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Tuthmosis III

1479 - 1425 BC

 

 18th Dynasty

The son of Tuthmosis II and Isis (thought to have belonged to Tuthmosis II's harem), he was declared heir to the throne of Egypt before the death of Tuthmosis II, but was not have his throne immediately - for that he would have to wait for the death of his step-mother and regent Hatshepsut. She usurped Tuthmosis III's throne while he was still a young boy and used her own royal background, as well as making sure she had the support of the royal court to make herself king of Egypt.

Tuthmosis III would have to wait 15 years before the throne of Egypt would truly be his.

Tuthmosis III under Hatshepsut.

When his father died it is thought that Tuthmosis III was approximately 10 years old and serving as a priest in the temple of Amun - he was then named King and at his coronation was married to his step sister the Princess Neferure (daughter of Tuthmosis II and Hatshepsut - she is seen on much of the statuary of Senenmut (courtier of Hatshepsut) - but she died in Year 11). In Year 2 of his reign, his step-mother Hatshepsut announced herself king of Egypt, until her death Tuthmosis III was kept in the background although during this period he spent much time with the army, he was to become Commander-in-Chief of the army under Hatshepsut.

The death of Hatshepsut - natural or unnatural?

There has been much written about the end of Hatshepsut, most of which can be separated into two opposing views - there was a violent change over (Hatshepsut murdered, her images defaced immediately, members of her court similarly treated, or there was indeed a peaceful change-over of power (evidence now seems to support the theory that the defacement of Hatshepsut's images by Tuthmosis III happened late in his reign), in his book 'Warrior Pharaohs', P.H. Newby that almost immediately after the death of Hatshepsut, Tuthmosis III leads an army of 20,000 men out of Egypt into Palestine - if Tuthmosis III had claimed power following a coup, he would have needed to stay in Egypt for some time 'clearing up', setting up government, eliminating decedents - the very fact that he left Egypt so soon after becoming King suggests a some transition of power.

The Campaigns of Tuthmosis III

Tuthmosis III is, perhaps, better known for his military successes rather than "just being a king who was kept from his throne by his wicked stepmother". It was on the field of battle that Tuthmosis III achieved true notoriety - sometimes referred to as 'The Napoleon of ancient Egypt' (this tag is also down to Tuthmosis III's height! - he was short even for ancient times). As noted above, around the time of Hatshepsut's disappearance Tuthmosis III led an army of 20,000 men into Palestine - the Asiatic people were rebelling against Egyptian rule, the uprising was centred around the Prince of Kadesh (the uprising did have the backing the Mitanni, Tuthmosis III was to be constantly troubled by the Mitanni - it would take some 17 campaigns before the Egyptians had once more halted any further trouble from them, for a while).

 Route of Tuthmosis III's campaigns

1 - Gaza

2 - Yaham

3 - Megiddo

4 - Tyre

5 - Byblos

6 - Sumur

7 - Kadesh

8 - Abel

9 - Abet

Year 22 - 24

This first campaign was to fix Egypt's most pressing problem - to recover Retjenu. The Egyptian army moved up the western side of Palestine - the army travelled via Gaza, Yaham (modern name of Yemma) before reaching the town of Megiddo. On arriving at the city the Egyptian army attacked the combined forces of the Megiddo and Kadesh forces, the Kadeshi forces soon fled back into the city walls, abandoning their horses and chariots, Tuthmosis III was then to lay siege to Megiddo for 7 months before its surrender (the capture of this city would allow the Egyptian army to move further up the coast in successive campaigns and so capture the towns of Tyre, Yanoam, Nuges and Herenkeru - this action brought an end to the western branch of the Asiatics / Mitanni peoples - capturing these towns also brought the port of Byblos under Egyptian control. After the defeat of Megiddo, the Egyptians transported the captured wheat harvest back to Egypt, in Year 25 Tuthmosis III was to commemorate this act by ordering the decoration of a 'botanical garden' on one of the walls that he had built in the temple of Karnak (scenes in this room also show some of the flora and fauna he had brought back from Syria at the same time). The Annals of Tuthmosis III (for more information about the 'Annals' Click HERE), describe how after the siege and defeat of Megiddo the treasure of the city was removed to Egypt (taken both as spoils of war and as peace offerings from the people of Megiddo): 894 chariots - 2 covered with gold; 200 suits of armour - 2 bronze suits which belonged to the chiefs of Megiddo and Kadesh; 2,000 horses and 25,000 other animals. Each town captured by Tuthmosis III similarly gave up luxury goods to placate the Egyptian King, these were also listed in the Annals.

Year 29 - 32

Tuthmosis III was now to deal with the city of Kadesh - firstly the Egyptian army was to move in land after first taking the town of Ullaza (situated on the mouth of the river Nahr el-Barid), then the inland town of Ardata - the town was pillaged and the wheat fields burnt. The Egyptians returned again the following year, this time attacking fields surrounding the town of Kadesh and finally the city of Kadesh itself, afterwards they marched back towards the coast - on his return to Egypt Tuthmosis III took 36 sons of the town chiefs hostage, he would educate them in Egyptian manners, beliefs and customs before releasing them back to their homelands - in this way attempting to gain long-lasting allies instead of enemies. In Year 31, there is a mention of tribute being paid from Nubia - this is noticeably as it is the first time in Tuthmosis III's reign that tribute coming from Nubia is mentioned (tribute continues to be paid from Nubia until Year 38 when the tribute becomes less regular).

Year 33

In this year the Egyptians finally attacked the Mitanni directly, this attack took some planning by the Egyptians - they had to cross the Euphrates river. To cross this natural defence of the Mitanni, the Egyptians constructed special river boats, these were then taken overland by the army - through Syria - until they reached the Euphrates. Once the river had been crosses, Tuthmosis III set up a stela alongside a similar stela erected by his grandfather Tuthmosis I. The Egyptian army then pillaged the land south of Carchemish, defeated an army of the Mitanni and then returned home in triumph.

Tuthmosis III was to continue campaigning to the north of Egypt for much of his reign - mainly to control the power and influence of the Mitanni and to put an end to any rebellious city-states. His last Asiatic campaign took place in Year 42 - once more against the city of Kadesh, which the Egyptian forces once more captured. On his return home, Tuthmosis III had details of his military campaigns written on the walls of his new buildings at Karnak - these are known as the 'Annals of Tuthmosis III' (they are located on the walls of two halls behind Pylon VI - they are slightly unusual for such writings of the time as they told in a more realistic manner). Tuthmosis III is remembered as one of ancient Egypt's greatest generals - he extended Egypt's conquered lands from the 5th Cataract of the Nile to the Euphrates River.

Another interesting story from one of Tuthmosis III's Syrian campaigns concerns the capture of the city of Joppa by the General Djehuty (soldiers were smuggled into the city in baskets) - the general was highly rewarded by Tuthmosis III


Tuthmosis III smiting foreigners - 7th Pylon of the temple of Amun at Karnak

(the boxed area on the left lists the captured towns and cities in his campaigns)

Building Program of Tuthmosis III

The successful campaigns of Tuthmosis III brought much wealth into Egypt, the country soon had treasure, tribute as well as dignitaries from every country in the region flooding in. This economic prosperity allowed Tuthmosis III to build on a large scale, some of which:

 Sarbut el Khadem - Stela

Wady Maghara - inscription

Kom el Hisn - founation deposit

Heliopolis - gate jambs, stela, 4 obelisks

Abusir - inscription

Deir el-Bahri - temple, obelisks

Taud - fragments survive

Esneh - stela

El Kab - temple

Edfu - insciption on a building

Kom Ombo - pylon

Bahriyeh Oasis - stela

Memphis - temple of Ptah

Gurob - temple

Speos Artemidos - Rock Shrine

El Bersheh - Stela

Ekhmim - Stela, inscription

Abydos - Osiris statue, two statues of the king 

Elephantine - temple (destroyed), obelisk

Aswan - inscriptions

Kalabsheh - Granite statue

Kuban - inscription

Dakkeh - inscription

Korti - stone and foundation

Amadah - scene, gate and lintel

Denderah - founding of temple

Karnak - East hall of Pillars, surrounding courts of temple, Hinder sanctuary, south pylon VII, Temple of Ptah, Temple of Mut begun

Medinet Habu - temple 

Ellesiyeh, scenes and stela

Ibrim - two rock shrines

Wady Halfa - brick temple

Semneh - temple

Kummeh - temple

Sai - temple

Dosheh - rock shrine

Soleb - temple begun

The Wives of Tuthmosis III

As noted above, the first wife of Tuthmosis III was his half-sister Neferure, after her death he took a new wife (sometime after Year 23) - Sitiah, daughter of the nurse Ipu, who became the Great Wife and God's Wife. Sitiah was not to last, she was replaced by Hatshepsut Meryetre (daughter of Huy, who was divine adoratice of Amun and Atum, Chief of Choristers of Ra). Tuthmosis III was to have 5 sons and at least two daughters, the eldest son Amenemhat died early and so the crown of Egypt was passed to Amunhotpe - who would become co-regent and later rule as Amenhotep II.

In 1916, a tomb of three Syrian women belonging to the harem of Tuthmosis III was discovered - read more HERE

Officials of Tuthmosis III

Menkheperreaseneb, High Priest of Amun - TT86.

Amenemheb - TT85.

Menkheperreaseneb, nephew of 'Menkheperreaseneb'- buried in TT112.

Amenemhat - High Priest of Amun (outlived Tuthmosis III in office) - TT97.

The Tomb and mummy of Tuthmosis III

Tuthmosis III died in the 55th year of his reign, he was buried in the Valley of the Kings in KV34. The tomb had its entrance halfway up the cliff face, after the burial the stairs were hacked away by workmen in an attempt to deter tomb robbers (to no avail, the tomb was robbed in antiquity and all funerary furniture had been smashed by the time of its discovery by Victor Loret in 1898). The decoration in the burial chamber of the tomb consisted of stick-like versions of the Amduat placed on the wall as if the walls were a roll of papyrus.

Fortunately the mummy of Tuthmosis III was rescued by the priests of the 21st Dynasty who restored the mummy (the mummy had already suffered much - the priests had to use wooden oar-shaped pieces of wood as splints to strengthen the body). The mummy was found within the mummy cache of TT320.