Amenhotep III ruled a vast empire with borders stretching from northern Syria to the Sudan and, during his thirty-eight year rule (about 1391-1353 B.C.), Egypt was wealthier and more powerful than it had ever been. This great pharaoh built the temple of Luxor and created thousands of statues as part of a vast construction project that covered the length of the Nile Valley. His idea was to recreate the heavenly cosmos on earth with himself as the center of that cosmos.
Amenhotep III’s distinctive facial features including his almond shaped eyes, short small nose and thick outlined lips are easily identifiable in this representation. The long eyebrows and the kohl (cosmetic) lines extending from the corners of his eyes are the length favored by this king. Amenhotep wears the traditional striped nemes headdress surmounted by a double crown representing his rule of both upper and lower Egypt. Above his brow is the royal uraeus, the sacred cobra which spit poison into the eyes of anyone who dared approach the king directly. Ancient Egyptian men were traditionally clean shaven, but the king wore a false beard as here, held onto his face with extended straps.
It is likely that this rare granite portrait was carved for the last of the king’s great jubilees, the one celebrated a year before his death when Amenhotep III was about 59 years old, an advanced age for his day.