Amenhotep III (sometimes read as Amenophis III and meaning Amun is Satisfied) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty. According to different authors, he ruled Egypt from June 1391 BCE-December 1353 BCE or June 1388 BCE to December 1351 BCE/1350 BCE after his father Thutmose IV died.
Amenhotep III is known to have fathered two sons with his Chief Queen Tiye: the Crown Prince Tuthmose who predeceased his father, his second son Akhenaten who ultimately succeeded him to the throne. He may have possibly fathered a third son—the mysterious king Smenkhkare who later succeeded Akhenaten. Amenhotep III is known to have married Gilukhepa (a diplomatic bride) who was the daughter of Shuttarna II of the Mitanni in Year 10 of his reign.
Amenhotep III has the distinction of having the most surviving statues of any Egyptian Pharaoh. Over 250 statues of Amenhotep III have been discovered. Since these statues cover his entire life, they provide the most complete portraiture over time of any ancient Egyptian ruler.
Amenhotep appears to have been crowned while still a child, perhaps between the ages of 6 and 12. His lengthy reign was a period of great peace, prosperity, and artistic splendour. He celebrated three Jubilee Festivals in his Year 30, Year 34 and Year 37 respectively. His Highest attested Year dates are a pair of Year 38 Wine dockets from his summer palace at Malkata.
His reign was remembered in later eras as a time of unprecedented prosperity and splendour when Egypt reached the very heights of her artistic and international power. Proof of this is shown by the diplomatic correspondence from the rulers of Assyria, Mitanni, Babylon and Hatti which is preserved in the archive of Amarna Letters found in 1887. They cover the period from Year 30 of Amenhotep III until the end of Akhenaten's reign. In one well-known letter, king Tushratta of Mitanni famously requests that Amenhotep.
He built extensively at the temple of Karnak, including at least two pylons, a colonnade behind the new entrance, and a new temple to the goddess Ma'at. He oversaw construction of another temple to her at Luxor and virtually covered Nubia with numerous monuments "including a small temple with a colonnade (dedicated to Thutmose III) at Elephantine, a rock temple dedicated to Amun 'Lord of the Ways' at Wadi es-Sebuam, and the temple of Horus of Miam at Aniba...[as well as founding] additional temples at Kawa and Sesebi."
In Year 11 of this reign, he seems to have started a move to Luxor, and began construction of a huge palace there, now called Malkata on the west bank.
His mortuary temple on the west bank of the Nile was, in its day, the largest religious complex in Thebes but, unfortunately, he chose to build too close to the floodplain and less than 200 years later, it stood in ruins. Much of the masonry was purloined by later pharaohs for their own construction projects. The Colossi of Memnon — two massive 18-metre stone statues of Amenhotep that stood at the gateway of his mortuary temple — are the only elements of the complex that remained standing.
Amenhotep III was buried in the Western Valley of the Valley of the Kings, in Tomb WV22. A forensic examination of his mummy reveals that he suffered from horribly worn and cavity pitted teeth and was probably in constant pain during his final years.
According to Nicolas Grimal, reliefs from the wall of the temple of Soleb in Nubia and scenes from the Theban tomb of Kheruef, Steward of the King's Great Wife (TT192) depict Amenhotep as a visibly weak and sick figure. Amenhotep once requested and received from Tushratta of Mitanni a statue of Ishtar of Nineveh, a healing goddess, to cure him of his ailments, but this predictably didn't work.
There is no conclusive evidence of a coregency between Amenhotep III and his son, Akhenaten. A letter dated to Year 2 of Akhenaten's reign from the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I, congratulates Akhenaten on his accession to power and wishes that the peaceful relations which existed between Egypt and Hatti during Amenhotep III's reign would continue into his son's rule. This correspondence implies that if any coregency occurred between Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, it lasted for no more than a year at the most.