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Amenhotep III too sick to rule towards the end of his reign?

 
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karnsculpture
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:34 pm    Post subject: Amenhotep III too sick to rule towards the end of his reign? Reply with quote

I wasn't certain whether to put this topic here or in Pharaohs and Queens. In the end I decided this was the most relevant place on the board because the discussion I hope to introduce relates directly to the early part of the Amarna period.

The more I learn about Amenhotep III, his temples at Thebes, the Amarna letters and the possible evidence for a cogency, the more I am convinced that the king was plagued by illness for the last ten or so years of his reign.

There is also evidence provided by the king's mummy, which shows that he was obese and suffered from serious dental abscesses on several occasions.

This evidence leads me to the conclusion that the king's ill health lead to Tiye and later Amenhotep IV taking on a more prominent role in the government of the country, ushering in the Amarna period.

There is evidence to suggest that Amenhotep III sought to improve his health through his faith in a few gods whose roles include fighting disease. He may have turned towards the Aten when other gods proved ineffective.

I will try to provide sources for my arguments - I would appreciate any further reading on this topic if any of you can suggest where I go next.

1) Physical evidence from the king's mummy
According to the JAMA report, the mummy from KV35 identified as Amenhotep III suffered from the following acquired disorders; Non-infective dental abscesses, progressive bone degeneration, erosions in the inner structure of the right side of the skull, degeneration of spinal disks.
(http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=185393#joc05008t2 - table 3)
The mummy is identified as being approximately 50 years of age, which matches the known reign length (between 38 and 39 years) and the evidence from scarabs that the king was not married until Year 2 of his reign to Tiye. His mother Mutemweia and his relative Yuya seem to be in positions of power in the early part of the reign, backing the argument up that he was below the age of adult responsibility at that time. The marriage to Tiye in Year 2, when he will have been approximately 13 years of age, appears to be the point where he was regarded as an adult.

That Tiye's mummy (KV35EL) is also approximated to be 50 years of age at her death in the JAMA report is interesting in that context - if there were no cogency, how can she be less than 60 years of age? The only possibility to explain her living until at least Year 12 of Akhenaten is that she was a child when she married Amenhotep III. Considering that children of Amenhotep III and Tiye are not shown until the mid point of the reign and in most cases later (Prince Amenhotep at Malkata), shows that it is possible that Tiye did not begin to bear living children until ten or more years into the reign.

Amenhotep III's mummy and depictions of him in the Amarna style show that he was probably clinically obese towards the end of his life. This, in addition to his identified dental and mobility problems, and without access to modern medicine, may have meant that he was in great pain for extended periods. Pain from dental abscesses alone is enough to incapacitate - it affects concentration, mood, the ability to sleep and function well as a result of lack of sleep.

A possible solution then and now would have been to consume alcohol or opiates to dull pain receptors. This unfortunately has the effect of causing drowsiness, further impairing the ability to function normally. When not drowsy, it is common for patients without treatment to be bad-tempered, distracted, and preoccupied with ending the pain (leading to more drinking etc). Another natural way to ease pain, and definitely one that Amenhotep III seems to have used, is sexual activity. This may seem like a contradiction, to use the word "activity", but without speculating graphically, with a harem at his disposal, Amenhotep will have been able to find much comfort and distraction in the company of women, without too much physical exertion.
(For more reading on the effect of dental abscesses on the human body - http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1034/j.1600-0757.2002.280109.x/abstract;jsessionid=4D3E5272C1D864DD30D00CA5CECD1799.f02t02?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false)

2) Use of gods to ward off disease.

Amenhotep III received an image of the goddess Shaushka of Nineveh from Tushratta in order to restore his health. (EA 22)
Amenhotep III had hundreds of statues of the goddess Sekhmet raised at his mortuary temple. One of the roles of Sekhmet was to defend the country, or the king possibly, from disease. That Amenhotep installed so many statues is very interesting. Was he attempting to defend the country against the plague that was moving through the ANE, or was he trying to fight his ailments?

Was the apparent failure of these gods, as well as Amun, to save his father part of the impetus behind Akhenaten turning towards the Aten, whose power as the sun was very real and obvious?

3) The elevation of Tiye as diplomat

Evidence from the Amarna letters as well as her prominence at court (shown in her equal stature on some monuments), seems to indicate clearly that Tiye was involved in diplomacy between Egypt and neighbouring states, both in her husband and her son's lifetimes. This may have been for two reasons. Firstly, it may have been because her husband was not always able or available (capable?) of undertaking the task of correspondence. Secondly, in the case of Akhenaten, it may show that he was quite young when he became king, so Tiye had to act in some sense as a regent for a short period. It may be a combination of the two.

4) The possible co-regency

I won't discuss the pro and anti evidence for the co-regency between Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten now, but suffice to say, one reason for appointing the junior partner, supported as it appears by Tiye, is that his father was unable to rule alone. It may have become a matter of necessity for Amenhotep IV to become king at a fairly young age to ensure the succession. The death of Crown Prince Tuthmose by Year 30, possibly at a young age, underlines how important the elevation of his younger brother was.

5) Promotion of Amenhotep's daughters to GRW

As a result of Tiye's increasing role as a diplomat, one reason to promote her daughters may been to have covered other GRW duties, particularly related to the various gods. With the king incapacitated it may also have prevented them marrying keen ambitious men who saw a sick king, a dead crown prince and a possible route to the throne. Yes this is wild speculation but for sure, marrying the daughters ensured that they could not marry anyone outside the family and complicate the line of succession through producing offspring.

I hope the above is thought-provoking, I'd appreciate any pointers on where to go for further reading, or any arguments for or against. I'm fairly certain that Amenhotep III was a sick man; how much this influenced the conditions that lead to the rise of the Aten is open to debate.

Paul Rymer
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kylejustin
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

amenhotep III's devotion to the solar cult of the aten has been interpreted as containing the power of the amun priesthood. amun being the local god of thebes, became prominent whent he theban 17th dynasty unified egypt, and as thanks, they heaped goods, land and bounty on the priesthood temple at karnak. the aten is mentioned in the 'tale of sinuhe', but under the 18th dynasty, amenhotep II is the first pharaoh under which evidence of the aten had been found.

the late 18th dynasty's allegiance to the solar cults from the north of egypt seem to be explained by the story of thutmose IV excavating the sphinx, and being told by the sun god he would be king for doing so. being thankful they got the throne via a god's gratitude is tradionally seen by modern egyptologists as evidence thutmose IV was not he heir to the throne. so this allegiance, with the realisation that the amun priesthood was becoming more powerful has been the general consensus for the prominence of the aten under amenhotep III and akhenaten.

there is also a theory that akhenaten was whorshipping his deceased father as the aten being a form of the sun god, re.
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Praxiteles
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:45 am    Post subject: Proof of a co-Regency Reply with quote

Your suspicion appears to be exactly right.

According to this article, hieroglyphic proof has been found of a co-regency.

http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/29044

Strong work!

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2014 11:08 am    Post subject: Re: Proof of a co-Regency Reply with quote

Praxiteles wrote:
... hieroglyphic proof has been found of a co-regency.

http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/29044

Strong work! ...

Strong words sums it up better? Because of "proof" one can not really talk about... At least to judge according after all that has been published.

The team gives Year 30 as date for the suspension of the work on the tomb. A clear justification for this statement, however, it remains guilty. It is vague argues with a possible death or disgrace and persecution of memories of the tomb owner.

To that, however, does not fit that the owner of the tomb, the vizier Amenhotep Huy, is still in office in Year 35 (real proven by a dated stela at Gebel el-Silsila).

Greetings, Lutz.
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Manu84
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2014 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wasn't meaning to participate in any other thread than the one I started but I read this and it reminded me to a passage in the Kolbrin regarding this very same thing. I know it's probably of no relevance as the source is not trustworthy but I will share the passage just in case it suits your curiosity.

I really hope that this doesn't start any controversy like the other thread.

"I will go back to when the father of Nabihaton, a man of great valour, much beloved by the people, became feeble through a wound that troubled him in his old age. It was then that his queen, the noble Towi, priestess of the faithful, urged him to send for the young prince Nabihaton, though he was not then so called, to become his staff and take up some of the burden. In this manner it was hoped to secure the throne of Egypt once more for one of the faithful, an end towards which the faithful had long laboured."
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2014 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Manu84 wrote:
... I know it's probably of no relevance as the source is not trustworthy ...

Exactly, I could not have it better expressed...
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