Amenhotep III (reigned in 1417-1379 BC) was the ninth sovereign of the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. Pharaoh was a patron of the arts and during his reign magnificent buildings and sculptures were created.
The kingdom of Menhotep can be divided into two phases. During the first 10 years of his life, he showed his ability and skill as a sportsman in a series of great hunts, which was given wide publicity. His military career seems to have consisted of a single, relatively unimportant expedition to Upper Nubia in the fifth year of his reign. There is no mention of hunting expeditions after the tenth year, nor of any activity involving the Pharaoh in physical exertion. In the tenth year Amenhotep organized a wedding between him and Gilukhipa, daughter of Shuttarna, king of Mitanni.
The second phase of the reign of Amenhotep consisted of almost three decades of luxurious ease, which saw an unparalleled production of beautiful architectural works, sculptures and craftsmanship. From the middle of his reign onwards, Amenhotep probably spent much time in the luxury of his great palace in Western Thebes. Throughout this period the dominant influence in his life was his queen, Tiy, the daughter of a commoner. She occupied this unprecedented position not only in Amenhotep’s kingdom, but also in that of their son Ikhnaton.
The Menhotep mortuary temple in the western plain of Thebes, which was demolished during the 19th dynasty, was apparently the largest of its class ever built. The two gigantic statues of Pharaoh, the so-called Colossi of Memnon, which stood in front of the temple, still dominate the plain. Although the Aten (solar disk) has probably emerged as
recognized member of the Egyptian pantheon during the reign of Thutmose III and Amenhotep II, the new god was officially honored only during the reign of Amenhotep III, when the pharaoh called his flagship and the royal palace with the name of the deity.
In the last decade of his reign Amenhotep was sick and prematurely senile. He died at the age of about 55 and was buried in a huge tomb dug into the rock prepared for him in the western branch of the Valley of the Kings.
More readings on Amenhotep III
A well illustrated account of the reign of Amenhotep III is given in Cyril Aldred, Akhenaten, Pharaoh of Egypt: A New Study (1968). This should be read in conjunction with William C. Hayes’ chapter “Egypt: Internal Affairs from Tuthmosis I to the Death of Amenophis III” in I.E.S. Edwards, C.J. Gadd, and N.G.L. Hammond, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 2 (2d ed. 1962).
Other biographical sources
Goedicke, Hans., Problems concerning Amenophis III., Baltimore, MD: Halgo, 1992.