Amenhotep Iii

May 27, 2017 Religion

Did Amenhotep III??™s reign deserve the tittle of The Golden Age

Amenhotep III??™s reign undoubtedly deserved the title ???The Golden Age???. A Golden Age can be defined as the pinnacle point of a society when the people of the nation enjoy a greater standard of living and contentment than any other time in their society??™s history. Under Amenhotep III??™s reign, the people of Egypt witnessed the greatest standard of living, prosperity, and prestige, than under any other reign. During Amenhotep III??™s reign, the Egyptian people had access to greater number of religious facilities; all of which were of greater quality and magnificence than those before and after his reign. Amenhotep III??™s immense building schemes also add to the validity that Amenhotep??™s reign deserved the tittle of The Golden Age. Egyptian people were also far more content after Amenhotep III deified himself, creating a society which was led by a god. Amenhotep III still maintained his military strength, even though it was barely necessary, as the Egypt??™s north and south were both peaceful. Even so, Amenhotep III??™s minions; who are the beneficiaries of this Golden Age, still believed he could easily defeat his enemies. Similarly, the foreign relations that the Egyptian state held with other nations further the greatness of Amenhotep??™s reign. Amenhotep held significant superiority of many of the Egyptian neighbours, this was done with aggression only once; highlighting the fact that Amenhotep III realised that war was not always necessary to maintain complete supremacy. Amenhotep??™s method of administration, which combined of pleasing the commoners, as well as the nobles, was very ingenious and certainly improved life for all Egyptians. Amenhotep??™s treatment of women and his acceptance of them into key positions show historians that he was far more advanced than the Pharaohs before and after him. The women that served under him, in specific, Tiye, served from a greater level of respect and responsibility. All these factors augment to show us that Amenhotep III??™s reign is rightly called The Golden Age.

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Amenhotep III??™s religious methods helped to change Egypt into a prospering land of with an enormous standard of living. Amenhotep was one of the first Pharaohs to bring himself to a status of a true god, thus ensuring that his people were happy, as they were being led by a true god. He did this in a number of ways, he firstly deified himself. In the temple in Memphis, both the god Ptah and Amenhotep are being worshipped. This is shown again in the Temple of Soleb, where Amenhotep is shown being worshipped with Amen:
???I made another monument for him [Amen] who begat me, Amen-Re Lord of Thebes, who established me upon his throne??? ??“ Temple of Soleb, Breasted, p 358
Here, it should be noted that Amenhotep claims that he is, in fact, a true son of the god Amen, hence a god in his own right. However, he boosted his godlike status in a subtle way, thus keeping the Egyptian people on his side. He did this by still claiming Amen was the chief god:
???The son of Re, Amenhotep, ruler of Thebes, made it [the temple] for the chosen of Re, because he loved his father Amen, Lord of Thebes, so much more than all the gods??? ??“ Temple of Soleb, Breasted, p 355.

In the Nubian Temple, Tiye is represented as a goddess; she is holding the ankh, the symbol of a deity. If Tiye was presented as a goddess, surely her wife and ruler is a god. Thus, the deification of Amenhotep III makes Egyptians think they are being ruled and cared for by a god, thus feeling safe and content; which is necessary for an age to be Golden. Furthermore, the people of Egypt are entertained by Amenhotep. If an age is to be Golden, the people must be fairly happy. Amenhotep kept the Egyptians happy in a number of ways. Firstly, he built copious amounts of temples for the people to enjoy. Examples of the temples he built are the Temple of Sedeinga, where Tiye is represented as the goddess Hathor, the huge complex at Karnak, the Temple of Mut at Karnak, the Temple of Ptah at Memphis, the Temple of Soleb, and the numerous shrines which existed. All these religious buildings add to the lavishness of the lives of Egyptians, hence increasing their standards of living and overall contentment. Secondly, Amenhotep III holds the Heb-sed festival. This festival celebrated the Pharaoh??™s role and allowed ordinary Egyptians to feel as if they could take part in their government. The people were obviously excited about the festival, as it is mentioned in many tombs. After Amenhotep??™s first Heb-sed festival, he is clearly portrayed as a god. Amenhotep III??™s religious practices show us that the Egyptians would have experienced the greatest standard of living, and would be more content than any other age, thus, being a Golden Age.


Amenhotep III??™s immense building is undoubtedly unparalleled by any other Pharaoh:
???Amenhotep III??™s building program surpassed that of any of his predecessors in both quantity and quality??? ??“ J Lawless[1] Amenhotep Added to The Great Temple of Karnak, as many Pharaohs did. However, he added significantly more than any other Pharaoh[2]. He added a large pylon on the north-east end; this pylon has been a great source to historians, telling of the myriad of temples that Amenhotep created. On the western end, he created two huge statues of himself, which can only be described as gigantic, that is when compared to his other statues. Of cause, the monuments of Amenhotep can not be compared to the works of previous Pharaohs, as the distinction would be too great. A great example of these kinds of works would be Amenhotep??™s mortuary temple. This was the biggest of its kind ever built:
???Behold, the heart of his majesty was satisfied with making a very great monument, never has happened the like since the beginning. He made [it] as his monument for his father, Amen, Lord of Thebes, making for him an august temple on the west of Thebes, an eternal, everlasting fortress of fine white sandstone, wrought with gold throughout, its floor is adorned with silver, all its portals with electrum; it is made very wide and large, and established forever; and adorned with this very great monument. It is numerous in royal statues, of Elephantine granite, of costly grinstone, of every splendid costly stone, established as everlasting works. Their stature shines more than the heavens, their rays are in the faces [of men] like the sun, when he shines early in the morning.??? ??“ Breasted, pp 355-7
This elaborate description tells of enormous courts, filled with silver and elaborate designs. Surely any age which has buildings as described above is a Golden Age. The only remnants of this mortuary temple are the statues that would have been in front of the building, they stand 16 metres tall. Buildings such as the Malkata Palace, which would have been over 32 hectares of self-supporting buildings, and The Temple of Amen at Luxor, which is an open court to closed hall building, all show the magnificence of this Golden Age.


Amenhotep??™s military role was to maintain order and defend Egyptian land. He had come onto the throne at a time when all the wars had been fought, thus Amenhotep III had more resources to spend on building. However, Amenhotep still maintained all the forts and garrisons that existed. When needed, the Egyptian army was very capable, as shown by the punishment of the Nubian revolters, the suppression of the Sherden pirates, and the defeat of Abdi Asurta.?????¦the army was effective when deployed.??? ??“ J Lawless3

Furthermore, Amenhotep III??™s military prowess is shown in the way he understands that sometimes pacifism is the answer. This is shown by the numerous diplomatic marriages he has. He even refuses to send an Egyptian woman to non-Egyptian land, when he could easily conquer the enemies. Great military leaders are, in fact, leaders who understand when it is time to fight, and when it is time not to fight. However, this fact does not stop Amenhotep III from creating propaganda which claims he is the ???Smiter of the Asiatics??? (his Golden Horus Name). Thus, the lack of military action allows Amenhotep to further Egypt??™s prosperity, yet he creates the myth that he is militarily active; thus creating a peaceful, prosperous land.

Amenhotep III created such a prosperous Egypt because of his use of foreign lands. Only because of his use of foreign powers is Amenhotep able to create such a Golden Age, through the use of diplomatic marriages, tribute, taxes, and foreign communication. ???Correspondence between rulers was a well-established practice and Amenhotep III was directly incolced in writing to the greater and lesser kings.??? ??“ J Lawless [3]. This shows that Amenhotep III respected that he must keep the foreign lands passive, otherwise he would have to take military action. Amenhotep??™s letters even contained flattery in them; this helped to persuade the foreign nations to be peaceful. These foreign bonds were further increased by diplomatic marriages, which Amenhotep relied on a lot, as shown by the following correspondence between the King of the Mitanni, Tusratta:?????¦my brother [Amenhotep III], indeed, said: ???Bring me thy daughter for my wife, to be mistress of Egypt??™. I did not grieve the heart of my brother, but spoke in a friendly manner: ???I will indeed comply.??™???- J Lawless [4] It is evident that Amenhotep had excellent foreign relations, as Tusrutta refers to Amenhotep as ???brother???, and obeys his command for a daughter. Furthermore, Amenhotep received tribute from many foreign countries; this helped Amenhotep to build a great economy. Thus, Amenhotep??™s foreign relations allowed his reign to be justifiably called The Golden Age.

Amenhotep??™s reign was so successful due to his use of good administration. One of the major factors of this statement is the fact that Amenhotep was supported by a large bureaucracy and many officials. This allowed Amenhotep to assume full control, yet allow officials control fields they were specialised in. An example of this bureaucracy is Amenhotep, son of Hapu. Amenhotep, son of Hapu was a key figure in Amenhotep??™s successful reign. Amenhotep, son of Hapu was the Overseer of all King??™s works, and the Scribe of Recruits. He was the secretary of all labour; he would control where people would go, and what they would do. He also supervised the construction of all monuments, and the materials of which. This is just one example of a worker, but Amenhotep had many people like Amenhotep, son of Hapu working for him. Furthermore, Amenhotep III kept many occupations within one family; this ensured complete loyalty, as well as consistency and quality. This was essential to Amenhotep??™s success, and the product of this well-run administration was a country which flourished in a Golden Age.

Both Amenhotep??™s use and treatment of women surely show historians that his reign was a Golden Age. As stated above, Amenhotep III used diplomatic marriages to further Egypt??™s prosperity, but he also used women inside Egypt to further his success. As said above, Tiye was portrayed as a goddess; however, she was also portrayed a military figure. This can be seen in The Temple of Sedeinga, in Nubia. Here, Tiye is presented as a Sphinx, crushing Egypt??™s enemies. In Egyptian times, a woman would never have been considered such a figure. Not only does Amenhotep take the liberty of presenting Tiye as a Sphinx and a Goddess, but he also uses her to communicate with foreign countries. ???And all the words, which I have spoken with thy father, they mother, Tiye, knows them. No one else knows them. But thou mayest ask they mother, Tuy, about them.??? ??“ Mercer, p156 In this letter from King Tushratta to Akhenaten, Tushratta claims that Akhenaten should consult his mother (Tiye) about the Mitanni. This shows that Tiye was aware of the matters concerning the Mitanni. Amenhotep used Tiye to communicate to various other lands. Because of Tiye communicating to the Mitanni, Amenhotep was assured of them as an ally. Thus, because of this assured peace, aided by Tiye, Egypt prosperity was at an all time high, thus being a Golden Age.

Because of the Religious factors Amenhotep used, such as self-deification, the Egyptians enjoyed a greater standard of living. This was furthered by the fact that the Egyptians were witnessing utmost peace, due to Amenhotep??™s military wisdom, and foreign relations, which were aided by Tiye. The foreign relations were also ensuring continued tribute, which aided in the building of grand monuments and temples, all of which added to the Egyptian??™s standard of living. All these factors augment to produce an age which was at the zenith of prosperity and contentment, a Golden Age.
[1] J Lawless et al, Studies in Ancient Egypt: Periods and Personalities, p 176
[2] Sir A Gardiner The Egyptians, p 211
3 J Lawless et al, Studies in Ancient Egypt: Periods and Personalities, p 183
[3] J Lawless et al, Studies in Ancient Egypt: Periods and Personalities, p 183
[4] J Lawless et al, Studies in Ancient Egypt: Periods and Personalities, p 183


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