Saturday, January 5, 5450

Egyptian New Kingdom: 18th Dynasty (1550-1292BC)

The Eighteenth Dynasty (1550-1292 BC) is perhaps the best known of all the dynasties of Ancient Egypt.

It was founded by Ahmose I (ruled 1550-1525 BC) the brother of Kamose, the last ruler of the Seventeenth Dynasty. Ahmose finished the campaign to expel the hated Hyksos rulers. With this dynasty, the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt ended, and the New Kingdom of Egypt or the Egyptian Empire began. He was followed by Amenhotep I (ruled 1525-1504 BC).

Thutmose I (ruled 1504-1492 BC) seems to have not been directly related to the existing royal line, but married into royalty. The dynasty next included Thutmose II (ruled 1492-1479 BC) and his royal queen,

[Large granite sphinx bearing the likeness of the pharaoh Hatshepsut, depicted with the traditional false beard, a symbol of her pharaonic power]

Hatshepsut (ruled 1479-1457 BC). She was the daughter of Thutmose I and soon after her husband's death, ruled for over twenty years after becoming pharaoh during the minority of her stepson, who would become Thutmose III (ruled 1479-1425BC).

Hatshepsut later was considered a usurper by 19th-century researchers, but more recent evidence indicates that she was a very effective and successful ruler, as related in ancient histories. She reestablished international trade, restored the wealth of the country, fostered large building projects, and restored ravaged temples.

She built her tomb on the other side of the massif from the vale that would become the Valley of the Kings, as those pharaohs succeeding her chose to be associated with the grandeur of her mortuary complex.

[Musicians on Double-Pipe, Lute, and Harp in the burial chamber of Nakht, an astronomer and priest during the reign of Thutmose IV, c. 1395 BC, during the Eighteenth Dynasty, Theban Necropolis, tomb TT52]

[Upper Egypt - Saiyidi Melody (The music of Upper Egypt -- known like its people as Saiyidi -- is based upon two instruments: the mismar saiyidi {oboe or shawm} and the rebaba {spike fiddle})]

Thutmose III also had a lengthly reign after becoming pharaoh. After Hatshepsut's death and his later rise to being the pharaoh of the kingdom, he created the largest empire Egypt had ever seen; no fewer than seventeen campaigns were conducted, and he conquered from Niy in north Syria to the fourth waterfall of the Nile in Nubia. After his years of campaigning were over, he established himself as a great builder pharaoh as well. Thutmose III was responsible for building over 50 temples in Egypt and building massive additions to Egypt's chief temple at Karnak. New levels of artistic skills were reached during his reign, as well as unique architectural developments never seen before and never again after his reign.

He was followed by Amenhotep II (sometimes read as Amenophis II and meaning Amun is Satisfied, 1425-1401 BC) and Thutmose IV, who ruled for ten years (1401-1391 BC).

The first recorded formal relations of Egypt with foreign countries were under Amenhotep III (1391-1353 BC), which, under his reign, Egypt enjoyed an economic boom. He built many temples and monuments across Egypt to honor his favorite god, Sobek, who was always depicted as a crocodile. Some records of his relations were included in the El Amarna letters many of which were scattered before they could be protected properly.

Akhenaten (Akhnaten, 1353-1336 BC) instigated the earliest verified expression of monotheism, (although the origins of a pure monotheism are the subject of continuing debate within the academic community and some state that Akhenaten restored monotheisim). Scholars believe that Akhenaten's devotion to his god Aten offended many in power below him, which contributed to the end of this dynasty; he later suffered damnatio memoriae. Although modern students of Egyptology consider the monotheism of Akhenaten the most important event of this period, the later Egyptians considered the so-called Amarna period an unfortunate aberration.

[Lute and

Double-Pipe Players, Singers and

[Dancers from the tomb of Nebamun, c. 1350 BC]