Contrary to the belief that kings of the Sixth Dynasty married the daughters of provincial magnates in order to strengthen their own position through marriage alliance, the evidence shows that sons and sons-in-law of the kings were sent from Memphis to administer the various provinces, particularly in the most productive part of the country in middle Egypt. Intermarriages between ‘royal relatives’ in the neighbouring provinces appears also to have been common. This lecture will focus on the situation in the 14th Upper Egyptian province of El-Qusiya during the Old and Middle Kingdoms.

The analysis of the data obtained through the recent epigraphic work by the Australian Centre for Egyptology in the tombs of the nobles buried at Quseir el-Amarna and Meir shows that these individuals were closely connected to the royal family. At first subtle royal claims were made, which were gradually increased, culminating in the middle of the Twelfth Dynasty in the usurpation of many royal prerogatives and a flagrant use of royal symbols of divinity and power. There is no evidence of a violent reaction from the king, but apparently the opportunity presented itself when the last member of the governing family, Wekhhotep III, did not produce a male heir, for the king to interfere and put an end to this family’s rule and growing power.


Naguib Kanawati graduated BA and MA in Egyptology at the University of Alexandria, Egypt and obtained his PhD from Macquarie University, Australia. After six years of teaching the Near Eastern history at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, he returned to Macquarie University as Lecturer in Egyptology, and was later appointed to a Personal Chair in Egyptology.

Kanawati established the Australian Centre for Egyptology in 1989 and is till present its director. He excavated many sites in Egypt including El-Hawawish, Deir el-Gebrawi, Giza and Saqqara and is currently working at Meir and Beni Hassan in Upper Egypt. He published 56 books and numerous articles on his work.

In 1997 he was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and in 2014 was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales. In 2001 he received the Australian Centenary Medal, in 2007 he was awarded the Order of Australia, and in 2010 he was appointed as Distinguished Professor of Egyptology at Macquarie University.

This lecture is free to attend and no booking is necessary.