(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
located between the paws of the Sphinx,
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 Nubia
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
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.
(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
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
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
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
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.
Amenhotep IV Akhenaten
the first monotheist
of ancient Egypt
Photo by Raymon
(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 "Aten"-
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
Priests of God Amun
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
On the Asian scene, the Egyptian Empire was falling gradually, thanks
to the kingdom of Khatti (i.e. the Hittites)
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.
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.
The famous head
of Queen Nefertiti
image 2004 ©
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 (r. 1335 - 1333) might be the younger brother of the
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 (r. 1333 - 1323) then inherited the throne. The kinship
between him and Akhenaten is an issue of conjecture.
The golden mask of
Some scientists were trying to make some DNA tests in order to determine
Tutankhamun was indeed an unknown Pharaoh for long times. He became
in the spotlight suddenly when Howard Carter discovered his almost
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 (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.
(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.