Amenhotep I (/ˌæmɛnˈhoʊtɛp/) from Ancient Egyptian
"jmn-ḥtp" or "yamānuḥātap" meaning "
Amun is satisfied" or
Amenophis I, (/əˈmɛnoʊfɪs/,), from Ancient Greek
Ἀμένωφις , additionally King Zeserkere (transliteration:
Ḏśr-k-R), was the second
Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt.
His reign is generally dated from 1526 to 1506 BC. He was a son of
Ahmose I and Ahmose-Nefertari, but had at least two elder brothers,
Ahmose-ankh and Ahmose Sapair, and was not expected to inherit the
throne. However, sometime in the eight years between Ahmose I's 17th
regnal year and his death, his heir apparent died and Amenhotep became
crown prince. He then acceded to the throne and ruled for about 21
years. Although his reign is poorly documented, it is possible to
piece together a basic history from available evidence. He inherited
the kingdom formed by his father's military conquests and maintained
Nubia and the
Nile Delta but probably did not attempt
to maintain Egyptian power in the Levant. He continued the rebuilding
of temples in
Upper Egypt and revolutionized mortuary complex design
by separating his tomb from his mortuary temple, setting a trend in
royal funerary monuments which would persist throughout the New
Kingdom. After his death, he was deified as a patron god of Deir
2 Dates and length of reign
3 Foreign policy
4 Cultural and intellectual developments
5 Building projects
5.1 Mortuary complex
6 Burial, succession, and legacy
6.3 Legacy: Funerary cult
8.1 Print sources
9 External links
Amenhotep I was the son of
Ahmose I and Ahmose-Nefertari. His elder
brothers, the crown prince
Ahmose Sapair and Ahmose-ankh, died before
him, thus clearing the way for his ascension to the throne.
Amenhotep probably came to power while he was still young himself, and
his mother, Ahmose-Nefertari, appears to have been regent for him for
at least a short time. The evidence for this regency is that both
he and his mother are credited with founding a settlement for workers
Theban Necropolis at Deir el-Medina. Amenhotep took his
Ahmose-Meritamon as his Great Royal Wife. Another wife's
name, Sitkamose, is attested on a nineteenth dynasty stele.
Beyond this, the relationships between
Amenhotep I and other possible
family members are unclear.
Ahhotep II is usually called his wife and
sister, despite an alternate theory that she was his
grandmother. He is thought to have had one son by Ahhotep II,
Amenemhat, who died while still very young. This remains the
consensus, although there are arguments against that relationship as
well. With no living heirs, Amenhotep was succeeded by Thutmose I,
whom he married to his "sister", Aahmes. Since
Aahmes is never
given the title "King's Daughter" in any inscription, some scholars
doubt whether she was a sibling of Amenhotep I.
Dates and length of reign
Osiride statue of Amenhotep I, currently housed in the British Museum
In Amenhotep I's ninth regnal year, a heliacal rise of Sothis was
observed on the ninth day of the third month of summer. Modern
astronomers have calculated that, if the observation was made from
Memphis or Heliopolis, such an observation could only have been made
on that day in 1537 BC. If the observation was made in Thebes,
however, it could only have taken place in 1517 BC. The latter
choice is usually accepted as correct since Thebes was the capital
during the early 18th dynasty; hence,
Amenhotep I is usually given an
accession date in 1526 BC, although the possibility of 1546 BC is
not entirely dismissed.
Manetho's Epitome states that
Amenhotep I ruled Egypt for twenty years
and seven months or twenty-one years, depending on the source.
While Amenhotep I's highest attested regnal year is only his Year 10,
Manetho's statement is confirmed by a passage in the tomb
autobiography of a magician named Amenemhet. This explicitly states
that he served under
Amenhotep I for 21 Years. Thus, in the high
Amenhotep I is given a reign from around 1546 to 1526 BC
and, in the low chronology, from around 1526 to 1506 BC or 1525 to
1504 BC, though individual scholars may ascribe dates to his reign
that vary from these by a few years.
Amenhotep I from Karnak.
Amenhotep I's Horus and Two Ladies names, "Bull who conquers the
lands" and "He who inspires great terror," are generally interpreted
to mean that
Amenhotep I intended to dominate the surrounding
nations. Two tomb texts indicate that he led campaigns into Nubia.
According to the tomb texts of Ahmose, son of Ebana, Amenhotep later
sought to expand Egypt's border southward into
Nubia and he led an
invasion force which defeated the Nubian army. The tomb biography
Ahmose Pen-Nekhebet says he also fought in a campaign in Kush,
however it is quite possible that it refers to the same campaign as
Ahmose, son of Ebana. Amenhotep built a temple at Saï, showing
that he had established Egyptian settlements almost as far as the
A single reference in the tomb of
Ahmose Pen-Nekhebet indicates
another campaign in Iamu in the land of Kehek. Unfortunately, the
Kehek is unknown. It was long believed that
Kehek was a
reference to the Libyan tribe, Qeheq, and thus it was postulated that
Libya took advantage of the death of Ahmose to move into
the western Nile Delta. Unfortunately for this theory, the Qeheq
people only appeared in later times, and Kehek's identity remains
Nubia is a possibility, since Amenhotep did campaign there,
and the western desert and the oases have also been suggested, since
these seem to have fallen under Egyptian control once again.
Egypt had lost the western desert and the oases during the second
intermediate period, and during the revolt against the Hyksos, Kamose
thought it necessary to garrison them. It is uncertain when they
were fully retaken, but on one stele, the title "Prince-Governor of
the oases" was used, which means that Amenhotep's reign forms the
terminus ante quem for the return of Egyptian rule.
There are no recorded campaigns in Syro-Palestine during Amenhotep I's
reign. However, according to the
Tombos Stela of his successor,
Thutmose I, when Thutmose led a campaign into Asia all the way to the
Euphrates, he found no one who fought against him. If Thutmose did
not lead a campaign which has not been recorded into Asia before this
recorded one, it would mean that the preceding pharaoh would have had
to pacify Syria instead, which would indicate a possible Asiatic
campaign of Amenhotep I. Two references to the
written during his reign might be contemporary witnesses to such a
campaign. One of the candidates for Amenhotep's tomb contains a
reference to Qedmi, which is somewhere in
Canaan or the Transjordan,
and Amenemhet's tomb contains a hostile reference to Mitanni.
However, neither of these references necessarily refer to campaigning,
nor do they even necessarily date to Amenhotep's reign. The location
of Amenhotep's tomb is not certain, and Amenemhet lived to serve under
multiple kings who are known to have attacked Mitanni. Records
from Amenhotep's reign are simply altogether too scant and too vague
to reach a conclusion about any Syrian campaign.
Cultural and intellectual developments
Amenhotep I with his mother
Large numbers of statues of Amenhotep have been found, but they are
mostly from the Ramesside period and relate to his continuing funerary
cult, made for his posthumous funerary cult. This makes study
of the art of his reign difficult. Based upon his few authentic
statues, it appears that Amenhotep continued the practice of copying
Middle Kingdom styles. Art in the early 18th dynasty was
particularly similar to that of the early Middle Kingdom, and the
statues produced by
Amenhotep I clearly copied those of Mentuhotep II
and Senusret I. The two types are so similar that modern
Egyptologists have had trouble telling the two apart.
It was probably
Amenhotep I who founded the artisans village at Deir
el-Medina, whose inhabitants were responsible for much of the art
which filled the tombs in the
Theban Necropolis for the following
New Kingdom rulers and nobles. The earliest name
found there is that of Thutmose I, however Amenhotep was clearly an
important figure to the city's workmen since he and his mother were
both its patron deities.
Amenhotep's reign saw literary developments. The Book of What is in
the Underworld ('the Egyptian Book of the Dead'), an important
funerary text used in the New Kingdom, is believed to have reached its
final form during Amenhotep's reign, since it first appears in the
decoration of the tomb of his successor Thutmose I. The Ebers
papyrus, which is the main source for information on ancient Egyptian
medicine, also seems to date to this time (the mention of the Heliacal
rise of Sothis by which the early
New Kingdom chronology is usually
calculated was found on the back of this document).
It appears that during Amenhotep I's reign the first water clock was
invented. Amenhotep's court astronomer Amenemheb took credit for
creating this device in his tomb biography, although the oldest
surviving mechanism dates to the reign of Amenhotep III. This
invention was of great benefit for timekeeping, because the Egyptian
hour was not a fixed amount of time, but was measured as 1/12 of the
night. When the nights were shorter in the summer, these
waterclocks could be adjusted to measure the shorter hours
Amenhotep I's reconstructed alabaster chapel at Karnak
Amenhotep began or continued a number of building projects at temple
Upper Egypt but most of the structures he built were later
dismantled or obliterated by his successors. From written sources it
is known that he commissioned the architect
Ineni to expand the Temple
of Karnak. Ineni's tomb biography indicates that he created a 20
cubit gate of limestone on the south side of Karnak. He
constructed a sacred barque chapel of
Amun out of alabaster and a copy
White Chapel of Senusret III. Sculpted material from these
structures has been recovered from the fill of Amenhotep III's third
pylon allowing some of these structures to be rebuilt at Karnak.
Amenhotep also built structures at
Karnak for his Sed festival, a
festival by which a pharaoh's strength and vigour was renewed after
reigning 30 years, but it seems likely that he died before he could
use them. A temple was constructed in
Nubia at Saï, and he
built temple structures in
Upper Egypt at Elephantine, Kom Ombo,
Abydos, and the Temple of Nekhbet. As far as is known Amenhotep did
not build anything of significance in Lower Egypt, like his
Amenhotep I was the first king of Egypt to separate his mortuary
temple from his tomb, probably in an attempt to keep his tomb safe
from robbers. This temple was sited at the north end of Deir
Deir el-Bahri appears to have had some sort of funerary
significance for Amenhotep, since Theban Tomb 358, the tomb of his
queen Ahmose-Meritamon, was also found nearby. Amenhotep's
mortuary temple was largely demolished to make way for the lower
terrace of the mortuary temple constructed approximately 50 years
later by Queen Hatshepsut, and only a few bricks inscribed with
Amenhotep's name remain. The royal statues inside of the temple
were moved to the nearby funerary temple of Mentuhotep II.
The original location of Amenhotep's tomb has not been securely
identified. A report on the security of royal tombs in the Theban
Necropolis commissioned during the troubled reign of
Ramesses IX noted
that it was then intact, but its location was not specified. Two
sites for Amenhotep I's tomb have been proposed, one high up in the
Valley of the Kings,
KV39 and the other at Dra' Abu el-Naga', Tomb
ANB. Excavations at KV 39 suggest it was used or reused to store
Deir el-Bahri Cache, which included the king's well-preserved
mummy, before its final reburial. However,
Tomb ANB is considered
the more likely possibility, because it contains objects
bearing his name and the names of some family members.
Burial, succession, and legacy
The mummy of Amenhotep I
Sometime during the 20th or 21st Dynasty Amenhotep's original tomb was
either robbed or deemed insecure and emptied and his body was moved
for safety, probably more than once. It was found in the Deir el-Bahri
Cache, hidden with the mummies of numerous
New Kingdom kings and
nobles in or after the late 22nd dynasty above the Mortuary Temple of
Hatshepsut and is now in the
Egyptian Museum in Cairo. His mummy
had apparently not been looted by the 21st dynasty, and the priests
who moved the mummy took care to keep the
Cartonnage intact. Because
of that exquisite face mask, Amenhotep's is the only royal mummy which
has not been unwrapped and examined by modern Egyptologists.
Amenhotep I is thought to have had only one child, a son who died in
infancy (although some sources indicate he had no children).
Amenhotep I was succeeded by Thutmose I, apparently a senior military
figure. It is unclear if there was any blood relationship between the
two, although it has been suggested that
Thutmose I was a son of
Amenhotep's elder brother Ahmose Sipairi. Amenhotep may have
Thutmose I as coregent before his own death as Thutmose I's
name appears next to Amenhotep's on a divine barque found by
archeologists in the fill of the third pylon at Karnak. However,
most scholars consider that this is only evidence of Thutmose
associating himself with his royal predecessor. One text has also
been interpreted to mean that Amenhotep appointed his infant son as
coregent, who then predeceased him. However, the scholarly
consensus is that there is too little evidence for either coregency.
An image of
Amenhotep I from his funerary cult
Legacy: Funerary cult
Amenhotep was deified upon his death and made the patron deity of the
village which he opened at Deir el-Medina. His mother, who lived
at least one year longer than he did, was also deified upon her death
and became part of his litany. As previously mentioned, the vast
majority of Amenhotep's statuary comes in the form of a funerary idol
from this cult during later periods. When being worshiped, he had
three deific manifestations: "Amenhotep of the Town," "Amenhotep
Beloved of Amun," and "Amenhotep of the Forecourt," and was known as a
god who produced oracles. Some of the questions asked of him have
been preserved on ostraca from Deir el-Medina, and appear to have been
phrased in such a way that the idol of the king could nod (or be
caused to nod) the answer. He also had a number of feasts
dedicated to him which were held throughout the year. During the
first month, a festival was celebrated in honor of the appearance of
Amenhotep to the necropolis workmen, which probably means his idol was
taken to Deir el-Medina. Another feast was held on the thirtieth
of the fourth month, and then two more were held in the seventh
month. The first was the "spreading of the funeral couch for king
Amenhotep," which probably commemorated the day of his death. The
second, celebrated for four days at the very end of the month, was the
"great festival of king Amenhotep lord of the town." Later in Egyptian
history, the seventh month was named after this festival,
"Phamenoth." Another festival was held on the 27th of the ninth
month, and the last known festival was held for several days between
at least the eleventh and thirteenth days of the eleventh month, which
in all probability commemorated the date of Amenhotep's accession to
Further light is shed upon Amenhotep's funerary cult by multiple
documents which appear to detail the rituals dedicated to
Amenhotep. Three papyri from the time of
Ramesses II record the
liturgy used by the priests, and reliefs at
Karnak and Medinet Habu
illustrate select rites and spells. The bulk of the rituals
concern preparing for and conducting the daily offerings of libations
for the idol, including a recitation of a ḥtp-dỉ-nsw formula, and
purifying and sealing the shrine at the end of the day. The
remainder of the rites concern how to conduct various feasts
throughout the year. In these cases, Amenhotep's idol or a priest
representing him is actually officiating the worship of
of being worshipped himself, which was not a typical cultic practice
in ancient Egypt.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Amenhotep I.
Amenhotep I - The British Museum Accessed June 10, 2010
Dunn, J. Amenhotep I, Accessed August 1, 2006
Andrews, Mark. "KV 39, The Tomb of Amenhotep I?". InterCity Oz, Inc.
Archived from the original on 8 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-01.
Fingerson, R. Manetho's King List
Hatshepsut: from Queen to Pharaoh, an exhibition catalog from The
Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which
contains material on
Amenhotep I (see index)
Routledge, B. (10 September 2007) - Statue of
Amenhotep I circa 1510
BC Thebes, National Education Network, Accessed February 14, 2017
Protodynastic to First Intermediate Period (<3150–2040 BC)
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