All posts for the day March 2nd, 2020

Amenhotep II and III

Published March 2, 2020 by amaic


Damien F. Mackey



Part One:

His father was a Thutmose


Having a double set of the combination: Thutmose – Amenhotep in the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt:


Tuthmosis III
Amenhotep II

Tuthmosis IV
Amenhotep III

inevitably makes me wonder if, as in the case of Egypt’s Old-Middle Kingdoms, some duplications may have occurred, thereby unwarrantedly extending the already lengthy ancient Egyptian history.

I have greatly streamlined those Old-Middle Kingdom dynasties in:


Moses, Egypt, Kings before the Exodus

wherein there occur such repetitive combinations as: Pepi – Merenre (Sixth Dynasty) and Amenemhet – Sesostris (Twelfth Dynasty).


What makes me wonder even more in the case of the above Eighteenth Dynasty repetitions is that Thutmose III and IV, as well as bearing the same nomen (Thutmose, “Born of the god Thoth”), also had the same praenomen, Menkheperre (“Lasting are the Manifestations of Re”).

Oh, and they shared the Horus name, Kanakht.


Obviously the reign lengths, as conventionally assigned, differ greatly, with Thutmose III reigning for 54 years and Thutmose IV for only about a decade.

He is like a microcosm of the great Thutmose III. Suspiciously, “little is known” about him:

“Little is known about his brief ten-year rule. He suppressed a minor uprising in Nubia in his 8th year (attested in his Konosso stela) around 1393 BC [sic] and was referred to in a stela as the Conqueror of Syria,[3] but little else has been pieced together about his military exploits. Betsy Bryan, who penned a biography of Thutmose IV, says that Thutmose IV’s Konosso stela appears to refer to a minor desert patrol action on the part of the king’s forces to protect certain gold-mine routes in Egypt’s Eastern Desert from occasional attacks by the Nubians.[4] Thutmose IV’s rule is significant because he established peaceful relations with Mitanni and married a Mitannian princess to seal this new alliance”.


Thutmose III was indeed a Conqueror of Syria:

“The fifth, sixth and seventh campaigns of Thutmose III were directed against the Phoenician cities in Syria and against Kadesh on the Orontes. In Thutmose’s 29th year, he began his fifth campaign, where he first took an unknown city (the name falls in a lacuna) which had been garrisoned by Tunip.[36] He then moved inland and took the city and territory around Ardata;[37] the town was pillaged and the wheatfields burned. Unlike previous plundering raids, Thutmose III garrisoned the area known as Djahy, which is probably a reference to southern Syria.[29] This permitted him to ship supplies and troops between Syria and Egypt. Although there is no direct evidence for it, it is for this reason that some have supposed that Thutmose’s sixth campaign, in his thirtieth year, commenced with a naval transportation of troops directly to Byblos, bypassing Canaan entirely.[37] After the troops arrived in Syria by whatever means, they proceeded into the Jordan River valley and moved north, pillaging Kadesh’s lands.[38] Turning west again, Thutmose took Simyra and quelled a rebellion in Ardata, which apparently had rebelled again.[39] To stop such rebellions, Thutmose began taking hostages from the cities in Syria. The cities in Syria were not guided by the popular sentiment of the people so much as they were by the small number of nobles who were aligned to Mitanni: a king and a small number of foreign Maryannu. Thutmose III found that by taking family members of these key people to Egypt as hostages, he could drastically increase their loyalty to him.[38] Syria rebelled again in Thutmose’s 31st year and he returned to Syria for his seventh campaign, took the port city of Ullaza[38] and the smaller Phoenician ports[39] and took more measures to prevent further rebellions.[38]

All the excess grain which was produced in Syria was stored in the harbors he had recently conquered and was used for the support of the military and civilian Egyptian presence ruling Syria.[38] This left the cities in Syria desperately impoverished. With their economies in ruins, they had no means of funding a rebellion.[40]


Part Two:

Strong, a sportsman, hunter


Some patterns of similarity emerge also with Amenhotep II and III.


Being fathered by a predecessor “Thutmose”.

Sharing the name Aakhepeh[-erure].


Having as wife:

[Amenhotep II] “Tiaa (Tiya) “Great Royal Wife” Daughter of Yuya and Thuya”.

[Amenhotep III] Having a Great Royal Wife, “Tiy, daughter of Yuya and Tuya”.


Having as son-successors a Thutmose, and then an Amenhotep:

[Amenhotep II] “Children Thutmose IV, Amenhotep …”.

[Amenhotep III (and Tiy)] “Their eldest son, Thutmosis … died as a child. This left the kingdom to their second son, Amenhotep … who changed his name and is better known as Akhenaten”.



Well known about Amenhotep II is that he was a very physically strong sportsmen and hunter.

But so, too, was Amenhotep III:


Amenhotep III the hunter


Amenhotep III’s reign encompassed peace and because of this there was no real need to have a ‘warrior’ pharaoh to protect Egypt, so instead the role of ‘Hunter’ became more prominent. Amenhotep still needed to seem strong and powerful. Skills taught to pharaohs previously to fulfil the role of being a warrior were transferrable to the role of being a hunter. Hunting was an important role as the representation of a hunter was Ma’at.

Inscriptions praised the pharaoh for his physical power as a sportsman giving emphasis on his strength, endurance, skill and also his courage. Two scarabs were also issued promoting his success as a hunter. One scarab is pictured on this page from 1380BC [sic] in the 18th Dynasty.

To the Right is the bottom of the scarab presenting the hieroglyphics and below is the picture of the detailed top of the artefact with markings indicating the head, wings and scorching on its legs imitating its feathering. This scarab records that the king killed 102 lions within his first ten years of his reign. He stated that he did this with only a bow and arrow. This presents his strength and power without having to win thousands of wars.


Historian A. Gardiner wrote in 1972 a quote the relates strongly to the topic of a hunter ‘with the accession of Amenhotep III, Dynasty 18 attained the zenith of its magnificence, though the celebrity of this king is not founded upon any military achievement. Indeed, It is doubtful whether he himself ever took part in a warlike campaign’.’ This quote is explaining further how Amenhotep III was more involved with a warrior role than a military role. He may of [have] not had war but he managed to keep his magnificence through hunting as the skills were transferrable.


Hunting was an important role in the 18th dynasty and specifically during Amenhotep’s reign as it was up to him to withhold the concept of ma’at. It was significant as the role of being a warrior was not necessarily needed throughout his reign, so the role of a hunter arose to ensure that the pharaoh was presented as strong.

Amenhotep contributed to this role by creating the commemorative scarabs and recording any hunting successes. This provided the people with reassurance that their pharaoh could protect them and also it is significant because it provides historians and archeologists with evidence about the pharaoh and hunting.


Sometimes the strength and sporting prowess of Amenhotep II are presented as if being his main claim to fame. The following piece exemplifies his outstanding sporting skills:


Notably, Amenhotep II was well known for his athletic abilities as a young man. A number of representations of him depict his participation in successful sporting pursuits. He lived in the Memphite region where he trained horses in his father’s stables, and one of his greatest athletic achievements was accomplished when he shot arrows through a copper plate while driving a chariot with the reins tied about his waist. This deed was recorded in numerous inscriptions, including a stele at Giza and depictions at Thebes. So famous was the act that it was also miniaturized on scarabs that have been found in the Levant. Sara Morris, a classical art historian, has even suggested that his target shooting success formed the basis hundreds of years later for the episode in the Iliad when Archilles is said to have shot arrows through a series of targets set up in a trench. He was also recorded as having wielded an oar of some 30 ft in length, rowing six times as fast as other crew members, though this may certainly be an exaggeration. ….


Similar patterns emerge, again, with the course of the reign – some early military activity followed by years of peace and prosperity, allowing for major building projects.


Amenhotep II:

Some references refer to his first expedition taking place as early as his 2nd year of rule, though others provide that it was during his 7th. Still other references indicate that he made both of these campaigns. Regardless, he fought his was across the Orontes river and claims to have subdued all before him. One city, Niy, apparently had learnt their lesson under his father, and welcomed Amenhotep II. But at Tikhsi (Takhsy, as mentioned in the Theban tomb of Amenemheb – TT85), he captured seven prices, returning with them in the autumn. They were hung face down on the prow of his ship on the return journey, and six of them were subsequently hung on the enclosure wall of the Theban temple. The other was taken south into Nubia where his was likewise hung on the walls of Napata, “in order to cause to be seen the victorious might of His Majesty for ever and ever”.

According to the Stele recording these events, this first campaign netted booty consisting of 6,800 deben of gold and 500,000 deben of copper (about 1,643 and 120,833 pounds respectively), as well as 550 mariannu captives, 210 horses and 300 chariots.


All sources agree that he once again campaigned in Syria during his ninth year of rule, but only in Palestine as for as the Sea of Galilee.

Yet these stele, erected after year nine of Amenhotep II’s rule, that provide us with this information do not bear hostile references to either Mitanni or Nahrin, the general regions of the campaigns. This is probably intentional, because apparently the king had finally made peace with these former foes. In fact, an addition at the end of the Memphis stele records that the chiefs of Nahrin, Hatti and Sangar (Babylon) arrived before the king bearing gifts and requesting offering gifts (hetepu) in exchange, as well as asking for the breath of life. Though good relations with Babylon existed during the reign of Tuthmosis III, this was the first mention of a Mitanni peace, and it is very possible that a treaty existed allowing Egypt to keep Palestine and part of the Mediterranean coast in exchange for Mitannian control of northern Syria. Underscoring this new alliance, with Nahrin, Amenhotep II had inscribed on a column between the fourth and fifth pylons at Karnak, “The chiefs (weru) of Mitanni (My-tn) come to him, their deliveries upon their backs, to request offering gifts from his majesty in quest of the breath of life”.

The location for this column in the Tuthmosid wadjyt, or columned hall, was significant, because the hall was venerated as the place where his father received a divine oracle proclaiming his future kingship. It is also associated with the Tuthmosid line going back to Tuthmosis I, who was the first king to campaign in Syria. Furthermore, we also learn that Amenhotep II at least asked for the hand of the Mitannian king, Artatama I, in marriage. By the end of Amenhotep II’s reign, the Mitanni who had been so recently a vile enemy of Egypt, were being portrayed as a close friend.


After these initial campaigns, the remainder of Amenhotep II’s long reign was characterized by peace in the Two Lands, including Nubia where his father settled matters during his reign. This allowed him to somewhat aggressively pursue a building program that left his mark at nearly all the major sites where his father had worked. Some of these projects may have even been initiated during his co-regency with his father, for at Amada in Lower Nubia dedicated to Amun and Ra-Horakhty celebrated both equally, and at Karnak, he participated in his father’s elimination of any vestiges of his hated stepmother, Hatshepsut. There was also a bark chapel built celebrating his co-regency at Tod. ….


Amenhotep III:

While as usual, an expedition into Nubia in year five of his reign was given grandiose attention on some reliefs, it probably amounted to nothing more than a low key police action. However, it may have pushed as for as south of the fifth cataract. It was recorded on inscriptions near Aswan and at Konosso in Nubia. There is also a stele in the British Museum recording a Nubian campaign, but it is unclear whether it references this first action, or one later in his reign.

There was also a Nubian rebellion reported at Ibhet, crushed by his son. While Amenhotep III was almost certainly not directly involved in this conflict, he records having slaughtered many within the space of a single hour. We learn from inscriptions that this campaign resulted in the capture of 150 Nubian men, 250 women, 175 children, 110 archers and 55 servants, added to the 312 right hands of the slain. Perhaps to underscore the Kushite subjection to Egypt, he had built at Soleb, almost directly across the Nile from the Nubian capital at Kerma, a fortress known as Khaemmaat, along with a temple.


The Prosperity and International Relationships


However, by year 25 of Amenhotep III’s reign, military problems seem to have been settled, and 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.


Amenhotep III was unquestionably involved with international diplomatic efforts, which led to increased foreign trade. 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.From a stele in his mortuary temple, we further learn that he sent at least one expedition to punt.


It is rather clear that the nobility prospered during the reign of Amenhotep III. However, the plight of common Egyptians is less sure, and we have little evidence to suggest that they shared in Egypt’s prosperity. Yet, Amenhotep III and his granary official Khaemhet boasted of the great crops of grain harvested in the kings 30th (jubilee) year. And while such evidence is hardly unbiased, the king was remembered even 1,000 years later as a fertility god, associated with agricultural success. ….


Estimated reign lengths vary somewhat, with 38 years commonly attributed to Amenhotep III, whilst figures for Amenhotep II can vary from, say, 26-35 years:

“The length of [Amenhotep II’s] reign is indicated by a wine jar inscribed with the king’s prenomen found in Amenhotep II’s funerary temple at Thebes; it is dated to this king’s highest known date – his Year 26 – and lists the name of the pharaoh’s vintner, Panehsy. Mortuary temples were generally not stocked until the king died or was near death; therefore, Amenhotep could not have lived much later beyond his 26th year.

There are alternate theories which attempt to assign him a reign of up to 35 years, which is the absolute maximum length he could have reigned. …”.


Complicating the matter of reign length somewhat is the possibility of co-regencies – even perhaps quite lengthy ones: (a) between Amenhotep II and his father, Thutmose III, and (b) between Amenhotep III and his son, Akhnaton.

The most extreme estimate for (a) is “twenty-five years or more” (Donald B. Redford): Whilst for (b):

“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 …”.