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New Kingdom
(1550 - 1070 BC)
18th Dynasty 19th Dynasty 20th Dynasty
18th Dynasty
(1550 - 1307 BC)
Pages: ( 1 - 2 )

Thutmose IV
(r. 1401 - 1391) When Amenhotep II died, he had 5 sons. They all contended to succeed their father.
In order to win the contest, Thutmose IV claimed that he saw a vision in which he saw God Re. The details of his dream are recorded on a stelaWhat does it mean?, located between the paws of the SphinxWhat does it mean?, better known as "the dream stela." This that suggested he was not a natural heir and that he had to make something up in order to claim the throne. Thutmose first led a military campaign to NubiaWhat does it mean? and as usual it was successful. He also headed campaigns to the Syrian territories, and he was called "the conqueror of Syria".

Thutmose made additions to earlier construction of temples. He erected an obeliskWhat does it mean? previously cut by Thutmose III at Karnak temple. The obelisk was later taken to Italy and it now dominates the Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano in Rome. The red granite obelisk is 32 meters height and is reported to be the highest one in the world.

Thutmose ruled for about 10 years and died young, probably in his 30s. He cut a tomb at the Valley of the Kings but his mummy was found in the royal cache of Amenhotep II.

By the end of his reign, an era of military violence had ended and kings who succeeded were unwilling to fight other nations as furiously as their predecessors did.

Amenhotep III
Amenhotep III
Amenhotep III
image 2004 ©
www.clipart.com
(r. 1391 - 1353) Amenhotep III's reign was a peaceful period. He ruled for 38 prosperous years. He was avoiding wars and so he directed his efforts to the inside of Egypt. Thebes now became so important than ever. It was indeed, in his reign, the capital of the civilized world.
Amenhotep married a woman called Tiye. She was belonging to non-royal ranks. Amenhotep faced some skirmishes in Nubia but generally the rest of his reign was stable. The stability resulted in a boom in Art and architecture.

On the west bank of Thebes (Luxor), Amenhotep built a mortuary temple. It was completely destroyed later but for the famous two statues of Memnon, also known as "Colossi of Memnon," named by ancient Greek travelers after the son of Eos (Aurora), Greek goddess of dawn.
We also know that he built a magnificent palace at the west bank and several temples in Nubia. He is responsible for building most of Luxor's temple and at Karnak He built the temples of MutWho is this deity? and MontuWho is this deity? and contributed to the Amun temple, the chief temple of Karnak, by building the third pylon.

The social life now has distinguished features. The entertaining business came to light. People were seen drinking beer. Singers and dancers increased.
A story was found from this period in which a teacher advises his student against frequenting amusement places. Amenhotep showed more loyalty for God Re, the sun-god.

He finally died in his mid 40s after spending an opulent life, as he was really a life-lover and a polygamous king. His mummy couldn't be identified.
Amenhotep had a son called Thutmose who died during his life.

Amenhotep IV, the other son, was then set to succeed his father. He was his son by chief mother Tiye and probably acted as a co-regent during his father's lifetime.

Akhenaten
Akhenaten,
the first monotheist
of ancient Egypt

Photo by Raymon Kondos ©
youregypt.com
Amenhotep IV Akhenaten
(r. 1353 - 1335) At this point the rival kingdoms grew stronger. Egypt was in need of a great man just like Thutmose III. Amenhotep IV ascended the throne but he was great in other means than the military aspect; Amenhotep was a great thinker and philosopher.

Amenhotep believed in the son-god, and so he chose one of its incarnations -which is the solar disc or "AtenWho is this deity?"- as his worshiped god.
He introduced his new religion to the Egyptian people. He didn't worship other gods, so his cult is the first monotheistic thinking in Egypt.
Priests of God AmunWho is this deity? strongly opposed the new cult as they felt they could loose their power, and for that reason Amenhotep started to curb their power.

Amenhotep ordered to alter the Amun temples as places for worshipping Aten, the solar god. Moreover the king changed his name to Akhenaten which means "servant of Aten".
He abandoned Thebes and established a new capital in Menya and called it Akhetaten or "Horizon of Aten" (Modern village of Tell El-Amarna).
On the Asian scene, the Egyptian Empire was falling gradually, thanks to the kingdom of Khatti (i.e. the HittitesWhat does it mean?) which captured most of these Egyptian-ruled territories.
Some Egyptian rulers and pro-Egyptian native rulers sent some letters to Akhenaten, seeking his help and pledged him to defend them but at no avail. The king was deeply immersed in his new religion.

Nefertiti
The famous head
of Queen Nefertiti
image 2004 ©
www.clipart.com
The era of Akhenaten was associated with a new artistic style, often referred to as 'Amarna art style.' It was deeply affected with the new religion which liberated artists from restrictions. Artists start depicting the king in a more naturalistic way, including his physical deformities and normal traits. He was also depicted in very intimate familiar scenes coddling his wife and kissing his children in front of the people. That was something different than the traditional rigid depictions of the Pharaoh which usually ascribed to him an appearance of awe instead of realism.

Nevertheless, the religion and styles of Akhenaten were limited to his reign. On his death, the priests and the people were unwilling to carry on Akhenaten's way in worshipping.

Akhenaten ruled for about 18 years before his death. His mummy was never found which indicate it might be destroyed by his foes. His tomb was built at the Amarna city.

Smenkhkare
Smenkhkare (r. 1335 - 1333) might be the younger brother of the Akhenaten.
He ascended the throne and he returned the capital to Thebes, probably after pressures from the Amun priests. He ruled there for a mere 2 years. He married Meritaten, Akhenaten's daughter and died in mystery when he was about 25.

Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun
The golden mask of
Tutankhamun
image 2004 ©
www.clipart.com
Tutankhamun (r. 1333 - 1323) then inherited the throne. The kinship between him and Akhenaten is an issue of conjecture.
Some scientists were trying to make some DNA tests in order to determine the relationship.

Tutankhamun was indeed an unknown Pharaoh for long times. He became in the spotlight suddenly when Howard Carter discovered his almost intact tomb in 1922. His tomb was completely loaded with treasures.
The discovery could be the greatest of the human history.

Tutankhamun ascended the throne when he was 11 years old and he died at 20. Soon after taking power, he changed his name from Tutankhaten (which was his original name) to Tutankhamun.
In his reign Amun priests recovered their powers.
He married Queen Ankhesenpaaten (Ankhesenamun). His final resting-place was in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Ankhesenpaaten was a young widow when her husband, Tutankhamun, died. She took the initiative of writing to the Hittite king asking him to send one of his sons for her to marry, and so as to continue the royal line. That move failed as the prince died on his way to Egypt.

Ay
Ay (r. 1323 - 1319) was a senior statesman from the reign of Akhenaten. Now an old man, he probably married Ankhesenamun, the widow of Tutankhamun.
Being an old man when he ascended the throne. Ay ruled for only 4 years and then another statesman came to power called Horemheb.

Horemheb
(r. 1319 - 1307) General Horemheb was the great commander of the army under Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. Horemheb showed his respect to God Amun and was close enough to its priests.

He carried out reforms that were required especially after the chaos followed the rise of Aten cult. The chaos ensued Akhenaten keenness to spread his new religion and his negligence for the deteriorating security situation of Egypt. He tilted to the army where he belongs to appoint priests. Horemheb built two tombs; one in Saqqara when he was a statesman and another one in the Valley of the Kings when he later became a Pharaoh.
Horemheb put strict laws against the crooked in an attempt to curb the already spread corruption.

He made a great effort to secure peace and stability in the country. After meeting his goals inside the state, he turned to defend the borders but he died before fulfilling all of his reformative dreams.
As he was a great militant, he was also a great usurper as he appropriated monuments of predecessors, including statues and wrote his name over them. He also added to the Karnak temple, building pylons and decorating walls. He also dismantled temples of Akhenaten using its blocks in his buildings.

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