TUTHMOSIS III by Jimmy Dunn.
For different reasons, to different people, Egypt's 18th Dynasty is probably one of Egypt's most interesting periods. For the general
public, This was the Dynasty of Tutankhamun, probably the best known, though certainly not the most powerful pharaoh of all time. To
others, Akhenaten, the heretic king, will provide an everlasting curiosity. Closer to the beginning of this Dynasty, Hatshepsut ruled as
perhaps the most powerful of all Egyptian queens, even though she often disguised and promoted herself though inscriptions as a man, and
even though her predecessor, Tuthmosis II named his young son to succeed him upon his death. But upon Tuthmosis' death, his son,
Tuthmosis III was still a young child, so there was little choice but for his stepmother and aunt Hatshepsut to initially act as his
regent. His birth name was probably Djehutymes III in Egyptian, but he is frequently referred to by his Greek name of Tuthmosis (Born of
the god Thoth). He is also known as Thutmose III, Thutmosis, and his Throne name was Men-kheper-re (Lasting is the Manifestation of Re).
By the second year of the young king's rule, Hatshepsut had usurped her stepson's position and so inscriptions and other art began to
show her with all the regalia of kingship, even down to the official royal false beard. Yet, at the same time, she did little to really
diminish Tuthmosis' rule, dating her own rule by his regnal years, and representing him frequently upon her monuments.
It is likely that Tuthmosis III, was lucky to have survived her rule, though there is some debate on this issue. He obviously stayed
well in the background, and perhaps even demonstrated some amount of cunning in order to simply keep his life. Because of the prowess he
would later demonstrate on the battlefield, we assume he probably spent much of Hatshepsut's rule in a military position. To an extent,
they did rule together, he in a foreign military position, and her taking care of the homeland. When Hatshepsut finally died, outliving
her powerful ministers, Tuthmosis III was at last able to truly inherit the thrown of Egypt, and in doing so, proved to be a very able
Interestingly, it was not until the last years of his reign that he demonstrated what must have been some anger with his stepmother by
destroying as much of her memory as possible. Her images were expunged from monuments throughout Egypt. This is obvious to most visitors
of Egypt because one of the most effected monuments was her temple at Deir el-Bahari, today a primary tourist site. There, Tuthmosis III
destroyed her reliefs and smashed numerous statues into a quarry just in front of the temple. He even went so far as to attack the tombs
of her courtiers. Yet if this was over the frustration of his youth when she ruled, why did he wait until such a late date to begin the
In any event, Tuthmosis III became a great pharaoh in his own right, and has been referred to as the Napoleon of ancient Egypt (by the
Egyptologists, James Henry Breasted). But perhaps is reputation is due to the fact that his battles were recorded in great detail by the
archivist, royal scribe and army commander, Thanuny. The battles were recorded on the inside walls surrounding the granite sanctuary at
Karnak, and inscriptions on Thanuny's tomb on the west bank state that, "I recorded the victories he won in every land, putting them
into writing according to the facts". Referred to as the Annals, the inscriptions were done during Tuthmosis' 42nd year as pharaoh, and
describe both the battles and the booty that was taken. These events were recorded at Karnak because Tuthmosis's army marched under the
banner of the god, Amun, and Amun's temples and estates would largely be the beneficiary of the spoils of Tuthmosis' wars.
Having close ties with his military, Tuthmosis undoubtedly received sage advice from his commanders. It was probably decided that the
Levant offered the greatest potential for glory and wealth if the trade routes dominated by Syrian, Cypriot, Palestinian and Aegean
rulers could be taken.
Tuthmosis III fought with considerable nerve and cunning. On one campaign, he marched to Gaza in ten days and from Yehem, planned the
battle to take take Megiddo which was held by a rebellious prince named Kadesh. There were three possible approaches to Megiddo, two of
which were fairly open, straightforward routes while the third was through a narrow pass that soldiers would only be able to march
through in single file.
Though he was advised against this dangerous pass by his commanders, Tuthmosis not only took this dangerous route, but actually led the
troops through. Whether by luck, or gifted intuition this gamble paid off, for when he emerged from the tight canyon, he saw that his
enemies had arranged their armies to defend the easier routes. In fact, he emerged between the north and south wings of the enemy's
armies, and the next day decisively beat them in battle. It apparently took a long siege (seven months) to take the city of Megiddo, but
the rewards were great. The spoils were considerable, and included 894 chariots, including two covered with gold, 200 suites of armor
including two of bronze, as well as over 2,000 horses and 25,000 other animals.
Tuthmosis III had marched from Thebes up the Syrian coast fighting decisive battles, capturing three cities, and then returned back to
Thebes. Over the next 18 years, his armies would march against Syria every summer and by the end of that period, he established Egyptian
dominance over Palestine. At Karnak he records the capture of 350 cities, and in the 42nd year of his rule, Kadesh itself was finally
He also made campaigns into Nubia where he built temples at Amada and Semna and restored Senusret III's old canal in his 50th year of
rule so that his armies could easily pass on their return to Egypt.
QUEENS AND VASSALS
Tuthmosis' main queen was Hatshepsut-Merytre, who survived him and lived as Queen Mother into the reign of her son. However, he also had
several minor queens, some of whom had been acquired due to diplomatic exchanges. We know the names of three such minor queens, Menhet,
Menwi and Merti from the discovery of their tomb west of Deir el-Bahri. He also took a number of foreign prices hostage, who then
received training and indoctrination in Egyptian ways. They would later be returned to their homeland as obedient vassals of Egypt.
Tuthmosis is well attested in many parts of Egypt and outside of Egypt. We find blocks deep within Nubia at Gebel Barkal, and also at
Sai, Pnubs at the third cataract, Uronarti, Buhen, Quban, Faras and Ellesiya, as well as his temples at Amada and Semna. He also built a
temple dedicated to the goddess Satet at Elephantine, as well as projects at Kom Ombo, Edfu, El-Kab, Tod, Armant, Akhmim, Hermopolis and
Heliopolis. From a list of one of Tuthmosis' overseers, we also know of projects at Asyut, Atfish and various locations in the delta.
Tuthmosis III built his own temple near Hatshepsut's on a ledge between her temple and that of Mentuhotep. His small temple was
excavated recently by a polish mission. The excavation revealed stunningly fresh reliefs, perhaps because a rock fall from the cliffs
above covered the temple shortly after its completion. Close by, Tuthmosis built a rock cut sanctuary to the goddess Hathor. This
monument was accidentally discovered by a Swiss team when a rock fall exposed its opening. Apparently, the shrine was in use up to the
Ramesside period, when it was destroyed by an earthquake.
But of the many monuments associated with Tuthmosis III, none faired better then the temple of Karnak. Wall reliefs near the sanctuary
record the many gifts of gold jewelry, furniture, rich oils and other gifts offered to the temple,. mostly from the spoils of war, by
Tuthmosis III. He was responsible for the Sixth and Seventh Pylons at Karnak, as well as considerable reconstruction within the central
areas of the temple. He erected two obelisks at the temple, one of which survives at the Hippodrom at Istanbul. There is also a great,
black granite Victory Stele embellishing his military victories.
He also built a new and very unique temple at Karnak that is today referred to as his Festival Hall. The columns are believed to
represent the poles of the king's campaign tent. In the rear is a a small room with representations of animals and plants bought back
from Syria during the 25th year of his reign. For obvious reasons, this room is referred to as the Botanical Garden.
The opulence of his reign is also reflected in the quality tombs built by his high officials. The tome of his vizier, Rekhmire is
notable, with many scenes of daily life, crafts as well as a long inscription concerning the office of vizier. However, the presence of a
military elite is also attested by no less then eleven Theban tombs from the reign of Tuthmosis.
Tuthmosis III, we believe ruled Egypt from 1504 BC until his death in 1450 BC. He was buried in tomb KV 34 in the Valley of the kings.
The tomb was halfway up a cliff face, and after his burial, masons destroyed the stone stairway leading up to it and concealed the
tomb's entrance. However, it would seem that no matter what initiatives pharaohs took to protect their tombs, robbers were sure to find
them. Indeed, in 1898 when his tomb was discovered by Victor Loret, all he found was the carved sarcophagus and some remains of smashed
furniture and wooden statues. Tuthmosis III, mummy likewise was not in the tomb, for it had been found in 1881 in the great royal cache
at Deir el-Bahari. However, the tomb is covered with black and red painted hieratic renditions of the netherworld texts.
Thutmose III (sometimes read as Thutmosis or Tuthmosis III and meaning Son of Thoth) was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. During
the first twenty-two years of Thutmose's reign he was co-regent with his stepmother, Hatshepsut, who was named the pharaoh. While she is
shown first on surviving monuments, both were assigned the usual royal names and insignia and neither is given any obvious seniority over the
other. He served as the head of her armies.
After her death and his later rise to being the pharaoh of the kingdom, he created the largest empire Egypt had ever seen; no fewer than
seventeen campaigns were conducted, and he conquered from Niya in north Syria to the fourth waterfall of the Nile in Nubia. Officially,
Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost fifty-four years, and his reign is usually dated from April 24, 1479 BC to March 11, 1425 BC; however,
this includes the twenty-two years he was co-regent to Hatshepsut-his stepmother and aunt. During the final two years of his reign, he
appointed his son-and successor--Amenhotep II, as his junior co-regent. When Thutmose III died, he was buried in the Valley of the Kings as
were the rest of the kings from this period in Egypt.
Thutmose III was the son of Thutmose II by a secondary wife, Iset. Because he was the pharaoh's only son, he would have become the first
in line for the throne when Thutmose II died. However, because he was not the son of his father's royal queen, his "degree" of royalty was
less than ideal . To bolster his qualifications, he may have married a daughter of Thutmose II and Hatshepsut. It has been suggested that
the daughter in question may have been Merytre-Hatshepsut, however, she is now proven not to have been a daughter of Hatshepsut.
Regardless of this, when Thutmose II died Thutmose III was too young to rule, so Hatshepsut became his regent, soon his coregent, and shortly
thereafter, she was declared to be the pharaoh. Thutmosis III had little power over the empire while Hatshepsut exercised the formal titulary
of kingship, complete with a royal praenomen-Maatkare. Her rule was quite prosperous and marked by great advancements. When he reached a
suitable age and demonstrated the capability, she appointed him to head her armies. After the death of Hatshepsut, Thutmosis III ruled Egypt
on his own for thirty years, until the last two years of his reign, when his son became a coregent for two years. He died in his fifty-fourth
Thutmosis III had two known wives: Satiah and Merytre-Hatshepsut. Satiah bore him his firstborn son, Amenemhat, but the child predeceased his
father. His successor, the crown prince and future king Amenhotep II, was born to Merytre-Hatshepsut.
Dates and length of reign
Thutmose III reigned from 1479 BC to 1425 BC according to the Low Chronology of Ancient Egypt. This has been the conventional Egyptian
chronology in academic circles since the 1960s, though in some circles the older dates 1504 BC to 1450 BC are preferred from the High
Chronology of Egypt. These dates, just as all the dates of the Eighteenth Dynasty, are open to dispute because of uncertainty about the
circumstances surrounding the recording of a Heliacal Rise of Sothis in the reign of Amenhotep I. A papyrus from Amenhotep I's reign
records this astronomical observation which, theoretically, could be used to perfectly correlate the Egyptian chronology with the modern
calendar; however, to do this the latitude where the observation was taken must also be known. This document has no note of the place of
observation, but it can safely be assumed that it was taken in either a Delta city such as Memphis or Heliopolis, or in Thebes. These two
latitudes give dates twenty years apart, the High and Low chronologies, respectively.
The length of Thutmose III's reign is known to the day thanks to information found in the tomb of the court official Amenemheb. Amenemheb
records Thutmose III's death to his master's fifty-fourth regnal year, on the thirtieth day of the third month of Peret. The day of
Thutmose III's accession is known to be I Shemu day 4, and astronomical observations can be used to establish the exact dates of the
beginning and end of the king's reign (assuming the low chronology) from April 24, 1479 BC to March 11, 1425 BC respectively.
Thutmose's military campaigns
Further information: Djehuty (general) and The Taking of Joppa
Widely considered a military genius by historians, Thutmose III made 16 raids in 20 years. He was an active expansionist ruler, sometimes
called Egypt's greatest conqueror or "the Napoleon of Egypt." He is recorded to have captured 350 cities during his rule and conquered
much of the Near East from the Euphrates to Nubia during seventeen known military campaigns. He was the first Pharaoh after Thutmose I to
cross the Euphrates, doing so during his campaign against Mitanni. His campaign records were transcribed onto the walls of the temple of Amun
at Karnak, and are now transcribed into Urkunden IV. He is consistently regarded as one of the greatest of Egypt's warrior pharaohs, who
transformed Egypt into an international superpower by creating an empire that stretched from southern Syria through to Canaan and Nubia.
In most of his campaigns his enemies were defeated town by town, until being beaten into submission. The preferred tactic was to subdue a
much weaker city or state one at a time resulting in surrender of each fraction until complete domination was achieved.
Much is known about Thutmosis "the warrior", not only because of his military achievements, but also because of his royal scribe and army
commander, Thanuny, who wrote about his conquests and reign. The prime reason why Thutmosis was able to conquer such a large number of lands,
is because of the revolution and improvement in army weapons. He encountered only little resistance from neighbouring kingdoms, allowing him
to expand his realm of influence easily. His army also had carried boats on dry land.
When Hatshepsut died on the tenth day of the sixth month of Thutmose III's twenty second year - according to information from a single stela
from Armant - the king of Kadesh advanced his army to Megiddo. Thutmose III mustered his own army and departed Egypt, passing through the
border fortress of Tjaru (Sile) on the twenty-fifth day of the eighth month. Thutmose marched his troops through the coastal plain as far
as Jamnia, then inland to Yehem, a small city near Megiddo, which he reached in the middle of the ninth month of the same year. The
ensuing Battle of Megiddo probably was the largest battle in any of Thutmose's seventeen campaigns. A ridge of mountains jutting inland
from Mount Carmel stood between Thutmose and Megiddo, and he had three potential routes to take. The northern route and the southern
route, both of which went around the mountain, were judged by his council of war to be the safest, but Thutmose, in an act of great bravery
(or so he boasts, but such self-praise is normal in Egyptian texts), accused the council of cowardice and took a dangerous route through
a mountain pass which he alleged was only wide enough for the army to pass "horse after horse and man after man."
Despite the laudatory nature of Thutmose's annals, such a pass does indeed exist (although it is not quite so narrow as Thutmose
indicates) and taking it was a brilliant strategic move, since when his army emerged from the pass they were situated on the plain of
Esdraelon, directly between the rear of the Canaanite forces and Megiddo itself. For some reason, the Canaanite forces did not attack him
as his army emerged, and his army routed them decisively. The size of the two forces is difficult to determine, but if, as Redford
suggests, the amount of time it took to move the army through the pass may be used to determine the size of the Egyptian force, and if the
number of sheep and goats captured may be used to determine the size of the Canaanite force, then both armies were around 10,000 men.
However most scholars do believe that the Egyptian army was more numerous. According to Thutmose III's Hall of Annals in the Temple of Amun
at Karnak, the battle occurred on "Year 23, I Shemu [day] 21, the exact day of the feast of the new moon" – a lunar date. This date
corresponds to May 9, 1457 BC based on Thutmose III's accession in 1479 BC. After victory in battle, however, his troops stopped to plunder
the enemy and the enemy was able to escape into Megiddo.. Thutmose was forced to besiege the city instead, but he finally succeeded in
conquering it after a siege of seven or eight months (see Siege of Megiddo).
This campaign drastically changed the political situation in the ancient Near East. By taking Megiddo, Thutmose gained control of all of
northern Canaan, and the Syrian princes were obligated to send tribute and their own sons as hostages to Egypt. Beyond the Euphrates, the
Assyrian, Babylonian, and Hittite kings all gave Thutmose gifts, which he alleged to be "tribute" when he recorded it on the walls of
Karnak. The only noticeable absence is Mitanni, which would bear the brunt of the following Egyptian campaigns into Asia...