Amenhotep III: Tomb, Temple & Statue

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 had a prosperous reign, which is reflected in the temple and statues he had built of him for the Egyptians to worship after his death, when he had become a god. Read this lesson to learn more about these, as well as Amenhotep's tomb.

Amenhotep III's Architectural Legacy

When you think of ancient Egypt, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For most people, it's probably the Pyramids of Giza, massive structures built as tombs for dead pharaohs. It's unsurprising, then, that Amenhotep III's greatest architectural works, like his mortuary temple and statues, were primarily focused on his death and legacy. Let's take a look at some of these buildings and structures.

Amenhotep III's Tomb

Amenhotep III was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who ruled during the 14th BCE, over 3,000 years ago. After a long and prosperous reign of over 30 years, Amenhotep III died, possibly as a result of an abscessed tooth and subsequent infection. Upon his death, the pharaoh was buried near the Nile River in the ancient city of Thebes, which is the modern-day city of Luxor. He was buried here in the Theban Necropolis, or ''city of the dead,'' alongside previous pharaohs. His tomb was on the western side of the Valley of the Kings, an area in the Theban Necropolis named for the large amount of rulers buried there. Because of issues with grave robbing, about 300 years after his death, Amenhotep III's mummy was moved to a different tomb where his grandfather Amenhotep II was also buried.

You would expect Amenhotep III's original tomb to be lavish, which it was, though not as much as his grandson King Tutankhamen's tomb. However, the exception to this was the outside of his tomb, which was essentially just a hole dug into a cliff face. The tomb itself, however, probably has more rooms and chambers than your house does - even more than some apartment buildings! In addition to hallways and main chambers, which are decorated with images of the gods, there are also numerous side chambers, two of which were probably intended for the burial of Amenhotep III's royal wives.

Paintings from inside WV22, the original tomb of Amenhotep III, now on display in the Louvre
Paintings from inside the tomb of Amenhotep III

Amenhotep III's Mortuary Temple

The Complex

While Amenhotep III's tomb was created to house his mummy and provide for him in the afterlife, the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III was intended to give the Egyptians a place to worship their pharaoh god after his death. Amenhotep III's mortuary temple was located in Thebes, not far from his tomb, and was the largest mortuary complex in Egypt. The complex had three gates that were made of mud brick, or mud dried into brick. It had a huge, open-roofed courtyard; a long, roofed hall; and a sanctuary and altars for the pharaoh to be worshiped at and sacrificed to.

This may sound like a big complex, but it is probably hard to imagine just how large. The complex was about 100 by 600 meters long. That's longer that five football fields put end to end would be - nearly 2,000 feet long! Inside were hundred of statues sculptures, some of Amenhotep III's chief queen, Tiye, and even more of himself.

Aerial view of the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III
Aerial view of the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III

Statue of Amenhotep III

There are many statues of Amenhotep III, but a few stand out as the most famous, or at least the most recognizable, since so many have decayed over time. One of these, which was actually discovered in the last decade, is a detached head of a statue made of red granite. The statue was found in the remains of the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III and was likely built during Amenhotep III's reign. The giant head was probably originally attached to an enormous statue of the pharaoh holding the royal insignia and crossing his arms.

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