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The beginning of the New Kingdom: The 18th Dynasty
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Ceremonial dagger belonging to Ahmose
Ceremonial dagger
belonging to Ahmose

(Egyptian Museum)



Vertical loom
(Greek lekythos, 560 BCE)


Expedition to Punt
Expedition to Punt

(Egyptian Museum)


Wooden table, c.1450 BCE
Wooden table
c.1450 BCE

(Source: Tulane University website)



Banquet, c.1400 BCE
c.1400 BCE

(Tulane University)



Head rest
Head rest of Tutankhamen
(Egyptian Museum)



Book of the dead
Book of the Dead
Maiherperi, 18th dynasty

(Egyptian Museum)



Bed from Tutankhamen's tomb
Tutankhamen's tomb
(Source: Tulane University website)



Game table, tomb of Tutankhamen
Game table
tomb of Tutankhamen

(Source: Tulane University website)

The beginning of the New Kingdom
The 18th Dynasty

(Dates: ± 30 years)
1555 - New Kingdom
  • Tight central control
  • Amen is the chief god of the realm. The power of his priests grows.
  • Cultural sophistication. development of naturalistic and expressive art.
  • Biological knowledge: the development of the scarabs from eggs, flies from maggots, frogs from tadpoles.
  • The shadouf comes into use.
1530 - Thutmose I
  • Thutmose I separates his tomb from the temple, the first rock tomb in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor.
  • Revolts in Nubia are suppressed, the town of Napata grows.
  • The Tale of the Doomed Prince with a talking crocodile playing the role of the prince's fate.
  • Books of the Dead, papyri containing miniature paintings, incantations and religious thoughts.
  • Medicine is taught in the temple schools of Memphis and Thebes as part of the religious mysterium
  • Human and animal excrements and urine are used as medicines.
  • Frock-coat with short sleeves, shoulder collar and "sphinx-cap".
  • Carved wooden spoons (the handle often has the form of a nude servant girl.)
  • Vertical looms
  • No more pyramids are being built. The rock tombs are guarded against grave robbers and the mummies occasionally moved to different sites
1490 - Thutmose II and Hatshepsut
  • Hatshepsut, halfsister and wife of Thutmose II orders government with the help of her favourite Senmut.
  • Expedition to Punt (Somalia)
  • Glass vessels are being produced
  • Search for gold, silver and copper in Nubia (possibly even in eastern South Africa).
  • Ships are up to 50 metres long, thin, have cabins at the bow and stern, sails, up to 30 rowers.
  • Mortuary temple in honour of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir-el-Bahari
    Coloured relief depicting her birth, foreign envoys, people bearing gifts, landfall at Punt
    A statue of the Queen sitting
    The queen as sphinx
  • Bronze saws
  • Mercury is known
  • Importation of foreign goods
  • Myrrh saplings brought to Egypt from the Horn of Africa.
1480 - Thutmose III
  • Thutmose III orders the destruction of reliefs and inscriptions of Hatshepsut as king
  • Relief showing Egyptian victories over Asiatic enemies in the Amen temple at Karnak.
  • Egyptian empire includes Palestine and Syria. A revolt of Syrian noblemen is suppressed and seven of their bodies are publicly displayed at Thebes and Napata.
  • Two obelisks are erected at Heliopolis by Thutmose II (since 1879 in London and New York)
  • Temple of Amen at Karnak with reliefs and statues of Thutmose III and Hatshepsut
  • Marble statue of Thutmose III kneeling offering sacrifices, the king wears simple old-Egyptian clothing: a pleated loin cloth and regal headdress
  • Glass vases with coloured thread inlays.
  • Wall picture showing forced labour of prisoners of war
  • The manufacture of ropes depicted
  • Bellows replace blow pipes
  • Smelting of metal with bellows, casting of major artefacts
  • Obelisks serve as sun clocks and calendars.
  • Thutmose owns a portable sun clock.
  • Light, horsedrawn chariots for racing and fighting
  • Cleaning up the canal of Sesostris III
1430 - Thutmose IV
  • The great Sphinx of Gizeh is dug out of the sand.
1420 - Amenhotep III
  • Peaceful, extensive trade and correspondence with the Near East
  • Culture flourishes
  • Abandoning of the art traditions of the Middle Kingdom: a looser style, preference for softer, more pleasant forms, asiatic influences
  • Tiye, wife of Amenhotep III and mother of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) is of non-royal origin. The revolutionary attitude of her son may have been caused by her influence.
  • Immigration of semitic nomads into Egypt.
  • Temple at Luxor with columns in the form of bundles of papyrus reeds.
  • Tomb of Khaemhet: Reliefs depicting people wearing court dress, jewellery and hairdressing
  • Tomb of Nakht at Thebes: Wall painting depicting dancing and harp playing women, agricultural scenes (ploughing, hoeing, sowing, tree felling)
  • Scrolls made of papyrus
  • The Brugsch Papyrus : Medicine, theory of respiration
  • Domestic chickens as a curiosity
  • Courtiers wear wigs
  • Two wheeled wooden chariot for battle and hunting, covered with leather.
  • Tomb of Ramose: courtly sophistication, softening of the severe old-Egyptian forms
1385 - Akhenaten
  • Founds a new residence at Amarna
  • His revolutionary measures cause resistance of the army and the priesthood
  • Hymns of Akhenaten praising the Sungod Aten (Aton, Atum)
  • Suppression of all cults (especially the worship of Amen) but Aten's
  • Building of new Aten temples in the whole empire
  • Head of Tiye made of yew
  • Plaster masks made by the sculptor Thutmose at Amarna, realistic style
  • The Amarna Period is a time of naturalistic depiction, strong resistance against the new formalism.
  • Coloured wall paintings in the tombs at Thebes.
  • Sculptor's tomb with pictures of the artisan's activities
  • Close contact of the pharaohs with foreign powers through marriage, exchange of presents, trade. Lively contact with the Near East and the Aegean by land and sea
  • Archive of clay tablets at Amarna: royal correspondence with foreign rulers and vassals (Babylonia, Assyria, Mitanni, Palestine, Syria, Cyprus, Hatti, Crete). Decreasing Egyptian influence in Asia
  • Sculptors use more auxiliary lines and outlines
  • Limestone sculpture of Akhenaten kissing his daughter
  • Relief of Akhenaten and Nefertiti playing with their children protected by the rays of the sun god Aten
  • Stone busts of princesses (some showing traces of caricature)
  • Egyptian music retains a toneladder of five tones (the Syrian tone system containing half and full tones is not adopted). Music is intimately connected with religious and ethical mysticism. Instruments: Harp, oboe, percussion instruments.
  • Painted limestone bust of Queen Nefertiti
  • Painted negative relief of Nefertiti
  • Phoenician wares found in Egypt (e.g. wooden models for gold jewellery)
  • Memorial stone of a Syrian mercenary: the soldier with his Egyptian wife and son, sucks beer from a jar through a pipe.
1358 - Tutankhamen
  • Pressured by the Amen priests he returns to Thebes and restores the worship of Amen
  • Horemheb stops the advance of the Hittites in Syria
  • The orthodox cult of the state god Amen is restored
  • The art style of Amarna is continued, but in a less radical form
  • Chair showing the king and queen on its back
  • Chest with inlaid pictures: a hunt conducted from a two-wheeled chariot, battles against negroes
  • Gilded wooden statuette of the king
  • Shrine covered with gold sheet reliefs: The king and queen hunting wild ducks
  • It has been proposed that Tutankhamen was murdered, but there is no evidence for this.
1350 - Horemheb
  • From a papyrus (at Leiden): All gods are three, Amen, Re and Ptah, and there is none equal to them. "Hidden" is his name as Amen, his face is Re's and his body Ptah.
  • Relief from the king's tomb shows Canaanite prisoners in double rows
  • Restauration of the Egyptian art parallel to the reintroduction of the cult of Amen: softer style similar to the pre-Amarna style, but with a stronger emphasis on the corporeal and spacial.
  • Wooden statuettes of officers
  • Relief in a Memphis tomb: Celebration of the dead with psychological-individualistic depiction of the figures.
  • Gilded bronze mirror with a handle in the form of a nude woman.
  • The Great Edict of Horemheb attempts to restore law and order.
  • Memphis replaces Thebes as capital
  • Statue of Horemheb
  • Painted reliefs in the tomb of Horemheb, in the severe pre-Amarna style: Horses from Asia are brought to Tutankhamen.
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