Amenhotep, son of Hapu, rose through the ranks of Kemet's religious establishment to become one of the highest-ranking officials during the 18th dynasty. He served at several temples, but is most known for his time at Athribis.
A talented individual from the time of his youth, Amenhotep, the son of Hapu, came to the attention of the royal house at an early age. In fact, he was born in the town of Athribis at the end of the reign of the great imperial king, Tuthmoses III. His father and mother, Hapu and Ipu, were probably farmers in the Delta area. As a young man, Amenhotep became a priest with the name Amenhotep, meaning one who pleases Amen. He soon had responsibility for overseeing the collection of materials, the organization of labor, and all emergency services for the king, the Per-aa. He held the title as Scribe of Recruits for the Per-aa and was given the job of ensuring that the projects were carried out according to the plans of the Per-aa.
Thus, while he was still in Athribis, Amenhotep, the son of Hapu and Ipa, was on his way to becoming a famous architect, priest, scribe, and public official. He was given charge of building projects in the Delta region and soon acquired a reputation for his skill, brilliance, and seriousness of purpose. When Amenhotep III was Per-aa, he supervised the building of the mortuary temple in Waset. There are two statues that remain from this mighty temple: They are the Colossus of Memnon.
Later he was worshipped as a god of healing during the Ptolemaic period. The people built a chapel in his honor and for his worship at the Deir el-Bahri Temple. At this site, he was depicted in one statue as a young person and in another as an old man.
What we know about Amenhotep, the son of Hapu and Ipa, is that he became one of the first historical human beings to be deified. Alongside Imhotep, who lived more than 1,000 years earlier, Amenhotep was worshipped as a god. Considered for his intelligence, wisdom, and phenomenal energy in the building of Kemet, he rose to the height of a great priest, a mighty saint, a demigod, and then finally someone to be worshipped.
Because of his indefatigable energy in supervising building projects throughout the country, many people came to him for counsel. Young men would consult with him about projects, spiritual conditions, and maat. As a master of maat, Amenhotep, the son of Hapu and Ipa, introduced protocols for construction projects that became the basis for many temples and tombs during the 18th dynasty.
It appears that Amenhotep was without peer during his time as a philosopher, counselor to Per-aas and ordinary people, architectural genius, and spiritual healer. No one in Kemet seemed to have had a greater reputation for piety and religious reflection than Amenhotep, the son of Hapu and Ipa. When his mortuary cult was established by a royal decree, it was because the people had already accepted him in their hearts as one of the most important human beings living in Kemet. The people would have made him a god if there had not been a decree given the legacy that he had established for excellence, community responsibility, and maat.
It is believed that Amenhotep died at the age of 80. Manetho, who wrote a history of Kemet for Ptolemy, the Greek ruler of Kemet, says that during the reign of Amenhotep IV, at his transition to Akhenaten, Amenhotep, who had been the main architect of Akhenaten's father, Amenhotep III, committed suicide because he was disturbed by the manner in which Akhenaten had distanced himself from the Almighty Amen. Amenhotep, the son of Hapu and Ipa, could see nothing that would inspire him to maintain his relationship to Amen in Akhenaten's heresy.
There is another account found in the tomb of Ramose that says he may have died in year 31 of the reign of Amenhotep III. This would mean that he would not have seen the rise of Akhenaten as Manetho reported during the Ptolemaic era.
This much is certain: After the death of Amenhotep, son of Hapu and Ipu, the people felt a great loss. They honored him with song and poetry, raised his name aloud to their children, praised his brilliance, and enshrined him in their hearts. The reverence for Amenhotep as a philosopher and great architect, priest and counselor, continued to grow.



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Further Reading

  • Asante, M. K. (2000). The Egyptian Philosophers. Chicago: African American Images.
  • Brugsch Bey, H. (1891). Egypt Under the Pharaohs: A History Derived Entirely From the Monuments. New York: Scribner.
  • Lichtheim, M. (1980). Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings: The Late Period. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Morenz, S. (1992). Egyptian Religion. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.