Sphinx Head of Amenhotep II

A detail of Sphinx Head of King Amenhotep II. Amenhotep II (sometimes called Amenophis II and meaning ‘Amun is Satisfied’) was the seventh king of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. Amenhotep inherited a vast kingdom from his father Thutmose III, and held it by means of a few military campaigns in Syria; however, he fought much less than his father, and his reign saw the effective cessation of hostilities between Egypt and Mitanni, the major kingdoms vying for power in Syria.

The king and the queen could be represented as sphinxes. By associating a human face with the body of a lion the Egyptians combined the strength of the animal, which was connected to the sun god, with human intelligence. In the role of guardians, pairs of sphinxes were generally placed facing each other on either side of temple gates, processional ways, or the doorways of specific rooms inside a temple.

Sphinx Head of King Amenhotep II
Sphinx Head of King Amenhotep II

Amenhotep II was born to Thutmose III and a minor wife of the king: Merytre-Hatshepsut. He was not, however, the firstborn son of this king; his elder brother Amenemhat, the son of the great king’s chief wife Satiah, was originally the intended heir to the throne since Amenemhat was designated the ‘king’s eldest son” and overseer of the cattle of Amun in Year 24 of Thutmose’s reign.

However, between Years 24 and 35 of Thutmose III, both queen Satiah and prince Amenemhat died, which prompted the king to marry the non-royal Merytre-Hatshepsut. She would bear Thutmose III a number of children including the future Amenhotep II.

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1427-1401 BC. Now in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum, Copenhagen. ÆIN 1063