Amenhotep III: The true face of the grandfather of Tutankhamun unveiled for the first time

Stephen Nartey May 17, 2024
“We were amazed with the final result; seeing a complete bust with these colors and the facial serenity is quite satisfying,” said Cicero Moraes, the recreation’s creator. Credit: Cicero Moraes/Pen News

The true face of Amenhotep III, the pharaoh who ruled ancient Egypt at its zenith and was worshipped as a living god, has now been unveiled. Known as the grandfather of Tutankhamun, Amenhotep III was described by one archaeologist as “one of the richest men that ever lived” and led Egypt through an era of unparalleled prosperity and global influence.

Despite being one of ancient Egypt’s greatest pharaohs with more surviving statues than any other, a scientific reconstruction of Amenhotep III’s face had never been done—until now. Utilizing data from his mummy’s skull, a multinational team has unveiled his true likeness for the first time in nearly 3,400 years, according to Daily Mail.

Michael Habicht, an archaeologist at Flinders University in Australia, said he came across differently from the Egyptian ruler’s statues. He said: “It’s a placid face for a man who promoted peace and lived in a time of the greatest economic prosperity. He might well have been one of the richest men that ever lived, at least in his epoch.”

He continued: “It is difficult to know the cause of death by analyzing the available remains.

“Research carried out in the 1970s described Amenhotep III as an obese, sick, and sedentary man, who was almost bald, and suffered from dental problems in the last years of his life.”

“Although he was one of the truly great kings of Egypt, his body height is about 156cm, making him one of the smallest kings we know from their preserved mummies. This rather small body height is not reflected in art – in artworks he is famous for his gigantic statues.”

Brazilian graphics expert Cicero Moraes, who digitally reconstructed the face of Amenhotep III, said the process began with recreating the pharaoh’s skull using images and data from his mummy. He then incorporated additional data from living donors to accurately estimate the dimensions and positions of the king’s nose, ears, eyes, and lips.

Moraes said: “Based on historical knowledge, Amenhotep III had a robust appearance, which is why we used data from individuals with a high body mass index.”

He added: “If we are not mistaken, this is the first facial approximation of Amenhotep III. Compared to other approximations of pharaohs that I have participated in, this was the most complete too, as we modeled the clothes and accessories.

“We were amazed with the final result; seeing a complete bust with these colors and the facial serenity is quite satisfying. It is our gift to all those who appreciate history.”

Pharaoh Amenhotep III, worshipped as divine and claimed the god Amun as his true father, reigned with the name meaning “Amun is satisfied.” He died between the ages of 40 and 50, leaving behind a kingdom at the peak of its power and wealth.

Habicht said: “Diplomatic letters by foreign potentates begged him to send them some gold as a present, ‘as gold shall be abundant in Egypt as sand’.”

“It’s the usual over-exaggeration for such a letter, but nevertheless hints towards extreme wealth.”

He added: “There are speculations that the mummy of Amenhotep III may have been entirely covered with gold leaf so that he must have looked like a statue of a god.”

Habicht suggested that Pharaoh Amenhotep III may have also been a womanizer.

“He was apparently very interested in women; he imported hundreds of foreign harem ladies and collected them as other people collect postal stamps,” he said.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 17, 2024

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