This week’s installment focuses on the mummy of a famous face from the 18th Dynasty, the pharaoh Amenhotep II.
Amenhotep II was the seventh pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. He was the son of Thutmose III and a minor queen, Merytre-Hatshepsut. Thutmose III’s first-born son, Amenemhat, was the heir to the throne; however, he died before he could succeed his father. Amenemhat’s mother, the chief royal wife Satiah, also died, and so Thutmose III married Merytre-Hatshepsut and fathered Amenhotep II.
Amenhotep II is believed to have had a coregency of just over two years with his father before succeeding the throne as the sole ruler. Little is known of his queen, Tiaa; however, their son, Thutmose IV, went on to succeed his father as pharaoh. Amenhotep II is believed to have had at least eleven children.
The kingdom left to his son by Thutmose III was vast, and through some successful military achievements, Amenhotep II was able to keep the kingdom within his grasp. In Year 7 of his reign, there was a rebellion in Syria and a victory stela recording the events indicates his success although no major battles were recorded. There is some speculation that his army may have suffered an initial defeat at the hands of Mitanni during this campaign.
The king’s last campaign in Year 9 of his reign was followed by peaceful relations with Mitanni. A passage on the walls of the Karnak temple records how the prince of Mitanni came to Amenhotep II in order to seek peace. Amenhotep II also boasts that the kings of the Hittites, Babylon and Mitanni came to him to seek peace; however, the accuracy of this claim is not known.
The Egyptians and the Mitanni had been hostile towards each other and struggling for power over Syria for some time, so peaceful relations between the two is seen as a great achievement.
Amenhotep II’s building programme focused on enlarging smaller temples across Egypt and building new temples. He also installed a column in the courtyard between the fourth
and fifth pylon which commemorated the bringing of tribute by Mitanni.
He also placed many statues of himself inside the temples, just as his predecessors had. These statues possess idealised features, portraying a youthful king (right). This is a typical feature of the art of the Thutmosid Period.
The king’s tomb, KV35, in the Valley of the Kings was used as a mummy cache in the Third Intermediate Period, housing the mummies of Thutmose IV, Seti II, Ramesses III, Ramesses IV, and Ramesses VI among others.
His mortuary temple was located close to the Ramesseum; however, it was destroyed in antiquity. It was later rebuilt or renovated by Amenhotep III.
The mummy of Amenhotep II was discovered in 1898 in its original sarcophagus (below) in KV35 by Victor Loret. The king stood at approximately 6ft tall, and was a well-built man. His hair was greying and he had developed a bald patch by the time of his death.
The mummy had been damaged in antiquity: the head was broken off, the spine was broken, the front abdominal wall was missing, and the right leg and thigh were separated from each other and also from the body. The mummy had been re-wrapped and placed in a shroud. A replacement cartonnage coffin had been made and inscribed for him.
The mummy is covered with raised nodules which are believed to have been caused by a reaction between the embalming materials and the skin. It has also been suggested that this was a skin disease. The mummies of Thutmose I and Thutmose II also have these nodules.
Amenhotep II now rests in the Royal Mummy Room of the Cairo Museum.
Bibliography and further reading:
Digital Egypt – Thebes, the ‘mortuary temple’ of Amenhotep II. Available from: http://www.digitalegypt.ucl.ac.uk/thebes/amenhotepii/index.html
Bryan, B. 2000. ‘The Eighteenth Dynasty before the Amarna Period’, in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Edited by Ian Shaw. Oxford. 218-271.
der Manuelian, P. 1987. Studies in the Reign of Amenophis II. HÄB 26. Hildesheim.
The Theban Royal Mummy Project – Amenhotep II. Available from: http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/Aeighteen.htm