Thutmose III (sometimes read as Thutmosis or Tuthmosis III and meaning Thoth is Born) was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. During the first 22 years of Thutmose's reign he was merely lesser coregent to his stepmother, Hatshepsut. After her death and his subsequent gain of power over his kingdom, he created the largest empire Egypt had ever seen; conducting no less than 17 campaigns and conquering from Niy in north Syria to the fourth cataract of the Nile in Nubia. After his years of great campaigns were over, he established himself as a great builder pharaoh as well. He was responsible for building over 50 temples in Egypt and building massive additions to Egypt's chief temple at Karnak. New highs in artistic skills were reached during his reign, as well as unique architectural developments never seen before and never again after his reign. When he died, he was buried in the Valley of the Kings like the rest of the kings from this period in Egypt, and was succeeded by his son Amenhotep II, with whom he seems to have had a short coregency. Thutmose III ruled for almost 54 years, and his reign is usually dated from April 24, 1479 B.C.E., to March 11, 1425 B.C.E.
Thutmose III was the son of Pharaoh Thutmose II and Aset (sometimes transliterated Isis), a secondary wife of Thutmose II.2 Because he was his father's only son, he took the throne when Thutmose II died, however because he was not the son of his father's Queen, Hatshepsut, his "degree" of royalty, so to speak, was less than ideal.3 To bolster his image, he may have married a daughter of Thutmose II and Hatshepsut.4 Neferure and Merytre-Hatshepsut II have been suggested, but in the case of the former it is uncertain if they were ever married,5 and in the case of the latter it is doubtful if Merytre-Hatshepsut was Hatshepsut's daughter.5 Regardless of this, when Thutmose II died Thutmose III was too young to rule, so Hatshepsut became his regent and soon coregent, declaring herself to be the Pharaoh.4 For approximately 22 years Thutmose III had little power over the empire while Hatshepsut assumed the formal titulary of kingship complete with a royal prenomen-Maatkare. After the death of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III ruled Egypt on his own for 32 years until his death in his 54th regnal year.6
Besides the possible marriage to Neferure, Thutmose III had two known wives. Sat-jah bore his firstborn, Amenemhet, but the child preceded his father in death.5 His successor, Amenhotep II, was born to Merytre-Hatshepsut II, who most modern scholars think was not Hatshepsut's daughter.5
Dates and Length of Reign
Thutmose III ruled from 1479 B.C.E. to 1425 B.C.E. according to the Low Chronology of Ancient Egypt. This has been the dominant theory in academic circles since the 1960s,7 yet in some academic circles the dates 1504 B.C.E. to 1450 B.C.E. are still preferred.8 These dates, like all the dates of the 18th 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.9 A papyrus from Amenhotep I's reign records this astronomical observation which could theoretically 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 like Memphis or Heliopolis, or in Thebes. These two latitudes give dates 20 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.10 He assigns his death to his 54th regnal year,11 on the thirtieth day of the third month of Proyet.12 The day of his 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 his reign (assuming the low chronology) from April 24, 1479 B.C.E. to March 11, 1425 B.C.E., respectively.13
Thutmose's military campaigns
Widely considered a military genius by historians, he was an active expansionist ruler who is sometimes called Egypt's greatest conqueror or "the Napoleon of Egypt."14 He is recorded to have captured 350 cities during his rule and conquered much of the Near East from the Euphrates to Nubia during 17 known military campaigns. He was the first Pharaoh 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.15
Thutmose III appears to have first led two military excursions while he was reigning under Hatshepsut; these are not considered part of his 17 campaigns, and predate his first campaign. One appears to have been to Syria and the other apparently to Nubia. These would have been late in Hatshepsut's reign, when Thutmose was apparently growing restless.8
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. His army had also carried boats on dry land.Annals of Tuthmoses III at Karnak depicting him standing before the offerings made to him after his foreign campaigns.
When Hatshepsut died on the tenth day of the sixth month of Thutmose III's twenty second year, the king of Kadesh moved his army to Megiddo.16 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.17 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.17 The ensuing Battle of Megiddo was probably the largest battle in any of Thutmose's 17 campaigns.18 A ridge of mountains jutting inland from Mount Carmel stood between Thutmose and Megiddo, and he had three potential routes to take.18 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 claims, but such self praise is normal in Egyptian texts), accused the council of cowardice and took a dangerous route19 through a mountain pass which he alleged was only wide enough for the army to pass "horse after horse and man after man."17
Despite the laudatory nature of Thutmose's annals, such a pass does indeed exist (although it is not quite as narrow as Thutmose indicates)20) 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.18 For some reason, the Canaanite forces did not attack him as his army emerged,19 and his army routed them decisively.18 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 can be used to determine the size of the Egyptian force, and if the number of sheep and goats captured can be used to determine the size of the Canaanite force, then both armies were around 10,000 men.21 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"22 - a lunar date. This date corresponds to May 9, 1457 B.C.E. based on Thutmose III's accession in 1479 B.C.E. After victory in battle, however, his troops stopped to plunder the enemy and the enemy was able to escape into Megiddo.23. 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).23
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.24 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.25 The only noticeable absence is Mitanni, which would bear the brunt of the following Egyptian campaigns into Asia.
Tours of Canaan and Syria
Thutmose's second, third, and fourth campaigns appear to have been nothing more than tours of Syria and Canaan to collect tribute.26 Traditionally, the material directly after the text of the first campaign has been considered to be the second campaign.27 This text records tribute from the area which the Egyptians called Retenu (roughly equivalent to Canaan), and it was also at this time that Assyria paid a second "tribute" to Thutmose III.28 However, it is probable that these texts come from Thutmose's 40th year or later, and thus have nothing to do with the second campaign at all. If so, then no records of this campaign have been found at all so far.Cite error: Closing missing for tag This survey is dated to Thutmose's 25th year.29 No record remains of Thutmose's fourth campaign whatsoever,30 but at some point in time a fort was built in lower Lebanon and timber was cut for construction of a processional barque, and this probably fits best during this timeframe.31
Conquest of Syria
The fifth, sixth, and seventh campaigns of Thutmose III were directed against the Phoenician cities in Syria and against Kadesh on the Euphrates. In Thutmose's 29th year, he began his fifth campaign wherein he first took an unknown city (the name falls in a lacuna) which had been garrisoned by Tunip.32 He then moved inland and took the city and territory around Ardata.33 Unlike previous plundering raids, however, Thutmose III subsequently garrisoned the area known as Djahy, which is probably a reference to southern Syria.34 This now permitted him to ship supplies and troops back and forth between Syria and Egypt.33 Although there is no direct evidence for it, it is for this reason that some have supposed that Thutmose's sixth campaign, in his 30th year, commenced with a naval transportation of troops directly into to Byblos, bypassing Canaan entirely.33 After the troops arrived in Syria by whatever means, they proceeded into the Jordan river valley and moved north from there, pillaging Kadesh's lands.35 Turning west again, Thutmose took Simyra and quelled a rebellion in Ardata, which had apparently rebelled once again.36 To stop such rebellions, Thutmose began taking hostages from the cities in Syria. The cities in Syria were not guided by the popular sentiment of the people as much as they were by the small number of nobles who were aligned to Mitanni: a king and a small number of foreign Maryannu.35 Thutmose III found that by taking family members of these key people to Egypt as hostages, he could drastically increase their loyalty to him.35 However, Syria did rebel yet again in Thutmose's 31st year, and he returned to Syria for his seventh campaign, took the port city of Ullaza35 and the smaller Phoenician ports,36 and took even more measures to prevent further rebellions.35 All the excess grain which was produced in Syria was stored in the harbors he had recently conquered, and was used for the support of the military and civilian Egyptian presence ruling Syria.35 This furthermore left the cities in Syria desperately impoverished, and with their economies in ruins, they had no means of funding a rebellion.37
Attack on Mitanni
After Thutmose III had taken control of the Syrian cities, the obvious target for his eighth campaign was the state of Mitanni, a Hurrian country with an Indo-Aryan ruling class. However, to reach Mitanni, he had to cross the Euphrates river. Therefore, Thutmose III enacted the following strategy. He sailed directly to Byblos38 and then made boats which he took with him over land on what appeared to otherwise be just another tour of Syria,36 and he proceeded with the usual raiding and pillaging as he moved north through the lands he had already taken.39 However, here he continued north through the territory belonging to the still unconquered cities of Aleppo and Carchemish, and then quickly crossed the Euphrates in his boats, taking the Mitannian king entirely by surprise.39 It appears that Mitanni was not expecting an invasion, so they had no army of any kind ready to defend against Thutmose, although their ships on the Euphrates did try to defend against the Egyptian crossing.38 Thutmose III then went freely from city to city and pillaged them while the nobles hid in caves (or at least this is the typically ignoble way Egyptian records chose to record it).39 During this period of no opposition, Thutmose put up a second stele commemorating his crossing of the Euphrates, next to the one his grandfather Thutmose I had put up several decades earlier.39 Eventually a militia was raised to fight the invaders, but it fared very poorly.39 Thutmose III then returned to Syria by way of Niy, where he records that he engaged in an elephant hunt.40 He then collected tribute from foreign powers and returned to Egypt in victory.38
Tours of Syria
Thutmose III returned to Syria for his ninth campaign in his 34th year, but this appears to have been just a raid of the area called Nukhashshe, a region populated by semi-nomadic people.41 The plunder recorded is minimal, so it was probably just a minor raid.42 Records from his tenth campaign indicate much more fighting, however. By Thutmose's 35th year, the king of Mitanni had raised a large army and engaged the Egyptians around Aleppo.43 As usual for any Egyptian king, Thutmose claimed a total crushing victory, but this statement is suspect. Specifically, it is doubted that Thutmose accomplished any great victory here due to the very small amount of plunder taken.43 Specifically, Thutmose's annals at Karnak indicate he took a total of only ten prisoners of war.44 He may have simply fought the Mitannians to a stalemate,43 yet he did receive tribute from the Hittites after that campaign, which seems to indicate the outcome of the battle was in Thutmose's favor.40
The next two campaigns are lost.40 His eleventh is presumed to have happened in his 36th regnal year, and his twelfth is presumed to have happened in his 37th, since his thirteenth is mentioned at Karnak as happening in his 38th regnal year.45 Part of the tribute list for his twelfth campaign remains immediately before his thirteenth begins, and the contents recorded (specifically wild game and certain minerals of uncertain identification) might indicate that it took place on the steppe around Nukhashashe, but this remains mere speculation.46
In his thirteenth campaign Thutmose returned to Nukhashashe for a very minor campaign.45 The next year, his 39th year, he mounted his fourteenth campaign against the Shasu. The location of this campaign is impossible to determine definitely, since the Shasu were nomads who could have lived anywhere from Lebanon to the Transjordan to Edom.47 After this point, the numbers given by Thutmose's scribes to his campaigns all fall in lacunae, so campaigns can only be counted by date. In his fortieth year, tribute was collected from foreign powers, but it is unknown if this was actually considered a campaign (i.e., if the king went with it or if it was lead by an official).48 Only the tribute list remains from Thutmose's next campaign in the annals,49 and nothing can be deduced about it, except that it was probably another raid to the frontiers around Niy.50 His final Asian campaign is better documented, however. Sometime before Thutmose's 42nd year, Mitanni apparently began spreading revolt among all the major cities in Syria.50 Thutmose moved his troops by land up the coastal road and put down rebellions in the Arka plain and moved on Tunip.50 After taking Tunip, his attention turned to Kadesh again. He engaged and destroyed three surrounding Mitannian garrisons and returned to Egypt in victory.51 However, his victory in this final campaign was neither complete nor permanent, since he did not take Kadesh,51 and Tunip could not have remained aligned to him for very long, certainly not beyond his own death.52
Thutmose took one last campaign in his 50th regnal year, very late in his life. He attacked Nubia, but only went as far as the fourth cataract of the Nile. Although no king of Egypt had ever penetrated as far as he did with an army, previous kings' campaigns had spread Egyptian culture that far already, and the earliest Egyptian document found at Gebel Barkal in fact comes from three years before Thutmose's campaign.53
Thutmose III was a great builder pharaoh and constructed over 50 temples, although some of these are now lost and only mentioned in written records.8 He also commissioned the building of many tombs for nobles, which were made with greater craftsmanship than ever before. His reign was also a period of great stylistic changes in the sculpture, paintings, and reliefs associated with his construction.
Thutmose's architects and artisans showed great continuity with the formal style of previous kings, but several developments set him apart from his predecessors. Although he followed the traditional relief styles for most of his reign, but after his 42nd year, he began having himself depicted wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt and a šndyt-kilt, an unprecedented style.5 Architecturally, his use of pillars was also unprecedented. He built Egypt's only known set of heraldic pillars, two large columns standing alone instead of being part of a set supporting the roof.54 His jubilee hall was also revolutionary, and is arguably the earliest known building created in the basilica style.54 Thutmose's artisans achieved new heights of skill in painting, and tombs from his reign were the earliest to be entirely painted, instead of painted reliefs.5 Finally, although not directly pertaining to his monuments, it appears that Thutmose's artisans finally had learned how to use the skill of glassmaking, developed in the early 18th dynasty, to create drinking vessels by the core-formed method.55
KarnakThutmose III's tekhen waty, today standing in Rome since the time of Constantine II in 357. C.E.
Thutmose dedicated far more attention to Karnak than any other site. In the Iput-isut, the temple proper in the center, he rebuilt the hypostyle hall of his grandfather Thutmose I, dismantled the red chapel of Hatshepsut and built Pylon VI and a shrine for the bark of Amun in its place, and built an antechamber in front of it, the ceiling of which was supported by his heraldic pillars.54 He built a temenos wall around the central chapel containing smaller chapels, along with workshops and storerooms.54 East of the main sanctuary, he built a jubilee hall in which to celebrate his Sed Festival. The main hall was built in basilica style, with rows of pillars supporting the ceiling on each side of the aisle.54 The central two rows were higher than the others to create windows where the ceiling was split.54 Two of the smaller rooms in this temple contained the reliefs of the survey of the plants and animals of Canaan which he took in his third campaign.56
East of the Iput-Isut, he erected another temple to Aten where he was depicted as being supported by Amun.57 It was inside this temple that Thutmose planned on erecting his tekhen waty, ("unique obelisk.")57 The tekhen waty was designed to stand alone, instead as part of a pair, and is the tallest obelisk ever successfully cut. It was not, however, erected until Thutmose IV raised it57 35 years later.58 It was later moved to Rome and is known as the Lateran Obelisk.
Thutmose also undertook building projects to the south of the main temple, between the sanctuary of Amun and the temple of Mut.57 Immediately to the south of the main temple, he built the seventh pylon on the north-south road which entered the temple between the fourth and fifth pylons.57 It was built for use during his jubilee, and was covered with scenes of defeated enemies.57 He set royal colossi on both sides of the pylon, and put two more obelisks on the south face in front of the gateway.57 The eastern one's base remains in place, but the western one was transported to hippodrome in Constantinople.57 further south alone the road, he put up pylon VIII which Hatshepsut had begun.54 East of the road, he dug a sacred lake of 250 by 400 feet, and then placed another alabaster bark shrine near it.54
Like earlier pharaohs, Thutmose III placed statues inside his temples to show his strength and to portray him as a devout pharaoh who worshipped the gods. Stylistically, many of his statues share many of the same features of his immediate predecessor, Hatshepsut, and the only statues with solid attributions to either pharaoh are those that were inscribed with the individual pharaoh's name. Statuary of both rulers often share the same almond-shaped eyes, arching browline, moderately aquiline nose and a gently curved mouth with a slight smile.59 Systematic studies of the inscribed statues of these two pharaohs have been developed that provide a set of stylistic, iconographic, contextual and technical criteria necessary to identify uninscribed statues of these pharaohs with some degree of certainty.60
There are many examples of statues depicting Thutmose III kneeling down in an "offering" position, typically offering milk, wine, or some other food substance to a god. While examples of this style can be found with some of the earlier pharaohs of the New Kingdom, it is thought that the emphasis on this style marks a change in the increasingly public aspects of the Egyptian religion. These positions include the form called "offering to an altar" and show the pharaoh both in the kneeling and standing positions. Thutmose is shown in other statues offering geese and, possibly, oil61. The faces of the statues are idealized to portray both a traditional view of kings and the contemporary idea of beauty; this was apparent in statues of Hatshepsut, but is more obvious in statues of Thutmose III and his immediate descendants Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV and Amenhotep III. Another important development that relates to this form of statuary is that at least one instance of this type represents the first known royal statuette that was cast in bronze.62Tomb image of Thutmosis III being suckled by the goddess Isis in the form of a tree.
Thutmose's tomb, discovered by Victor Loret in 1898, was in the Valley of the Kings.It uses a plan which is typical of 18th dynasty tombs, with a sharp turn at the vestibule preceding the burial chamber. Two stairways and two corridors provide access to the vestibule which is preceded by a quadrangular shaft, or "well." The vestibule is decorated with the full story of the Book of Amduat, the first tomb to do so in its entirety. The burial chamber, which is supported by two pillars, is oval shaped and its ceiling decorated with stars, symbolizing the cave of the god Sokar. In the middle lies a large red quartzite sarcophagus in the shape of a cartouche. On the two pillars in the middle of the chamber there are passages from the Litanies of Re, a text that celebrates the sun god, who is identified with the pharaoh. On the other pillar is a unique image depicting Thutmosis III being suckled by the goddess Isis in the guise of the tree.
Thutmose III's tomb in the Valley of the Kings (KV34) is the first one in which Egyptologists found the complete Amduat, an important New Kingdom funerary text. The wall decorations are done in a simple, "diagrammatic" way, imitating the manner of the cursive script one might expect to see on a funerary papyrus than the more typically lavish wall decorations seen on most other royal tomb walls. The coloring is similarly muted, executed in simple black figures and text on a cream background with highlights in red and pink. The decorations depict the pharaoh aiding the gods in defeating Apep, the serpent of chaos, thereby helping to ensure the sun's daily rebirth as well as the pharaoh's own resurrection.63
Defacing of Hatshepsut's Monuments
Until recently, a general theory has been that after the death of her husband Thutmose II, Hatshepsut 'usurped' the throne from Thutmose III. Although Thutmose III was a co-regent during this time, early historians have speculated that Thutmose III never forgave his step-mother for denying him access to the throne for the first two decades of his reign.64 However, this theory has in recent times been reviewed as questions arise why Hatshepsut would have allowed a resentful heir to control armies, which it is known he did. This view is further supported by the fact that no strong evidence has been found to show Thutmose III was actively seeking to reclaim his throne. Added to this is the fact that the monuments of Hatshepsut were not damaged until at least 20 years after her death in the reign of Thutmose III and possibly Amenhotep II.
After her death, many of Hatshepsut's monuments and depictions were subsequently defaced or destroyed, including those in her famous mortuary temple complex at Deir el-Bahri. These have traditionally been interpreted to be evidence of acts of damnatio memoriae (condemning a person by erasing him or her from recorded existence) by Thutmose III. However, recent research by scholars such as that of Charles Nims and Peter Dorman have re-examined these erasures and found that the acts which could be dated started sometime during year 46 or 47 of Thutmose's reign.65 Another often overlooked fact is that it was not only Hatshepsut who received this treatment, as the monuments of her chief steward Senenmut, who was closely associated with her rule, were similarly defaced where they were found.66 All of this evidence casts serious doubt upon the popular theory that Thutmose III ordered their destruction in a fit of vengeful rage shortly after his accession. These days the purposeful destruction of the memory of Hatshepsut is seen as a measure designed to ensure the smooth succession of his son (the future Amenhotep II), as opposed to any of surviving relatives of Hatshepsut who may have had an equal or better claim to the throne. It may also be likely that this measure could not have been taken earlier until the passing of powerful officials who had served under both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III had occurred.67
Death and burial
According to the American Egyptologist Peter Der Manuelian, a statement in the tomb biography o