Kim Sargerson
The Amarna Period again
Sat Aug 27, 2016 23:46

Hi all

There have been a few almost random mentions of this period in recent months, so I thought I would outline the problems and information again, as well as my own latest thoughts.

General chronology

Hattushili II (III) wrote to king Kadashman-Enlil III (II) some time after the latter’s accession, and refers to an offer by the latter’s father Kadashman-Turgu to assist him in a war with Egypt. This should date to a period prior to the Egypto-Hittite alliance treaty of 21 Ramesses II, but after Hattushili’s own accession, that is some time about years 14-20 of R. II. At the other end of the timeline, the ruler Kadashman-Enlil I wrote to Amunhotep III complaining that he had not been notified of the king’s “great festival”, which can reasonably be conjectured as Amunhotep III’s first sed-festival of his year 30.

The minimal chronology from about 31 Amunhotep III (allowing time for the letter, and for Kadashman-Enlil's death) to about 20 Ramesses II (the latest date for Kadashman-Turgu) is:
Burnaburiash II 27, his successors 0, Kurigalzu II 25, Nazimaruttash 26, Kadashman-Enlil II (if he existed) 0.
Total: 78 years

In Egypt the maximum corresponding period, derived from surviving regnal years, is as follows:
Amunhotep III years 31-38 (last) = 7; Akhenaten years 1-17 (last) = 16; Smenkhkare year 1 = 1; Neferneferuaten years 1-3 = 3; Tutankhamun years 1-9 = 9; Aya years 1-4 = 4; Horemhab years 1-14 = 14; Ramesses I years 1-2 = 2; Sety I years 1-9 = 9; Ramesses II years 1-20 = 20.
Total: 85 years.
There are only 7 years of leeway here; a reasonable chronology would remove a further 3 years on the grounds that some of the reigns between Akhenaten and Ramesses II probably did not last long into the attested highest year, and another 2 years each end to allow the two letters (of Kadashman-Enlil, of Kadashman-Turgu) which delimit the period to be in less extreme positions. This brings us back down to 77 years, with no leeway at all.

Without a longer reign for someone on the list, any proposal for a lengthy coregency of Akhenaten with his father is doomed; even small proposed overlaps (such as Neferneferuaten with Akhenaten or Tutankhamun or both, or Sety I with Ramesses II) will cause difficulty.

Long reign for Horemhab:
This has been proposed (and accepted by many) on the basis of three factors:
(a) year 27, I Shemu 9 in a graffito on a statue in his mortuary temple
(b) year 59 from the Mes stele
(c) a year change from 26 to 27 on a hieratic ostracon from Deir el Medineh. The change of year occurred between IV Peret 28 and I Shemu 13, and should relate to a king between Tutankhamun and Ramesses XI. There are only a few candidates. Ramesses II is fairly certain at III Shemu 27, Ramesses III certain at I Shemu 26, Ramesses XI entirely uncertain as the arguments presented by Helck for a date IV Shemu 27-28 are completely contradicted by Beckerath's "not between III Shemu 26 and epagomenal 4".

(a) and (c) taken together would suggest an accession day for Horemhab. However (a) more appropriately relates to either a burial date or a posthumous entry into the temple for ritual reasons; it is entirely inappropriate for unauthorised graffiti to appear in the mortuary temple of a living king. (c) is unassigned, and could belong to Ramesses XI, whose highest attested date is year 27, IV Shemu x. (b) is of course modern speculation, to deduct the reigns of Akhenaten through Aya (about 32 years?) and leave 27 for Horemhab.

In contrast, excavation of the tomb of Horemhab, KV57, have revealed wine jar dockets dated to years 13 and 14, and no dockets at all for any higher number. This is compatible with Helck's compiled list of year dates from 1 to 13, with almost no missing years (from memory). A reign of 27 (or more) for Horemhab seems ruled out.

Long reign for Sety I:
The events of year 1-9 (ordinary) appear to be different from those of years 1-9 (whm mswt). It is entirely possible that this king actually reigned for 18-19 years. This is compatible with Ramesses II's own account (Great Abydos inscription, coveniently Breasted Ancient Records III 267) of him being the designated heir at birth, of being assigned a role as Hereditary Prince and governor of the land when still a child, but plainly an adult with at least 4 sons before his accession, and at least 12 sons old enough to go on campaign by year 8/9. His mummy has been estimated as of a man perhaps 90 years old, which on a reign of only 8-9 years for Sety I would make him about 15 on his father's accession, incompatible with his account. Note that the "year 11" date from Gebel Barkal is probably a misread "year 3", so all reign length statements of around 11 years in modern chronologies are based on combining this false reading with the unfinished quarrying of blocks and obelisks from the Aswan quarry opened or re-opened in a year 9.

From Murshili’s account, written many years later, it appears that a king of Egypt called Niphuriya, or Piphuriya, or Huriya, died in an autumn without obvious heirs. His widow “Dahamunzu” (which may simply be “Ta-hmt-nsw” (the king’s wife) in Egyptian), wrote to Suppiluliuma, Mursili’s father, saying she did not wish to marry “a servant” and asking for a son of the Hittite king as new consort. Suppiluliuma sent an envoy to Egypt to find out the truth, and after some further exchange(s) sent a son, “Zannanza” to Egypt; he was killed on the way, in Egyptian territory but not necessarily in Egypt proper, by persons unknown.

In theory there are 5 possible kings of Egypt who could fit the bill here, Akhenaten, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamun, Aya and Horemhab, who all died, or could have died, without an heir. All 5 have prenomina ending -kheperure, which seems to be the only certain element in the name of the dead king. However, the fuller name suggests that only two possibilities can be entertained, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun.

In favour of Tutankhamun, the circumstances (king without male offspring, widow marrying his successor Aya) are good, and the fact that Tutankhuaten was a "king's son" makes his concealment from the Hittite ambassadors impossible, if he was the only son of Akhenaten and the acknowledged heir (although he is not designated "eldest son" or "first son" in the only inscription).

In favour of Akhenaten is everything else.
(a) time of year he died: Tutankhamun's burial was in the spring, April Gregorian by the fresh flowers on his coffin. If his burial was in the usual timespan after death, 70 days, then his death was in Jan / Feb, much too late to be the king in Murshili's account. There is no sign of delay in Tutankhamun's burial; on the contrary everything seems to have been "rushed".
(b) date he died: this was in the reign of Shuppiluliuma I; that ruler was followed by Arnuwanda III, who did not reign long, and then by Murshili himself. Murshili writes to an Egyptian commander "Armaya" referring to previous Egyptian incursions into Amurru and their defeat. His campaign annals record defeating Egyptians either in year 7 or year 9. The obvious identity of Armaya is Horemhab, as general and not king. If Aya ruled only about 4 years, and even if Horemhab retained his position as general in the northlands under that reign, then Tutankhamun cannot have died before about year 3 of Murshili at the earliest, and quite possibly later. The only way "out" here is to suppose that Murshili is referring to an Egyptian defeat by one of his predecessors, a defeat also implied by Tutankhamun's restoration stela, but then there is no candidate to put forward as the Egyptian identity of Armaya.
(c) the widow: she is evidently in control of the government for at least some months after the death of her husband, conducting foreign diplomacy and offering the throne to Shuppiluliuma's son as her consort. She apparently makes two claims (i) the deceased king had no son and (ii) she had no son. These circumstances appear to fit the female pharaoh Neferneferuaten better (otherwise Ankhesenamun would have the clear third option of ruling alone and nominating a worthy heir at a later date, from the example set by her mother or elder sister).

If the widow was telling the truth, and it is inconceivable that she was not, as (i) the lie would have been found out very easily, and (ii) as the son of Akhenaten, Tutankhamun would have succeeded him without question, child or no, the conclusion must be that Tutankhamun was not the son of Akhenaten. The existence of the reign of Neferneferuaten, unless her years are the same as Tutankhaten's, is at odds with a smooth succession. Any suggestion that Neferneferuaten's reign fell within that of Akhenaten is certainly ruled out (if she was Nefertiti) by the year 16 graffito, which shows Akhenaten as king and Nefertiti as queen (not king). If she was not Nefertiti, but Merytaten, then it could be possible, but politically unlikely (we would have to assume that Merytaten married her father, then became his coregent, sidelining the obvious male heir).

The KV55 mummy has been the subject of a lot of speculative medical analysis over the years. I return to the X-ray and dental evidence, which are the most compelling given the detailed analysis of Tutankhamun's skeletal problems, which include microfracturing, are of genetic origin, and could give an impression of greater age. KV55 is a young man, in his mid-twenties or even younger, based on the same criteria used to age Tutankhamun himslf (dental wear, eruption of wisdom teeth, closure of epiphyses) at about 18. Tutankhamun's age as estimated from his remains fits very well with the chronology of his reign and his depiction as a child at the start of it. KV55 is too young to be Akhenaten on anyone's chronology. That KV55 "might have been" as old as 30, or 35, or 60(!) based on much more speculative evidence, or even no evidence, is driven purely by the desire to see this mummy as that of Akhenaten himself, and must be viewed with some scepticism.

Smenkhkare: actual attestations of this individual are few, given that his prenomen Ankhkheperure was also borne by the female pharaoh Neferneferuaten, and simple occurrences of the prenomen (on rings found at Akhetaten) could belong to either. A block from Memphis, now lost, but part of an aten-scene, had the cartouches of Smenkhkare and Merytaten. Some rings and seals from Akhetaten bear the nomen. The "coronation court" added to the Akhetaten palace has bricks stamped with the prenomen Ankhkheperure,, again ambiguous. Clear attestation comes from the tomb of Meryre II (TA2). In a reward scene Meryre is shown receiving gifts from king Smenkhkare and the great wife Merytaten. As all decoration of the tombs of the nobles seems to have ceased at roughly the same date, in or shortly after year 12 of Akhenaten, for reasons unknown, and as this scene is unique, I see no reason to suppose it was added at a later date. As Merytaten is shown as "king's daughter" in the year 12 durbar scenes, a date shortly after this (but well within the reign of Akhenaten) for the brief reign of Smenkhkare seems compatible with the evidence. His wine producing estate has two surviving dockets, one dated to his year 1, the other to year 1 of Smenkhkare [ma]at-[kheper]u which has been taken to mean "deceased" but could be a misreading of the epithet djoser-kheperu perhaps.

But who was Smenkhkare? and who was Neferneferuaten?
(1) Smenkhkare: he was married to the daughter of Akhenaten. All mentions of Merytaten as great wife are compatible with being his wife; even as his widow she would have continued to be referred to by this title, and does not have to go on to marry her father. Besides Akhenaten he is the only realistic candidate as the father of Tutankhamun, as Amunhotep III has been ruled out by genetic evidence (even on a long coregency with Akhenaten). He should therefore be identified with the KV55 individual, as proposed many years ago, and therefore as a son of Amunhotep III and Tiye. The existence of an artifact bearing the name of a prince Thutmose, titled "king's son, troop commander, repeating of births" from the tomb of Tutankhamun, seems the obvious place to look. No artifact dating from before the reign of Amunhotep III was found in the tomb, and he cannot be identified with the "eldest king's son, sm of Ptah" Thutmose who was a son of Amunhotep III and Tiye. Looking earlier in the dynasty Thutmose IV also claimed to be "eldest son", Thutmose III was not a mere prince long enough to be an army officer and Thutmose I was not the son of a king as far as we know, which only leaves Thutmose II as a possible alternative. This seems to me to be too far in the past to be likely. I identify this Thutmose as a late born son of Amunhotep III and Tiye, repeating the birth of his brother of the same name, who died in his teens at about the same time.

The name "Smenkhkare" suggests this was perhaps not his birth name, and that, along with other members of the royal family and some courtiers, he changed his name to avoid the traditional gods when everyone else did, around year 4 of Akhenaten or soon after. Given that younger sons of kings also had -re names earlier in the dynasty (most but not all the prenomen of their father) and that Akhenaten's youngest daughters also had -re names, equally it does not seem impossible that "Smenkhkare" was his birth name.

(2) Neferneferuaten: her titles (beloved of Waenre / Neferkheperure, beneficial for her husband) clearly imply she was the wife and/or widow of Akhenaten. The ushabtis of Nefertiti as queen only are not directly associated with any burial, and could have been made when she was the king's wife, but never used. There is nothing to preclude Nefertiti being the king Neferneferuaten, and the triple set of names of Akhenaten, Neferneferuaten, and the great wife Merytaten on a piece of a box found in KV62 seems to militate against her being anyone else.

(3) Grandchildren of Akhenaten
I used to agree with the idea that Mertyaten-tasherit and Ankhesenpaaten-tasherit were fictional substitutes required by the re-inscribing of items originally intended for the queen Kiya and her (name lost) daughter. However, these two infants are not called "king's daughter" nor are their mothers called "king's wife". If they are real individuals the only obvious conclusion is that some time after the year 12 durbar the two eldest surviving daughters of Akhenaten married commoners. As Merytaten becomes a great wife shortly after this event also, Akhenaten had decided that he would not have a son, and he married off Merytaten to her uncle Smenkhkare (or Thutmose) before elevating Smenkhkare to co-king. Who did Ankhesenpaaten marry? My answer is Aya.

The Ankhesenpaaten / Ankhesenamun who was the wife of Tutankhamun was not a "king's daughter". She was the daughter of the "god's father" Aya and the cousin of her husband. The mother of Tutankhamun (KV35YL) is either Merytaten or an anonymous daughter of Amunhotep III and Tiye, a previous wife of Smenkhkare. As Tutankhamun would appear to be about 9 when he became king, he would be born about year 9-10 of Akhenaten, which is too early for Merytaten to be his mother. According to the examiners, KV35YL had borne several children; it may be one of these whose name [...]aten appears next to and facing Tutankhuaten's, and there may have been more, or it may be Merytaten-tasherit.



    • Re: The Amarna Period againJoe Baker, Fri Sep 2 07:02
      Hi Kim Hattushili II (III) wrote to king Kadashman-Enlil III (II) some time after the latter’s accession, and refers to an offer by the latter’s father Kadashman-Turgu to assist him in a war with... more
      • Re: The Amarna Period againKim Sargerson, Fri Sep 2 20:00
        Hi Joe "On the other hand I place Kadašman–Enlil’s offer after the year 21 treaty." I think you mean Kadashman-Turgu. Yes, this is a possibility. However the chronology I presented had K-T acceding... more
    • re:The Amarna Period againMarianne Luban, Sun Aug 28 10:45
      Kim wrote: "At the other end of the timeline, the ruler Kadashman-Enlil I wrote to Amunhotep III complaining that he had not been notified of the king’s “great festival”, which can reasonably be... more
      • re:The Amarna Period againKim Sargerson, Sun Aug 28 15:48
        Hello Marianne You wrote "Why assume that when he had two more--the last in Year 37?" Because that would make the period required to be spanned by the Egyptian reigns a further 7 years more, and bang ... more
        • Re:The Amarna Period againJoe Baker, Mon Aug 29 03:30
          Hi Kim The only kinds of evidence that would be acceptable in this context are (a) a dated inscription from the reign of Amenhotep III titling Tiye "king's mother" (b) a joint inscription by the two... more
          • Re:The Amarna Period againMarianne Luban, Mon Aug 29 12:26
            Joe: "As I have said many times in the past, no co-regencies - there is no evidence of a co-regency only evidence of the gullibility and or ignorance of scholars and commentators." Is that so. What... more
            • Re:The Amarna Period againAnonymous, Mon Aug 29 18:44
              Hello Marianne You wrote "" This cites the same old arguments, plus a bit of "Manethonic" numerology. Every single ... more
              • Re:The Amarna Period againMarianne Luban, Mon Aug 29 23:52
                Kim wrote: "" "This cites the same old arguments, plus a bit of "Manethonic" numerology." I don't know what... more
                • Re:The Amarna Period againKim Sargerson, Tue Aug 30 15:54
                  Marianne If you don't understand what I write, ask me to explain it to you. That's not being patronising, I often have to do the same. But don't sneer at something you do not understand, just say you ... more
                  • Re:The Amarna Period againMarianne Luban, Tue Aug 30 18:34
                    Kim: "Everyone who thinks anything about "Manetho" that is positive, is of the opinion that Josephus had access to a more detailed and more original text than the others." What I said to Cullom about ... more
              • Re:The Age of KV55Joe Baker, Mon Aug 29 20:37
                Hi Kim You commented on the age estimate of the KV55 mummy in the book "Scanning the Pharaohs" by Z. Hawass and S. Saleem Thus the same team who want KV55 to be aged 35-45 (their assessment, not... more
                • Re:The Age of KV55Kim Sargerson, Mon Aug 29 22:45
                  Hi Joe "You are forgetting things." Yes, I am. It was 1966, not 1967. It was Harrison's examination I was referring to. This concluded that the age ranges for two features, eruption of the wisdom... more
                  • re: The Age of KV55Marianne Luban, Tue Aug 30 00:26
                    Kim: "The magic bricks are surely not original to the Akhetaten burial, and even the coffin and canopic jars were altered at least once in the tomb. Not what I would call a convincing provenance.... more
                • re: the age of kv55Rich McQuillen, Mon Aug 29 21:46
                  Old: Hawass/Saleem, Harris/Wente Young: Grafton Elliot Smith, 1967(Harrison, R. G. 1966) **** Add 2 more to the Young camp... Filer(2000) and Derry(1931) Filer (2000) said: "More conclusively, many... more
                  • re: the age of kv55Marianne Luban, Tue Aug 30 10:09
                    Unfortunately, there is not even a world standard for aging human skeletal remains. However, once... more
                  • re: the age of kv55Kim Sargerson, Mon Aug 29 23:23
                    Hello Rich Thank you for posting these quotations. Add two more to the "young" camp - Dr Brenda Baker (2010) and Dr Eugene Strouhal (2010 based on an examination in 1998). All the pathology... more
                  • re: 500 gold sheets foundRich McQuillen, Mon Aug 29 21:55
                    Hopefully this new ongoing study comes up with some new evidence to add to this debate. Forgotton box may hold the key to Egypt’s pharaoh without a face... more
          • Re:The Amarna Period againKim Sargerson, Mon Aug 29 07:59
            Hi Joe Many thanks for your comments. I really only posted this because I was becoming tired of the old, old "evidence" being cited over and again without any new evidence or new reasoning to back... more
            • Re:The Amarna Period againMarianne Luban, Mon Aug 29 10:13
              Kim wrote: "If such a co-regency existed then one would expect to find in the Amarna correspondence copies of the same letters sent to both monarchs, especially by the superpowers, or if separate... more
            • Re:The Amarna Period againMarianne Luban, Mon Aug 29 09:24
              Kim wrote: "I really only posted this because I was becoming tired of the old, old "evidence" being cited over and again without any new evidence or new reasoning to back it." All my arguments for a... more
            • Re:The Amarna Period againJoe Baker, Mon Aug 29 08:42
              Hi Kim In less than 20 years there were full warring pharaohs at Thebes (Rudamun and later Ini, warring with the Kushites), and later, warring with each other, were Hermopolis (Nimlot) and... more
        • CorrectionKim Sargerson, Sun Aug 28 16:07
          I wrote "The closest Aldred came was to (c) when he showed that two papyri (not one) written by the same scribe and featuring many of the same local village names, including those of slaves, dated to ... more
          • Re: CorrectionTory, Mon Aug 29 20:03
            Hi all, Every time Joe opens his mouth he makes the case for the overlap of Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV that much stronger. 1. An overlap is two or more kings (related or not related) ruling from... more
            • Re: CorrectionKim Sargerson, Thu Sep 1 16:07
              Hi Tory "The Gurob Papyri with three consecutive transactions dated year 27 Amenotep III, and years 2 and 3 Amenhotep IV, with all three of these records found in the same conical pottery jar in... more
            • Re: CorrectionKim Sargerson, Mon Aug 29 22:47
              Hi Tory I did say it was the closest Aldred came. For a while (about 2 years) it convinced me. But then came Murnane's article... Kim
              • Re: CorrectionTory, Tue Aug 30 00:10
                Murnane's article does not take a position with respect to the papyri in question. It also doesn't discuss the contents of the papyri in any satisfactory way that can be described scholarly rigor.... more
  • Click here to receive daily updates