Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt
|1549/1550 BC–1292 BC|
|Common languages||Egyptian language|
|Religion||ancient Egyptian religion|
|Historical era||Bronze Age|
|Dynasties of Ancient Egypt|
All years are BC
The Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt (notated Dynasty XVIII, alternatively 18th Dynasty or Dynasty 18) is classified as the first dynasty of the New Kingdom of Egypt, the era in which Egypt achieved the peak of its power. The Eighteenth Dynasty spanned the period from 1549/1550 to 1292 BCE. This dynasty is also known as the Thutmosid Dynasty for the four pharaohs named Thutmose.
The Eighteenth Dynasty boasts several of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, including Tutankhamun, whose tomb was found by Howard Carter in 1922. Other famous pharaohs of the dynasty include Hatshepsut (c. 1479 BC–1458 BC), the longest-reigning woman pharaoh of a indigenous dynasty, and Akhenaten (c. 1353–1336 BC), the "heretic pharaoh", with his Great Royal Wife, Nefertiti.
The Eighteenth Dynasty is unique among Egyptian dynasties in that it had two women who ruled as sole pharaoh: Hatshepsut, who is also regarded as one of the most innovative rulers of ancient Egypt, and Neferneferuaten, usually identified as the iconic Nefertiti.
Early Dynasty XVIII
Dynasty XVIII was founded by Ahmose I, the brother or son of Kamose, the last ruler of the 17th Dynasty. Ahmose finished the campaign to expel the Hyksos rulers. His reign is seen as the end of the Second Intermediate Period and the start of the New Kingdom. Ahmose was succeeded by his son, Amenhotep I, whose reign was relatively uneventful.
Amenhotep I probably left no male heir and the next pharaoh, Thutmose I, seems to have been related to the royal family through marriage. During his reign the borders of Egypt's empire reached their greatest expanse, extending in the north to Carchemish on the Euphrates and in the south up to Kurgus beyond the fourth cataract of the Nile. Thutmose I was succeeded by Thutmose II and his queen, Hatshepsut, who was the daughter of Thutmose I. After her husband's death and a period of regency for her minor stepson (who would later become pharaoh as Thutmose III) Hatshepsut became pharaoh in her own right and ruled for over twenty years.
Thutmose III, who became known as the greatest military pharaoh ever, also had a lengthy reign after becoming pharaoh. He had a second co-regency in his old age with his son Amenhotep II. Amenhotep II was succeeded by Thutmose IV, who in his turn was followed by his son Amenhotep III. The reign of Amenhotep III is seen as a high point in this dynasty. Amenhotep III undertook large scale building programmes, the extent of which can only be compared with those of the much longer reign of Ramesses II during Dynasty XIX.
Akhenaten, the Amarna Period, and Tutankhamun
Amenhotep III may have shared the throne for up to twelve years with his son Amenhotep IV, who would change his name to Akhenaten. There is much debate about this proposed co-regency. Some experts believe there was a lengthy co-regency, while others prefer to see a short one. There are also many experts who believe no such co-regency existed at all.
In the fifth year of his reign, Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten (ꜣḫ-n-jtn, "Effective for the Aten") and moved his capital to Amarna, which he named Akhetaten. During the reign of Akhenaten, the Aten (jtn, the sun disk) became, first, the most prominent deity, and eventually came to be considered considered the only god. Whether this amounted to true monotheism continues to be the subject of debate within the academic community. Some state that Akhenaten created a monotheism while others point out that he merely suppressed a dominant solar cult by the assertion of another, while he never completely abandoned several other traditional deities.
Later Egyptians considered this "Amarna Period" an unfortunate aberration. The events following Akhenaten's death are unclear. Individuals named Smenkhkare and Neferneferuaten are known but their relative placement and role in history is still much debated; Neferneferuaten was likely Akhetaten's Great Royal Wife Nefertiti's regnal name as pharaoh. Tutankhamun eventually took the throne but died young.
Ay and Horemheb
The last two members of the Eighteenth Dynasty—Ay and Horemheb—became rulers from the ranks of officials in the royal court, although Ay might also have been the maternal uncle of Akhenaten as a fellow descendant of Yuya and Tjuyu.
Ay may have married the widowed Great Royal Wife and young half-sister of Tutankhamun, Ankhesenamun, in order to obtain power; she did not live long afterward. Ay then married Tey, who was originally Nefertiti's wet-nurse.
Ay's reign was short. His successor was Horemheb, a general during Tutankhamun's reign whom the childless pharaoh may have intended as his successor. Horemheb may have taken the throne away from Ay in a coup.
This example to the right depicts a man named Ay who achieved the exalted religious positions of Second Prophet of Amun and High Priest of Mut at Thebes. His career flourished during the reign of Tutankhamun, when the statue was made. The cartouches of King Ay, Tutankhamun's successor appearing on the statue, were an attempt by an artisan to "update" the sculpture.
Radiocarbon dating suggests that Dynasty XVIII may have started a few years earlier than the conventional date of 1550 BC. The radiocarbon date range for its beginning is 1570–1544 BC, the mean point of which is 1557 BC.
Pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty
The pharaohs of Dynasty XVIII ruled for approximately two hundred and fifty years (c. 1550–1298 BC). The dates and names in the table are taken from Dodson and Hilton. Many of the pharaohs were buried in the Valley of the Kings in Thebes (designated KV). More information can be found on the Theban Mapping Project website. Several diplomatic marriages are known for the New Kingdom. These daughters of foreign kings are often only mentioned in cuneiform texts and are not known from other sources. The marriages were likely a way to confirm good relations between these states.
|Pharaoh||Image||Throne name / Prenomen||Reign||Burial||Consort(s)||Comments|
|Ahmose I||Nebpehtire||1549–1524 BC||Ahmose-Nefertari
|Amenhotep I||Djeserkare||1524–1503 BC||KV39? or Tomb ANB?||Ahmose-Meritamon|
|Thutmose I||Aakheperkare||1503–1493 BC||KV20, KV38||Ahmose
|Thutmose II||Aakheperenre||1493–1479 BC||KV42?||Hatshepsut
|Hatshepsut||Maatkare||1479–1458 BC||KV20||Thutmose II|
|Thutmose III||Menkheper(en)re||1479–1425 BC||KV34||Satiah
Menhet, Menwi and Merti
|Amenhotep II||Aakheperure||1425–1398 BC||KV35||Tiaa|
|Thutmose IV||Menkheperure||1398–1388 BC||KV43||Nefertari
Daughter of Artatama I of Mitanni
|Amenhotep III||Nebmaatre||1388–1350 BC||KV22||Tiye
Gilukhipa of Mitanni
Tadukhipa of Mitanni
Daughter of Kurigalzu I of Babylon
Daughter of Kadashman-Enlil of Babylon
Daughter of Tarhundaradu of Arzawa
Daughter of the ruler of Ammia
|Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten||Neferkepherure-Waenre||1351–1334 BC||Royal Tomb of Akhenaten||Nefertiti
Tadukhipa of Mitanni
Daughter of Šatiya, ruler of Enišasi
Daughter of Burna-Buriash II, King of Babylon
|Usually identified as Queen Nefertiti|
Timeline of the 18th Dynasty
- Daniel Molinari (2014-09-16), Egypts Lost Queens, retrieved 2017-11-14
- Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton: pg 122
- Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton: pg 130
- Dodson, Aidan; Hilton, Dyan (2010). The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-500-28857-3.
- Dodson, Aidan; Hilton, Dyan (2010). The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-500-28857-3.
- "Block Statue of Ay". brooklynmuseum.org. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- Christopher Bronk Ramsey et al., Radiocarbon-Based Chronology for Dynastic Egypt, Science 18 June 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5985, pp. 1554–1557.
- Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, London 2004
- Sites in the Valley of the Kings
- Grajetzki, Ancient Egyptian Queens: A Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Golden House Publications, London, 2005, ISBN 978-0954721893
- Hatshepsut: from Queen to Pharaoh, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF)