Unit 1: Ancient Africa - The Cradle of Civilization
(200,000 B.C. - 476 B.C.)

Unit 1: Class 11: Ancient Kemet (Egypt): The New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period (1550 B.C. – 712 B.C.) Part 2

Pharaoh Amenhotep III & Queen Tiye cont. 

People To Know
Bust of Queen Nefertiti
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, ca. 1340 BC
Limestone, gypsum, crystal and wax

She was found in 1912 during the excavations of the German-Orient-Association in city of Achet-Aton, today known as Amarna. The bust served, as did many other masks found in the workshop of the Tuthmosis, as a model for artists producing portraits of the queen. 

Akhenaten’s wife, Queen Nefertiti, assumed the responsibilities of her husband and, though she was adept at this, his neglect of his duties had already resulted in enormous loss of Egypt’s wealth and prestige. During Akhenaten’s reign, the treasury was slowly depleted, military discipline and efficacy was lax, and the people of Egypt, deprived of their traditional religious beliefs and the financial benefits associated with religious practices, suffered. Those who had once sold statuary or amulets or charms outside of temples no longer had a job, as the selling of such objects was illegal and those who worked in, or for, those temples were also unemployed. Foreign affairs were neglected as completely as the domestic and, by the time of Akhenaten’s death in 1336 BCE, Egypt had fallen far from its height under the reign of Amenhotep III.

Akhenaten’s son and successor, Tutankhamun, tried to reverse the fortunes of his country in the brief ten years of his reign but died at the age of 18 before he could accomplish his goals. He did, however, overturn his father’s religious reforms, open the temples, and re-establish the old religion. His successor, Ay, continued these policies, but it would be Ay’s successor, Horemheb, who would completely erase, or try to, the damage done to the country by Akhenaten’s policies. Horemheb destroyed the city of Akhetaten, tore down the temples and monuments to Aten, and did this so thoroughly that later generations of Egyptians believed that he was the successor to Amenhotep III. Horemheb restored Egypt to the prosperity it had enjoyed before Akhenaten’s reign, but Egypt never was able to manage the heights it had enjoyed under Amenhotep III, the luxurious pharaoh, diplomat, hunter, warrior, and great architect of Egyptian monuments.

Sed Festivals

Amenhotep III celebrated three Sed-festivals : in years 30, 34 and 37.

"The more solemn rituals of the heb-sed included a reenactment of the dual coronation, where the monarch was reanointed first with the white crown of the King of the South and then with the red crown of the King of the North, and a ceremonial run where the king, carrying traditional emblems, was required to race four times around a specially prepared arena or pavilion in order to prove his (or in Hatshepsut's case her) physical fitness to rule." [Tyldesley]

Some of the celebrations took place at the royal palace at Malkata. During the festival in year 30 Amenhotep makes his daughter Sitamen a great royal wife in year 30, and he makes Iset great royal wife in year 34.

Amenhotep III likely died after 40 years of rule. His wife Tiye survived him and lived for some years after that.


Amenhotep III had scarabs made to commemorate events during his reign such as his marriage to Queen Tiye and his lion hunts. Below is an example of a lion hunt scarab text (Museo Archeologico Nazionale/Museo Egizio)





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