Posted by: imalqata | February 27, 2010

The King Who Built Malqata

Head of Amenhotep III, Michael C. Carlos Museum, Gift of Morgens-West Foundation

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Amenhotep III, who created Malqata, was the most prolific builder that Egypt had ever seen. Other than Ramesses II (who ruled a century later), no other Egyptian pharaoh constructed as many temples and other monuments, or commissioned as many statues, or larger ones. One of his most common epithets was Aten-tjehen, which means “the Dazzling Sun Disk.”

Amenhotep came to the throne as a boy around 1390 BC, taking the throne name Nebmaatre, and ruled for about 38 years, a comparatively long reign. His principal wife was Tiye, whose family appears to have come from the town of Akhmim in Upper Egypt.

Queen Tiye as a Sphinx, MMA 26.7.1342, Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926

Despite her non-royal origins, Tiye became extremely influential in her husband’s reign, and she is often represented with her husband in statues of the time. Because of her status, Tiye’s parents, Yuya and Tjuyu, were given a rich burial in the Valley of the Kings. This tomb (KV 46) was found largely intact in 1905. (

Shawabti of Yuya, MMA 30.8.57, Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915

One of Tiye’s sons succeeded his father as Amenhotep IV, later changing his name to Akhenaten.

The Palace complex at Malqata was built by Amenhotep III to celebrate three Sed- festivals (jubilees) that took place in years 30, 34, and 37 of his reign. The palace and its associated buildings, were called the Per-Hay or “The House of Rejoicing.” The Amun temple (built for the second festival) was called Per-Amun em Per-Hay or “The House of Amun in the House of Rejoicing.”

Pavement from the King's Palace, MMA 20.2.2, Rogers Fund, 1920

of Amenhotep III’s reign come from inscriptions on wine jars, found at Malqata’s Amun Temple, which record the vintage as belonging to Year 38. Amenhotep was buried in a large tomb in the West Valley of the Kings, Tomb WV 22 (

Peter Lacovara

Our colleague Hourig Sourouzian, working in the funerary temple that Amenhotep III built near Malqata, has just unearthed a perfectly preserved head of the king:


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