Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Book: Amenhotep III, Egypt's Radiant Pharaoh

Cambridge University Press

Thanks very much to Pat Kennedy for alerting me to this new publication.

Arielle P Kozloff:  Amenhotep III, Egypt's Radiant Pharaoh. Cambridge University Press.


Beginning in 1391 B.C., Amenhotep III was for 38 years the richest man on earth and commander in chief of the largest, best equipped army of its day. A successful though infrequent warrior, he was also a thoroughly cultivated man – religious, literate, and an art lover – at the height of Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty, what is often called her “Golden Age.” His foreign vassals addressed him as “the Sun,” and he justifiably called himself “dazzling,” here termed “radiant” for his effect on the then-known world. One could search for his equal through all the rulers of ancient Rome, the emperors of China, the kings and queens of England and France, and the czars of Russia and generally come up wanting.

Yet, today, 34 centuries later, his heirs are the world-famous ones. Two of these were far weaker and less productive men. His son Akhenaten is regarded as a champion of monotheism (the so-called Amarna Revolution) in an age of nearly universal polytheism, when, it will be argued here, his new devotion was a reaction to the traditional gods having failed their country in a time of crisis. Tutankhamen, Amenhotep III's short-lived grandson, accomplished little in his lifetime but rose to superstardom when his tiny tomb crammed with golden treasures was found nearly intact in 1922, the finds subsequently paraded around the world in a series of traveling exhibitions. In the following dynasty, Ramesses the Great reigned for 67 years, usurping Amenhotep's statues and temples in his own name and leaving the false impression of a large artistic and architectural footprint. Living to 90 years of age, Ramesses was a successful sire, producing around 200 children; a lucky soldier; and finally, a Middle Eastern peacemaker in a land of eternal turmoil.

Among Egyptologists, however, Amenhotep III is a favorite.

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