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Amenhotep III: Facts, Leadership Style & Accomplishments

Instructor: Tommi Waters

TK Waters has a bachelor's degree in literature and religious studies and a master's degree in religious studies and teaches Hebrew Bible at Western Kentucky University.

Amenhotep III was one of the most prosperous rulers of ancient Egypt, keeping peace with other nations, building up the wealth of the empire, and commissioning many buildings and statues. Learn more about Amenhotep III's rule and his accomplishments during in this lesson.

Amenhotep III's Beginnings

When you think of Egyptian pharaohs, you probably imagine ruthless men of war who continuously fight and conquer every nation they can. Though he was a skilled fighter, Amenhotep III, the grandfather of the famous King Tutankhamen, was actually nothing like this, and instead created peace and alliances with surrounding nations. Before we turn to his role as pharaoh of Egypt and his various accomplishments, let's get a better idea of who he was.

Towards the beginning of the 14th century BCE, Amenhotep III became pharaoh after his father, Thutmosis IV, died. He was the ninth pharaoh in the 18th dynasty of New Kingdom Egypt. He was only 12 when he took over this role. Amenhotep married Tiye, whom he made his chief queen when he took the throne. She was immensely helpful during his reign and worked alongside him. The two had two male children. One of their sons, Akenhaten, inherited the throne after Amenhotep III died, possibly as the result of an abscessed tooth.

Amenhotep III and his royal family lived in the Palace of Malkata that was later the home of his son Akenhaten and his wife Nefertiti and probably the birthplace of King Tutankhamen. The palace was enormous as Amenhotep III entertained many guests, had banquets, and had many wives and concubines who needed housing, as well as their servants. One of the major features of the palace was the artificial lake Amenhotep III put in that was T-shaped and spanned 900 acres - that's almost one and a half square miles!

Amenhotep III the Ruler

Peace-keeping and Alliances

Amenhotep III's reign was not just prosperous, but also peaceful. Amenhotep kept many of the alliances his father had made, and overall, had peaceful relationships with other nations. He gave many surrounding nations gifts of gold to ensure an alliance, but also to ensure they would be in his debt if there was a conflict. One of the most common ways to create an alliance in the ancient world was through marriage, so Amenhotep III wisely married several women from the powerful kingdom of Mitanni, which was located on the Euphrates River. He also married women from the empire of Babylon, one of the major powers of the ancient Near East.

We know a fair amount about Amenhotep III's relations with other countries through a collection called the Amarna Letters. These include letters dealing with diplomacy that were discovered in Tell el-Amarna, Egypt, hence the name. They detail exchanges between Egypt and other surrounding nations, like Babylon, Assyria, and Mitanni and show that Egypt traded gold for various goods and luxuries.

Clay tablet that is part of the Amarna Letters, written in Akkadian, the language of Assyria
Amarna Letters

War and Conquests

When the Egyptians did go to war, however, Amenhotep was there with them. He was a skilled military fighter and leader and probably led troops into battle and fought in his army, rather than staying safe in his palace. The only major conquest Amenhotep III led during his reign was an area in Nubia, what is now southern Egypt, called Akuyata where he expanded his empire to. When there were other disruptions in the area, particularly in the area of the Nile River delta, Amenhotep III took care of the problem by restricting access to Egypt both by waterways and by land.

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