Episode 97: What Does the Scarab Say?

Amunhotep III (Part 7): Three Tales of the Scarabs.

From regnal years 9-11 (1932 – 1390 BCE), the royal court witnessed some very unusual developments. First, the King bagged his 100th lion while hunting. Then, the court welcomed a foreign princess, Gilu-khepa, who arrived as a diplomatic bride for the King. Finally, the court witnessed the construction of a massive lake, built in honour of Queen Tiy. These events are all told from a single source: a series of scarabs, carved with hieroglyphic proclamations, issued by the pharaoh to commemorate events in his first ten years on the throne.

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A scarab commemorating Queen Tiy (Boston MFA)


A scarab recording the lion hunts of years 1-10 (Met Museum)

97. gilukhepa brit museum

A scarab recording the arrival of Gilu-khepa from Mitanni (British Museum)

97. lion hunt brit museum

Another lion hunt scarab (British Museum)


Daphna Ben-Tor, “Egyptian-Canaanite Relations in the Middle and Late Bronze Ages as Reflected by Scarabs,” Egypt, Canaan and Israel:History, Imperialism, Ideology and Literature, 2011.

C. Blankenberg-van Delden, The Large Commemorative Scarabs of Amenhotep III, 1969.

Peter A. Clayton, “Some More ‘Fierce Lions’, and a ‘Marriage’ Scarab: The Large Commemorative Scarabs of Amenophis III,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 1996.

David O’Connor & Eric Cline, Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign, 1997.

Aidan Dodson, Amarna Sunrise, 2014.

Orly Goldwasser, “A ‘Kirgipa’ Commemorative Scarab of Amenhotep III from Beit-Shean,” Ägypten und Levante / Egypt and the Levant, 2002.

Arielle P. Kozloff, Amenhotep III: Egypt’s Radiant Pharaoh,  2012.

Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume II: The New Kingdom, 2006.

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