paved the way for future women to assume the throne, highlighting the potential for female governance in ancient Egypt.

Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt

King NameHorus-NameReignConsortPyramid
Amenemhat ISehetepibre1991-1962 BCEQueen NeferitatjenenPyramid of Amenemhet I
Senusret I (Sesostris I)Kheperkare1971-1926 BCEQueen Neferu IIIPyramid of Senusret I
Amenemhat IINubkhaure1929-1895 BCEQueen Kaneferu
Queen Keminub
White Pyramid
Senusret II (Sesostris II)Khakheperre1897-1878 BCEQueen Khenemetneferhedjet I
Queen Neferet II
Queen Itaweret
Queen Khnemet
Pyramid at El-Lahun
Senusret III (Sesostris III)Khakaure1878-1839 BCEPyramid at DahshurQueen Meretseger
Queen Neferthenut
Queen Khnemetneferhedjet II
Queen Sithathoriunet
Amenemhat IIINimaatre1860-1814 BCEQueen Aat
Queen Hetepi
Queen Khenemetneferhedjet III
Black Pyramid
Pyramid at Hawara
Amenemhat IVMaakherure1815-1806 BCESouthern Mazghuna Pyramid
SobekneferuSobekkare1806-1802 BCENorthern Mazghuna Pyramid
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