Ancient Egypt Wiki
Preceded by:
Kamose and
Pharaoh of Egypt
18th Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Amenhotep I
Ahmose II
Manetho: Amosis

Statue head of Ahmose II at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

1550-1525 BC or
1540-1515 BC (25 years)
The Lord of Strength is Re
Born of the Moon
Horus name
Great of Manifestations
Nebty name
Perfect of Birth
Golden Horus
He who Knots the Two
Lands Together
Father Tao II
Mother Ahhotep I
Consort(s) Ahmose-Nefertari,
Issue Ahmose-Ankh, Amenhotep I,
Siamun, Ahmose-Meritamen,
Ahmose (?), Mutnofret,
Ahmose-Sipair (?)
Died 1525 or 1515 BC
Burial TT320 (reburial)
Monuments Palace at Avaris,
Temple of Amun at Karnak,
Temple of Montu at Hermonthis
Not to be confused with Ahmose I.
For other pages by this name, see Ahmose.

Nebpehtyre Ahmose II (transliteration: ỉꜥḥ-ms, meaning: "Born of the Moon"), sometimes read as Amosis, was an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, and founded the New Kingdom period. He was a member of the Theban royal house, the son of King Tao II, and brother of the last King of the Seventeenth Dynasty, Kamose. Sometime during the reign of his father or grandfather, Thebes rebelled against the Hyksos, the rulers of Lower Egypt. When he was seven his father was killed in battle, and when he was about ten his brother died of unknown causes, after reigning only three years. Ahmose assumed the throne after the death of his brother.[1]

During his reign he completed the conquest and expulsion of the Hyksos from the delta region, restored Theban rule over the whole of Egypt, and successfully reasserted Egyptian power in its formerly subject territories of Nubia and Canaan.[2] He then reorganized the administration of the country, reopened quarries, mines, and trade routes, and began massive construction projects of a type that had not been undertaken since the time of the Middle Kingdom. This building program culminated in the construction of the last pyramid built by native Egyptian rulers. Ahmose's reign laid the foundations for the New Kingdom, under which Egyptian power reached its peak. His reign is usually dated to about 1550-1525 BC.


Upon coronation Ahmose took the throne name Nebpehtyre (ancient Egyptian: nb-pḥty-rꜥ, "The Lord of Strength is Re"). Usually Ahmose (Hellenized: Amosis) is distinguished with I instead of II. However, the latter corresponds better with the discovery of his ancestor with the same nomen, king Senakhtenre Ahmose.


See also: 18th Dynasty Family Tree.

Ahmose descended from the Theban Seventeenth Dynasty. His grandfather and grandmother, Ahmose I and Tetisheri, had at least two children, Tao II and Ahhotep I. The brother and sister, according to the tradition of Egyptian kings, married; their children were Kamose, Ahmose II, and several daughters.[3] Ahmose II followed in the tradition of his father and married several of his sisters, making Ahmose-Nefertari his chief wife.[3] They had several children including daughters Ahmose-Meritamen, Ahmose-Sitamun, and sons Ahmose-Ankh, Siamun,[4] and Amenhotep I.[5] They may also have been the parents of Ahmose-Sipair. Ahmose-Ankh was Ahmose's heir apparent, but he preceded his father in death sometime between Ahmose's 17th and 22nd regnal year.[6] Ahmose was succeeded instead by his eldest surviving son, Amenhotep I, with whom he might have shared a short coregency.

Dates and Length of Reign[]

Ahmose's reign can be fairly accurately dated using the Heliacal rise of Sirius in his successor's reign, but because of disputes over where the observation was made from, he has been assigned a reign from 1570-1546, 1560-1537, and 1551-1527 B.C.E. by various sources.[7][8] Manetho gives Ahmose a reign of 25 years and 4 months;[7] this figure is supported by a Year 22 inscription from his reign at the stone quarries of Tura.[9] Examination of his mummy indicates that he died when he was about thirty-five, supporting a 25-year reign if he came to the throne at the age of 10.[7]

Foreign Policy[]

The conflict between the local kings of Thebes and the Hyksos king Apepi had started sometime during the reign of Tao II, and would be concluded, after almost 30 years of intermittent conflict and war, under the reign of Ahmose II. Tao II was possibly killed in a battle against the Hyksos, as his much-wounded mummy gruesomely suggests, and his successor Kamose (likely Ahmose's elder brother) is known to have attacked and raided the lands around the Hyksos capital, Avaris (modern Tell el-Dab'a).[10] Kamose evidently had a short reign, as his highest attested regnal year is Year 3, and was succeeded by Ahmose II. Apepi may have died near the same time. There is disagreement as to whether two names for Apepi found in the historical record are of different Apepis or multiple names for the same king, but if they were indeed of different kings, Aauserre Apepi I is thought to have died at around the same time as Kamose and was succeeded by a certain Aqenenre Apepi II.[1]

Ahmose ascended the throne when he was still a child, so his mother, Ahhotep, reigned as regent until he was of age. Judging by some of the rather unique descriptions of her regal roles while in power, including the general honorific "carer for Egypt", she effectively consolidated the Theban power base in the years prior to Ahmose assuming full control. If in fact Apepi Aqenienre was a successor to Apepi Awoserre, then he is thought to have remained bottled up in the delta during Ahhotep's regency, because his name does not appear on any monuments or objects south of Bubastis.[1]

Conquest of the Hyksos[]

Ahmose began the re-conquest of the Hyksos starting around the 11th year of his reign. At about this time, Hyksos kingship changed from Apepi to its final king, Khamudi.[2]

Analyzing the events of the conquest prior to the siege of the Hyksos capital of Avaris is extremely difficult. Almost everything known comes from a brief but invaluable military commentary on the back of the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, consisting of brief diary entries,[11] one of which reads:

Regnal year 11, second month of Shemu, Heliopolis was entered. First month of Akhet, day 23, this southern prince broke into Tjaru.[12]

Generally the regnal year is considered Ahmose's (hence scholars usually mark the 11th year as the beginning of his conquest), but Ahmose himself is referred to in the document as "that southern prince;" a rather disparaging term. For this reason many scholars, following the lead of Donald Redford, consider the regnal year to be that of a Hyksos king.[12]

The Rhind Papyrus does show some of the strategy used by Ahmose when attacking the delta. Entering Heliopolis in July, he moved up the eastern delta to take Sile in October, totally avoiding Avaris.[12] In taking Tjaru,[12] he cut off all traffic between Palestine and Avaris; it was the first fort on the Horus Road, which was the major road from Egypt to Canaan. This indicates he was trying to blockade Avaris and isolate them from help or supplies in Palestine.[13]

Records of the latter part of the campaign were discovered on the tomb walls of a participating soldier, Ahmose-Siebana. These records indicate that Ahmose II led three attacks against Avaris, the Hyksos capitol, but had to quell a small rebellion in Egypt. After this, in the fourth attack, he conquered the city.[14] He drove out the Hyksos completely by besieging Sharuhen in Gaza for three years, and conquering it by the 16th year of his reign.[7][15]

Syrian and Nubian Campaigns[]

After defeating the Hyksos, Ahmose began campaigning in Syria and Nubia. The campaign during his 22nd year reached Djahy in the Levant, and perhaps as far as the Euphrates; although, the later Pharaoh Thutmose I is usually credited with being the first to campaign that far. He did, however, reach at least as far as Kedem; this city is thought to be near Byblos, according to an ostracon in the tomb of his wife, Ahmose-Nefertari.[16] Details on this particular campaign are scarce as the source of most of the information, Ahmose son of Ebana, did not travel on this land expedition; he was part of Ahmose II's navy. However, it can be inferred from archaeological surveys of southern Palestine during the late sixteenth century B.C. that Ahmose and his immediate successors only intended to destroy the cities of the Hyksos, and not conquer Palestine. Many sites in southern Canaan were completely destroyed and not subsequently rebuilt during this period, which is something a Pharaoh bent on conquest and tribute would not do.[17]

Ahmose II's campaigns in Nubia are better documented. Soon after the first Nubian campaign, a Nubian named Aata rebelled against Ahmose, but was crushed. After this attempt an anti-Theban Egyptian named Tetian gathered many rebels in Nubia, but this too was defeated. Ahmose re-established Egyptian rule over Nubia and placed it under a new administrative center established at Buhen.[2] When re-establishing the national government, Ahmose appears to have rewarded various local princes who supported his cause and that of his dynastic predecessors.[18]

Monuments and Attestations[]

With the re-unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Ahmose, a re-dedication to the arts and monumental construction occurred. Ahmose reportedly devoted a tenth of all the productive output towards the service of the traditional gods,[19] reviving massive monumental constructions as well as the arts. However, as the defeat of the Hyksos occurred relatively late in Ahmose's reign, his subsequent monumental building program likely lasted no more than seven years,[20] and much of what was started was likely finished by his son and successor Amenhotep I.[21]

Work from Ahmose's reign is constructed of much finer material than anything that comes from the Second Intermediate Period; with the delta and Nubia under Egyptian control once more, Ahmose gained access to distant resources which were not present in Upper Egypt. He received gold and silver from Nubia, Lapis Lazuli from distant parts of central Asia, cedar from Byblos,[22] and in the Sinai he reopened the Serabit el-Khadim turquoise mines.[23] Although the exact nature of the relationship is uncertain, at least some Minoan designs have been found on objects from this period, and Egypt considered the Aegean to be part of its empire.[24] Ahmose reopened the Tura limestone quarries to provide stone for monuments, and used Asiatic cattle from Phoenicia to haul the stone according to his quarry inscription.[25]

The art during Ahmose II's reign was similar to the royal Theban style of the Middle Kingdom,[26] and stelae from this period were once more of the same quality.[23] This reflects a possibly natural conservative tendency to revive the fashion from the pre-Hyksos era. Despite this, only three statuary images of Ahmose II survive: a single shabti, presumably from his tomb (which has never been positively located), and two life-size statues; one of which resides in the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the other in the Khartoum Museum.[26]

The art of glass making is thought to have developed during Ahmose's reign. The oldest samples of glass appear to have been defective pieces of faience, but intentional crafting of glass did not occur until the beginning of the 18th dynasty.[27] One of the earliest glass beads found contains the names of both Ahmose and Amenhotep I, which are written in a style which would be dated to about the time of their reign.[28] If glassmaking was developed no earlier than Ahmose's reign, and the first objects are dated to no later than sometime in his successor’s reign, it is quite likely that it was one of his subjects who developed the craft.[28]

Ahmose resumed large construction projects like those before the Second Intermediate Period. He began the building of temples, but they were mostly of brick and only in Upper Egypt and one in Buhen, Nubia. In Upper Egypt he added his own works to the existing temple of Amun at Karnak and to the temple of Montu at Armant.[23] According to an inscription at Tura,[25] he used white limestone to build a temple to Ptah and the southern harem of Amun, but did not finish either project.[23] He built a cenotaph for his grandmother, Queen Tetisheri, at Abydos.[23]

Excavations at the site of Avaris by Manfred Bietak have shown that Ahmose had a palace constructed on the site of the former Hyksos capital city's fortifications. Bietak found Minoan-style fragmentary remains of the frescoes that once covered the walls of the palace; there has subsequently been much speculation as to what role this Aegean civilization may have played in terms of trade and in the arts.[29]

Under Ahmose's reign, the city of Thebes became the capital for the whole of Egypt, as it had been in the previous Middle Kingdom. It also became the center for a newly established professional civil service, where there was a greater demand for scribes and the literate as the royal archives began to fill with accounts and reports.[30] Having Thebes as the capital was probably a strategic choice, as it is located in the center of the country; having had to repel the Hyksos in the north as well as the Nubians to the south, Thebes' placement meant that any future opposition at either border could be easily met.[19]

Perhaps the most important shift was a religious one: Thebes effectively became the religious as well as the political center of the country, its local god Amun credited with inspiring Ahmose in his victories over the Hyksos. The importance of the temple complex at Karnak (opposite the Nile from Thebes) grew, and the importance of the previous cult of Ra based in Heliopolis diminished.[31] Several stelae detailing the work done by Ahmose were found at Karnak, two of which depict him as a benefactor to the temple. In one of these stelae, known as the "Tempest Stele", he claims to have rebuilt the pyramids of his predecessors at Thebes that had been destroyed by a major storm.[32] The Thera eruption in the Aegean has been implicated by some scholars as the source of this damage, but similar claims are common in the propaganda of other pharaohs, to show them overcoming the powers of darkness. Due to the lack of evidence, no definitive conclusion can be reached.


The remains of his pyramid in Abydos were discovered in 1899, and identified as his in 1902.[33] This pyramid and the related structures were resurveyed in 1993 by an expedition sponsored by the Pennsylvania-Yale Institute of Fine Arts under the direction of Stephen Harvey.[34] Most of its outer casing stones had been robbed for use in other building projects over the years, and the mound of sand upon which it was built has collapsed; however, two rows of intact casing stones were found by Arthur Mace, who estimated its original height as being 52.5 m high with a relatively steep slope of about 60 degrees[35] (compare to the less acute 51 degrees of the Great Pyramid of Giza). The pyramid – what remains of it – sits next to Ahmose's mortuary temple, which, although ruined, contains thousands of inscribed fragments showing paintings of archers, ships, dead asiatics, and the first known representation of horses in Egypt. Though now lost, it is thought that a roadway originally marked the axis of the pyramid complex, linking a terrace temple just over 1km distant to his pyramid. Along this axis are a couple of key structures: a large mastaba dedicated to his grandmother Tetisheri which contained a stele depicting Ahmose providing offerings to her, and a very roughly hewn, undecorated underground complex which is likely a token representation of an Osirian underworld rather than a likely royal tomb.[36] These elements reflect a similar plan undertaken for the cenotaph of Senwosret III, and in general its construction contains elements which reflect the style of both Old and Middle Kingdom pyramid complexes.[36]

There is some dispute as to if this pyramid was Ahmose's burial place, or if it was a cenotaph. Unlike pyramids in Lower Egypt, most of those near Ahmose's tomb in Upper Egypt have no mortuary temple attached and no rooms in or under them; for this reason they are understood to be monuments to the kings who built them rather than their tombs. Ahmose's pyramid is like these cenotaphs, but because it has a mortuary temple, some scholars interpret that in this case it was built as a tomb.[34] However, the pyramid has not been found to have any interior or subterranean rooms; this has led other Egyptologists to believe that it is a cenotaph, and that Ahmose was originally buried in the southern part of Dra' Abu el-Naga' with the rest of the late 17th and early 18th Dynasties.

This pyramid was the last pyramid ever built as part of a mortuary complex in Egypt. The pyramid form would be abandoned by subsequent pharaohs of the New Kingdom, for both practical and religious reasons. The Giza plateau offered plenty of room for building pyramids; but this was not the case with the confined, cliff-bound geography of Thebes, and any burials in the surrounding desert were liable to flooding. The pyramid form was associated with the sun god Re, who had been overshadowed by Amun in importance. One of the meanings of Amun's name was the hidden one, which meant that it was now theologically permissible to hide the Pharaoh's tomb by fully separating the mortuary template from the actual burial place. This provided the added advantage that the resting place of the pharaoh could be kept hidden from necropolis robbers. All subsequent pharaohs of the New Kingdom would be buried in rock-cut shaft tombs in the Valley of the Kings.


Ahmose II's mummy was discovered in 1881 within the royal cache at Deir el-Bahari, located in the hills directly above the Mortuary temple of Hatshepsut. He was interred along with the mummies of other 18th and 19th dynasty leaders Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Thutmose III, Ramesses I, Seti I, Ramesses II, and Ramesses IX, as well as the 21st dynasty pharaohs Pinedjem I, Pinedjem II, and Siamun. Ahmose's mummy has the inventory number CG 61057.


Mummy of Ahmose II (Smith 1912).

Ahmose II's mummy was unwrapped by Gaston Maspero on June 9, 1886. It was found within a coffin that bore his name in hieroglyphs, and on his bandages his name was again written in hieratic script. He had evidently been moved from his original burial place, re-wrapped, and placed within the cache at Deir el-Bahri during the reign of the 21st dynasty priest-king Pinedjum II, whose name also appeared on the mummy's wrappings. Around his neck a garland of delphinium flowers had been placed. The body bore signs of having been plundered by ancient grave-robbers, his head having been broken off from his body and his nose smashed.[37]

The body was 163 cm (5 ft 4 in) height. Ahmose II had a small face with no defining features, though he had slightly prominent front teeth; this may have been an inherited family trait, as this feature can be seen in some female mummies of the same family, as well as the mummy of his descendant, Thutmose II.

A short description of the mummy by Gaston Maspero sheds further light on familial resemblances:

...he was of medium height, as his body when mummified measured only 5 feet 6 inches in length, but the development of the neck and chest indicates extraordinary strength. The head is small in proportion to the bust, the forehead low and narrow, the cheek-bones project, and the hair is thick and wavy. The face exactly resembles that of Tao II, and the likeness alone would proclaim the affinity, even if we were ignorant of the close relationship which united these two Pharaohs.[19]

Initial studies of the mummy were first thought to reveal a man in his 50s,[19] but subsequent examinations have shown that he was instead likely to have been in his mid-30s when he died.[18]

Ahmose II's mummy is now in the Luxor Museum alongside the purported one of Ramesses I, as part of a permanent exhibition called "The Golden Age of the Egyptian Military".[38]


Ahmose II was succeeded by his son, Amenhotep I. A minority of scholars have argued that Ahmose had a short co-regency with Amenhotep, potentially lasting up to six years. If there was a coregency, Amenhotep could not have been made king before Ahmose's 18th regnal year, the earliest year in which Ahmose-ankh, the heir apparent, could have died.[6] There is significant evidence indicating that a coregency may have occurred, although definitive evidence is lacking.

The first piece of evidence consists of three small objects which contain both of their praenomen next to one another: the aforementioned small glass bead, a small feldspar amulet, and a broken stele, all of which are written in the proper style for the early 18th dynasty.[28] The last stele said that Amenhotep was "given life eternally," which is an Egyptian idiom meaning that a king is alive, but the name of Ahmose does not have the usual epithet "true of voice" which is given to dead kings.[28] Since praenomen are only assumed upon taking the throne, and assuming that both were in fact alive at the same time, it is indicated that both were reigning at the same time; though there is the possibility that Amenhotep I may have merely wished to associate himself with his beloved father, who reunited Egypt.

Second, Amenhotep I appears to have nearly finished preparations for a Heb-sed Festival, or even begun celebrating it; but Amenhotep I's reign is usually given only 21 years, and a sed festival traditionally cannot be celebrated any earlier than a ruler's 30th year. If Amenhotep I had a significant coregency with his father, some have argued that Amenhotep planned to celebrate his Sed Festival according to the date he was first crowned instead of the date that he began ruling alone; that would better explain the degree of completion of his Sed Festival preparations at Karnak.[39] There are two contemporary New Kingdom examples of the breaking of this tradition; Hatshepsut celebrated her Heb Sed Festival in her 16th Year, and Akhenaten celebrated a Sed Festival near the beginning of his 17 year reign.[40]

Third, Ahmose's wife, Ahmose Nefertari, was called both "King's Great Wife" and "King's Mother" in two stelae which were set up at the limestone quarries of Ma`sara in Ahmose's 22nd year.[41] For her to literally be a "King's Mother," Amenhotep would already have to be a king. It is possible that the title was only honorific, as Ahhotep II assumed the title without being the mother of any known king;[41] though there is a possibility that her son Amenemhat was made Amenhotep I's coregent, but preceded him in death.[6]

Because of this uncertainty, a coregency is currently impossible to prove or disprove. Both Redford's and Murnane's works on the subject are undecided on the grounds that there is too little evidence, but even if there was one, it would make no difference to the chronology of the period because in this kind of coregency Amenhotep would have begun counting his regnal dates from his first year as sole ruler.[42][43] However, coregency supporters note that since at least one rebellion had been led against Ahmose during his reign, it would certainly have been logical to coronate a successor before one's death to prevent a struggle for the crown.[41]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Grimal 1988, p. 192.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Grimal 1988, p. 194.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Grimal 1988, p. 190.
  4. Dodson 1990.
  5. Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 126.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Wente 1975, p. 271.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Grimal 1988, p. 193.
  8. Helk 1983, p. 47-49.
  9. Breasted 1906, p. 12.
  10. Shaw 2000, p. 199.
  11. Spalinger 2005, p. 23.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Redford 1992, p. 128.
  13. "King of the Wild Frontier". Accessed August 23, 2006.
  14. Breasted 1906, p. 7-8.
  15. Redford 1967, p. 46-49.
  16. Weinstein 1981, p. 6.
  17. Weinstein 1981, p. 7.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Shaw & Nicholson 1995, p. 18.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Maspero 1901.
  20. Shaw 2000, p. 209.
  21. Shaw 2000, p. 213.
  22. Catalogue Gènèral 34001, Egyptian Museum, Cairo
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 Grimal 1988, p. 200.
  24. Catalogue Gènèral 34001, Egyptian Museum, Cairo.
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Quarry Inauguration". Accessed July 28, 2006.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Russmann 2001, p. 210-211.
  27. Cooney 1960, p. 11.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 Gordon 1982, p. 296.
  29. Shaw 2000, p. 208.
  30. Tyldesley 2001, p. 18-19.
  31. Tyldesley 2004, p. 100.
  32. Shaw 2000, p. 210.
  33. "Egyptian Pharaohs: Ahmose I". Accessed July 19, 2006.
  34. 34.0 34.1 "Ahmose Pyramid at Abydos". Accessed July 22, 2006.
  35. Lehner 1997, p.190.
  36. 36.0 36.1 Lehner 1997, p. 191.
  37. Smith 1912, p.15-17.
  38. Bickerstaff 2007, p. 31.
  39. Wente 1975, p. 272.
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 Gordon 1982, p. 297.
  42. Redford 1967, p. 51.
  43. Murnane 1977, p. 114.


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Pharaoh of Egypt
Eighteenth Dynasty
Amenhotep I