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Amenhotep III ruled over a peaceful country, with little military activity. His father, Thutmose IV was well known for reducing the military and increasing the administrative power of the government. However, with fewer resources allocated to making war in foreign lands, more was available to the arts -- Amenhotep's reign was marked by an upsurge in monument building. like many pharaohs, Amenhotep III married the daughters of foreign kings to solidify the relationships.
He supported the monument building with flourishing foreign trade and extensive mining in Nubia for gold. Agricultural output was growing and the wealth from these activities supported arts and building in a way that previous pharaohs couldn't manage.
Perhaps the most spectacular of his building works is the massivememorial temple at Kawm el-Hitan on the west bank of the Nile. The two enormous Colossi of Memnon were erected here by the entrance to the temple -- these 20 meter (66 feet) tall statues of the king give some idea of the scale of this, possibly the largest building every constructed in Egypt. The temple is almost completely destroyed now -- but foundations show it was about 86 acres (42 million square feet) in size. It was used as a quarry by Merneptah later in the 19th Dynasty.
It was specifically built so that the flooding of the Nile would flood the interior courtyards and buildings, and leave only the sanctuary above the water -- symbolically like the first land rising from the sea. However, since many of the retaining walls were mud brick, the temple dissolved more and more each year. The huge stone pylons of the temple were too heavy for the swampy land, and the temple fell to ruin quickly.
South of the huge temple was an even larger palace, a collection of buildings covering several hundred acres. It was a true city unto itself, with administrative and government buildings, chapels, and housing. The palace lies alongside a manmade harbor, about 1 km x 2.5 km (.5 x 1.5 miles) in size dug from the silt. Across the Nile, a second harbor was dug -- completely by hand -- to match this one for the Heb-Sed Festival of Amenhotep III.
It is estimated that he erected several thousand statues in his temple alone -- from the Colossi of Memnon to more life-sized statues. The avenue of sphinxes at Karnak was his work as well. A cache of incredibly well-preserved statues was found in Luxor Temple in 1989, with many statues of Amenhotep III among them
He is usually considered the builder o the Temple of Luxor and he spent much of reign enhancing the huge temple of Karnak. The sprawling Temple of Luxor was dedicated to Amun-Min (always shown "begging-your-pardon-erect", as one of our guides intoned politely), Khonsu, and Mut. THe temple was later added to by Akhenaton and Horemheb in the 18th Dynasty, and Ramesses II (19th Dynasty) as well as Alexander the Great.
We actually know a lot about his Queen TIya and her parents, since the tomb of Yuya and Thuya was discovered and the contents displayed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Yuya was the father of Tiy. He was a military commander and had a number of interesting titles, including "God's Father", "Master of the Horse", "His Majesty's Lieutenant Commander of Chariotry", "Priest of Min", "Overseer of Cattle of Min, Lord of Akhmin", all shown in his tomb, which he shares with Thuya, the mother of Ay. Thuya herself had a number of interesting titles as well -- "King's MOther of the Great Royal Wife", "Chief of the Harem of Min", "Chief of the Harem of Amun", "Priestess of Amun" and "Singer of Hathor".
Amenhotep III is buried in the west valley of the Valley of the Kings. The other notable tomb here belongs to Chancellor Ay, the possible successor to the boy-king Tutankhamun. The tomb was discovered in 1799 by Napoleon's troops. The tomb is very damaged by salt leeching through the stone, and most of the decorations have fallen from the walls. THe tomb was completely looted -- even the wooden articles were chopped up and every trace of gold or precious metals was removed.
The tomb of Amenhotep III lies in the Valley of the Kings, in KV 22. THe tomb is one of the oldest in the valley. It was discovered in 1915 by Howard Carter (who was responsible for the discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb). It was originally carved for Thutmose IV but used for Amenhotep III's burial.
Amenhotep III died in his mid-fifties and left the throne to perhaps the most controversial pharaoh of them all -- his son Amenhotep IV...who became the heretic pharaoh Akhenaton.
Colossi of Memnon