Amenhotep III

was a pharaoh from the 18th Dynasty (1570-1293 BC) who was a prolific builder and a relatively benevolent ruler. His reign lasted almost 40 years and was both stable and prosperous. He took the throne of Egypt at the early age of 12. His great-grandfather was Thutmosis III. His parents were Thutmosis IV and Queen Mutemwiya. He had many wives, one chief wife was Tiy, daughter of Yuya and Tuya (whose mummies are among the best preserved in Egypt). Amenhotep had two sons, The older died leaving Amenhotep IV to succeed to the throne. Amenhotep IV, after succeeding to the throne would later change his name to Akhenaten!

Amenhotep III’s reign was one of relative peace and the prosperity during his time was due to more to international trade and a strong gold supply, not from conquest and expansionism. He did lead campaigns, but mainly earlier on in his reign. Amenhotep built many splendid temples and statuary, including many large lifelike statues of himself.

The Temple of Amun at Luxor - Copyright (c) Copyright 1998 Andrew Bayuk, All Rights Reserved One of Amenhotep III’s greatest building achievements was the Temple of Amun, now in modern day Luxor. One of the famous reliefs on the east side of this temple consists of a royal birth scene, which served to establish the legitimacy of his rule by depicting his birth directly from the god Amun. Amenhotep also built the third pylon at the Temple of Karnak and initiated construction on the Hypostyle hall there as well. On the south side of this hypostyle hall are reliefs depicting the coronation of Amenhotep III by the gods of Egypt. Across the river, Amenhotep built a fabulous palace at Malkata. This huge estate included small chapels, large audience halls, parade grounds, villas for public officials, kitchens, offices workshops and quarters for servants.

During Amenhotep’s reign, the style of statuary began to exude a new finesse and sense of detail. This is marked by the appearance of such detail as draped clothing and other such features that foreshadow the Amarna style that is to emerge in the reign of his successor, Akhenaten.

The mortuary temple of Amenhotep III was destroyed in the 19th Dynasty, yet another example of using sacred temples for quarrying in later times. This time the culprit may have been Merneptah, son of Ramesses II. All that remains on the original site of this temple are the famous huge, seated colossal statues of Amenhotep III, which later became known by the misnomer of the Colossi of Memnon.

The Temple of Amun at Luxor - Copyright (c) Copyright 1998 Andrew Bayuk, All Rights Reserved

The Colossi of Memnon - Copyright (c) Copyright 1998 Andrew Bayuk, All Rights Reserved
The Colossi of Memnon

Amenhotep died in his 39th year of his reign from some undefined illness, at the age of 50. He had lived to celebrate two Sed Festivals. His tomb has been identified in the Valley of The Kings as tomb KV22, which is decorated with a version of the “Book of What Is In The Underworld”. His mummy is believed to have been recovered in the Royal cache that was found in the tomb of Amenhotep II.

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