Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt

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Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt
1549/1550 BC–1292 BC
Funeral mask of Tutankhamun
Capital Thebes, Amarna
Common languages Egyptian language
ancient Egyptian religion
Government Absolute monarchy
Historical era Bronze Age
1549/1550 BC
1292 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Blank.png Fifteenth Dynasty of Egypt
Blank.png Seventeenth Dynasty of Egypt
Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt Blank.png

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 ancient Egypt achieved the peak of its power. The Eighteenth Dynasty spanned the period from 1549/1550 to 1292 BC. This dynasty is also known as the Thutmosid Dynasty for the four pharaohs named Thutmose.


Several of Egypt's most famous pharaohs were from the Eighteenth Dynasty, 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 an 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 regarded as one of the most innovative rulers of ancient Egypt, and Neferneferuaten, usually identified as Nefertiti. [1]


Early Dynasty XVIII

Ahmose-Nefertari. Ahmose-Nefertari was the daughter of Seqenenre Tao II, a 17th dynasty king who rose up against the Hyksos. Her brother Ahmose, expelled the Hyksos, and she became queen of a united Egypt. She was deified after she died. Ahmes Nefertari Grab 10.JPG
Ahmose-Nefertari. Ahmose-Nefertari was the daughter of Seqenenre Tao II, a 17th dynasty king who rose up against the Hyksos. Her brother Ahmose, expelled the Hyksos, and she became queen of a united Egypt. She was deified after she died.
Head of an Early Eighteenth Dynasty King, c. 1539-1493 BC, 37.38E, Brooklyn Museum Head of an Early Eighteenth Dynasty King, ca. 1539-1493 B.C.E.,37.38E.jpg
Head of an Early Eighteenth Dynasty King, c. 1539–1493 BC, 37.38E, Brooklyn Museum

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's consort, Queen Ahmose-Nefertari was "arguably the most venerated woman in Egyptian history, and the grandmother of the 18th Dynasty." [2] She was deified after she died. Ahmose was succeeded by his son, Amenhotep I, whose reign was relatively uneventful. [3]

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, whose reign is seen as a high point in this dynasty.

Amenhotep III's reign was period of unprecedented prosperity, artistic splendor, and international power, as attested by over 250 statues (more than any other pharaoh) and 200 large stone scarabs discovered from Syria to Nubia. [4] 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. [5] Amenhotep III's consort was the Great Royal wife Tiye, for whom he built an artificial lake, as described on eleven scarabs. [6]

Akhenaten, the Amarna Period, and Tutankhamun

The Aten, Aten.svg
The Aten,
Eighteenth Dynasty of EgyptEighteenth Dynasty of Egypt
Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt
Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt
Akhenaten and his family adoring the Aten. Second from the left is Meritaten, daughter of Akhenaten. La salle dAkhenaton (1356-1340 av J.C.) (Musee du Caire) (2076972086).jpg
Akhenaten and his family adoring the Aten. Second from the left is Meritaten, daughter of Akhenaten.

Amenhotep III may have shared the throne for up to twelve years with his son Amenhotep IV. There is much debate about this proposed co-regency, with different experts considering that there was a lengthy co-regency, a short one, or none 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 the only god. [7] 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. [8] His infant daughters, 317a and 317b mummies, represent the final genetically-related generation of the Eighteenth Dynasty.

Ay and Horemheb

Block Statue of Ay, c. 1336-1327 BC, 66.174.1, Brooklyn Museum Block Statue of Ay, ca. 1336-1327 B.C.E. 66.174.1.jpg
Block Statue of Ay, c. 1336–1327 BC, 66.174.1, Brooklyn Museum

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 pharaoh may have intended as his successor in the event that he had no surviving children, which came to pass. [9] Horemheb may have taken the throne away from Ay in a coup d'état. Although Ay's son or stepson Nakhtmin was named as his father/stepfather's Crown Prince, Nakhtmin seems to have died during the reign of Ay, leaving the opportunity for Horemheb to claim the throne next.

Horemheb also died without surviving children, having appointed his vizier, Pa-ra-mes-su, as his heir. This vizier ascended the throne in 1292 BC as Ramesses I, and was the first pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty.

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. [10]

Relations with Nubia

The Eighteenth Dynasty empire conquered all of Lower Nubia under Thutmose I. [11] By the reign of Thutmose III, the Egyptians controlled Nubia to the Nile river, 4th cataract (rapids). The Egyptians referred to the area as Kush and it was administered by the Viceroy of Kush. The 18th dynasty obtained Nubian gold, animal skins, ivory, ebony, cattle, and horses, which were of exceptional quality. [11] The Egyptians built temples throughout Nubia. One of the largest and most important temples was dedicated to amun at Jebel Barkal in the city of Napata. This Temple of Amun was enlarged by later Egyptian and Nubian Pharaohs, such as Taharqa.

Relations with the Near-East

After the end of the Hyksos period of foreign rule, the Eighteenth Dynasty engaged in a vigorous phase of expansionism, conquering vast areas of the Near-East, with especially Pharaoh Thutmose III submitting the "Shasu" Bedouins of northern Canaan, and the land of Retjenu, as far as Syria and Mittani in numerous military campaigns circa 1450 BC. [12] [13]


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. [15]

Pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty

The pharaohs of Dynasty XVIII ruled for approximately 250 years (c. 1550–1298 BC). The dates and names in the table are taken from Dodson and Hilton. [16] 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. [17] 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 to have been a way to confirm good relations between these states. [18]

PharaohImage Throne name / PrenomenReignBurialConsort(s)Comments
Ahmose I / Ahmosis I Pharaoh Ahmose I slaying a Hyksos (axe of Ahmose I, from the Treasure of Queen Aahhotep II) Colorized per source.jpg Nebpehtire1549–1524 BC Ahmose-Nefertari
Amenhotep I 58 I Amenhotep I.jpg Djeserkare1524–1503 BC KV39? or Tomb ANB? Ahmose-Meritamon
Thutmose I ColossalSandstoneHeadOfThutmoseI-BritishMuseum-August19-08.jpg Aakheperkare1503–1493 BC KV20, KV38 Ahmose
Thutmose II Stone block with relief at Karnak Temple Thutmosis II.jpg Aakheperenre1493–1479 BC KV42? Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut Hatshepsut.jpg Maatkare1479–1458 BC KV20 Thutmose II
Thutmose III TuthmosisIII-2.JPG Menkheper(en)re1479–1425 BC KV34 Satiah
Menhet, Menwi and Merti
Amenhotep II Amenophis II-E 10896-IMG 0085-gradient.jpg Aakheperure1427–1397 BC KV35 Tiaa
Thutmose IV Thumtmoses IV-E 13889-Louvre Museum (7465530452).jpg Menkheperure1397–1388 BC KV43 Nefertari
Daughter of Artatama I of Mitanni
Amenhotep III Amenhotep iii british museum.jpg Nebmaatre1388–1351 BC KV22 Tiye
Gilukhipa of Mitanni
Tadukhipa of Mitanni
Daughter of Kurigalzu I of Babylon [18]
Daughter of Kadashman-Enlil of Babylon [18]
Daughter of Tarhundaradu of Arzawa [18]
Daughter of the ruler of Ammia [18]
Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten GD-EG-Caire-Musee061.JPG Neferkepherure-Waenre1351–1334 BC Royal Tomb of Akhenaten Nefertiti
Tadukhipa of Mitanni
Daughter of Šatiya, ruler of Enišasi [18]
Daughter of Burna-Buriash II, King of Babylon [18]
Smenkhkare Spaziergang im Garten Amarna Berlin.jpg Ankhkheperure1335–1334 BC Meritaten
Neferneferuaten NefertitiRelief SmitingSceneOnBoat-CloseUp.png Ankhkheperure1334–1332 BC Akhenaten?
Usually identified as Queen Nefertiti
Tutankhamun CairoEgMuseumTaaMaskMostlyPhotographed.jpg Nebkheperure1332–1323 BC KV62 Ankhesenamun
Ay Opening of the Mouth - Tutankhamun and Aja-2.jpg Kheperkheperure1323–1319 BC KV23 Ankhesenamun
Horemheb StatueOfHoremhebAndTheGodHorus-DetailOfHoremheb01 KunsthistorischesMuseum Nov13-10.jpg Djeserkheperure-Setepenre1319–1292 BC KV57 Mutnedjmet

Timeline of the 18th Dynasty

HoremhebAyTutankhamunNeferneferuatenSmenkhkareAkhenatenAmenhotep IIIThutmose IVAmenhotep IIThutmose IIIHatshepsutThutmose IIThutmose IAmenhotep IAhmose IEighteenth Dynasty of Egypt

See also

Related Research Articles

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Akhenaten 18th Dynasty pharaoh

Akhenaten, also spelled Echnaton, Akhenaton, Ikhnaton, and Khuenaten, was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh reigning c. 1353–1336 or 1351–1334 BC, the tenth ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Before the fifth year of his reign, he was known as Amenhotep IV.

Nefertiti Egyptian queen and Great Royal Wife (chief consort) of Akhenaten, an Egyptian Pharaoh

Neferneferuaten Nefertiti was a queen of the 18th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten. Nefertiti and her husband were known for a religious revolution, in which they worshipped one god only, Aten, or the sun disc. With her husband, she reigned at what was arguably the wealthiest period of Ancient Egyptian history. Some scholars believe that Nefertiti ruled briefly as Neferneferuaten after her husband's death and before the ascension of Tutankhamun, although this identification is a matter of ongoing debate. If Nefertiti did rule as Pharaoh, her reign was marked by the fall of Amarna and relocation of the capital back to the traditional city of Thebes.

Tiye Queen consort of Egypt

Tiye was the daughter of Yuya and Tjuyu. She became the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III. She was the mother of Akhenaten and grandmother of Tutankhamun. In 2010, DNA analysis confirmed her as the mummy known as "The Elder Lady" found in the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35) in 1898.

Ankhkheperure Smenkhkare Djeser Kheperu was a short-lived pharaoh in the late 18th Dynasty. The names of this pharaoh translate as 'Living are the Forms of Re' and 'Vigorous is the Soul of Re – Holy of Forms'. Their reign, for it is uncertain whether Smenkhkare was male or female, was during the Amarna Period, a time when Akhenaten sought to impose new religious views. They are sometimes distinguished from the immediate predecessor (successor?), the female ruler Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten. Unlike Neferneferuaten, Smenkhkare did not use epithets in their royal name or cartouche.


Ay II, commonly known just as Ay, was the penultimate pharaoh of ancient Egypt's 18th Dynasty. He held the throne of Egypt for a brief four-year period, although he was a close advisor to two and perhaps three of the pharaohs who ruled before him and is thought to have been the power behind the throne during Tutankhamun's reign. Ay's prenomen or royal name—Kheperkheperure—means "Everlasting are the Manifestations of Ra" while his nomenAy it-netjer reads as "Ay, Father of the God". Records and monuments that can be clearly attributed to Ay are rare, not only due to his short length of reign, but also because his successor, Horemheb, instigated a campaign of damnatio memoriae against him and other pharaohs associated with the unpopular Amarna Period.

Meritaten Great Royal Wife, Kings Daughter

Meritaten, also spelled Merytaten or Meryetaten, was an ancient Egyptian royal woman of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Her name means "She who is beloved of Aten"; Aten being the sun-deity whom her father, Pharaoh Akhenaten, worshipped. She held several titles, performing official roles for her father and becoming the Great Royal Wife to Pharaoh Smenkhkare, who may have been a brother or son of Akhenaten. Meritaten also may have served as pharaoh in her own right under the name Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten.

Thutmose I

Thutmose I was the third pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. He received the throne after the death of the previous king, Amenhotep I. During his reign, he campaigned deep into the Levant and Nubia, pushing the borders of Egypt farther than ever before. He also built many temples in Egypt, and a tomb for himself in the Valley of the Kings; he is the first king confirmed to have done this.

Amenhotep I

Amenhotep I, Amenôthes I, or Amenophis I, (,) from Ancient Greek Ἀμένωφις, additionally King Zeserkere, was the second Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. His reign is generally dated from 1526 to 1506 BC. He was a son of Ahmose I and Ahmose-Nefertari, but had at least two elder brothers, Ahmose-ankh and Ahmose Sapair, and was not expected to inherit the throne. However, sometime in the eight years between Ahmose I's 17th regnal year and his death, his heir apparent died and Amenhotep became crown prince. He then acceded to the throne and ruled for about 21 years. Although his reign is poorly documented, it is possible to piece together a basic history from available evidence. He inherited the kingdom formed by his father's military conquests and maintained dominance over Nubia and the Nile Delta but probably did not attempt to maintain Egyptian power in the Levant. He continued the rebuilding of temples in Upper Egypt and revolutionized mortuary complex design by separating his tomb from his mortuary temple, setting a trend in royal funerary monuments which would persist throughout the New Kingdom. After his death, he was deified as a patron god of Deir el-Medina.

Tey Great Royal Wife

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Ankhesenamun Royal Wife of Tutankhamun

Ankhesenamun was a queen who lived during the 18th Dynasty of Egypt as the pharaoh Akhenaten's daughter and subsequently became the Great Royal Wife of pharaoh Tutankhamun. Born Ankhesenpaaten, she was the 3rd of 6 known daughters of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten and his Great Royal Wife Nefertiti. She became the Great Royal Wife of her half-brother Tutankhamun. The change in her name reflects the changes in ancient Egyptian religion during her lifetime after her father's death. Her youth is well documented in the ancient reliefs and paintings of the reign of her parents. Ankhesenamun and her husband Tutankhamun shared the same father, but different mothers. The mummy of Tutankhamun's mother has been identified through DNA analysis as a full sister to his father, Akhenaten, and as a daughter of his grandfather, Amenhotep III. So far his mother's name is uncertain, but her mummy is known informally to scientists as The Younger Lady.

Atenism Monotheistic religion from ancient egypt

Atenism, the Aten religion, the Amarna religion, or the "Amarna heresy" was a religion and the religious changes associated with the ancient Egyptian Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh Akhenaten. The religion centered on the cult of the god Aten, depicted as the disc of the Sun and originally an aspect of the traditional solar deity Ra. In the 14th century BC, Atenism was Egypt's state religion for about 20 years, before subsequent rulers returned to the traditional polytheistic religion and the pharaohs associated with Atenism were erased from Egyptian records.

The Amarna Period was an era of Egyptian history during the later half of the Eighteenth Dynasty when the royal residence of the pharaoh and his queen was shifted to Akhetaten in what is now Amarna. It was marked by the reign of Amenhotep IV, who changed his name to Akhenaten in order to reflect the dramatic change of Egypt's polytheistic religion into one where the sun disc Aten was worshipped over all other gods. The Egyptian pantheon was restored under Akhenaten's successor, Tutankhamun.

Gods Wife of Amun

God's Wife of Amun was the highest-ranking priestess of the Amun cult, an important religious institution in ancient Egypt. The cult was centered in Thebes in Upper Egypt during the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth dynasties. The office had political importance as well as religious, since the two were closely related in ancient Egypt.

Neferneferuaten Tasherit

Neferneferuaten Tasherit or Neferneferuaten the younger was an ancient Egyptian princess of the 18th Dynasty and the fourth daughter of Pharaoh Akhenaten and his Great Royal Wife Nefertiti.


Beketaten (14th century BCE) was an ancient Egyptian princess of the 18th Dynasty. Beketaten is considered to be the youngest daughter of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and his Great Royal Wife Tiye, thus the sister of Pharaoh Akhenaten. Her name means "Handmaid of Aten".


The khepresh (ḫprš) was an ancient Egyptian royal headdress. It is also known as the blue crown or war crown. New Kingdom pharaohs are often depicted wearing it in battle, but it was also frequently worn in ceremonies. It used to be called a war crown by many, but modern historians refrain from defining it thus.

Ankhkheperure-mery-Neferkheperure/-Waenre/-Aten Neferneferuaten was a name used to refer to either Meritaten or, more likely, Nefertiti.

The succession of kings at the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt is a matter of great debate and confusion. There are very few contemporary records that can be relied upon, due to the nature of the Amarna Period and the reign of Akhenaten and his successors and possible co-regents. It is known that Akhenaten reigned for seventeen years, and it was previously believed that in the last 3 or 4 years, he had two co-regents: Smenkhkare, who was possibly his brother or son, and Neferneferuaten, who was either one of his daughters or his Great Royal Wife Nefertiti. It is unknown in which order they followed each other, and neither of their reigns lasted long, for Tutankhamun succeeded not long after Akhenaten's death.


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