The New Kingdom (1567-1085BC)
Ahmosis founded the Eighteenth Dynasty (1567-1320BC), which reigned over the first part of a prosperous and stable imperial period during which Pharaonic culture flowered and Egypt became a world power.
During the Eighteenth Dynasty Nubia was subdued and its wealth of gold, ivory, gemstones and ebony flowed into Egypt. Pharaonic armies conquered the Near East, Syria and Palestine and workers from these new-established colonies, and a cultural cross-fertilization took place as artisans and intellectuals transplanted their knowledge, skills and culture onto Egyptian soil.
|The temple of Karnak at Thebes grew with the expansion of empire.
Tuthmosis I constructed the first tomb in the Valley of the Kings. His daughter
reigned as pharaoh and built the temple of Deir Al-Bahri. Tuthmosis III
expanded the empire beyond Nubia and across the Euphrates to the boundaries of
Imperial expansion continued under Amenophis II and Tuthmosis IV. The reign of Amenophis III was the pinnacle of Egyptian Pharaonic power. Under Amenophis III the kingdom was secure enough for the Pharaoh to build many of the greatest Pharaonic structures including the Temple of Luxor.
His son Amenophis IV fought with the priesthood of the god Amun and changed his name to Akhenaten in honor of the god Aten. With his wife Nefertiti Akhenaten he established a new capital at Tel El-Amarna dedicated to the worship of Aten, which many believe was the first organized monotheistic religion. Both his predecessors and successors denounced his beliefs as heresy.
During their short reign (1379-1362BC) Pharaonic obsession with the afterlife was banished, as was the old idolatry. Art began to reflect human concerns. This was called the Amarna revolution, which barely survived
Akhenaten's reign. His successor Smenkhkare upheld Akhenaten's ideals but died within a year, leaving the child pharaoh Tutankhamen under the influence of the priesthood who easily convinced him to renounce the monotheism of his father-in-law and return to rule from Thebes.
This period has been called the Theban counter-revolution during which time the priesthood destroyed any traces of Akhenaten's reign, including the Temple of the Sun at Karnak.
Tutankhamen ruled for nine years until just before reaching manhood, when he died. He is most remembered in modern times for the fabulous and pristine treasures uncovered when his tomb was discovered in 1922.
Ay and Horemheb, the last Eighteenth Dynasty kings, both of whom worked to eradicate Akhenaten’s revolutionary beliefs and restore the status quo, succeeded Tutankhamen.
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