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Thutmose III

Thutmose III

Flourished Circa 1479-1425 b.c.e.

King, dynasty 18

Sources

Model King. Thutmose III, a gifted warrior and administrator, consolidated his grandfather’s conquests and continued to build important monuments throughout the country. He ruled from circa 1479-1425 b.c.e. during the New Kingdom (circa 1539-1075 b.c.e.), and he is the prototype of the ideal ancient Egyptian pharaoh.

Family. Thutmose III was the son of Thutmose II and his minor wife Queen Isis. He came to the throne as a child after the death of his father. The Great King’s Wife Hatshepsut acted as regent while Thutmose III remained a minor. He had one half sister named Neferure. She was the daughter of Thutmose I and Hatshepsut. No other siblings are known. Though some scholars have argued that Thutmose III married Neferure, there is no concrete evidence to back this claim. Thutmose III did, however, marry Sit-iakh, who became the mother of his oldest son, Amenemhet, who died young. A second wife, Meryetre-Hatshepsut, was the mother of the next king, Amenhotep II. She was likely a commoner. A third wife, Nebtu, is only known by name. Four other royal children are known.

Early Training and Career. Thutmose III claimed his early life was spent in training as a priest of the god Amun. In this period he learned to read and write hieroglyphs, a skill not always mastered by kings. During a procession of the god, the priests carrying the god’s statue stumbled in front of the young Thutmose III. This event was interpreted as a sign that Amun had chosen the child to follow Thutmose II on the throne. This inscription is interpreted to mean that Thutmose III was not the obvious heir to the throne, but needed the endorsement of the Amun priesthood before he could be recognized. This text also resembled in its details a description of the accession of Thutmose I to the throne, another king who was not the obvious heir.

Military Indoctrination. The remainder of Thutmose Ill’s early years was spent with the army. Military training was the most common education for future kings. It is possible that Thutmose III led his first military expeditions later in this period, while Hatshepsut remained chief administrator of the country.

Sole Rule. Following Hatshepsut’s death in 1458 b.c.e., the now adult Thutmose III assumed sole control of the throne in Year 22 of his reign. During the following seventeen years, Thutmose III undertook at least fourteen military campaigns, consolidating Egyptian control as far as the Euphrates River to the east and the Fourth Cataract of the Nile River in Nubia to the south. He thus completed the conquests that his grandfather, Thutmose I, had begun. Thutmose III became the New Kingdom prototype of the warrior-king, describing himself as “a king who fights by himself, to whom a multitude is no concern; for he is abler than a million men in a vast army. No equal to him has been found, a fighter aggressive on the battlefield.”

Campaigns. Thutmose Ill’s army fought during fourteen military campaigns between Year 22 and Year 42 of his reign. The three most significant campaigns were fought against Egypt’s most important northern enemies. In Year 22 he defeated the coalition of Syrian city-states led by Qadesh at the town of Megiddo. In Year 33 he defeated the state of Mitanni located on the east side of the Euphrates River. In Year 42 he defeated the Syrian city-state of Tunip. In each of these campaigns, Thutmose III demonstrated superior military abilities.

Building Projects. Thutmose III also initiated many building projects within both Egypt and Nubia. Eight temples have been discovered in Nubia, while seven temples are known in Upper Egypt. Texts from the reign referred to nearly fifty separate building projects. In Thebes he constructed mortuary temples for his father and grandfather as well as his own. He also added important buildings to the Karnak complex, including the Hall of Annals and the Akh-menu, decorated with the unusual plant life that Thutmose observed on his foreign expeditions.

Death. Thutmose III died in Year 54 of his reign. He had appointed his son Amenhotep II co-regent in the previous year, ensuring a smooth transition to the new reign. He was buried in the tomb prepared for him in the Valley of the Kings. Thutmose III remained a model of the ideal king for many subsequent generations of Egyptians.

Sources

Betsy M. Bryan, “The Eighteenth Dynasty Before the Amarna Period (c. 1550-1352 bc),” in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, edited by Ian Shaw (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 218–271.

Peter A. Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt (New York: Thames & Hudson, 1994).

Jadwiga Lipinska and G. B.Johnson, “Thutmose III at Deir el Bahri” KMT:A Journal of Ancient Egypt, 3 (1992): 13-25.

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