Yasser Metwally

My life…and the world

Ancient Egyptian New Kingdom (1540 BC-1070 BC)

The author: Professor Yasser Metwally

http://yassermetwally.com


The New Kingdom pharaohs established a period of unprecedented prosperity by securing their borders and strengthening diplomatic ties with their neighbors. Military campaigns waged under Tuthmosis I and his grandson Tuthmosis III extended the influence of the pharaohs into Syria and Nubia, cementing loyalties and opening access to critical imports such as bronze and wood. The New Kingdom pharaohs began a large-scale building campaign to promote the god Amun, whose growing cult was based in Karnak. They also constructed monuments to glorify their own achievements, both real and imagined. The female pharaoh Hatshepsut used such propaganda to legitimize her claim to the throne. Her successful reign was marked by trading expeditions to Punt, an elegant mortuary temple, a colossal pair of obelisks and a chapel at Karnak. Despite her achievements, Hatshepsut’s nephew-stepson Tuthmosis III sought to erase her legacy near the end of his reign, possibly in retaliation for usurping his throne.

Four colossal statues of Ramesses II flank the entrance of his temple Abu Simbel. Around 1350 BC, the stability of the New Kingdom was threatened when Amenhotep IV ascended the throne and instituted a series of radical and chaotic reforms. Changing his name to Akhenaten, he touted the previously obscure sun god Aten as the supreme deity, suppressed the worship of other deities, and attacked the power of the priestly establishment. Moving the capital to the new city of Akhetaten (modern-day Amarna), Akhenaten turned a deaf ear to foreign affairs and absorbed himself in his new religion and artistic style. After his death, the cult of the Aten was quickly abandoned, and the subsequent pharaohs Tutankhamun, Ay, and Horemheb erased all mention of Akhenaten’s heresy, now known as the Amarna Period.

Video 1. Abu Simbel temple: Abu Simbel, in the heart of Nubian territory, almost on the borders of Sudan and about 300KM from Aswan, is the most beautiful and imposing construction of the greatest pharaoh in Egyptian history.

Around 1279 BC, Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, ascended the throne, and went on to build more temples, erect more statues and obelisks, and sire more children than any other pharaoh in history. A bold military leader, Ramesses II led his army against the Hittites in the Battle of Kadesh and, after fighting to a stalemate, finally agreed to the first recorded peace treaty around 1258 BC. Egypt’s wealth, however, made it a tempting target for invasion, particularly by the Libyans and the Sea Peoples. Initially, the military was able to repel these invasions, but Egypt eventually lost control of Syria and Palestine. The impact of external threats was exacerbated by internal problems such as corruption, tomb robbery and civil unrest. The high priests at the temple of Amun in Thebes accumulated vast tracts of land and wealth, and their growing power splintered the country during the Third Intermediate Period.

Click to enlarge figure

Figure 1.  Four colossal statues of Ramesses II flank the entrance of his temple Abu Simbel.

Ramesses II reclaimed Egypt's lost glory through war and peace treaties....Click to enlarge

Figure 2. Ramesses II reclaimed Egypt’s lost glory through war and peace treaties.


References

  1. The Egyptian dynasties [Full text]
  2. Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt [Full text]
  3. First Intermediate Period in Ancient Egyptian life [Full text]
  4. Ancient Egyptian Middle Kingdom [Full text]
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November 28, 2009 - Posted by | Ancient Egyptian panorama

1 Comment »

  1. […] Ancient Egyptian New Kingdom [Full text] […]

    Pingback by Second Intermediate Period and the Hyksos (1783 BC-1540 BC) « Yasser Metwally | November 28, 2009 | Reply


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