by Dr. Sherin Elkhawaga
18TH DYNASTY PHAROAHS- Amenhotep kings
The 18th Dynasty was a period full of powerful Kings and Queens.
It starts by King Ahmose who ruled from 1570-1546, one of
the most outstanding in the history of ancient Egypt. His
principal achievement was to weaken the Hyksos, who had dominated
Lower Egypt for some 300 years, by taking Avaris, their citadel
in the north. He pursued them into southern Palestine and
laid siege to Sharuhen for three years.
Amenhotep I (Amenophis) was the son of Ahmose I and his queen
Ahmose-Nefertari - and ruled from 1546 to 1526. He undertook
military campaigns in Libya and in Nubia (up to the 3rd cataract)
using boats on the Nile to transport his army, and extended
the boundaries of his empire by establishing a vice-royalty
in Nubia. On reaching the throne, Amenhotep I very quickly
had to defend Egypt's borders - the Libyans had taken the
opportunity of Ahmose I's death to launch an invasion in Egypt's
delta - Amenhotep I led an army to the Western border and
defeated the Libyans and their allies. Next was a rebellion
by Nubia, Amenhotep I this time led an army to the southern
border and very quickly restored order.
Amenhotep I had an interest in art and architecture and intiated
elaborate building projects - such as the Karnak temple complex
at Karnak . Amenhotep I was also the first pharaoh who separated
his mortuary temple and tomb.
Amenhotep II , the 7th king of the 18th dynasty, son of Thutmose
III, ruled Egypt from 1450 to 1425 BC. He continued the military
exploits of his father, particularly in Syria, where he crushed
an uprising and demanded oaths of loyalty from local rulers.
His mummy was discovered in the Valley of the Kings. Amenhotep
II was famed at the time for his sportsmanship - he was very
athletic and had a great love of horses.His greatest feat
of sportsmanship was the shooting of copper targets with arrows,
while driving a chariot with the reigns tied round his waist.
Upon the death of Tuthmosis III, Amenhotep II inherited a
vast empire, it was not something that he intended to lose
- any rebellions were severely dealt with and a series of
campaigns were made into Syria.
Amenhotep III ruled (1417-1379 BC) Egypt at the height of
its power. His father was Tuthmosis IV by one of that king's
chief queens, Mutemwiya. She may have, though mostly in doubt
now, been the daughter of the Mitannian king, Artatama. That
queen was indeed probably sent to Egypt for the purposes of
a diplomatic marriage. He was more likely between six and
twelve years of age at the time of his father's death.
Amenhotep III's own chief queen, was not of royal blood, but
came from a very substantial family. She was Tiy, the daughter
of Yuya and his wife, Tuya, who owned vast holdings in the
Delta. Yuya was also a powerful military leader. His extensive
diplomatic contacts with other Near Eastern states, especially
Mitanni and Babylonia, are revealed in the Amarna tablets.
Of the great temple he built near Thebes, only two statues,
the so-called colossi of Memnon, remain. Amenhotep's wife
Tiye, a woman of humble birth, was prominently associated
with him during his long and peaceful reign.We know at least
six of his children consisting of two sons and four daughters
(other daughters including Henuttaneb and Nebetiah). However,
his probable oldest son, Tuthmosis died early leaving the
future heretic king, Amenhotep IV, otherwise known as Akhenaten,
as the crown prince. His extensive diplomatic contacts with
other Near Eastern states, especially Mitanni and Babylonia,
are revealed in the Amarna tablets. Of the great temple he
built near Thebes, only two statues, the so-called colossi
of Memnon, remain.
After the military problems seem to have been settled, we
find a long period of great building works and high art. It
was also a period of lavish luxury at the royal court. The
wealth needed to accomplish all of this did not come from
conquests, but rather from foreign trade and an abundant supply
of gold, mostly from the mines in the Wadi Hammamat and further
south in Nubia. . During his reign, we find a marked increase
in Egyptian materials found on the Greek mainland. We also
find many Egyptian place names, including Mycenae, Phaistos
and Knossos first appearing in Egyptian inscriptions We also
find letters written between Amenhotep III and his peers in
Babylon, Mitanni and Arzawa preserved in cuneiform writing
on clay tablets.
Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) (1350-1334), The second son of the
great Amenhotep III, Akhenaten came to the throne when his
elder brother and heir to the throne, Thuthmose, died while
still a child.
At this point the young Akhenaten was still known by his original
name - Amenhotep (IV), it was only when he ascended the throne
that he would change his name. Immediately he took up the
offices and teachings of a prince regent, including studying
at the centre of intellectual learning for Egypt - Heliopolis.
was invested as king not in the Amen temple at Karnak as custom
dictated, but at Hermonthis, where his uncle Inen was High
Priest of Re and immediately began building a roofless temple
to the Aten, the disk of the rising sun. He soon forbade the
worship of other gods, especially of the state god Amen of
Thebes. In the 6th year he changed his name from Amenhotep
("Amen is satisfied") to Akhenaten ("beneficial
to Aten") and left Thebes for a new capital at Akhetaten
(El Amarna). Amenhotep IV's reign was a time of many changes,
for not only did he decide to change his name to Akhenaten,
he found a perfect site along the banks of the Nile where
he could be build a new capital of Egypt - Akhetaten, the
Pharaoh found a plain within a semicircle of cliffs - here
he set up an altar and made an offering to the Aten in thanks
for leading him to this chosen place. Later at the foundation
ceremony of the city, Akhenaten expressed how the city had
been revealed to him alone by his father, the Aten, as his
Living there with his queen Nefertiti, six daughters, and
possibly several sons, he fostered new styles in art and literature.
The confiscation of the wealth of the Amen temples wreaked
havoc upon its priesthood. Akhenaten used these riches to
strengthen the royal control over the army and his officialdom.
His concentration on internal affairs brought about the loss
of some of the Egyptian possessions in Canaan and Retenu (Syria)
and of the Egyptian naval dominance, when Aziru defected to
the Hittites with his fleet.
His religious reforms didn't survive his reign and monotheism
in its pure form was forgotten in Egypt, even though it found
a new expression in the trinity of Re, Ptah and Amen. The
Aten temples were demolished, and Akhenaten came to be called
Tutankhamen (r. 1361-1352 BC), the son in law of Akhenaten,
succeeded his brother Smenkhkare when he was only nine years
old. His vizier Ay restored the traditional polytheistic religion,
abandoning the monotheistic cult of Aten of Akhenaten, its
religious centre at el Amarna and returning to the capital
Thebes. By reviving the cult of the state god Amen he strengthened
the position of Amen's priesthood. The pharaoh changed his
name Tutankhaten, (living image of Aten), to Tutankhamen,
(living image of Amen),
During his reign, the general Horemheb sought to 'pacify'
Palestine and fought against the Hittites in northern Syria
allied to the Assyrians.
About the Author
Egyptian medical doctor, speciality in radiology, much interested