The competent Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom (circa 2010-1640 BC, 11th-13th Dynasties), with Thebes as their seat, restored unity following an interval of anarchy during the First Intermediate Period (circa 2134-2040 BC, 9th-early 11th Dynasty) and expanded their territory southwards, also exerting strong influence on the Near East. The Middle Kingdom has been characterized as the classical period in literature. Art featured the creation initially of royal portrait statues (such as the statue of Senusret III and his son Amenemhat III) and later of private individuals in which the personality was accentuated and emphasis was placed on innerness. Concurrently, in the late 11th and mainly the 12th Dynasty a more popular art, yet distinguished by artistic vitality, found expression in the creation of wooden funerary models of ships and servants depicted engaged in the production of the essential goods for the Ka (the soul, vigour) of the deceased.
During the Second Intermediate Period (circa 1640-1532 BC, 14th-17th Dynasties) the Hyksos, an Asiatic people, conquered Egypt and established their kingdom in the Nile Delta, with Avaris as their capital city, and imposed taxes on the native Pharaohs. For reasons of political expediency the Hyksos adopted many elements of the Pharaonic culture.