The 18th Dynasty is said to be one of Egypt’s greatest dynasties ruled by popular pharaohs such as Hatshepsut, Amenhotep I, Tutankhamun, Akhenaten, and our focus for this feature, Amenhotep III. Amenhotep III was born between 1401 BCE - 1388 BCE and was the son of Thutmose IV and Mutemwiya. Mutemwiya was said to be one of the lesser wives of Thutmose IV. At the age of 12, Amenhotep III succeeded his father and became the Pharaoh of Egypt, which at the time was a very large and prosperous empire. Also during this time, Amenhotep III married Queen Tiye, who is one of the 18th Dynasty’s greatest and most popular figures. Queen Tiye was held in such high regard that she is often depicted as an equal to Amenhotep III.
Amenhotep III contributed greatly to the building and expansion of Egypt during his reign; arts and architecture were some of his greatest passions. One of his greatest assets as a ruler was his political acumen and diplomacy. He was very charismatic and built peaceful relationships with rulers of other nations, helping to increase the wealth of Egypt. Maintaining relationships and the quality of roads that traders used to travel also helped increase Egypt’s wealth. Amenhotep III was a very skilled hunter that is said to have killed over 110 lions during his first 10 years as pharaoh. There is also proof of him successfully leading his army into a battle. Amenhotep III completed the construction of a palace for himself at Malkata during the 39th year of his reign. This palace was the largest and most lavish palace in Egypt at the time.
Amenhotep III forbade the marrying of Egyptian women to foreign rulers to keep his dynasty strong. This tradition was also implemented by his father Thutmose IV. As mentioned earlier, the arts and architecture were passions of Amenhotep III. That passion led to the construction of over 250 temples and buildings. He also constructed hundreds of statues depicting himself, Queen Tiye, the God Aten, and various other Gods. Around 600 statues were said to be dedicated to the Goddess Sekhmet. Because Amenhotep III was busy with the building of Egypt, Queen Tiye was in charge of maintaining Egypt’s political affairs. Two of Amenhotep’s largest and most popular statues are called the Colossi of Memnon, which were located in his palace. Egypt’s greatest political and economic threat at the time was the cult of Amun, led by priests who dedicated themselves to the worship of the god Amun. The cult owned a large portion of the land and held an immense amount of wealth, making them a worthy threat, if respectable political relations were not maintained.
To help prevent any vulnerability to the cult of Amun, Aten became the personal deity of Amenhotep III. Many believe the presence of the cult of Amun is what led Pharaoh Akhenaten, Amenhotep III’s successor, to implement state-mandated monotheism in the worship of Aten. For 39 years, Amenhotep III reigned as the pharaoh of Egypt with the beautiful Queen Tiye by his side. He died in 1353 BCE and was survived by Queen Tiye, his sons Thutmose, Akhenaten, and many other sons and daughters. Before his death, Amenhotep III was succeeded by his son Thutmose, but Thutmose died before Amenhotep III’s death, so Akhenaten became Pharaoh after the death of Amenhotep III. Egypt literally flourished under the rule of Amenhotep III. The people were treated fairly by the ruling class, the empire expanded and increased its wealth, and relations with other nations and kingdoms prospered. The splendor of Egypt was on full display. Architectural campaigns led by Amenhotep III helped Egypt become the most opulent empire of the ancient world. Pharaoh Amenhotep III, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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