At the height of the Middle Kingdom power and prosperity were cemented by increasing exploitation of the rich resources afforded by the Near East, either through peaceful commerce, the exaction of tribute or military plunder. It is thought that the pyramid at el-Lisht was built by Semite slaves, brought back as ‘booty’ from Egyptian incursions in the region. The early kings of the period were determined to present themselves as formidable adversaries, building military fortifications on the ‘Ways of Horus’, the major road into Canaan, and creating a frontier zone on the eastern and western sides of the Nile delta. Any external threats were brutally quashed, such as Senusret III’s sacking of Canaan. Egypt’s relationship with its trading partners was mutually beneficial. Excavated artefacts from sites extending along the northeastern Mediterranean show that there was respect for Egyptian goods. Amulets and beetle scarabs were particularly popular.
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