second king of the eighteenth dynasty, New Kingdom. Although certainly the son of the previous king Ahmose (r. 1569–1545 BCE) and his wife Ahmose-Nefertari, his other family ties remain vaguely documented. Ahotpe II, once believed to be his wife and sister, is now thought to have been his grandmother. Merit-Amun I remains as his “Great-King's Wife,” but significantly she was not a “King's Mother.” Another wife, Sitkamose, is attested on stelae of the nineteenth dynasty. No children can be convincingly attributed to Amenhotpe I. Thutmose I's wife Ahmose is thought by some to have been Amenhotpe I's sister, but this was unlikely since she was not a “Daughter of a King.” Her sole relationship was with Thutmose I, and she was most probably his sister and wife.

Amenhotpe I must have consolidated and strengthened his father's accomplishments, but the reign is very poorly documented. The Greco-Egyptian historian Manetho (c.305–285 BCE) assigned him twenty years and seven months, which accords well with his highest known regnal date of Year 21. There is no convincing evidence of a coregency with his father Ahmose or with his successor Thutmose I. A sed-festival, usually celebrated in the thirtieth year of the reign, was mentioned in the biography of the court official Amenemhet; but this claim must have been a polite fiction or a jubilee celebrated earlier than the thirtieth year.

Military campaigns for Amenhotpe I are attested in Nubia and in the Near East, but the details are not clear. Most likely the king was consolidating his father's success in both areas. The Near Eastern campaign can be deduced from a gate inscription found at the Karnak temple.

Amenhotpe I's building activities were better documented. In Karnak, he built the alabaster (calcite) chapel called “Amun with Enduring Monuments.” In Deir el-Bahri and in Dra Abul Naga, he built bark stations; in Elkab, there is a temple to Nekhbet. At Abydos, he finished Ahmose's temple. At Kom Ombo, Elephantine, Shatt el-Rigal, and Gebel es-Silsila, some single blocks inscribed with his name remain.

Egypt enjoyed a rich cultural life during Amenhotpe I's reign. Both science and the arts flourished. The Ebers Papyrus, a list of medical diagnoses and prescriptions, was written at that time. Amenhotpe I also founded the artisan's village of Deir el-Medina attached to the necropolis at Thebes. Ironically, there are few contemporary representations of this patron of the arts known today, although many images made in the Ramessid era survive.

Amenhotpe I was the first king of Egypt to separate his tomb and his mortuary temple in an effort to mislead looters. His destroyed mortuary temple might actually have been located in Deir el-Bahri, where a House of Amenhotpe in the Garden was located within Hatshepsut's mortuary temple. Two uninscribed tombs in the Valley of the Kings have been attributed to Amenhotpe I, but neither accords with the description of his tomb in the Abbott Papyrus. The king's mummy was reburied by priests of the twenty-first dynasty after the tomb was robbed. It was discovered with other royal mummies at Deir el-Bahri.

Later generations of Egyptians venerated Amenhotpe I at Deir el-Medina. There, he was treated as a local god, as was his mother. He was also known as a source of oracles. He was represented in three forms: Amenhotpe of the Town; Amenhotpe Beloved of Amun; and Amenhotpe of the Forecourt. Many feasts of the year honored him.

Bibliography

  • James, T. G. H. “Egypt from the Expulsion of the Hyksos to Amenophis I.” Chapter 8 in Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 2. Cambridge, 1965. An older but still valuable account of political and cultural developments during the reign.
  • Redford, Donald B. “A Gate Inscription from Karnak.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 99.2 (1979), 270–287. On the campaign in the Near East.
  • Robins, Gay. “Amenhotpe I and the Child Amenemhat.” Göttinger Miszellen 20 (1978), 71–75. Disproves the connection between them.
  • Robins, Gay. “A Critical Examination of the Theory That the Right to the Throne of Ancient Egypt Passed through the Female Line in the 18th Dynasty.” Göttinger Miszellen 62 (1983), 67–77. Shows that this older theory must not be true.

Edward Bleiberg