People - Ancient Egypt: Amenhotep II (Akheperure)
NEW KINGDOM 18th Dynasty (1427-1392) Extreme prosperity and renaissance in art and building projects mark the beginning of this period. Towards the end
of the 19th Dynasty the increasing power of the priesthood corrupts the central government. During the 20th Dynasty tomb robbing is done by officials.
The priesthood becomes hereditary and begins to assume secular power. The government breaks down.
Amenhotep II (Akheperure) in Tour Egypt
AMENHOTEP II, 7TH PHARAOH OF EGYPT'S 18TH DYNASTY
BY JIMMY DUNN.
We believe Amenhotep II was the 7th Pharaoh of Egypt's 18th Dynasty. Amenhotep (heqaiunuwas) his birth name, meaning "Amun is Pleased, Ruler
of Heliopolis". He is sometimes referred to by Amenhotpe II, or the Greek version of his name, Amenophis II. His throne name was A-kheperu-re,
meaning "Great are the Manifestations of Re". He was the son of Tuthmosis III, with whom he may have served a short co-regency of about two
years. His mother was probably Merytra, a daughter of Huy, who was a divine adoratrice of Amun and Atum and chief of choristers for Ra.
Apparently, she also served as, at least his publicly acknowledge, wife.
Amenhotep II's reign is considered pivotal by many Egyptologists, though it is certainly popularly overshadowed by that of his two
predecessors and some of his successors of the 18th Dynasty. He is generally acknowledged to have taken care of his military duties early on,
thereafter establishing a peaceful and prosperous reign suitable to fairly extensive expansion of temple monuments.
Notably, Amenhotep II was well known for his athletic abilities as a young man. A number of representations of him depict his participation in
successful sporting pursuits. He lived in the Memphite region where he trained horses in his father's stables, and one of his greatest
athletic achievements was accomplished when he shot arrows through a copper plate while driving a chariot with the reins tied about his waist.
This deed was recorded in numerous inscriptions, including a stele at Giza and depictions at Thebes. So famous was the act that it was also
miniaturized on scarabs that have been found in the Levant. Sara Morris, a classical art historian, has even suggested that his target
shooting success formed the basis hundreds of years later for the episode in the Iliad when Archilles is said to have shot arrows through a
series of targets set up in a trench. He was also recorded as having wielded an oar of some 30 ft in length, rowing six times as fast as other
crew members, though this may certainly be an exaggeration.
As a king, Amenhotep II's athletic abilities may have served him very well, for within a short period after gaining the throne, his metal
would be tested. Various sources disagree on how many military expeditions he made into Syria, and in what year of his reign these occurred.
These military actions are recorded on stele erected at Amada, Memphis and Karnak. Yet it is clear that there had been a revolt in the Syrian
region, and possibly even in the ports on the Mediterranean sea. His father was well recognized as a military leader, sometimes referred to as
the "Napoleon of ancient Egypt". Therefore it is perhaps not surprising that when a region in Syria known as Tikhsi heard of his father's
death, they decided to test the new pharaoh (apparently not an uncommon practice).
Some references refer to his first expedition taking place as early as his 2nd year of rule, though others provide that it was during his 7th.
Still other references indicate that he made both of these campaigns. Regardless, he fought his was across the Orontes river and claims to
have subdued all before him. One city, Niy, apparently had learnt their lesson under his father, and welcomed Amenhotep II. But at Tikhsi
(Takhsy, as mentioned in the Theban tomb of Amenemheb - TT85), he captured seven prices, returning with them in the autumn. They were hung
face down on the prow of his ship on the return journey, and six of them were subsequently hung on the enclosure wall of the Theban temple.
The other was taken south into Nubia where his was likewise hung on the walls of Napata, "in order to cause to be seen the victorious might of
His Majesty for ever and ever".
According to the Stele recording these events, this first campaign netted booty consisting of 6,800 deben of gold and 500,000 deben of copper
(about 1,643 and 120,833 pounds respectively), as well as 550 mariannu captives, 210 horses and 300 chariots.
All sources agree that he once again campaigned in Syria during his ninth year of rule, but only in Palestine as for as the Sea of Galilee.
Yet these stele, erected after year nine of Amenhotep II's rule, that provide us with this information do not bear hostile references to
either Mitanni or Nahrin, the general regions of the campaigns. This is probably intentional, because apparently the king had finally made
peace with these former foes. In fact, an addition at the end of the Memphis stele records that the chiefs of Nahrin, Hatti and Sangar
(Babylon) arrived before the king bearing gifts and requesting offering gifts (hetepu) in exchange, as well as asking for the breath of life.
Though good relations with Babylon existed during the reign of Tuthmosis III, this was the first mention of a Mitanni peace, and it is very
possible that a treaty existed allowing Egypt to keep Palestine and part of the Mediterranean coast in exchange for Mitannian control of
northern Syria. Underscoring this new alliance, with Nahrin, Amenhotep II had inscribed on a column between the fourth and fifth pylons at
Karnak, "The chiefs (weru) of Mitanni (My-tn) come to him, their deliveries upon their backs, to request offering gifts from his majesty in
quest of the breath of life". The location for this column in the Tuthmosid wadjyt, or columned hall, was significant, because the hall was
venerated as the place where his father received a divine oracle proclaiming his future kingship. It is also associated with the Tuthmosid
line going back to Tuthmosis I, who was the first king to campaign in Syria. Furthermore, we also learn that Amenhotep II at least asked for
the hand of the Mitannian king, Artatama I, in marriage. By the end of Amenhotep II's reign, the Mitanni who had been so recently a vile
enemy of Egypt, were being portrayed as a close friend.
After these initial campaigns, the remainder of Amenhotep II's long reign was characterized by peace in the Two Lands, including Nubia where
his father settled matters during his reign. This allowed him to somewhat aggressively pursue a building program that left his mark at nearly
all the major sites where his father had worked. Some of these projects may have even been initiated during his co-regency with his father,
for at Amada in Lower Nubia dedicated to Amun and Ra-Horakhty celebrated both equally, and at Karnak, he participated in his father's
elimination of any vestiges of his hated stepmother, Hatshepsut. There was also a bark chapel built celebrating his co-regency at Tod.
However, he also left monuments at Pnub on Argo Island, at Sai, Uronarti, Kumma, Buhen, Qasr Ibrim, Sehel, Elephantine, Gebel Tingar, Gebel
el-Silsila, Elkab, Armant, Karnak, Thebes, including his tomb and a funerary temple, Medamud, Dendera, Giza and Heliopolis.
Of these, his building work at Giza and Karnak are particularly notable. At Giza he built a temple dedicated to the god Horemakhet, a sun-god
identified with the Great Sphinx. This Sphinx and its adjoining amphitheater became the site of a cult of royal ancestors, including Amenhotep
II himself and his son, Tuthmosis IV, who set up the great dream stele between its paws. The Sphinx's (Horemakhet) cult lasted well into
Roman times and pilgrims left votive offerings in the enclosure wall of the amphitheater or in the chapels if possible. Hence, Amenhotep II's
addition of a chapel to the cult was significant.
At Karnak, after finishing his father's work of eliminating Hatshepsut's name, he set about creating his sed-festival just as his father had
done before him. This pavilion, reconstructed in modern times by Charles Van Siclen, was a court of relief carved square pillars with
decorated walls on the sides, and has been dated to the late part of his reign. Following an old tradition, the decorations featured elaborate
royal regalia for the king, especially emphasizing solar connections, including multiple sun discs on top of crowns, and tiny falcons set
above the sun discs, creating an association with Ra-Horakhty. It also included scenes of his mother. The building was built in front of
Karnak's south entrance at the eighth pylon, which in effect, created a new main gateway to the complex. An inscription on one of the pillars
implies that this may not have been to celebrate his first sed festival, though such text is difficult to interpret, and is sometimes though
to simply imply wishes expressed for the king's coming jubilees. The gardens of Amun were directly in front of this chapel, but the building
was dismantled at the end of the 18th Dynasty to accommodate alterations made by Horemheb. The material was later reused for a different
building constructed by Seti I at the beginning of the 19th Dynasty.
Amenhotep II also built another temple to Amun in the northern Karnak district, a precinct that was later dedicated to Montu of Thebes.
However, the material from this project was also later used to form part of the foundations of a temple constructed by Amenhotep III, which
was still later adapted to building projects during the Greek Period. However, he apparently participated in several other building projects
in the area of Karnak including probably building a ceremonial residence or palace.
Also notable was his additions to nearby temple of Montu at Medamud about eight kilometers north, particularly since later there was a
processional way between northern Karnak and Medamud.
Other than his mother, Amenhotep II made public none of his wives, though he certainly demonstrated his procreative powers. A number of
princes are attested to, including another Amenhotep, Tuthmosis, Khaemwaset (possibly), Amenemopet, Ahmose, Webensenu and Nedjem, among
others. Yet though he probably also sired a number of princesses, they like his queens, are difficult to document.
The lack of documentary evidence of his queens and princesses was doubtless a conscious rejection of the dynastic role played by woman as
"god's wives of Amun". Perhaps he (as well as his father) realized that queens such as Hatshepsut, who represented the dynastic family, could
be dangerous if they became too powerful.
As usual, different resources provide different time frames for Amenhotep II's reign. While the Chronicle of the Pharaohs by Peter A. Clayton
gives his reign lasting from 1453 until 1419 BC, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt provides a reign between 1427 until 1400 BC. Regardless,
upon his death he was buried in the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes) in tomb KV35. Prior to the discovery of
Tutankhamun's tomb by Howard Carter, KV35 was the only royal burial in Egypt where the pharaoh was discovered in his own sarcophagus.
However, he was not alone in his tomb for the priests in antiquity had used it for a hiding place for other royal mummies.
Amenhotep II in Wikipedia
Amenhotep II (sometimes read as Amenophis II and meaning Amun is Satisfied) was the seventh Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt. Amenhotep
inherited a vast kingdom from his father Thutmose III, and held it by means of a few military campaigns in Syria; however, he fought much less
than his father, and his reign saw the effective cessation of hostilities between Egypt and Mitanni, the major kingdoms vying for power in
Syria. His reign is usually dated from 1427 to 1400 BC.
Family and early life
Amenhotep II was the son of Thutmose III and a minor wife of the king: Merytre-Hatshepsut. He was not, however, the firstborn son of this
pharaoh; his elder brother Amenemhat, the son of the great king's chief wife Satiah, was originally the intended heir to the throne since
Amenemhat was designated the 'king's eldest son" and overseer of the cattle of Amun in Year 24 of Thutmose's reign. However, between
Years 24 and 35 of Thutmose III, both queen Satiah and prince Amenemhat died which prompted the pharaoh to marry the non-royal Merytre-
Hatshepsut. She would bear Thutmose III a number of children including the future Amenhotep II. Amenhotep II was born and raised in Memphis
in the north, instead of in Thebes, the traditional capital. While a prince, he oversaw deliveries of wood sent to the dockyard of Peru-
nūfe in Memphis, and was made the Setem, the high priest over Lower Egypt. Amenhotep has left several inscriptions touting his athletic
skills while he was a leader of the army before his crowning. Amenhotep was no less athletic than his powerful father. He claims to have been
able to shoot an arrow through a copper target one palm thick, and that he was able to row his ship faster and farther than two hundred
members of the navy could row theirs. Accordingly some skepticism concerning the truth of his claims has been expressed among
Amenhotep acceded to the throne on the first day of the fourth month of Akhet, but his father died on the thirtieth day of the third month of
Peret. If an Egyptian crown prince was proclaimed king but did not take the throne on the day after his father's death, it meant that he
served as the junior coregent during his father's reign. A coregency with Thutmose III and Amenhotep II is believed to have lasted for two
years and four months.
When he assumed power, Amenhotep II was 18 years old according to an inscription from his great Sphinx stela:
"Now his Majesty appeared as king as a fine youth after he had become 'well developed', and had completed eighteen years in his strength and
After becoming pharaoh, Amenhotep married a woman of uncertain parentage named Tiaa. As many as ten sons and one daughter have been
attributed to him. Amenhotep's most important son was Thutmose IV, who succeeded him; however, there is significant evidence for him having
many more children. Princes Amenhotep, Webensenu, Amenemopet, and Nedjem are all clearly attested, and Amenemhat, Khaemwaset, and Aakheperure
as well as a daughter, Iaret, are also possible children.
Papyrus B.M. 10056, which dates to sometime after Amenhotep II's tenth year, refers to a king's son and setem-priest Amenhotep. This
Amenhotep might also be attested in a stele from Amenhotep II's temple at Giza, however the stele's name has been defaced so that
positive identification is impossible. Stele B may belong to another son, Webensenu. Webensenu's name is otherwise attested on a
statue of Amenhotep's chief architect, Minmose, and his canopic jars and a funerary statue have been found in Amenhotep II's tomb.
Another Giza stele, stele C, records the name of a Prince Amenemopet, whose name is otherwise unattested. The same statue with the name
Webensenu on it is also inscribed with the name of prince Nedjem, who is otherwise unattested.
There are other references to king's sons from this period who may or may not be sons of Amenhotep II. Two graffiti from Sahel mention a
king's son and stable master named Khaemwaset, but specifically which king is his father is unknown. A figure with the name Amenemhet is
recorded behind a prince Amenhotep in Theban tomb 64, and assuming this Amenhotep is indeed the king's son from B.M. 10056, Amenemhat would
also be Amenhotep II's son. Additionally, a prince Aakheperure is mentioned in a Konosso graffito alongside a prince Amenhotep, and if
one again assumes that this Amenhotep was the same person as the one in B.M. 10056, Aakheperure would also have been Amenhotep II's son.
However, in both these cases the figure identified as Amenhotep has been identified by some as possible references to the later King Amenhotep
III, which would make these two princes sons Thutmose IV. In addition to sons, Amenhotep II may have had a daughter named Iaret, but she
could have also been the daughter of Thutmose IV.
Two more sons had been attributed to Amenhotep II in the past, however, they have since been proven to be of other parentage. Gauthier
catalogued one Usersatet, the "King's son of Kush," (i.e. Viceroy of Nubia) as a son of Amenhotep II, as well as one Re, however, both are
now known to be unrelated to the royal family. Usersatet merely served as Amenhotep's chief official in Nubia and was not a blood
relative of the king.
Dates and length of reign
Amenhotep's coronation can be dated without much difficulty because of a number of lunar dates in the reign of his father, Thutmose III.
These sightings limit the date of Thutmose's accession to either 1504 or 1479 BC. Thutmose died after 54 years of reign, at which
time Amenhotep would have acceded to the throne. Amenhotep's short coregency with his father would then move his accession two years and four
months earlier, dating his accession to either 1427 BC in the low chronology, or in 1454 BC in the high chronology. The length of his
reign is indicated by a wine jar inscribed with the king's prenomen found in Amenhotep II's funerary temple at Thebes; it is dated to this
king's highest known date—his Year 26--and lists the name of the pharaoh's vintner, Panehsy. Mortuary temples were generally not stocked
until the king died or was near death; therefore, Amenhotep could not have lived much later beyond his 26th year. There are alternate
theories which attempt to assign him a reign of up to 35 years, which is the absolute maximum length he could have reigned. In this
chronology, he reigned from 1454 to 1419. However, there are problems facing these theories which cannot be resolved. In particular,
this would mean Amenhotep died when he was 52, but an X-ray analysis of his mummy has shown him to have been about 40 when he died.
Accordingly, Amenhotep II is usually given a reign of 26 years and said to have reigned from 1427 to 1401 BC....
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