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Preceded by:
Thutmose IV
Pharaoh of Egypt
18th Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Akhenaten
Amenhotep III
Amenhotep the Magnificent
Hellenized: Amenophis
Manetho: Oros
Akkadian Cuneiform: Nibmuareya
Amenhotep iii

Statue of Amenhotep III at the British Museum, London.©

Reign
1389-1351 BC or
1379-1341 BC (38 years)
Praenomen
M23
t
L2
t
<
raC10V30
>
Nebmaatre
The Lord of Ma'at is Re
Nomen
G39N5
<
imn
n
R4
t p
S38R19
>
Amenhotep-Heqawaset
Amun is Satisfied/Pleased,
Ruler of Thebes
Horus name
G5E1
D40
mN28H6O33
Kanakhte-Khaemmaat
Strong Bull, Appearing in Ma'at
Nebty name
G16smn
n
Y1
O4
p
Z3wsW11
r
V28a
N19
Semenhepu-Segerehtawy
Establisher of Laws, Pacifyer of
the Two Lands
Golden Horus
G8O29
a
F23
V28A24S22
t
AT14Z3
Aakhepesh-Husetiu
Great of Valour, Smiting the Asiatics
Legacy
Father Thutmose IV
Mother Mutemwia
Consort(s) Tiye, Kilu-Ḫepa,[1] Tadu-Ḫepa,[2]
Sitamun, Iset, Henuttaneb (?),
Nebetnehat, Henut (?),
Unknown Princess of Arzawa,[3]
Three Princesses of Babylon,[4]
Unknown Princess of Ammia[5]
Issue Thutmose, Akhenaten,
Sitamun, Iset, Henuttaneb,
Nebetnehat (?), Nebetah,
Smenkhkare (?), Baketaten (?),
The Younger Lady (=Baketaten?)
Burial KV22 (initial), KV35 (reburial)
Monuments Royal palace at Malkata,
Amenophium, Colossi of Memnon,
Third Pylon at Karnak, Major
contributions to Luxor Temple
For other pages by this name, see Amenhotep.

Nebmaatre Amenhotep III (ancient Egyptian: ỉmn-ḥtp, "Amun is Pleased", Hellenized: Amenophis) was the ninth ancient Egyptian Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty during the New Kingdom. According to different authors, he ruled Egypt from June 1391 to December 1353 B.C.E. or from June 1388 to December 1351 BC/1350 B.C.E.[6] Amenhotep appears to have been crowned while still a child, perhaps between the ages of 6 and 12. His lengthy reign was a period of great peace, prosperity, and artistic splendour.

Name[]

Amenhotep III is known as Oros (Ωρος) in Manetho's Epitome. Upon coronation, Amenhotep adopted the throne name (or prenomen) Nebmaatre (ancient Egyptian: nb-mꜣꜥt-rꜥ, "The Lord of Ma'at is Re"). In the Amarna letters, he is referred to by his throne name, which is generally written as Nibmuareya in cuneiform. Amenhotep is usually attested with the epithet Heqawaset (ancient Egyptian: ḥḳꜣ-wꜣst, "Ruler of Thebes") after his birth name (or nomen). His whole name is thus realised as Nebmaatre Amenhotep-Heqawaset.

Family[]

See also: 18th Dynasty Family Tree.

Amenhotep III was the son of Thutmose IV by a minor wife, Mutemwia.[7] He was a member of the Thutmosid family that had ruled Egypt for almost 150 years since the reign of Thutmose I. According to some accounts, Amenhotep III married his Queen Tiye while he was still Crown Prince. Others place their marriage during Year 2 of his reign (1385 BC). They appear to have been rather young when they married, perhaps between the ages of six and twelve. The couple had at least seven, and possibly more, children. Amenhotep's only known children are those with his Queen Tiye.

Their first son, Thutmose, predeceased his father and their second son, Amenhotep IV, later known as Akhenaten, ultimately succeeded Amenhotep III to the throne. Amenhotep III also may have been the father of a third son, Smenkhkare, who later would succeed Akhenaten and briefly rule Egypt as pharaoh.

The eldest three daughters of Amenhotep III and Tiye, Sitamun, Iset, and Henuttaneb, appear frequently on statues and reliefs during the reign of their father and are also represented by smaller objects.[8] The fourth daughter, Nebetah, is attested only once in the known historical records on a colossal limestone group of statues from Medinet Habu.[9] This huge sculpture, that is seven meters high, shows Amenhotep III and Tiye seated side by side, "with three of their daughters standing in front of the throne—Henuttaneb, the largest and best preserved, in the centre; Nebetah on the right; and another, whose name is destroyed, on the left."[10]

Amenhotep III elevated at least two of his four daughters — Sitamun and Isis — to the office of "King's Great Wife" during the last decade of his reign and perhaps his third daughter, Henuttaneb, as well. Evidence that Sitamun already was promoted to this office by Year 30 of his reign, is known from jar-label inscriptions uncovered from the royal palace at Malkata.[10] Amenhotep III is also known to have married many foreign princesses.

Issue[]

  • Sitamun: Eldest daughter, who was elevated to the position of Great Royal Wife around Year 30 of her father's reign.[11]
  • Thutmose: Eldest son, Crown Prince, and High Priest of Ptah, who was his father's designated heir but pre-deceased him.
  • Iset: Second daughter, who was also elevated to the position of Great Royal Wife.[11]
  • Amenhotep IV: Second son, who succeeded his father as pharaoh, and later changed his name to Akhenaten. Arguably identified with the KV55 Mummy, and therefore Tutankhamun's father.
  • Henuttaneb: Third daughter, thought to have been elevated to queenship as well, since her name appears in a cartouche at least once.
  • Nebetnehat: Possibly another daughter elevated to queenship.
  • Nebetah: Another daughter, sometimes thought to have been renamed Baketaten during her brother's reign.
  • Smenkhkare: Third son, either co-ruled with Akhenaten or succeeded him. Arguably identified with the KV55 Mummy, and therefore Tutankhamun's father.
  • Baketaten: Thought to be Amenhotep III and Tiye's daughter, based on reliefs from Akhenaten's reign that depict her with Tiye.[12]
  • The Younger Lady: An unknown daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye, mother of Tutankhamun and sister-wife of the KV55 Mummy. Most likely identical with Baketaten, or alternatively Nebetah.

Dates and Length of Reign[]

Amenhotep III celebrated three Jubilee Festivals in his Year 30, Year 34 and Year 37 respectively. His Highest attested Year dates are a pair of Year 38 Wine dockets from his summer palace at Malkata. Amenhotep presumably died before the wine of Year 39 became available and thus ruled ca. 38 years.

Foreign Policy[]

The reign of Amenhotep III was remembered in later eras as a time of unprecedented prosperity and splendour when Egypt reached the very heights of her artistic and international power. Proof of this is shown by the diplomatic correspondence from the rulers of Mitanni, Babylonia, Assyria and Arzawa which is preserved in the archive of Amarna letters found in 1887. They cover the period from Year 30 of Amenhotep III until the end of Akhenaten's reign. In one well-known letter, king Tušratta of Mitanni has a famous request for Amenhotep:

My brother [must] send me gold in very great quantity without measure. For in my brother's land, gold is as plentiful as dust.[13]

Early in the 14th century, the Hittite capital city Hattuša was destroyed. The attackers included Arzawan forces from the west and south, Kaškan mountain tribes from the north, and Išuwan forces from across the Euphrates in the east. This led Amenhotep III to believe that the kingdom of Hatti had collapsed, declaring in one of the Amarna letters that "The Land of Hatti is finished!".[14] Amenhotep wrote to Tarḫuntaradu, the king of Arzawa, acknowledging him as "Great King" - a title usually given to the Hittite ruler. Hence, Egypt clearly recognized Arzawa as the new major power in Anatolia. The two kings concluded a diplomatic alliance sealed by marriage between Tarḫuntaradu's daughter and Amenhotep III.[3] However, during the reign of Amenhotep III's immediate successor, the Hittites would quickly rise to supremacy again.

Monuments and Attestations[]

Amenhotep III has the distinction of having the most surviving statues of any Egyptian Pharaoh. Over 250 statues of Amenhotep III have been discovered. Since these statues cover his entire life, they provide the most complete portraiture over time of any ancient Egyptian ruler.

Amenhotep III built extensively at the temple of Karnak, including at least two pylons, a colonnade behind the new entrance, and a new temple to the goddess Ma'at. He oversaw construction of another temple to her at the Luxor temple and virtually covered Nubia with numerous monuments "including a small temple with a colonnade (dedicated to Thutmose III) at Elephantine, a rock temple dedicated to Amun 'Lord of the Ways' at Wadi es-Sebua, and the temple of Horus of Miam at Aniba...[as well as founding] additional temples at Kawa and Sesebi."[15]

His mortuary temple on the west bank of the Nile was, in its day, the largest religious complex in Thebes but, unfortunately, he chose to build too close to the floodplain and less than 200 years later, it stood in ruins. Much of the masonry was purloined by later pharaohs for their own construction projects. The Colossi of Memnon — two massive 18-metre stone statues of Amenhotep that stood at the gateway of his mortuary temple — are the only elements of the complex that remained standing.

Palace of Malkata[]

Main article: Malkata.

The palace of Malkata was built in the 14th century BC on the west bank of Thebes and its ancient name was Per-Hay, "House of Rejoicing". Originally, the palace was known as the Palace of the Dazzling Aten. Built mostly out of mud-brick, it was Amenhotep's residence throughout most of the later part of his reign. Construction began around regnal Year 11 and continued until the king moved to the palace permanently around Regnal Year 29. Once completed, it was the largest royal residence in Egypt.

Physical Decline and Death[]

According to Nicolas Grimal, reliefs from the wall of the temple of Soleb in Nubia and scenes from the Theban tomb of Kheruef, Steward of the King's Great Wife (TT192) depict Amenhotep as a visibly weak and sick figure. A forensic examination of his mummy reveals that he suffered from horribly worn and cavity pitted teeth and was probably in constant pain during his final years. Amenhotep once requested and received from Tushratta of Mitanni a statue of Ishtar from Nineveh, a healing goddess, to cure him of his ailments.

Amenhotep III's highest attested regnal date is Year 38, which appears on wine jar-label dockets from Malkata.[16] He may have lived briefly into an unrecorded Year 39, dying before the wine harvest of that year.[17] Foreign leaders communicated their grief at the pharaoh's death, with Tušratta saying:

"When I heard that my brother Nimmureya had gone to his fate, on that day I sat down and wept. On that day I took no food, I took no water."[18]

When Amenhotep III died, he left behind a country that was at the very height of its power and influence, commanding immense respect in the international world; however, he also bequeathed an Egypt that was wedded to its traditional political and religious certainties under the Amun priesthood.[19]

There is no conclusive evidence of a coregency between Amenhotep III and his son, Akhenaten. A letter dated to Year 2 of Akhenaten's reign from the Hittite king Šuppiluliuma I, congratulates Akhenaten on his accession to power and wishes that the peaceful relations which existed between Egypt and Hatti during Amenhotep III's reign would continue into his son's rule. This correspondence implies that if any coregency occurred between Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, it lasted for no more than a year at the most.

Amenhotep III's principal wife, Tiye, is known to have outlived him by at least twelve years, as she is mentioned in several Amarna letters dated from her son's reign as well as depicted at a dinner table with Akhenaten and his royal family in scenes from the tomb of Huya, which were made during Year 9 and Year 12 of her son's reign.[20]

Burial and Succession[]

Amenhotep III was buried in his KV22 rock-cut tomb in the Western Valley of the Valley of the Kings. The intended heir to the throne was the eldest son of Amenhotep III and Tiye, Thutmose, though he predeceased his father. Amenhotep III was thus ultimately succeeded by a second son who ascended to the throne as Amenhotep IV, but changed his name to Akhenaten in the early years of his reign.

Sometime during the Third Intermediate Period Amenhotep III's remains were moved from his tomb and placed in a side-chamber of KV35 along with several other pharaohs of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties where it lay until discovered by Victor Loret in 1898.

Mummy[]

Amenhotep III Mummy

Mummyhead of Amenhotep III (Smith 1912).

Amenhotep III's mummy has the inventory number CG 61074.[21] An examination of his mummy by the Australian anatomist Grafton Elliot Smith concluded that the pharaoh was between 40 and 50 years old at death.[22] Amenhotep III was an unusually short king standing merely 158 cm (5 ft 2 in) tall.[23] Smith also took note of the large skull and long narrow face.[22] In addition to this observation, James E. Harris and Fawzia Hussein concluded in their study of the mummy that "the skull was found to be two standard deviations too large for its body, and its craniofacial characteristics are consonant with sculptured portraits of Akhenaten".[24] Smith also addresses the bad condition of the teeth, which indicate that during the late years of his life, Amenhotep III suffered tooth-ache and dental abscesses.[22] For the Eighteenth Dynasty, the mummy shows an unusually heavy use of subcutaneous stuffing to make the mummy look more lifelike.[21]

In April 2021 his mummy was moved from the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to National Museum of Egyptian Civilization along with those of 17 other kings and 4 queens in an event termed the Pharaohs' Golden Parade.[25]

See also[]

References[]

  1. EA 17 5-6, 41-45 and EA 19 6, where king Tušratta of Mitanni sents greetings to "Kilu-Ḫepa, my sister" as well as EA 25 35-36 where the tablet of her dowry is mentioned.
  2. EA 19 17-24, EA 20 8-29 and EA 21 13-21, where king Tušratta of Mitanni writes to Amenhotep III "I will give my daughter to my brother, whom I love, as his bride." EA 22 43-49 states "all these wedding gifts, of all kinds, Tušratta, the king of Mitanni, gave to Nibmuareya, his brother, his son-in-law, when he sent Tadu-Ḫepa, his daughter, to Egypt and to Nibmuareya to be his wife." In EA 23 7-8 she appears to have arrived at the Egyptian court.
  3. 3.0 3.1 EA 31 11-24 and EA 32 8-9, where king Tarḫundaradu of Arzawa states to Amenhotep III "If you really desire my daughter, should I not then give her to you? Naturally I will give her to you!"
  4. EA 1 10-21 for the daughter of king Kurigalzu I of Babylon; EA 1 11-15, EA 2 6-11, EA 3 7-8 and EA 4 11-12, 33-35, 40-43, 47-50 for the daughter of king Kadašman-Enlil I of Babylon; EA 11 and EA 12 for the daughter of king Burnaburiaš II of Babylon.
  5. Grajetzki 2005.
  6. Von Beckerath 1997, p. 190.
  7. O'Connor & Cline 1998, p. 3.
  8. Kozloff & Bryan 1992, nos. 24, 57, 103 & 104.
  9. Kozloff & Bryan 1992, fig. II, 5.
  10. 10.0 10.1 O'Connor & Cline 1998, p. 7.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Tyldesley 2006, p. 121.
  12. Tyldesley 2006, p. 115.
  13. Moran 1992.
  14. Moran 1992, p.101, no.31.
  15. Grimal 1992, p. 223.
  16. Kozloff & Bryan 1992, p. 39, fig. II.4.
  17. Clayton 1994, p. 119.
  18. Fletcher 2000, p. 161.
  19. Grimal 1992, p. 223, 225.
  20. O'Connor & Cline 1998, p. 23.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Habicht et al. 2016.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Smith 1912, p. 50.
  23. Habicht 2015, p. 10.
  24. Wente 1995, p. 4.
  25. Parisse, Emmanuel (5 April 2021). "22 Ancient Pharaohs Have Been Carried Across Cairo in an Epic Golden Parade". ScienceAlert.

Bibliography[]

  • Beckerath, J. von, 1997: Chronologie des Pharaonischen Ägypten. Philipp von Zabern, Mainz.
  • Clayton, P., 1994: Chronicle of the Pharaohs. Thames & Hudson Ltd.
  • Dodson, A./Hilton, D., 2004: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson.
  • Fletcher, J., 2000: Chronicle of a Pharaoh – The Intimate Life of Amenhotep III. Oxford University Press.
  • Grajetzki, W., 2005: Ancient Egyptian Queens: A Hieroglyphic Dictionary. London: Golden House Publications.
  • Grimal, N., 1992: A History of Ancient Egypt. Blackwell Books.
  • Habicht, M.E., 2015: Body Height of Pharaohs: Appendix 5. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
  • Habicht, M.E./Rühli, F./Bouwman, A., 2016: Identification of Ancient Egyptian Royal Mummies from the 18th Dynasty reconsidered. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
  • Kozloff, A./Bryan, B., 1992: Royal and Divine Statuary in Egypt's Dazzling Sun: Amenhotep III and his World. Cleveland.
  • Moran, W.L., 1992: The Amarna Letters. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  • O'Connor, D./Cline, E., 1998: Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign. University of Michigan Press.
  • Smith, G.E., 1912: The Royal Mummies. Cairo.
  • Tiradriti, F., 1999: The Treasures of the Egyptian Museum. American University in Cairo Press.
  • Tyldesley, J., 2006: Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson.
  • Wente, E.F., 1995: Who was Who Among the Royal Mummies. The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. No. 144.

External links[]

Predecessor:
Thutmose IV
Pharaoh of Egypt
Eighteenth Dynasty
Successor:
Akhenaten
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