Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt

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1549/1550 BC–1292 BC
Capital Thebes, Akhetaten
Languages Egyptian language
Religion Ancient Egyptian Religion
Government Absolute monarchy
Historical era Iron Age
 •  Established 1549/1550 BC
 •  Disestablished 1292 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Seventeenth Dynasty of Egypt
Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt

The Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt (notated Dynasty XVIII, alternatively 18th Dynasty or Dynasty 18) is classified as the first Dynasty of the Ancient Egyptian New Kingdom period, lasting from 1549/1550 BC to 1292 BC. It boasts several of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, including Tutankhamun, whose tomb was found by Howard Carter in 1922. This dynasty is also known as the Thutmosid Dynasty for the four pharaohs named Thutmose.

Famous pharaohs of Dynasty XVIII include Hatshepsut (c. 1479 BC–1458 BC), longest-reigning woman-pharaoh of an indigenous dynasty, and Akhenaten (c. 1353–1336 BC), the "heretic pharaoh", with his queen, Nefertiti.

The Eighteenth Dynasty is unique among Ancient Egyptian dynasties in that it had two women who ruled as sole Pharaoh: Hatshepsut, the longest reigning female sovereign of Egypt who is generally regarded as one of the most innovative rulers of Ancient Egypt (of either gender), and King Neferneferuaten, usually identified as the iconic Queen Nefertiti.[1]

Dynasty XVIII is the first of the three dynasties of the Egyptian New Kingdom, the period in which ancient Egypt reached the peak of its power.


Early Dynasty XVIII[edit]

Trial piece showing a head of an unknown king in profile. Uraeus on forehead. Limestone relief. 18th Dynasty. From Thebes, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London
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 Dynasty XVII. 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 was succeeded by his son, Amenhotep I, whose reign was relatively uneventful.[2]

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 up to Kurgus beyond the fourth cataract in the south. Thutmose I was succeeded by Thutmose II and his queen, Hatshepsut. She was the daughter of Thutmose I and soon after her husband's death, ruled for over twenty years after becoming pharaoh during the minority of her stepson, who later would become pharaoh as Thutmose III.

Thutmose III who later 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. The reign of Amenhotep III is seen as a high point in this dynasty. 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.[3]

Akhenaten, the Amarna Period, and Tutankhamun[edit]

Amenhotep III may have shared the throne for up to twelve years with his son Amenhotep IV, who would change his name to Akhenaten. There is much debate about this proposed co-regency. Some experts believe there was a lengthy co-regency, while others prefer to see a short one. There are also many experts who believe no such co-regency existed at all.

In the fifth year of his reign, Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten and moved his capital to Amarna. During the reign of Akhenaten the Aten—the sundisk—first became the most prominent deity, and eventually the Aten was considered the only god.[4] 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 the so-called Amarna Period an unfortunate aberration. The events following Akhenaten's death are unclear. Individuals named Smenkhare and Neferneferuaten are known but their relative placement and role in history is still much debated. Tutankhamun eventually took the throne and died young.[5]

Ay and Horemheb[edit]

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 may have married the widow of Tutankhamun in order to obtain power and she did not live long afterward. Ay's reign was short. His successor was Horemheb, a general during the reign of Tutankhamun whom the childless pharaoh may have intended as his successor.[5] Horemheb may have taken the throne away from Ay in a coup. He died childless and appointed his successor, Ramesses I, who ascended the throne in 1292 BC and was the first pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty.

Limestone fragment showing 2 cartouches bearing the throne-name (left) and birth-name and the epithet "god's father Ay the god the ruler of Thebes" (right) of Ay. From Egypt. 18th Dynasty. Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

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 the Goddess 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.[6]


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.[7]

Pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty[edit]

The pharaohs of Dynasty XVIII ruled for approximately two hundred and fifty years (c. 1550–1298 BC). The dates and names in the table are taken from Dodson and Hilton.[8] 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.[9] 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 a way to confirm good relations between these states.[10]

Pharaoh Image Throne name / Prenomen Reign Burial Consort(s) Comments
Ahmose I AhmoseI-StatueHead MetropolitanMuseum.png Nebpehtire 1549–1524 BC Ahmose-Nefertari
Amenhotep I 58 I Amenhotep I.jpg Djeserkare 1524–1503 BC KV39? or Tomb ANB? Ahmose-Meritamon
Thutmose I ColossalSandstoneHeadOfThutmoseI-BritishMuseum-August19-08.jpg Aakheperkare 1503–1493 BC KV20, KV38 Ahmose
Thutmose II Stone block with relief at Karnak Temple Thutmosis II.jpg Aakheperenre 1493–1479 BC KV42? Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut Hatshepsut.jpg Maatkare 1479–1458 BC KV20 Thutmose II
Thutmose III TuthmosisIII-2.JPG Menkheper(en)re 1479–1425 BC KV34 Satiah
Menhet, Menwi and Merti
Amenhotep II Amenhotep II.jpg Aakheperure 1425–1398 BC KV35 Tiaa
Thutmose IV Louvre Museum (7465530452).jpg Menkheperure 1398–1388 BC KV43 Nefertari
Daughter of Artatama I of Mitanni
Amenhotep III Amenhotep iii british museum.jpg Nebmaatre 1388–1350 BC KV22 Tiye
Gilukhipa of Mitanni
Tadukhipa of Mitanni
Daughter of Kurigalzu I of Babylon[10]
Daughter of Kadashman-Enlil of Babylon[10]
Daughter of Tarhundaradu of Arzawa[10]
Daughter of the ruler of Ammia[10]
Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten GD-EG-Caire-Musée061.JPG Neferkepherure-Waenre 1351–1334 BC Royal Tomb of Akhenaten Nefertiti
Tadukhipa of Mitanni
Daughter of Šatiya, ruler of Enišasi[10]
Daughter of Burna-Buriash II, King of Babylon[10]
Smenkhkare Spaziergang im Garten Amarna Berlin.jpg Ankhkheperure 1335–1334 BC Meritaten
Neferneferuaten NefertitiRelief SmitingSceneOnBoat-CloseUp.png

Ankhkheperure 1334–1332 BC Akhenaten?
Usually identified as Queen Nefertiti
Tutankhamun CairoEgMuseumTaaMaskMostlyPhotographed.jpg Nebkheperure 1332–1323 BC KV62 Ankhesenamun
Ay Opening of the Mouth - Tutankhamun and Aja-2.jpg Kheperkheperure 1323–1319 BC KV23 Ankhesenamun
Horemheb StatueOfHoremhebAndTheGodHorus-DetailOfHoremheb01 KunsthistorischesMuseum Nov13-10.jpg Djeserkheperure-Setepenre 1319–1292 BC KV57 Mutnedjmet

Timeline of the 18th Dynasty[edit]

Horemheb Ay Tutankhamun Neferneferuaten Smenkhkare Akhenaten Tiye Amenhotep III Thutmose IV Amenhotep II Thutmose III Hatshepsut Thutmose II Thutmose I Amenhotep I Ahmose I

Gallery of images[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Daniel Molinari (2014-09-16), Egypts Lost Queens, retrieved 2017-11-14 
  2. ^ Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton: pg 122
  3. ^ Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton: pg 130
  4. ^ Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton: pg 142
  5. ^ a b Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton: pg 143
  6. ^ "Block Statue of Ay". http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/3752/Block_Statue_of_Ay#.  External link in |website= (help);
  7. ^ Christopher Bronk Ramsey et al., Radiocarbon-Based Chronology for Dynastic Egypt, Science 18 June 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5985, pp. 1554–1557.
  8. ^ Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, London 2004
  9. ^ Sites in the Valley of the Kings
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Grajetzki, Ancient Egyptian Queens: A Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Golden House Publications, London, 2005, ISBN 978-0954721893


External links[edit]