The Golden Age of Egypt

Article excerpt

Amenhotep III, the self-proclaimed "Dazzling Sun Disk of All Lands," led his country into an era of unsurpassed power and prosperity. Artifacts from the period now are on display in Forth Worth. Tex.

NEBMAATRA AMENHOTEP III reigned from around 1391 B.C. to 1353. Christening himself the "Dazzling Sun Disk of All Lands," he set the standard for other Egyptian pharaohs to follow. Father of Akhenaten, grandfather of Tutankhamen, and ruler more than 100 years before Ramesses II reigned, Amenhotep established a life of royalty and splendor that his ancestors sought to emulate.

For the first time in modern history, 140 masterpieces from Egypt's Golden Age have been assembled from more than 30 institutions and private collections in Egypt, Europe, and the U.S. ranging in size from the colossal to the most delicate miniature. Highlights include an enormous head of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, weighing more than three tons and standing over seven feet high, as well as monumental granite scupltures of a lion and a ram, which kept watch over the entrance to the temple of Soleb.

Amenhotep ascended the throne when he was a youth, perhaps not yet a teenager. His predecessors in the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt had supported a military economy, fighting numerous wars. Amehotep waged only one campaign as a young pharaoh in order to crush rebellious tribes in the Sudan--after that, he became a pharaoh of peace. During his 38-year reign, Egypt experienced great prosperity from bumper harvests and a steady flow of gold from the eastern desert and the Sudan. Amenhotep presided over this term of peace and prosperity, channeling Egypt's wealth into splendid works of art and architecture. He was a master diplomat, profiting from the peace secured by mutual alliances and promoting Egyptian culture abroad by exporting and trading fine objects.

Amenhotep transformed the Nile Valley all the way from the Sudan in the south to the Mediterranean in the north, embarking on massive building campaigns. …