Amenhotep II

1453 - 1419 BC


 18th Dynasty

Amenhotep II although having a successful reign both in terms of military campaigns and building projects - he was always been overshadowed by his more famous father, Tuthmosis III (with whom he shared a short co-regency of two years), and his great-grandfather, Tuthmosis I.

Amenhotep II was famed at the time for his sportsmanship - he was very athletic and had a great love of horses (whilst still a child he was given control of all royal stables). His greatest feat of sportsmanship was the shooting of copper targets with arrows, while driving a chariot with the reigns tied round his waist. So impressed were the Egyptian people that this feat was celebrated by scenes found at Giza and Thebes, also miniature scarabs marked this achievement.

One of Amenhotep's first military roles while still a prince, was the commander of the naval base at Peru-nefer, near Memphis. It was an area of Egypt that he was to prefer and maintained estates there throughout his life.

Upon the death of Tuthmosis III, Amenhotep II inherited a vast empire, it was not something that he intended to lose - any rebellions were severely dealt with and a series of campaigns were made into Syria. Inscriptions detail how Amenhotep II sought to fight in hand-to-hand combat and led the Egyptian troops into battle with howls of rage - perhaps unsurprisingly Amenhotep II is regarded as the most bloodthirsty pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty.

Military campaigns of Amenhotep II

Amenhotep II was conduct two campaigns in Syria, the first in Year 7, the second in Year 9 - these were successful (against non-aligned chieftains and various rebellions of previous conquered states) both in terms of victories and in terms of captured plunder - 6,800 deben of gold, 500,000 deben of copper, 550 prisoners, 210 horses, 300 chariots - but it is perhaps the cruelty of Amenhotep II towards the captured chiefs which is remembered more (the bodies of the 7 defeated chiefs were taken back to Thebes hung head down at the front of the royal barge - 6 were then hung on the temple wall, the seventh body was carried down to Napata in Nubia and hung on the temple there, it is also interesting to note that before being hung upon the temple walls the bodies were beheaded in religious ceremonies personally by Amenhotep II himself). A pillar was built at the Euphrates River to commemorate Amenhotep II's military successes, which has the echoes of the victories of Tuthmosis III.

The Building programme of Amenhotep II

It appears that after Year 9 Amenhotep II was fulfilled with his military conquests and so turned to the internal matters of Egypt - in particular an extensive building programme:

 Giza - temple to Horemakhet (god identified with the great Sphinx)

 Festival temple in the temple of Amun at Karnak

 Temple to Amun in northern Karnak

Bubastis - scenes of offering 

Turra - stela dating to Year 4

Medamot - Pillar and lintel

 Qurneh - temple

 Elephantine - block, obelisk(?)

 Kalabhsheh - front of temple

Qasr Ibrim - painted rock shrine 

 Sai - temple

 Napata - temple

other monuments were also built at:

Pnubs on Argo island, Uronarti, Kumma, Buhen, Amada, Sehel, Gebel Tingar, Gebel el-Silsila, Elkab, Tod, Armant, Thebes (his tomb and funerary temple), Medamud, Dendera and Heliopolis.

stela from the Temple of Amun at Karnak, Amenhotep II and his famed shooting of copper targets.

Queens of Amenhotep II

During his reign the Great Royal Wife was Merytra - his mother (this has probably a case of limiting the ambitions of his own Queens rather than incest with his mother, it was still in the recent past that Hatshepsut had kept Tuthmosis III from the throne). The mother of Tuthmosis IV, Amenhotep II's son and successor, was the Queen Tiaa. There was another wife of Amenhotep - the Queen Meryet-Amun - who probably died soon after Amenhotep II became King, her burial was found at Deir el-Bahri.

Unusually there are a number of sons of Amenhotep II that are known (normally it is just the daughters of pharaoh which are documented rather than sons - this could also be another effect of the Hatshepsut 'factor'); Amenhotep, Tuthmosis, Khaemwaset(?), Amenemopet, Ahmose, Webensenu, Nedjem and two shadowy princes referred to as Princes A and B.

Officials of Amenhotep II

Amenemheb (TT85)

Sennefer (Mayor of Thebes) (TT96)


The death and burial of Amenhotep II

After a long and largely peaceful reign of 30+ years (the highest known regnal year is 26), Amenhotep II died at around 40 and 50 years of age - he was then buried in his tomb (KV35) within the Valley of the Kings. His tomb was not to lay undisturbed for long, however, before the end of the 20th Dynasty it had been entered by tomb robbers (resin found on the mummy of Amenhotep II show the impressions of jewellery which the robbers had taken). Fortunately the tomb was restored by the High Priests of the 21st Dynasty, mummies from other royal tombs were then stored in the tomb of Amenhotep II (these included Tuthmosis IV, Merneptah-Siptah, Seti II, Setnakht, Ramesses III, Ramesses IV) - the tomb was then discovered by Victor Loret in 1898.