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Assess the Reign of Amenhotep III

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Introduction

Assess the reign of Amenhotep III as the "Golden Age". (25 marks) Amenhotep III's reign is often referred to the "Golden Age", a time of political stability and economic prosperity for Egypt. With an abundance of tribute, booty, and access/exploitation of natural resources in conquered areas of Nubia, and its sphere of influence in Syria-Palestine; Egypt's affluence only flourished. This enabled Amenhotep's expanse/magnificent building programs, also resulting to advances in art and religion. Furthermore, changes in the importance and role of the queen progressed in this period; to the extent of Tiye's deification, as evident in the temple at Sedeinga, built in dedication to her worship. Despite Amenhotep III's reputation as a great diplomat, the effectiveness of his foreign policy- particularly the lack of military control over vassal states of Syria- Palestine, is contested as a precursor to the eventual loss of Egypt's northern vassals with the emergence of the Hittites as a rival power during Akhenaten's reign. Building schemes were not only of socio-political importance, but also vital in reinforcing the religious role of the pharaoh as the intermediary between the gods and the people of Egypt- he himself a reincarnation of Horus, or in Amenhotep's case, Amun. His divine birth scene depicted at Luxor Temple of Amun giving the ankh "breath of life" to his mother, is significant in establishing his divine power as upholder of ma'at- the divinely established order of the universe. ...read more.

Middle

This rebellion endured and most possibly shaped his son, co-regent, and eventual predecessor, Akhenaten's decision to completely reform Egypt's main god from Amun-Re to Aten during his own reign. Amenhotep III's identification with the sun god Aten resulted to the building of open sun courts in the front of his buildings, for example, the peristyle sun court erected at Soleb Temple. Additionally, Amenhotep III built the largest mortuary temples of the New Kingdom on the west bank of Thebes, to maintain the cult of the deceased pharaoh in his afterlife. The west was symbolic of the cyclical nature of death, burial and rebirth because the sun's setting/dying each night in the west, and rising in the east the next morning. For this reason, it was here that he also constructed Malkata Palace to house the vital Opet/Sed festivals, or rejuvenating festivals of the pharaoh. As suggested by "Golden Age", Egypt was at its zenith of wealth, freedom and status of respect as a powerful empire. This stability meant the lack of necessity to fight wars, but rather, its challenge stemmed from Akhenaten III's ability to protect this peace and prosperity. Even though majority of his foreign policy was diplomatic, he is non-the-less portrayed in royal propaganda as a warrior pharaoh, "Annihilator of the Kush" despite only having launched one military campaign against Nubia in his fifth year as boasted in inscriptions on Konosso ...read more.

Conclusion

An innovation in Amenhotep's reign was the title "great Royal Wife' granted to his daughter Sitamun, indicating the value and nature of position in the Pharaoh's court. With the belief that Egyptian royalty, in particular princesses were superior to all other royalty, Egyptian princesses, or women for the matter were given to foreign ambassadors/rulers for diplomatic marriages. This was also a measure of securing the circulation of authority/power within Egypt. In conclusion, through his diplomacy, Amenhotep III was able to maintain the political stability and economic prosperity of Egypt, having only launched one military campaign against Nubia throughout his whole reign. However, this could have been a possible fault, as a precursor to the eventual loss of Syria-Palestine to the Hittites during his son's reign. In retrospect, in investing his wealth and foreign resources into extensive building programs, Amenhotep further boosted the economy and resulted to advances in art and religion- with importance being placed on new/different solar deities besides Amun-Re. Also, in the importance and role of the queen progressed in this period. It can be said that Amenhotep III's reign was indeed the "Golden Age", where Egypt achieved status as a respected authority, at the zenith of its power and wealth; although whether this stability was the achievement of Amenhotep III himself or merely passed onto him to maintain by the numerous wars won/conquered his predecessors remains contested by historians till this day. ...read more.

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