Intef III

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Template:Infobox pharaoh

Intef III was the third pharaoh of the Eleventh Dynasty of Egypt during the late First Intermediate Period in the 21st century BC, at a time when Egypt was divided in two kingdoms. The son of his predecessor Intef II and father of his successor Mentuhotep II,[1] Intef III reigned for 8 years over Upper Egypt and extended his domain North against the 10th Dynasty state, perhaps as far north as the 17th nome. He undertook some building activity on Elephantine.[2] Intef III is buried in a large saff tomb at El-Tarif known as Saff el-Barqa.[3]


Intef III was the son of his predecessor Intef II. This is indicated by the stela of Tjeti, chief treasurer during the reigns of Intef II and Intef III. Tjeti's stele mentions the death of Intef II and goes on describing how Tjeti served Intef II's son who acceded to the throne upon the death of his father:

Then, when his son assumed his place, Horus, Nakht-neb-Tepnefer, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Son of Re, Intef, fashioner of beauty, living like Re, forever, I followed him to all his good seats of pleasure.

Intef III possibly married his sister Iah, described as a king's mother (Mwt-nswt), king's daughter (S3t-nswt) and priestess of Hathor (Hmt-nTr-hwt-Hr).[4] This indicates that Intef III's successor, Mentuhotep II, was his son. This is further confirmed by the stele of Henenu (Cairo 36346), an official who served under Intef II, Intef III and his "son", which the stele identifies as Horus Sankhibtawy (S-ankh-[ib-t3wy]),[5][6] Mentuhotep II's first Horus name. Another piece of evidence for this parentage is a relief on the Gebel el-Silsileh in the Wadi Shatt er-Rigal, known as the Silsileh petroglyph, depicting Mentuhotep II surrounded by Iah and Intef III.[2]

Additionally, Mentuhotep II's royal wife Neferu II bore the title of king's daughter, and an inscription in her tomb names her mother as Iah.[7] This establishes that she was Intef III's daughter and the sister of Mentuhotep II.[8]


Intef III's father and predecessor reigned for 49 years and Intef III may thus have accessed the throne a middle-aged[2] or even elderly man.[9] Although Intef III's name is lost in a lacuna of the Turin canon, a king list compiled in the early Ramesside period, its reign length is still readable on column 5, row 15,[10] and given as 8 years.[2][11][12]

The relative chronological position of Intef III as the successor of Intef II and predecessor of Mentuhotep II is secured by his established parentage to these two kings as well as the Turin canon and two blocks from the temple of Montu at Tod.[2] These blocks show the succession of kings from Intef I to Mentuhotep II and while Intef III's horus name is damaged, its position is certain.[2] The absolute dating of Intef III's reign is less certain and several dates have been proposed: 2069–2061 BC,[9] 2063–2055 BC[13] and 2016–2009 BC.[14]

Military activities

Intef III inherited a large and relatively peaceful domain in Upper Egypt.[2] Over its 8 years of reign, Intef was militarily active.[9] He successfully defended the territory that his father Intef II had won, as is attested by the tomb of an official of the time, Nakhty, located at Abydos and in which a doorjamb bearing Intef III's names was discovered.[2] He also conquered territories north of Abydos, in particular Asyut[9] and extended his domain perhaps as far as the seventeenth nome of Upper Egypt thereby "imposing his family’s control over most of Upper Egypt".[13] Alternatively, this may have been achieved by his son Mentuhotep II, early in his reign.

Building activities

A doorjamb bearing Intef III's name was uncovered on Elephantine in the sanctuary of Hekayeb, a deified nomarch of the 6th Dynasty, which shows that he must have ordered work there.[15] Another doorjamb was discovered in the temple of Satet, also on Elephantine which attests to building activity on the site.[2]


Coordinates: 25°44′12″N 32°38′11″E / 25.73667°N 32.63639°E / 25.73667; 32.63639

File:Tomb Intef II 1915.png
Herbert Winlock's 1915 photography of the tomb of Intef III. The tomb was tentatively attributed to Intef II by Winlock and reattributed to Intef III by Arnold.[16]

The necropolis of the kings of the 11th Dynasty is located in El-Tarif, on the opposite bank of the Nile from Thebes. Several saff-tombs of imposing dimensions are found there but until the excavations of the German Archaeological Institute under the direction of Dieter Arnold from 1970 until 1974; it was unclear to whom some of these tombs belonged.[3]

Although no inscriptions could be found in the tombs (except that of Intef II) to confirm their ownership, their positions, together with the much later-attested chronological succession of the rulers of the 11th Dynasty, led to the attribution of the tomb known today as Saff el-Baqar[3] to Intef III. The tomb resembles that of his predecessor Intef II[2] and consists of a 75 m (246 ft) wide and 85–90 m (279–295 ft) long courtyard on a northwest - southeast axis facing a canal. The courtyard is surrounded, on all sides but the east, by many chambers dug into the rock.[2][3][17] The courtyard leads to a large double-pillared facade totalling 48 columns behind which many more chambers are located.

In spite of the ruined state of the tomb, the 1970s excavations have shown that its walls must once have been lined with sandstone and adorned with decorations.[18] Nowadays, the tomb lies beneath the constructions of a village.


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named newberry
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Darrell D. Baker: The Encyclopedia of the Pharaohs: Volume I - Predynastic to the Twentieth Dynasty 3300–1069 BC, Stacey International, ISBN 978-1-905299-37-9, 2008, p. 147-148
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Dieter Arnold: Gräber des Alten und Mittleren Reiches in El-Tarif (Archäologische Veröffentlichungen), Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1976, ISBN 978-3805300469
  4. Joyce Tyldesley, Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt, Thames & Hudson. 2006, pp. 66-68. ISBN 0-500-05145-3
  5. J.J. Clere, J. Vandier, Textes de la premiere periode intermediaire et de la XIeme dynasty, 1st vol., Bibliotheca Aegyptiaca X. Complete Stele on p.21
  6. Henri Gauthier, Quelques remarques sur la XIe dynastie. , BIFAO 5, 1906, p.39
  7. William C. Hayes: The Scepter of Egypt I, New York 1953, ISBN 0870991906, p. 160, 327
  8. W. Grajetzki: Ancient Egyptian Queens, a hieroglyphic dictionary, p. 28, Golden House Publications, 2005, ISBN 978-0954721893
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named encycloBunson
  10. Alan Gardiner, editor: Royal Canon of Turin. Griffith Institute, 1959. (Reprint 1988. ISBN 0-900416-48-3)
  11. W. Grajetzki: The Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt: History, Archaeology and Society, Duckworth, London 2006 ISBN 0-7156-3435-6, p. 15-17
  12. Column 5, row 15.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named rice
  14. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named hornung
  15. Sir Alan Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs, Oxford University Press 1961, p. 120
  16. Herbert Winlock: "The Theban Necropolis in the Middle Kingdom", The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Volume 32, available online copyright-free.
  17. See a map of the tomb here following Dieter Arnold.
  18. Nigel Strudwick, Helen Strudwick: Thebes in Egypt: A Guide to the Tombs and Temples of Ancient Luxor, Cornell University Press, 1999, p. 93, ISBN 0801486165, excerpts available online.
Preceded by
Intef II
Pharaoh of Egypt
Eleventh Dynasty
Succeeded by
Mentuhotep II