THUTMOSE III (1480-1426 B.C.)

Thutmose III's mummified head
Thutmose III is regarded was as the Napoleon of Egypt. Only 5 foot 3, he mounted at least 14 military campaigns, some of which he personally led, and won them all if historical records are to be believed . He helped the Egyptian empire reach the height of its power and size. His military campaigns expanded the borders of Egypt into Syria, Palestine and Nubia. During the last ten years of his reign Egypt was peaceful and prosperous.

Thutmose III assumed power after his stepmother Queen Hatshepsut died in 1458. He ruthlessly defaced her images and raised many monuments of himself. Otherwise he was regarded as a compassionate warrior who did not enslave enemy soldiers nor massacre civilians. He kept foreign princes obedient by holding their sons hostage in gilded cages and introduced chicken to ancient Egypt.

Mark Millmore wrote in “Some believe Ramses II was the greatest Egyptian ruler but this not true; he spent Egypt’s wealth on massive building projects where as Thutmose III actually created Egypt’s wealth. Thutmose III possessed the archetypal qualities of a great ruler. A brilliant general who never lost a battle, he also excelled as an administrator and statesman. He was an accomplished horseman, archer, athlete, and discriminating patron of the arts. Thutmose had no time for pompous, self-indulgent bombast and his reign, with the exception of his uncharacteristic spite against the memory of Hatshepsut, shows him to have been a sincere and fair-minded man. [Source: Mark Millmore,]

According to Minnesota State University, Mankato: “Thutmose III was admired and revered for generations to come for having a great impact on Egypt both as a nation and as a culture. He constructed many great buildings and obelisks throughout his empire. Buildings were constructed at Heliopolis, Memphis, Abydos, and Aswan, as well as the additions made to the great temple at Karnak, where he had his annals inscribed in the walls. During the last year of his life he appointed his son Amenhotep II to succeed him. Amenhotep II was the son of Thutmose III’s second wife Meryetre, who was Hatshepsut’s daughter and Thutmose III’s half sister. Thutmose III was laid to rest, in 1426 B.C. in the Valley of the Kings in western Thebes. [Source: Minnesota State University, Mankato, +]

“Thutmose III was Pharaoh during the 18th Dynasty from 1504-1450 B.C. He was beloved and respected as a great warrior as well as being a sincere and fair-minded leader. Thutmose III is believed to be one of the greatest of Egyptian rulers because he was able to re-established Egyptian control over Syria and Nubia. He was also able to adorn his kingdom with revenues from these conquests. He built the temple of Amun at Karnak and erected many obelisks, including "Cleopatra's Needle." His mother, Hatshepsut, first acted as regent for Thutmose III then took the throne from him. After the death of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III & IV began a bitter persecution of her memory, cutting out her name on monuments and placing both of their own over it wherever they could find it. +\

Websites on Ancient Egypt: UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Egypt ; Discovering Egypt; BBC History: Egyptians ; Ancient History Encyclopedia on Egypt; Digital Egypt for Universities. Scholarly treatment with broad coverage and cross references (internal and external). Artifacts used extensively to illustrate topics. ; British Museum: Ancient Egypt; Egypt’s Golden Empire; Metropolitan Museum of Art ; Oriental Institute Ancient Egypt (Egypt and Sudan) Projects ; Egyptian Antiquities at the Louvre in Paris; KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt; Ancient Egypt Magazine; Egypt Exploration Society ; Amarna Project; Egyptian Study Society, Denver; The Ancient Egypt Site; Abzu: Guide to Resources for the Study of the Ancient Near East; Egyptology Resources

Life of Thutmose III

Thutmose III and his family

According to Minnesota State University, Mankato: “Thutmose III was born in 1516 B.C. He was the son of Thutmose II and one of his concubines named Isis. Thutmose II was married to Hatshepsut who was his sister and daughter of Thutmose I. She grew up and was educated as a prince which molded her into an ambitious and strong-minded adult. Because of Thutmose II’s poor heath and lack of leadership skills, Hatshepsut assumed much of the power during his reign. Hatshepsut considered Thutmose III to be a bastard son and believed him to be unworthy of being Pharaoh because he had no royal blood in him. Since Thutmose II and Hatshepsut hadn’t had any sons, Thutmose III would be the heir to the throne, so in 1504 B.C. when Thutmose II dies, the young Thutmose III is crowned. At this time Thutmose III was only around twelve years old, and Hatshepsut believed it would be better if she retained the power of the Pharaoh. [Source: Minnesota State University, Mankato, +]

Joyce Tyldesley of the University of Manchester wrote for the BBC: “Denied a prominent role in state affairs, Thutmose spent his childhood and adolescence preparing for the future. He was educated as a scribe and priest, developing a life-long love of literature and history, and then entered the army. By the time of Hatshepsut's death, he had risen to the rank of Commander in Chief and had enjoyed a short, victorious campaign in the Levant.” [Source: Dr Joyce Tyldesley, University of Manchester, BBC, February 17, 2011]

“As a child, Thutmose III spent most of his time in Thebes. This is where he was educated on how to rule Egypt once he took over. During this time the Amon clergy were in charge of educating all the young to be pharaohs, and this was done at the palace of Karnak. Here he learned about everything from culture and art to military and leadership techniques. Thutmose III soon began to excel as an administrator and statesman, as well as a general and warrior. He gained military skills such as archery and horsemanship, which he displayed to the public on many occasions, and boasted that none of his followers could equal him in marksmanship or physical prowess.” +\

Why Did Hatsheput Usurp the Throne from Thutmose III?

Why did Hatsheput usurp the throne from Thutmose III? Joyce Tyldesley of the University of Manchester wrote for the BBC: What could have caused her to take such unprecedented action? Legally, there was no prohibition on a woman ruling Egypt. Although the ideal pharaoh was male-a handsome, athletic, brave, pious and wise male-it was recognised that occasionally a woman might need to act to preserve the dynastic line. When Sobeknofru ruled as king at the end of the troubled 12th Dynasty she was applauded as a national heroine. Mothers who deputised for their infant sons, and queens who substituted for husbands absent on the battlefield, were totally acceptable. What was never anticipated was that a regent would promote herself to a permanent position of power. [Source: Dr Joyce Tyldesley, University of Manchester, BBC, February 17, 2011]

Thutmose III and Hatsheput

“Morally Hatshepsut must have known that Thutmose was the rightful king. She had, after all, accepted him as such for the first two years of his reign. We must therefore deduce that something happened in year three to upset the status quo and to encourage her to take power. Unfortunately, Hatshepsut never apologises and never explains. Instead she provides endless justification of her changed status, claiming on her temple walls (falsely) that both her earthly father Thutmose and her heavenly father, the great god Amen, intended her to rule Egypt. She goes to a great deal of trouble to appear as a typical pharaoh, even changing her official appearance so that her formal images now show her with the stereotyped king's male body, down to the false beard. Hatshepsut has realised that others will eventually question her actions, and is carving her defence in stone. |::|

“What are we to make of Hatshepsut's actions? It is too simplistic to condemn her as a ruthless power-seeker. She could not have succeeded without the backing of Egypt's elite, the men who effectively ruled Egypt on behalf of the king, so they at least must have recognised some merit in her case. Her treatment of Thutmose is instructive. While the boy-king lived he was a permanent threat to her reign yet, while an 'accidental' death would have been easy to arrange, she took no steps to remove him. Indeed, seemingly oblivious to the dangers of a coup, she had him trained as a soldier. |::|

“It seems that Hatshepsut did not fear Thutmose winning the trust of the army and seizing power. Presumably, she felt that he had no reason to hate her. Indeed, seen from her own point of view, her actions were entirely acceptable. She had not deposed her stepson, merely created an old fashioned co-regency, possibly in response to some national emergency. The co-regency, or joint reign, had been a feature of Middle Kingdom royal life, when an older king would associate himself with the more junior partner who would share the state rituals and learn his trade. As her intended successor, Thutmose had only to wait for his throne; no one could have foreseen that she would reign for over two decades.”|::|

Thutmose III as Leader of Egypt

Around 1480 B.C., after the sudden death of Harshepsut, Thutmose III became the leader of Egypt. Soon after he became pharaoh, he began defacing of Hatshepsut’s monuments and replaced her name with Thutmose I, II, or III, in an effort to erase his stepmother’s name from history. Ironically, Thutmose III inherited an economically strong Egypt from Hatshepsut, that provided the foundation for his accomplishments and the greatness of the New Kingdom achieved. With his military training and a strong, stable Egypt to stand on, Thutmose III conquered foreign lands and brought such great wealth to Egypt that he, arguably, made making it the world’s first super power.

Mark Millmore wrote in His impact upon Egyptian culture was profound. He was a national hero, revered long after his time. Indeed, his name was held in awe even to the last days of ancient Egyptian history. His military achievements brought fabulous wealth and his family resided over a golden age that was never surpassed. [Source: Mark Millmore, ^^^]

Thutmose III established a military priesthood that controlled the empire. At the center of the system was the god Amun of Thebes and the powerful priests at his temple. “He was also a cultured man who demonstrated a curiosity about the lands he conquered; many of his building works at Karnak are covered with carvings of the plants and flowers he saw on his campaigns. He also set up a number of obelisks in Egypt.” Among them are ones that now stand in London, New York, Rome and Istanbul. ^^^

Joyce Tyldesley of the University of Manchester wrote for the BBC: “Thutmose took his throne in unsettled times. His eastern vassals, for so long quiet, were starting to challenge Egypt's dominance. A series of glorious campaigns, including the dramatic capture of Megiddo (Biblical Armageddon), saw Egypt restored to her position of power. Egypt now controlled an empire which stretched from beyond the third cataract in Nubian to the banks of the River Euphrates in Syria. The rewards of empire-plunder, tribute, taxes and gifts from those eager to be friends-made Thutmose the richest man in the world. [Source: Dr Joyce Tyldesley, University of Manchester, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]

“Using his hard-won wealth, Thutmose attempted to out-build Hatshepsut. Once again the Nile Valley echoed to the sound of hammer and chisel. But now there was destruction alongside the construction. The royal masons had been charged with the task of removing all traces of the female pharaoh. By the time of his death, some thirty-three years after his solo accession, Thutmose was confident that Hatshepsut's unorthodox reign would soon be forgotten. |::|

Thutmose III’s Military Campaigns

Thutmose III as a sphinx

In his 19-year rule Thutmose III led military campaigns at a rate of almost one a year, including a victory over the Canaanites at Megiddo in present-day Israel. There are lengthy descriptions of his battles on the rock walls of Karnak. They include tales of soldiers hiding in baskets delivered to enemy cities and boats hauled 250 miles overland for a surprise attack. In the reliefs Thutmose himself is depicted as a sphinx trampling Nubians and a warrior smiting an Asiatic lion.

One of Thutmose’s greatest military victory occurred in Joppa (present-day Jaffa, Israel) in 1450 B.C. According to a rare papyrus text, the Egyptians secured victory after employing Trojan-horse-like deception. After the city failed to fall during a siege, the commanding general Djehuty sent baskets to the city that were said to contain plundered goods. At night Egyptian soldiers emerged from the baskets and opened the city gates.

Thutmose III drive towards the Euphrates claimed new lands for Egypt and brought in tributes. Wall paintings from the period show Babylonians, Syrians, Nubians and Canaanites offering presents to the pharaoh and bowing in subservient positions. The military campaign is also blamed for triggering a series of conflicts that would ultimately would deal the Egyptians a costly defeat at the hands of the Assyrians.

According to Minnesota State University, Mankato: “Tuthmosis II’s and Hatshepsut’s reigns were peaceful and saw very little warfare. But when Tuthmosis III took over power things were already starting to change. Unrest started to occur in many areas of Africa, Syria, and elsewhere. The first of seventeen successful campaigns happened only a few months into his reign, at the city of Megiddo. This attack from the rear gave the Egyptians an upper hand and played a big part in their victory. The battle lasted more than seven months and when it was over Tuthmosis III let the enemy leaders go so that they could tell everyone who the new leader of Egypt was. This victory not only gained Tuthmosis III the respect of the people of Egypt but also the respect of leaders and kings of other nations as the rightful pharaoh and a very skilled and intelligent general. Through the rest of his reign, Tuthmosis III engaged in sixteen more campaigns and won every one of them. Because of his undefeated record, Tuthmosis III is often referred to as “The Napoleon of Egypt”. Some of his biggest victories came against the Mitannian empire. He captured and gained control of many Mitannian territories, which expanded his power over northern Palestine and Phoenicia. He erected a stele at he Euphrates River to mark the boundary of the Egyptian Empire. [Source: Minnesota State University, Mankato, +]

Mark Millmore wrote in “Thutmose III had spent the long years of his aunt Hatshepsut’s reign training in the army. This kept him away from court politics but nevertheless prepared him well for his own role as pharaoh because great ability in war was considered a desirable quality in the ancient world. Egyptian pharaohs were expected to lead their armies into foreign lands and demonstrate their bravery on the field in person. After a few victorious battles, a king might return home in triumph, loaded with plunder and a promise of annual tribute from the defeated cities. But during Hatshepsut’s reign, there were no wars and Egypt’s soldiers had little practice in warfare. The result was that Egypt’s neighbors were gradually becoming independent and when this new, unknown pharaoh came to the throne; these other kings were inclined to test his resolve.” [Source: Mark Millmore, ^^^]

“Thutmose III is often compared to Napoleon, but unlike Napoleon he never lost a battle. He conducted sixteen campaigns in Palestine, Syria and Nubia and his treatment of the conquered was always humane. He established a sort of “Pax Egyptica” over his empire. Syria and Palestine were obliged to keep the peace and the region as a whole experienced an unprecedented degree of prosperity.” ^^^

Tuthmosis III and the Battle of Mediggo

Tuthmosis III’s first great military victory was at the Battle of Mediggo. According to Minnesota State University, Mankato: “This campaign, which is recorded in great detail on the walls of the temple he built in Karnak, revealed Tuthmosis III as a military genius. Tuthmosis III used the element of surprise attack when he invaded Mediggo, using the least expecting route. This route was narrow, hilly, and difficult to pass, and it took over twelve hours to reach the valley on the other side. Tuthmosis III lead his men through the hills and when he made it to the valley he waited until the last man made it through safely. [Source: Minnesota State University, Mankato, +]

Mark Millmore wrote in In the second year of his reign, Thutmose found himself faced with a coalition of the princes from Kadesh and Megiddo, who had mobilized a large army. What’s more, the Mesopotamians and their kinsmen living in Syria refused to pay tribute and declared themselves free of Egypt. Undaunted, Thutmose immediately set out with his army. He crossed the Sinai desert and marched to the city of Gaza which had remained loyal to Egypt. The events of the campaign are well documented because Thutmose’s private secretary, Tjaneni, kept a record which was later copied and engraved onto the walls of the temple of Karnak. [Source: Mark Millmore, ^^^]

Battle of Megiddo map

“This first campaign revealed Thutmose to be the military genius of his time. He understood the value of logistics and lines of supply, the necessity of rapid movement, and the sudden surprise attack. He led by example and was probably the first person in history to take full advantage of sea power to support his campaigns. Megiddo was Thutmose’s first objective because it was a key point strategically. It had to be taken at all costs. When he reached Aruna, Thutmose held a council with all his generals. There were three routes to Megiddo: two long, easy, and level roads around the hills, which the enemy expected Thutmose to take, and a narrow, difficult route that cut through the hills. ^^^

“His generals advised him to go the easy way, saying of the alternative, “Horse must follow behind horse and man behind man also, and our vanguard will be engaged while our rearguard is at Aruna without fighting.” But Thutmose’s reply to this was, “As I live, as I am the beloved of Ra and praised by my father Amun, I will go on the narrow road. Let those who will, go on the roads you have mentioned; and let anyone who will, follow my Majesty.” When the soldiers heard this bold speech they shouted in one voice, “We follow thy Majesty whithersoever thy Majesty goes.” ^^^

“Thutmose led his men on foot through the hills “horse behind Horse and man behind man, his Majesty showing the way by his own footsteps.” It took about twelve hours for the vanguard to reach the valley on the other side, and another seven hours before the last troops emerged. Thutmose, himself, waited at the head of the pass till the last man was safely through. The sudden and unexpected appearance of Egyptians at their rear forced the allies to make a hasty redeployment of their troops. There were over three hundred allied kings, each with his own army; an immense force. However, Thutmose was determined and when the allies saw him at the head of his men leading them forward, they lost heart for the fight and fled for the city of Megiddo, “as if terrified by spirits: they left their horse and chariots of silver and gold.” ^^^

“The Egyptian army, being young and inexperienced, simply lacked the control to take the city immediately. Thutmose was angry. He said to them, “If only the troops of his Majesty had not given their hearts to spoiling the things of the enemy, they would have taken Megiddo at that moment. For the ruler of every northern country is in Megiddo and its capture is as the capture of a thousand cities.” ^^^

“Megiddo was besieged. A moat was dug around the city walls and a strong wooden palisade erected. The king gave orders to let nobody through except those who signaled at the gate that they wished to give themselves up. Eventually the vanquished kings sent out their sons and daughters to negotiate peace. According to Thutmose, “All those things with which they had come to fight against my Majesty, now they brought them as tribute to my Majesty, while they themselves stood upon their walls giving praise to my Majesty, and begging that the Breath of Life be given to their nostrils.” They received good terms for surrender. An oath of allegiance was imposed upon them: “We will not again do evil against Menkheper Ra, our good Lord, in our lifetime, for we have seen his might, and he has deigned to give us breath.” ^^^

19th century European view of Egyptian warfare

Armant Stela: Asiatic Campaigns of Thutmose III

The Armant Stela from the 15th century B.C. describes the Asiatic Campaigns of Thutmose III: It reads: “Live the Horus: Mighty Bull, Appearing in Thebes; the Two Goddesses: Enduring of Kingship, like Re in Heaven; the Horus of Gold: Majestic of Appearances, Mighty of Strength; the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands, Lord of Making Offerings: Men-kheper-Re; the Son of Re, of his Body: Thut-mose Heqa-Maat, beloved of Montu, Lord of Thebes, Residing in Hermonthis, living forever. [Source: James B. Pritchard, “Ancient Near Eastern Texts” (ANET) Princeton, 1969,, p. 234]

“Year 22, 2nd month of the second season, day 10. Summary of the deeds of valor and victory which this good god performed, being every effective deed of heroism, beginning from the first generation; that which the Lord of the Gods, the Lord of Hermonthis, did for him: the magnification of his victories, to cause that his deeds of valor be related for millions of years to come, apart from the deeds of heroism which his majesty did at all times. If (they) were to be related all together by their names, they would be (too) numerous to put them into writing

“His majesty made no delay in proceeding to the land of Djahi, to kill the treacherous ones who were in it and to give things to those who were loyal to him; witness, indeed, [their] names, each [country] according to its time. His majesty returned on each occasion, when his attack had been effected in valor and victory, so that he caused Egypt to be in its condition as (it was) when Re was in it as king. [Year 22, 4th month of the second season, day... Proceeding] from Memphis, to slay the countries of the wretched Retenu, on the first occasion of victory. It was his majesty who opened its roads and foxed its every way for his army, after it had made [rebellion, gathered in Megid]do. His majesty entered upon that road which becomes very narrow,' as the first of his entire army, while every country had gathered, standing prepared at its mouth. ... The enemy quailed, fleeing headlong to their town, together with the prince who was in... (15)... to them, beseeching [breath], their goods upon their backs. His majesty returned in gladness of heart, with this entire land as vassal... [Asia]tics, coming at one time, bear-ing [their] tribute.”

For a fuller description from the Temple of Karnak and similar type of description from the Barkal stela see ANET., pp. 234-238. Almost all subsequent campaigns were directed against rebellious cities in Upper Retenu (that is, Syria) and not Lower Retenu, Djahi. The city of Kadesh and the kingdom of Mitanni were generally the focus of the king's military campaigns. See: ANET., pp. 238-242.

Thutmose III’s Portraiture

Dimitri, Laboury of the University of Liège in Belgium wrote: “ The issue of Thutmose III’s portraiture is very similar and parallel to the one of Hatshepsut, involving different successive phases induced by political claims and reorientations. But Thutmose’s mummy is well preserved and allows comparison between the actual face of the king and his sculpted portraits. [Source: Dimitri, Laboury, University of Liège, Belgium, UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology 2010, ]

“On the one hand, despite a rather important evolution through different chronological types, the iconography of Thutmose III is characterized by a few absolutely constant physiognomic features, i.e., an S- shaped chin when seen in profile, a significant squared maxillary, and low, protruding cheekbones that create a horizontal depression under the eyes. These are the same features that distinguish his mummy’s face, denoting an undeniable inspiration from the actual appearance of the king. However, on the other hand, other physiognomic details varied a lot, sometimes being in obvious contradiction to the mummy: for instance, at the end of his reign, during the proscription of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III decided to straighten his nose—ostensibly hooked on his mummy—in order to look like his father and grandfather, his true and then unique legitimating ancestors. This variability and the revival of his predecessors’ iconography show that the evolution of the king’s statuary cannot be explained solely by aesthetic orientations toward portrait or ideal image, or toward realism or idealization. There is a clear and conscious departure from the model’s outer appearance that allows the introduction of meaning and physiognomically signifies the ideological identity of the depicted person. The same is true for private portraiture.

“Just like his aunt Hatshepsut, Thutmose III instigated modifications and thus evolution in his portraits because his identity, his political self-definition as the legitimate king of Egypt, changed throughout his reign. Obviously, in the eyes of the ancient Egyptians, portraiture was more than a simple artistic transposition of the physical appearances; it was a pictorial definition of an individual and recognizable identity, beyond appearances and even despite them, if needed.

“Amarna royal portraits at Thutmose’s workshop. The excavation of the sculpture workshop in the estate of “the favorite of the perfect god, the chief artist and sculptor Thutmose” at Akhetaten/Amarna provides an exceptional opportunity to understand the practical modalities of conceiving a royal portrait.”

Karnak Temple Under Thutmose III

Elaine Sullivan of UCLA wrote: “Karnak experienced another period of vast change during the reign of Thutmose III. The greatest addition was a huge temple, the Akhmenu Festival Hall, placed behind Karnak’s east wall, built after the king’s 23rd year. The structure consisted of a large pillared hall leading to a set of three shrines, a series of rooms dedicated to the god Sokar, a hall decorated with relief scenes of flora and fauna observed during the king’s foreign military campaigns, a chamber with niched walls that served as the main shrine of the divine image, and an upper sun-court. The exact cultic nature of the temple remains elusive, but it may have held ceremonies for the regeneration of the king on earth. [Source: Elaine Sullivan, UCLA, UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology 2010, ]

ritual statue of Thutmose III

“A new stone enclosure wall was constructed, enclosing the Akhmenu in the greater temple complex. The obelisks of Hatshepsut were incorporated into a small contra-temple along the enclosure’s eastern wall. Contra-temples, usually appended to the rear wall of a temple and opening outward, provided a location for those not allowed within the temple proper (such as the public) to interact with the divinities. Often statues of the king were located at these shrines, and people would petition the images to act as intermediaries with the gods on their behalf. At the center of Karnak’s contra-temple stood a large calcite naos with a dyad of Thutmose III and the god Amun-Ra (although it originally may have depicted Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, with the queen’s figure later recarved).

“Thutmose III also added a stone pylon (the seventh) and connecting walls between the queen’s pylon and the temple wall along the southern processional route. In front of the pylon, he raised red granite obelisks. Along the east wall of the eighth pylon’s forecourt, he placed a calcite bark-shrine surrounded by peripteral pillars. This may have replaced the earlier calcite shrine of Amenhotep I at the same location, as Thutmose III gave his shrine an identical name.

“A huge sacred lake was cut into the space southeast of the temple. This may have been an expansion of a pre-existing lake at the same location. To the east of the lake a large mud- brick enclosure wall with exterior bastions was constructed, traditionally assigned to Thutmose III (although it may actually be older). The wall was enlarged and renovated in at least three phases, the last of which may date to as late as the 25th Dynasty...To the north of the main precinct, the king erected a small sandstone temple to the god Ptah (possibly replacing an earlier one of mud-brick). A hall with two columns fronted the temple’s triple sanctuary.

“Within the central core of Karnak, Thutmose III ordered significant remodeling. Behind the fifth pylon, he had a smaller pylon erected, the sixth, creating a small pillared court in front of the Palace of Maat. He replaced the limestone chapels of Amenhotep I along the sides of this court with sandstone replicas whose decoration commemorated the earlier king. Walls were appended to the east faces of the fifth and sixth pylons and a granite gate was erected between the pylons, creating a corridor along the temple’s central axis to the Palace of Maat. Although he appears to have continued the decoration of Hatshepsut’s unfinished Red Chapel, the king eventually removed and dismantled the chapel, with the front and rear doors reused in an interior wall of the palace’s northern suite of rooms and the new corridor behind the sixth pylon. Some of the palace’s interior walls were removed, either by the king, or earlier, by Hatshepsut, to allow the emplacement of the central bark-shrine. The Red Chapel was replaced with a new granite shrine, of similar size and shape, and a new entrance portico was designed for the Palace of Maat.

“Possibly due to damage incurred in the wadjet hall from heavy rainstorms, Thutmose III began a total reworking of the space. A stone gateway was erected around the obelisks of Hatshepsut, completely encapsulating their lower portions. He ordered the removal of the wooden wadj- columns, intending to replace them with six sandstone columns in the north half of the hall and eight in the south. The interior walls of the court were covered with a skin of stone, obscuring the original statue recesses of Thutmose I. Before his death, it appears that the king only had time to roof the northern part of the hall with sandstone slabs, supported by his network of pillars, gateway, and court walls. Amenhotep II finished the work, raising the eight southern columns and their roof. Thutmose III raised his own pair of granite obelisks between those of Thutmose I and II in the festival court before the fourth pylon. The bases of these obelisks have been discovered bordering the east side of the third pylon.”


Rekhmire and his mother receive offerings

Greg Dawson of Minnesota State University, Mankato wrote: “Rekhmire the Vizier, under Thutmose III and Amenhotep II, was the son of a priest of Amon, Nefer Weben, and nephew of the Vizier Woser. He became the most powerful commoner in the country during Thutmose reign. His Theban tomb contains some information about his life and shows him and his wife, Meryt, festively enjoying the afterlife. He oversaw the building of the great entrance portal at the temple in Thebes watching to make sure that the blocks used were of the right quality. Also, under his supervision was the creation of giant statues, sphinxes, furniture and implements, and vessels and precious objects. [Source: Greg Dawson, Minnesota State University, Mankato, +]

“Rekhmire was responsible for operation of foreign embassies, operation of law courts, collection of taxes, activities of the craftsmen of the Temple of Amun at Thebes and finally funerary banquet and musical accompaniment. Above all, it was his job to collect all tribute which came to the kingdom from the outside or surrounding areas such as tribute from the King’s of Babylon, Assyria and the Hittites.The tomb also holds decrees given by the king concerning Rekhmire's role as Vizier, these decrees make the tomb of this high ranking commoner give people today a reference concerning the political, legal and social aspects of the New Kingdom of Egypt and also the empire.” +\

Did Thutmose III Order the Attacks on Hatsheput’s Monuments

Joyce Tyldesley of the University of Manchester wrote for the BBC: “Soon after her death in 1457 B.C., Hatshepsut's monuments were attacked, her statues dragged down and smashed and her image and titles defaced. The female king vanished from Egyptian history. She would remain lost until, almost three thousand years later, modern Egyptologists reconstructed her damaged inscriptions and restored her to her rightful dynastic place. |[Source: Dr Joyce Tyldesley, University of Manchester, BBC, February 17, 2011]

“The Egyptians believed that the spirit could live beyond the grave, but only if some remembrance-a body, a statue, or even a name-of the deceased remained in the land of the living. Hatshepsut had effectively been cursed with endless death. Who could have done such a terrible thing, and why? Thutmose III, stepson and successor to Hatshepsut, seems the obvious culprit, but we should not condemn him unheard. There are two major crimes to be considered before we draw any conclusion. |::|

“It is undeniable that someone attacked Hatshepsut's monuments after her death. Archaeology indicates that the bulk of the vandalism occurred during Thutmose' reign. Why would he do this? At first it was imagined that this was the new king's immediate revenge against his stepmother; he was indeed cursing her with permanent death. The image of the young Thutmose seething with impotent rage as Hatshepsut ruled in his place is one which has attracted amateur psychologists for many years. However, it does not entirely fit with the known facts. |::|

Defaced mural in Hatsheput's mortuary temple

“Thutmose was to prove himself a calm and prudent general, a brave man not given to hasty or irrational actions. He did not start his solo reign with an assault on Hatshepsut's memory; indeed, he allowed her a traditional funeral, and waited until it was convenient to fit the desecration into his schedule. Some of the destruction was even carried out by his son, after his death, when most of those who remembered Hatshepsut had also died. It is a remote, rather than an immediate, attack. Furthermore the attack is not a thorough one. Enough remained of Hatshepsut to allow us to recreate her reign in some detail. Her tomb, the most obvious place to start the attack, still housed her name. Hatshepsut may have been erased from Egypt's official record, but she was never hated as Akhenaten 'The Great Criminal' would later be. |::|

“What can we conclude from this tangled tale? We should perhaps rethink our assumptions. Hatshepsut did not fear Thutmose; instead of killing him, she raised him as her successor. Thutmose may not have hated Hatshepsut. Initially he may even have been grateful to her, as she had protected his land while training him for greatness. But, as he grew older and looked back over his life, his perspective would shift. Would Egypt's most successful general, a stickler for tradition, have wished to be associated with a woman co-regent, even a woman as strong as Hatshepsut? |::|

“By removing all obvious references to his co-ruler Thutmose could incorporate her reign into his own. He would then become Egypt's greatest pharaoh; the only successor to Thutmose II. Hatshepsut would become the unfortunate victim, not of a personal attack, but of an impersonal attempt at retrospective political correctness. |Thutmose set his masons to re-write history. Their labours would last well into the reign of his successor, Amenhotep II, a king who could not remember Hatshepsut, and who had no reason to respect her memory. Meanwhile, hidden in the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut still rested in her coffin. Thutmose I had been taken from their joint tomb and re-buried, but she had been left alone. Thutmose knew that as long as her body survived, Hatshepsut was ensured eternal life.” |::|

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Egypt ; Tour Egypt, Minnesota State University, Mankato,; Mark Millmore,; Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, BBC, Encyclopædia Britannica, Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “History of Warfare” by John Keegan (Vintage Books); “History of Art” by H.W. Janson Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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