Amenhotep III and the peak of Egypt's international power and artistic splendor

Biography

Amenhotep III was the ninth pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. His reign was a period of unprecedented prosperity and artistic splendor, when Egypt reached the peak of its artistic and international power. Amenhotep III was born to Thutmose IV and Mutemwiya. He was crowned while still a child, likely between the ages of 6 and 12. He married Tiye, his primary wife, two years later. Tiye lived twelve years after his death. Amenhotep III ruled over Egypt for a lengthy 38-39 years. He celebrated three Jubilee Sed festivals, in his 30th, 34th, and 37th years of rule, respectively.

Achievements

Amenhotep III has the distinction of having the most surviving statues of any Egyptian pharaoh, with over 250 of his statues having been discovered and identified. Amenhotep III also has the distinction of having the most commemorative statues of any Egyptian pharaoh. These statues provide a series of portraits covering the entire length of his reign. Another striking characteristic of Amenhotep III's reign is the series of over 200 large commemorative stone scarabs that have been discovered over a large geographic area. These scarabs contain extensive inscribed texts that detail the accomplishments of the pharaoh. For instance, 123 of these commemorative scarabs record the large number of lions that Amenhotep III killed with his own arrows from his first regnal year up to his tenth year.

Foreign policy and relations

Amenhotep III's reign was a period of unprecedented prosperity and artistic splendor, when Egypt reached the peak of her artistic and international power. Proof of this is shown by the diplomatic correspondence from the rulers of Assyria, Mitanni, Babylon, and Hatti which is preserved in the archive of Amarna Letters; these letters document frequent requests by these rulers for gold and numerous other gifts from the pharaoh. The letters cover the period from Year 30 of Amenhotep III until at least the end of Akhenaten's reign. In one famous correspondence, Amenhotep III is quoted by the Babylonian king Kadashman-Enlil I in firmly rejecting the latter's entreaty to marry one of this pharaoh's daughters with the statement, "Why, oh why, thus stretches forth the hand to the married woman, to the wife of a prince, and would undertake to lead away the daughter of another prince, and to take away the wife from her husband?"

Death and succession

Amenhotep III died in his 38th or 39th year of rule, and his son, Amenhotep IV, initially ruled as pharaoh, but then changed his own royal name to Akhenaten. There is no conclusive evidence of a co-regency between Amenhotep III and his son, Akhenaten. However, in February 2014, the Egyptian Ministry for Antiquities announced what it called "definitive evidence" that Akhenaten shared power with his father for at least 8 years, based on findings from the tomb of Vizier Amenhotep-Huy.

Mummy and burial

Amenhotep III's burial site has not yet been discovered. However, two of his sons, Akhenaten and Smenkhkare, are believed to have been buried in the same tomb. His mummy has been identified and is now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

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