Born: 1411 BC
Died At Age: 58
Also Known As: Nebma’atre, Amenophis III, Amunhotep II and Amana-Hatpa
Born Country: Egypt
Born in: Ancient Egypt
Famous as: Pharaoh
Emperors & Kings
Spouse/Ex-: Gilukhipa, Sitamun, Tadukhipa
father: Thutmose IV
siblings: Amenemhat, Amenemopet, Pyhia, Siatum, Tentamun, Tiaa
children: Akhenaten, Beketaten, Henuttaneb, Iset, Kiya, Nebetah, Sitamun, The Younger Lady, Thutmose
Died on: 1353 BC
place of death: Malkata, Egypt
Diseases & Disabilities: Arthritis
Who was Amenhotep III?
Amenhotep III was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. He is also referred to the ‘Sun King’ or Amenhotep the magnificent. He ruled Egypt for about forty years, a period marked with remarkable peace and prosperity. He ascended the throne at the young age of 12 after the death of his father, Thutmose IV. The kingdom he inherited was prosperous and powerful which Amenhotep III was able to build upon. He proved to be a skilled diplomat and established good relations with the neighboring kingdoms through marriage alliances. Known for his generosity, he bestowed gold and lavish gifts upon vassal states which ensured that none rose against him. Trade flourished during his time and the kingdom’s wealth increased. With the affairs of the state in a good shape, Amenhotep III could undertake some of the most magnificent building works in ancient Egypt. He renovated many temples, created new ones, and built an artificial lake, a harbor and hundreds of statues. He had a large harem but his first wife, Queen Tiye, was the most important among them. She had a status that was rarely given to other royal women. She took part in royal duties and especially so during the last years of the pharaoh’s life. His son Akhenaten succeeded him and a tumultuous period in the history of Egypt followed.
Childhood & Early Life
Amenhotep III was the son of the Pharaoh Thutmose IV. His mother was Mutemwiya, a minor wife of the pharaoh. He was born around 1401 BC.
He belonged to the Thutmosid family which had ruled Egypt for a hundred and fifty years starting with the reign of Thutmose I.
Like most Egyptian kings, he was given other names such as Nebma’atre, Amenophis III, Amunhotep II and Amana-Hatpa. All the names were related to the god Amun.
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Amenhotep III ascended the throne at the young age of 12. He married Tiye during the second year of his reign. Tiye was not of a royal lineage; her father, Yuya, was an influential military commander.
Soon after their marriage, Amenhotep III gave the rank of ‘Great Royal Wife’ to Queen Tiye. His own mother had never been given this title, so Queen Tiye outranked her mother-in-law in court affairs.
Amenhotep III inherited a prosperous kingdom. Egypt was at its zenith in wealth, size and power. His empire stretched from the Euphrates to Sudan. Using diplomacy and intermarriage to his advantage, the pharaoh maintained Egypt’s supremacy in the region.
His reign was mostly peaceful. Egypt wielded so much power that none dared challenge her. During the fifth year of his reign, Cushites rebelled in the region of Nubia. The rebellion was quelled and peace restored.
During the 10th year of his reign, the Mitannian princess Gilukhepa arrived with 317 women. This marriage established a friendly relationship between Egypt and Mitanni which had earlier been a foe. This was the first among many such alliances.
He also married Tadukhipa, another Mitannian princess, and princesses of Babylon, Syria and Arzawa.
Correspondences from those times show how the pharaoh frequently bestowed gold and other gifts upon rulers from Hatti, Assyria, Babylon and Mitanni. Egypt was on good terms with Asia as well and trade flourished.
During Amenhotep III’s reign the military started influencing the royal line because of his marriage with Queen Tiye. The noblemen prospered during this time and their lavish tombs bear testimony to the fact.
Art & Architecture
Amenhotep III’s peaceful reign ensured that art and architecture flourished during that period. He commissioned many large buildings, temples and statues. Six hundred statues of goddess Sekhmet were installed around the temple of Mut.
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The Karnak temple complex was remodeled, new pylons were added and older ones were reconstructed. The main portions of the Luxor temple complex, including a grandiose temple dedicated to the god Amun, were built during his reign.
The mortuary temple of Amenhotep III is one of the most magnificent structures of ancient Egypt. This was the grandest mortuary temple in all of Egypt. It was 328 feet by 1968 feet in area and contained hundreds of statues and sphinxes.
Unfortunately, the mortuary temple was situated on the Nile floodplain and was destroyed by floods. Further damage was done by an earthquake and pillaging. Only two colossal statues over six-story in height remain from the grand structure.
A palace was built at Malkata for the Great Wife Queen Tiye. Records talk of a large artificial lake that was created in only 15 days. There was also a boat built for pleasure trips on the lake.
The palace at Malkata had a large artificial harbor, the Birket Habu, which linked it to the Nile. Apart from this, a large network of canals connected the palace and the mortuary temple to the temples at Luxor and Karnak.
There are 250 statues of Amenhotep III that have been discovered, making him the pharaoh with the most number of statues. Many other statues of that era have been found which feature women from the royal household.
Amenhotep III was the first pharaoh who issued commemorative scarabs for major events like royal marriages, hunting trips and construction works.
Amenhotep III made Aten, the disk of the sun god, his personal deity. It is believed that this was done to counter the influence of the priests who were as wealthy as the king and who followed the cult of Amun. The king also took on the title of ‘Aten-tjehen’ meaning ‘the Dazzling Sun Disk’.
Family & Personal life
Amenhotep III had a large harem. Apart from Tiye, he married two princesses from Mitanni, named Gilukhepa and Tadukhipa, and princesses from Babylon, Syria and Arzawa.
Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye had two sons, Thutmose and Amenhotep IV. Prince Thutmose became a priest and would have succeeded his father but passed away at a young age.
The pharaoh and his Great Wife are believed to have had four daughters: Sitamun, Isis or Iset, Henuttaneb and Nebetah. Sitamun and Isis were given the position of ‘the great royal wife’ during the final years of Amenhotep III’s reign.
Amenhotep III was a great hunter and warrior. There are many scarabs which bear testimony to over a hundred lions that the king killed during the first ten years of his reign.
Queen Tiye is depicted with Amenhotep III in many of the statues. She is shown sitting beside him on a seat of the same height as his, which represents that she was given a status equal to the king. During the last years of the pharaoh’s reign, the queen played an important role in the empire.
Amenhotep III died around 1354 BC. He had become obese, and during his last years he suffered from ill health. According to a forensic report, it was found that he had arthritis, his teeth were badly decayed and he probably was in constant pain during his final years. Queen Tiye lived on for 12 more years.
He was succeeded by his son Amenhotep IV who later took the title of Akhenaten. His reign was very different from his father’s. Tutankhamun, the most recognized pharaoh of Egypt, was Akhenaten’s son and the grandson of Amenhotep III.