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King Amenhotep III from a statue at Luxor

 

The pharaohs of ancient Egypt had five royal names. His birth name (nomen) was Amenhotep Heqawaset (“Amun is Pleased, Ruler of Thebes) and his throne name (prenomen) was Nub-maat-re (“Lord of Truth is Re”). He also used the Horus name Kanakht Khaemmaat (“Strong Bull, Arising in Thebes”), the Nebty name Semenhepusegerehtawy (“One establishing laws, pacifying the two lands”) and the Golden Horus name Aakhepesh-husetiu (“Great of valour, smiting the Asiatics”)

 

Amenhotep was the son of Thutmosis IV (Menkheperure) and Queen Mutemwia. Amenhotep grew up at court with several brothers and sisters. We know that he had at least two brothers. Prince Amenemhat died young and was buried with his father in KV43.Prince Siatum was depicted with his tutor Meryre. Siatum is known to have had a daughter named Nebetia. Amenhotep also had at least four sisters: Amenemopet, Pyihia, Tiaa, and Tintamen. He had a number of children and it is thought that he intended for his eldest son, also named Thuthmosis, to succeed him. However, Thuthmosis junior died before his father and Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) was named as his heir. It is sometimes proposed that Amenhotep III was also the father of Smenkhare who ruled Egypt briefly after Akhenaten

 

The Egyptologist Zahi Hawass writes,

“Amenhotep III was born into a world where Egypt reigned supreme. Its coffers were filled with gold, and its vassals bowed down before the mighty rulers of the Two Lands [Egypt]” (27).

Amenhotep III (Amenophis III) was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt. He ruled Egypt for around forty years and his rule is generally considered to have been a golden age. Amenhotep fom his father and grand father Tuthmosis III. inherited a wealthy and powerful state . He was not required to assert the strength of Egypt as none of the other surrounding lands dared to be against Egypt. The battles his Kingdom faced were very few minor military expeditions to Nubia during the fifth year of his reign. The battle was recorded as a great triumph in inscriptions near Aswan and at Konosso in Nubia, it seems to have been little more than a brief trip south of the fifth cataract to remind the Nubians that he was boss. He boasts that he slaughtered many Nubians during a later rebellion at Ibhet, but it is thought that he did not actually attend the battle, instead leaving it in the capable hands of his son.

 

Amenhotep III was only a child of between the age twelve when he was crowned pharaoh of Egypt. A statue of the treasurer Sobekhotep holding the young prince Amenhotep-mer-khepseh is often thought to have been constructed just before the death of his father Tuthmosis IV and the depiction of the young prince in the tomb of the royal nurse, Hekarnehhe, suggests that while he was still very young he was old enough to appear without his mother. It is likely that he was supported by a co-regent in the early years of his reign.During this transferring period from boy to adulthood as King of Egypt Through art scribes and depictions is suggested that Yuya the father of his Great Wife Tiy may have held this role as the executor to help him run his kingdom, as he was an experienced administrator from a powerful family.

His favorite wife and important confidant was Queen Tiye, whom was married to him at the young age 12. Queen Tiye is depicted on may monuments, and even had a temple in Sedeinga devoted to her.Amenhotep’s relationship with his wife that, immediately after their marriage, she was elevated to the rank of Great Royal Wife, an honor which Amenhotep’s mother, Mutemwiya, was never accorded and which effectively meant that Tiye outranked the king’s mother in courtly matters Amenhotep and Tiye had seven children. They had two sons: Tuthmosis and Amenhotep. They also had five daughters: Sitamen, Iset, Henuttaneb, Nebetiah and Beketaten.

Tuthmosis was the eldest son and crown prince. He became a priest of Ptah in Memphis, but seems to have died somewhere around the 30th year of the reign of his father. Prince Amenhotep then became the heir to the throne. Amenhotep eventually took the throne as Amenhotep IV. He married Nefertiti, and after a couple of years on the throne he changed his name to Akhenaten To honor her he built a temple dedicated to her. She was the first women to be given official acts and was believed to be very intelligent. Together they had a son named Amenhotep IV, who later changed his reign.

King Amenhotep III celebrated three Heb Sed (jubilee) festivals, in years 30, 34, and 37 of his reign. He built a festival hall specifically for these celebrations in his Malkata palace which he named Per-Hay (“House of Rejoicing”).

During his reign trade and diplomacy of Amenhotep III Egypt began to export Egypt, religion, culture and goods throughout the Mediterranean and the Near East. King Amenhotep III trade correspondence was with the Babylonians, the Mitanni and the Arzawa and Greece these began to appear in inscriptions with greater regularity. This was discovered in the archive of Amarma Letters of the correspondence with Foreign Affairs with the rulers of Assyria, Mitanni, Babylon, and Hatti.

Sample Excepts from the letters:

Tushratta, King of Mitanni EA 17 and EA23 and the letters from Yabitiri the Governor of Joppa and Gaza. In one EA3 from Kadashman-Enlil I of Babylon states King Amenhotep refusal to offer one of his daughtes as a bride.

The full letter:Letter from Kadashman Enlil I, king of Babylon, To Amenhotep III

 Kadashman Enlil of Babylon to Amenhotep of Egypt [..missing..] How is it possible that, having written to you in order to ask for the hand of your daughter – oh my brother, you should have written me using such language, telling me that you will not give her to me as since earliest times no daughter of the king of Egypt has ever been given in marriage? Why are you telling me such things? You are the king. You may do as you wish. If you wanted to give me your daughter in marriage who could say you nay?

But you, keeping to your principle of not sending anybody, have not sent me a wife. Have you not been looking for a fraternal and amicable relationship, when you suggested to me – in writing – a marriage, in order to make us become closer? Why hasn’t my brother sent me a wife? […] It is possible for you not to send me a wife, but how could I refuse you a wife and not send her to you, as you did? I have daughters, I will not refuse you in any way concerning this….

As to the gold about which I wrote you, send me now quickly during this summer […. ] before your messenger reach me, gold in abundance, as much as is available. I could thus achieve the task I have undertaken. If you send me this summer […] the gold concerning which I’ve written to you, I shall give you my daughter in marriage. Therefore, send gold, willingly, as much as you please. But if you do not send me gold […] so I can achieve the task I have undertaken , why haven’t you sent me any earlier willingly? After I have finished the task I have undertaken , why would I wish for gold? Even if you sent me 3000 talents of gold I would not accept them. I would return them and would not give you my daughter in marriage.

 

 

Construction was the main focus since times were abundant and no real great danger was evident. He enlarged many cities and constructed many temples. He built the temple Malkata located on the western shores of Thebes and the southern part of Medinet Habu. This site was dedicated to housing and also official chambers. His greatest and most famous structure was the Temple of Amun which is called today Luxor, He sent at least one expedition to Punt to obtain precious incense and exotic plants and animals. The nobles of his rule certainly prospered, their lavish tombs attest to their opulent lifestyle.

The reign of Amenhotep III saw the creation of a huge number of sculptures and other art works and there is no doubt that his craftsmen were extremely highly skilled as trained masons. In particular, many of the statues of the king are masterpieces in their own right. In fact many of his statues are so beautiful that no other king after him could erect another so impecable. With over 250 of his statues having been discovered and identified, Amenhotep III remains the subject of more statues than any other pharaoh. There are also many beautiful examples of statuary featuring the women of the royal household. Many noble families became very prosperous during his reign and so there was also a large increase in the number of statues created for private individuals and an increase in the number and quality of private tombs.

The reign of Amenhotep III is also notable as we have discovered a huge number of commemorative scarabs dated to that time. Over two hundred large that have been recovered from as far away as Nubia and Syria. These scarabs commemorate events during the reign of the king and record his many accomplishments. Over one hundred record that Amenhotep III killed 102 lions approximately with his own arrows during the first ten years of his reign. Another five record the arrival of princess Gilukhepa of the Mitanni along with her maidservants, who became one of his wives and eleven record the creation of an artificial lake for his beloved Queen Tiy during the eleventh year of his reign Amenhotep III completed many ambitious building projects during his reign. In Karnak, he almost completely remodelled the temple of Amun dismantling the peristyle court in front of the Fourth Pylon and using the masonry as the filler for the new Third Pylon on the east-west axis creating a new entrance to the temple complex. He also constructed two rows of columns with open papyrus capitals in the centre of this new forecourt. He began building the Tenth Pylon at the south end of Karnak.

He was king for 39 years . Amenhotep III died of an unknown disease at the age of approximately 50. He left behind his favorite wife who would later move with her son Akhenaten as well as many other wives. Although not known for war or conquering, he left behind great monuments and temples and grand statues that would begin to tell of an upcoming change — the Amarna Period.

Text on one of the statues (State Hermitage Museum):

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Son of Re beloved by him (Amenhotep, Ruler of Thebes)|, beloved by Sakhmet, Lady of the limits of places, given life.
Young god, Lord of the Two lands, (Nebmaatre)|, beloved by Sakhmet, Lady of the limits of places, given life

King Amenhotep III had scarabs made to commemorate events during his reign such as his marriage to Queen Tiye and his lion hunts.
Below is an example of a lion hunt scarab text (Museo Archeologico Nazionale/Museo Egizio)

 

amen 3Long live Horus, the mighty bull who rises in truth.

The Two Ladies, who establish the law and pacify
the two countries, the Golden Horus who is great of strength, the vanquisher of the Asiatics, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt
(Neb-maat-ra)| , Son of Ra, (Amenhotep, prince of Thebes)|, given life.
The royal wife Tiye, that she may live. One hundred lions
killed by His Majesty in his hunts
from the year 1 to the year 10; fearsome lions: 102

 

Minister Hawass has described the face of Amenhotep III on this colossus as a masterpiece of royal portraiture. It has almond shaped eyes outlined with cosmetic bands, a short nose and a large mouth with wide lips, delimited with a sharp ridge. It is very well preserved and measures 1.20 m in height. In spite of its large scale, the face is extremely well carved and well proportioned.

 

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A red granite head of Amenhotep III on display in Luxor Museum after its missing beard was restored. (Photo: MSA Image Bank.) of his funerary temple at Kom el-Hettan. (Photo: MSA image bank.)

 

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