New Egypt discovery could change chronology of the Pharaohs and beliefs about Amenhotep III and IV
A team of Spanish and Egyptian archaeologists has made an unexpected discovery in a southern Egyptian tomb, which could lead to a reinterpretation of Pharaonic chronology and change our understanding of the Pharaoh’s Amenhotep III and his son, Amenhotep IV.
The scientists, led by Spanish archaeologist Francisco Martin Valentin, were excavating the remains of a wall and columns of the mausoleum of a minister of the 18th Dynasty (1569-1315 BC) in the province of Luxor, when they discovered the names of Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV carved together. According to Mr Valentin, the joint inscription suggests that they reigned together.
The inscription that suggests Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV reigned together. Photo credit: Egypt’s Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs
This “could confirm that the two Pharaohs governed jointly between nine and 10 years of the 39 that Amenhotep III governed, since the hieroglyphics on the columns explain that they were both sovereigns of Upper and Lower Egypt,” said Valentin. “There is nothing similar in Pharaonic history.”
There has long been a debate among historians and Egyptologists over whether Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV shared a co-regency towards the end Amenhotep III’s reign, with some experts suggesting a power sharing arrangement lasting as long as 12 years or as short as two years. Most scholars have argued against the co-regency theory because there has been no solid archaeological evidence to resolve the debate. Could the latest discovery resolve the debate once and for all?
The reigns of Amenhotep III and of Amenhotep IV, better known as Akhenaten, are among the most significant in Ancient Egypt. The reign of Amenhotep III marked the zenith of ancient Egyptian civilisation, both in terms of political power and cultural achievement, under his 36 year reign.
Amenhotep IV, on the other hand, was one of the most puzzling pharaohs of Egypt, also mentioned as the ‘Heretic Pharaoh’ or ‘Rebel Pharaoh’. Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), father of Tutankhamun, was a revolutionary who is noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing the first monotheistic religion centred on the one ‘true’ god of Aten (the Sun disk).
Until now, experts thought that Akhenaten had rebelled against his father’s way of ruling and that he introduced his radical new monotheistic religion after succeeding him on the throne. However, if Amenhotep III and Akhenaten were ruling at the same time, this could indicate that father and son were together in this revolutionary movement.
The team of researchers still have another 600 square feet to excavate, which they hope may reveal more information about this puzzling discovery because, if true, the finding will require another rewrite of the history books.