Amenhotep I, Tuthmosis, and Their Kingship

From the Lecture Series: History of Ancient Egypt

By Bob Brier Ph.D., Long Island University

Amenhotep I was the son of Ahmose, the powerful king who established the mighty Eighteenth Dynasty where women were respected and had power. He followed the path of his father and innovated ways to keep the nation in peace, in life or death. He was followed by equally, if not more, powerful king Tuthmosis. Read to know more about these two great rulers.

Two massive stone statues of the pharaohs in Egypt.
Amenhotep I was the king who made a strong stand against tomb robbery by separating his tomb from the mortuary temple. (Image: Robirensi/Shutterstock)

Amenhotep I was the son of king Ahmose and queen Ahmose-Nefertari, and the second king of the XVIIIth Dynasty. His name is made up of two parts: ‘amen’, referring to Amun, the main Egyptian god, and ‘Hotep’, meaning ‘is pleased’. Thus, his name means that he is trying to please Amun.

However, king Amenhotep I pleased not only the god Amun, but also the Egyptians by maintaining peace and wealth.

Amenhotep I in Nubia

Just like his father, Amenhotep I also rode south after becoming king to control the Nubians. Ahmose, son of Ebana, was the strong military man of king Ahmose’s time and accompanied him to some wars. He was still alive at the time of Amenhotep I and rode south with him, too.

The writings on the wall of his tomb show that Amenhotep I gained another victory against the Nubians and their famous bowmen. All the Nubians at war were either killed or held captive.

Ahmose captured slaves from every war. Every time he went on a campaign, he got two or three slaves. By the end of his career, he had about 30–40 slaves.

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Trying to Stop Tomb Robbery

Amenhotep I is the first known king to separate his mortuary temple from his tomb.

The king would take many belongings and values to his tomb, and the mortuary temple right next to it was where the ka priests could make offerings of food, drinks, and prayers.

Amenhotep I separated these two to receive the offerings at a place where people would not pass through his tomb, and robbers could not get access to his belongings. This started off a tradition that was widely used later.

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Tuthmosis, the New King

Amenhotep I was a successful king, but he had no sons. Tuthmosis became the next king, though he was not a relative. He became the king by marrying the right woman. He married the daughter of Ahmose and Queen Ahmose-Nefertari, so he got a royal woman to marry, and that’s what made him the king.

Tuthmosis means Toth, the ibis-headed god of writing and knowledge, and mosis means ‘born’. So ‘Tuthmosis’ is ‘Toth is born’.

Tuthmosis was a military man. He, like the previous two brave kings, went to Nubia as well. However, he went further than the other kings, beyond the fourth cataract.

The cataracts were boulders in the Nile, very difficult to navigate. May and June were the best months to go south because the water was at its lowest, and the boulders and rocks were visible. Hence, they could avoid hitting the rocks and wrecking the ship. The army would walk at the sides of Nile with ropes attached to the ship, pulling it to the sides with fewer boulders. Since it was very hot during the day, the army sometimes tried to use the moonlight and move at night.

So, what was special about the fourth cataract?

The Fourth Cataract

The fourth cataract was the place of the Nubians. At this point, the river changed direction at a bend and went reverse. It was extremely disorientating, and Egyptians strongly avoided camping there. With all these barriers, Tuthmosis passed this bend.

Ahmose, son of Ebana, had accompanied the third king to war with Nubians. He was old by then, but his military experience had made him the captain of the ship. He wrote in his account, “I was brave in his presence in the bad water in the towing of the ship over the cataract. Thereupon I was made crew commander.”

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The Nubian Campaign

Besides having a Nubian-war veteran, Tuthmosis’s bravery and strategy brought him greater success. He conquered two tribes at Nubia and the Bedouins, or the ‘sand dwellers’. They were perhaps called so because they used to live in the desert and, literally, on the sand. Conquering three tribes was not easy, but Egypt owed it to having a strong central government.

The picture shows a mural depicting Egyptian gods and pharaohs.
Each of the first three kings of the XVIIIth Dynasty went south to conquer Nubia, and all succeeded due to their strong central government. (Image: amelipulen/Shutterstock)

The Nubians, on the other hand, were separate tribes and did not have one pharaoh to bring them together and organize them as an army.

Tuthmosis erected a stela at the most southward place that an Egyptian king of the XVIIIth Dynasty had gotten to–the fourth cataract. A stela was a round-topped stone, and it was put there to deliver a message: “This is Egypt’s southern border.” The message was written clearly on the stela.

Tuthmosis also killed a Nubian leader and hanged him upside down in front of his ship. When he sailed back to Thebes, the southern capital of Egypt, he had a clear message to convey: “Do not mess with Tuthmosis I.”

Egypt’s glory in the XVIIIth Dynasty was on a roll.

Common Questions about Amenhotep I and Tuthmosis

Q: What did Amenhotep I pioneer?

Amenhotep I was the first king who separated his mortuary temple from his tomb. He wanted priests and people to bring offerings to his temple, but he did not want them to pass through the tomb every time, to keep potential robbers away.

Q: What does Amenhotep mean?

Amun was the name of the most important Egyptian god, reflected in ‘amen’, the first part of the name. ‘Hotep’ meant pleased or satisfaction. Thus, Amenhotep is a name which means that Amun is satisfied with the person carrying the name.

Q: Who was the king after Amenhotep I?

After Amenhotep I, Tuthmosis became the king by marrying Amhose’s daughter. Tuthmosis was also one of the great kings of the XVIIIth Dynasty.

Q:What was Thutmosis known for?

Tuthmosis was a brave king who expanded Egypt’s southern border farther than any king had done before.

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