Posted by: imalqata | February 22, 2012

Everything Amenhotep

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2012 is turning out to be the year of Amenhotep III. In addition to our work at his jubilee palace-city at Malqata, excavations and restoration projects are going on in the king’s mortuary temple, his tomb in the West Valley of the Kings, and at the tomb of his Steward, Nefersekheru who was probably in charge of all the goings-on at Malqata.

The walls of Amenhotep’s immense mortuary temple disappeared long ago, but what visitors to Egypt know as the Colossi of Memnon, are, in fact, two seated statues of the king that originally flanked the entrance to this temple. At over 700 meters in length (more than 2200 feet) this was the largest single temple ever built in Egypt (Karnak is, of course, much larger, but it consists of several temple buildings, and the main temple was added to over some 2000 years).
Much of the stone of Amenhotep’s mortuary temple was used later for other building projects, and the remains of the temple were eventually covered by a deep deposit of mud from the Nile’s annual inundation. By the 20th Century, little remained above ground save for the two colossi. The temple site, known today as the Kom el-Hetan, was not well documented until 2000 when Dr. Hourig Sourouzian, Director of the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project began her work.

The temple was originally furnished with a huge number of statues of the king and various deities. In the past decade, more than 80 statues of the goddess Sakhmet have come to light, and more than half a dozen immense statues of the king have been uncovered. The lower half of one of these was recently raised to an upright position, and on our daily drive to Malqata, we watch as work continues on the restoration of this statue.
In addition to his mortuary temple, the Amenhotep III built a magnificent tomb in the West Valley of the Kings (KV or WV 22). In 1989, a Japanese team from Waseda University began working at the tomb and a complete clearance was carried out. Currently, conservation of the wall paintings is in progress and the results are spectacular (we had the chance to visit our Japanese colleagues in the tomb last week).
The University of Chicago’s Epigraphic Survey, headquartered at Chicago House where we’re staying, has been carefully documenting the tomb of (TT 107), who was Steward of the jubilee palace complex at Malqata. The beautiful relief work is being painstakingly copied and plans are underway for the stabilization of this tomb.
From March 3rd to 5th an international symposium will be held in Luxor, that will include all those working on various aspects of “Amenhotep the Magnificent” and his remarkable reign.

-Peter Lacovara
– Catharine Roehrig


  1. The quality of these reports from Thebes is fabulous and I feel so privileged to have access to them.

    With regard to the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III, I believe I have read that it was laid out so that the inundation would periodically flood the temple or at least the bases of the Colossi of Memnon, I guess so it looked as though the temple was the primeval mound emerging from the waters of Nun?

    Concerning yesterday’s posting about Birket Habu, and linked to the Colossi of Memnon in particular, I have a paper written in 1973 by various specialists and published by the American Assn for the Advancement of Science. Amongst other objectives, the scientists tried to establish if the large statuary for the temple could have been transported by river at inundation time, into Birket Habu and then, from the north-eastern corner of same, by land to the temple, less than 1 km away. I quote

    “Thus we made a subssurface search with augers for a postulated docking area near the northeastern corner of this lake site, at a point on the lake edge where there was a break in the embankment and which was in line with the two pedestals. Since it has long been known that both statues were brought in from the south a long, inclined ramp built of mud or sun-dried brick must have run off south of the statues……We found what we think may have been such a docking area in the form of a narrow extension to the north of the lake, now sand-filled in the lower level and capped with 2 m of Nile overflow silts.”

    Another paper of interest is “An ancient Nile harbour” by Kemp and O’Connor, 1974.

    Further information on this intriguing site from your good selves is eagerly awaited!

  2. With a reign of some 39 years Amenhotep III is one of the most important kings of the Eighteenth Dynasty. The king built or rebuilt many temples in the country (Luxor, Memphis, Elkab, Armant). At Thebes he had a vast temple constructed to his own cult on the West Bank; the colossal statues (known as the Colossi of Memmon, before the entrance) are the most monumental elements still standing. He also built at Thebes a palace complex ( Malqata ) which was until the 1900s relatively well preserved. The king issued a number of scarabs with longer inscriptions describing events of his reign. His main wife was Tiy, who seems to have played an important part in the reign. She appears on monuments more often and more prominently than virtually any queen before her. There are several letters known from the Amarna correspondence , demonstrating the close diplomatic contact of the royal courts at this time.

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