Major Accomplishments of Amenhotep III

Amenhotep III

Amenhotep III – Facts and achievements

Amenhotep III, also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent, was the ninth pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt. His reign is believed to have lasted from around 1386 to 1349 BC. He became king of Egypt at about the age of 12, succeeding his father Thutmose IV. As it was common for many Egyptian monarchs, he took quite a number of wives, including many princesses from foreign lands. His Chief Royal Wife, however, was Queen Tiye, the daughter of an influential nobleman called Yuya.

Major Achievements of Amenhotep III

The following are the major achievements of 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep III:

Built the largest temple complex in Thebes

The chapels at Luxor temple were constructed  by Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty.  Image: Sun court of Amenhotep III at the Luxor Temple in ancient Thebes

The ravages of time and perhaps vandalism have long caused the the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III to disappear. However, at the time that it existed, it was the largest temple complex in Thebes. At one time, the 7-meter high colossal statue of Amenhotep and his chief wife Tiye stood in the complex.

Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple suffered a lot of damage due to the fact that it was built too near floodplain. Situated on the west bank of the Nile, it came to ruin after about two hundred years. Later 19th Dynasty pharaoh Merneptah and other pharaohs used the ruins to construct other buildings.

Also a powerful earthquake in 1200 BC did a lot of damage to Amenhotep’s temple. Only the two statues – the Colossi of Memnon – survived from the ruin.

The Colossi of Memnon

Amenhotep III

Colossi of Memnon

Standing in front of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III was the Colossi of Memno – two huge stone statues that measure at around 18m (59 ft) high. The date the stone statues were completed was around 1350 BCE.

The statues show Amenhotep III sitting down with both his hands on his knees. Then, there are two shorter statues placed in front of Amenhotep. The statues are said to be the King’s chief wife Tiye and his mother Mutemwiya (a wife of Thutmose IV).

The rock that was used to make the statue was quarried at el-Gabal el-Ahmar, near present-day Cairo, Egypt. Another very interesting point is: Each statue weighs around 720 tons.

The Colossi of Memnon, which is made from quartzite sandstone, is situated west of the River Nile in present day city of Luxor. It is the only remaining significant object of Amenhotep’s temple.

The colossal statue of Amenhotep III and his Great Royal Wife Tiye

Colossal statue of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye

Presently located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the colossal statue of Egyptian royal couple Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye is regarded as the largest known dyad statue ever carved. Prior to its relocation to the museum, the statue was located in Western Thebes, Medinet Habu to be specific.

This statue, which reaches a height of 7 meters (23 ft) and measures around 4.4 meters (14.4 ft) in width, was constructed of limestone around the year 1360 BC.  It is been said that this colossal statue of the king and queen was likely carved around Amenhotep’s first Sed Festival (i.e. Amenhotep III’s 30th anniversary on the throne).

In keeping up with the art of 18th Dynasty Egypt, the faces of the royal couple have almond-shaped eyes and curbed eyebrows. Amenhotep has both hands on his knees, while his Great Royal Wife Queen Tiye has her right hand around Amenhotep’s waist.

The sculptors purposely made Queen Tiye’s height to be at the same level with her husband. This is symbolic of her very important status in the land of Egypt. Atop Tiye’s head is a vulture headdress and the double uraei symbol, which symbolizes dominion over Upper Egypt (white crown) and Lower Egypt (red crown).

Shown at knee level of the royal couple are their three daughters – Princess Henuttaneb, Princess Nebetah, and an unknown princess. In the inscription on the statue, Princess Henuttaneb is praised as being “the companion of the sky god Horus”.

The oldest daughter of the royal couple, Sitamun, is not depicted in the sculpture. It’s been suggested that her absence is because she had been elevated to the status of great royal wife.

Red Granite Statue of Amenhotep III

Made of quartzite, the red granite statue of Amenhotep III made around 1368 BC. It was found by archeologists Giovanni Battista Belzoni and Henry William Beechey  in 1817 in the temple enclosure of the goddess Mut at Karnak. The height of the head alone is around 2.90 m, while the arm measures around 3.30 m.

In the image, Amenhotep III can be seen donning the pschent, which is the double crown of Lower and Upper Egypt. Today, the statue is found in the British museum.

Amenhotep III celebrated about three Sed Festivals

The Sed Festival in ancient Egypt was the king’s way of demonstrating to the people he ruled that he still had the vitality and vigor to serve as lord of Egypt, or representative of the gods. Celebration of the Sed Festival went as far back the Old Kingdom Era. According to archeologists, a king is eligible to celebrate the Sed Festival after he has ruled for thirty years. From the 30th year onward, the Sed Festival is then celebrated after another three years.

Pharaoh Amenhotep III’s reign of about 38 or 39 years meant that he most likely celebrated at least three Sed Festivals, which were planned by his most trusted official Amenhotep, son of Hapu, and Nebmerutef, the chief royal scribe.

In preparation for the festival, a number of temples and statues were built along the Nile River. Decorations were made to the royal palace as well. The artificial lake, Malqata (“House of Rejoicing”), that he built for his Chief Royal Wife, Queen Tiye, hosted many of the activities of Amenhotep III’s Sed Festivals.

During the festival, which likely spanned between two and seven month, Amenhotep was crowned twice – one for Upper Egypt (using the white crown) and the other for Lower Egypt (using the red crown). The Sed Festival was intended to elevate the king from the representative of the gods on earth to a god with divine rule over the cosmos.

We know this because of the inscription on a Sed Festival Stela of Amenhotep III. A stela of that nature often contained the heroic feats of the king. It was basically used to commemorate the festival, while at the same time asking for the continued blessings for the pharaoh from the gods. Inscribed on Amenhotep III’s stela can be seen the names of gods like Heh, Re and Ma’at. The god heh was represented by the Egyptians as the number one million. This meant that Amenhotep III’s Sed Festival Stela was beseeching the god Heh to grant the pharaoh a reign as long as one million years.

Did you know: Akhenaten, Amenhotep III’s successor and son, possibly vandalized the Sed Festival Stela of Amenhotep III simply because he wanted nothing to do the god Amun?

The Dazzling Aten

Some archaeologists have stated that Amenhotep III established a city in honor of the Egyptian sun god Aten. Called the Dazzling Aten (or the Rise of Aten) by scholars and archaeologists, the city was housed workers and artisans that built the many monuments credited to Amenhotep. The city also gave accommodation facilities to administrative workers and supervisors that were involved in Amenhotep’s construction projects.

Cemented Egypt’s reputation as a regional power

His reign reinforced Egypt’s artistic and regional dominance in the region. He thus reigned over an era of prosperity and magnificent structures.

In his 5th year, he carried out military campaigns against Akuyata in Nubia. Also he was able to quash a few conflicts in the Nile River delta region. Often times, he sought advice from his most trusted advisor Amenhotep, son of Hapu. Amenhotep, son of Hapu, was of tremendous help in organizing the construction projects of the king.

He used diplomacy to maintain Egypt’s dominance in the region

With many powers in the region ready to pounce on a slim up, Amenhotep III knew that he had to have a very well-thought out foreign policy. In the Amarna Letters – from the archive of Amenhotep III and Akhenaten – it is revealed that he used diplomacy to his advantage. He struck alliances by marrying sisters and daughters of foreign kings, including the daughters of Kings of Mitanni in the Euphrates River in northern Syria. He also married a princess from Babylon, Cyprus, Assyria, and other vassals in Syria. He was even close to marrying a Hittite princess.

More Amenhotep III facts

Amenhotep III (right) and the Egyptian crocodile-headed god Sobek, from Dahamsha, presently in the Luxor Museum

Queen Tiye stepped up to the plate during Amenhotep III’s final few years on the throne. The queen help keep things stable while preparing her son Akhenaten to succeed Amenhotep III.

In 1989, at the courtyard of Amenhotep III’s colonnade of the Temple of Luxor, a cache of statues – including a 6-feet (1.8 m) statue. Researchers also found a high pink quartzite statue of Amenhotep III wearing the Double Crown of Egypt (combination Upper Egypt’s white crown and Lower Egypt’s red crown) . The name of the god Amun had been removed from all the Amenhotep III’s cartouches. This was most likely done Pharaoh Akhenaten to suppress the worship of Amun.

Just like his father Thutmose IV and his father’s father Amenhotep II, Amenhotep III found hunting to be one of his favorite pastime activities.

Akhenaten was relentless in suppressing Amun’s worship as he favored the worship of Aten, the sun god. In honor of Aten, he even changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten.

With all kinds of references to Amun and his name wiped from the Sed Festival Stela of Amenhotep III, Akhenaten then proudly displayed the Stela in his palace.

Other achievements of Amenhotep III

During his reign, between 1390 BCE and the 1353 BCE, Pharaoh Amenhotep III was able to accomplish a lot of outstanding things. Some of his other major accomplishments are as follows:

  • Amenhotep III has the most surviving statues of any Egyptian pharaoh. Of the statues that he built, about 250 statues have been discovered.
  • He made several hundreds of large commemorative stone scarabs, which are scattered across the region. The stone scarabs served an important function as the accomplishments of Amenhotep were inscribed on them. He killed hundreds of lions with his arrows in the first years of his reign.
  • Pharaoh Amenhotep III carried out excavations to create an artificial lake in honor of his Great Royal Wife, Queen Tiye. The construction was done in his 11th year. The lake featured very prominently during the Sed Festivals of Amenhotep III.
  • He built chapels at the Luxor Temple and other monuments, including two pylons, a colonnade behind the new temple entrance.
  • He built a new temple to the goddess Ma’at; a mew pylon at the temple of Amun at Karnak. A Tenth Pylon at the Tmeple of Amun was also built by Amenhotep III.
  • This pharaoh constructed about 600 statues of the goddess Sekhmet in the temple of Mut, south of Karnak.
  • His reign is said to have had some of the most magnificent statues of the New Kingdom era.

References:

  • Aldred, Cyril (1991). Akhenaten: King of Egypt. Thames & Hudson.
  • Dodson, Aidan; Hilton, Dyan (2004). The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson.
  • Grimal, Nicolas (1992). A History of Ancient Egypt. Blackwell Books.
  • T.G.H. James and W.V. Davies, Egyptian sculpture (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)
  • Tyldesley, Joyce (2006). Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt. Thames & Hudson.

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