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Thutmose III

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Preceded by:
Pharaoh of Egypt
18th Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Amenhotep II
Thutmose III
Tuthmosis III, Thothmes III, "Manahpi(r)ya" in the Amarna letters

Basalt Statue of Thutmosis III in Luxor Museum

Reign 1479 BC to 1425 BC

Lasting is the Manifestation
of Re

Thutmose Neferkheperu
Son of Ra, Thutmose,
beautiful of forms
Horus name
Kanakht Khaemwaset
Horus Mighty Bull,
Arising in Thebes
Nebty name
mimQ3 X1
He of the Two Ladies,
Enduring in kingship
like Re in heaven
Golden Horus
Horus of Gold
Powerful of strength,
holy of diadems
Consort(s) Hatshepsut-Meryetre, Nebtu, Menwi, Merti,
Menhet, Neferure (?), Sitiah[1]
Issues Amenemhat B, Amenhotep II,
Beketamun, Iset B, Menkheperre A,
Meryetamun C, Meryetamun D, Nebetiunet B,
Nefertiry B, Siamun BCite error: Invalid <ref> tag. Tag has more than one name associated with reference.
Father Thutmose II
Mother Aset
Died 1425 BC
Burial KV34
Cleopatra's Needles

Menkheperre Thutmose III, was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. He is consistently regarded as one of the greatest of Egypt's warrior pharaohs, transforming Egypt into an internationally respected superpower by creating an empire that stretched from southern Syria, Canaan and through to Nubia.[2] He was also a prolific builder of temples throughout Egypt. Thutmose III's reign is generally dated as 1479 to 1425 BC.

==Family Thutmose III was the son of Pharaoh Thutmose II and Aset (sometimes transliterated Isis), a secondary wife of Thutmose II whose most prestigious title was only the 'King's Mother.'[3] When Thutmose II died, the child Thutmose III became king – in theory. However, he shared power from the beginning of his reign with Hatshepsut, his father's wife, who acted as regent and eventually as the dominant co-ruler and real ruler of Egypt. 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.[4]

He may have married Hatshepsut's only known daughter to survive infancy, Neferure, but this is disputed among Egyptologists.[5] Another wife, Sat-jah, bore his firstborn, Amenemhet, but the child preceded his father in death.[5] His successor, Amenhotep II, was born to another wife, Merytre-Hatshepsut II, who is believed by some to be a daughter of Hatshepsut and by others to be a woman of common birth.[5]


Upon his accession to the throne Thutmose took the prenomen Menkheperre, which is represented in the Amarna letters as Manahpi(r)ya. His praenomen and nomen are technically transliterated as mn-ḫpr-r‘ dḥwty-ms, which is usually realised to Menkheperre Djehutymes, meaning "the form of Ra is established, Thoth is born". Due to the influence of Greek transcriptions, Djehutymes is rendered as Thutmose, Thutmoses, or Thutmosis.

Dates and Length of ReignEdit

Thutmose III ruled from 1479 BC to 1425 BC according to the Low Chronology of Ancient Egypt. This has been the dominant theory in academic circles since the 1960's.[6] In some circles the dates 1504 BC to 1450 BC are preferred instead.[7] These dates, like all the dates of the 18th Dynasty, are disputable because of arguments about the circumstances surrounding the recording of a Heliacal Rise of Sothis in the reign of Amenhotep I.[8]

The length of Thutmose III's reign, is known to the day thanks to information found in the tomb of the court official Amenemheb.[9] He assignes his death to his 54th regnal year,[10] on the thirtieth day of the third month of Proyet.[11] 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 BC to March 11 1425 BC, respectively.[12]

Thutmose's military campaignsEdit

Widely considered a military genius by historians, he was an active expansionist ruler who is sometimes referred to as the "Napoleon of Egypt".[citation needed] He was 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 his grandfather Thutmose I to cross the Euphrates, doing so during his campaign against the Mitanni. His campaign records were transcribed onto the walls of the temple of Amun at Karnak, and are now transcribed into Urkunden IV.

Thutmose III appears to have first led two military excursions while he was reigning under Hatshepsut; these are not considered part of his seventeen 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.[7]

First CampaignEdit

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.[13] but  III mustered his own army and departed Egypt, passing through the border fortress of Tjaru (Sile) on the twenty-fifth day of hieigth month.[14] 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.[14] The ensuing Battle of Megiddo was probably the largest battle in any of Thutmose's seventeen campaigns.[15] A ridge of mountains jutting inland from Mount Carmel stood between Thutmose and Megiddo, and he had three potential routes to take.[15] 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 counsil of cowardice and took a dangerous route[16] through a mountain pass which he alleged was only wide enough for the army to pass "horse after horse and man after man."[14]

Despite the laudatory nature of Thutmose's annals, such a pass does indeed exist (though it is not quite as narrow as Thutmose indicates[17]) 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.[15] For some reason, the Canaanite forces did not attack him as his army emerged,[16] and his army routed them decisivly.[15] 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"[18] – 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.[19]. Thutmose was forced to besiege the city instead, but he finally suceeded in conquering it after a siege of seven or eight months (see Siege of Megiddo).[19]

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.[20] 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.[21] The only noticable absence is Mitanni, which would bear the brunt of the following Egyptian campaigns into Asia.

Tours of Canaan and SyriaEdit

Thutmose's second, third, and fourth campaigns appear to have been nothing more than tours of Syria and Canaan to collect tribute.[22] The second campaign 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.[23] Thutmose's third campaign was considered no militarily significant enough to appear in his otherwise extensive Annals at Karnak; however a survey was made of the animals and plants he found there, illustrated on the walls of a special room at Karnak.[24] No record remains of Thutmose's fourth campaign whatsoever.[25]

Damnatio memoriae of HatshepsutEdit

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 2 decades of his reign.[citation needed] 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 twenty years after her death, and often much later. Some vandalisation is suspected to have been by the 'heretic king', Akhenaten.[citation needed]

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 occurred after the forty-second year of Thutmose's reign. This casts serious doubt upon the popular theory that Thutmose III ordered their destruction in a fit of vengeful rage shortly after his accession. Rather, it is more widely accepted today that Thutmose III may have simply decided to erase the memory of Hatshepsut's from the historical records because under Egypt's deeply conservative and hierarchical political system, only men were supposed to rule the state while women were expected to remain loyal to their husbands and nourish their households.[citation needed] Indeed, prior to Hatshepsut's reign only two other female Egyptian Pharaohs were known to exist: Nitocris and Sobekneferu. Unlike Hatshepsut however, both these queens enjoyed a very brief reign.

Of interest on this topic is the recent discovery of nine golden cartouches bearing the names of both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III near the obelisk at Hatshepsut's temple in Luxor. Further study may shed additional light on the question of their relationship and the eventual attempt to erase Hatshepsut from the historical record.

Monumental ConstructionEdit

Thutmose III was a great builder pharaoh and constructed over fifty temples, although some of these are now lost and only mentioned in written records.[7] He also commissioned the building of many tombs for nobles, which were made with greater craftmanship than ever before. His reign was also a period of great stylistic changes in the sculpture, paintings, and reliefs associated with his construction.


Thutmose dedicated far more attention to Karnak than any other site. 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, built a hall in front of that with a ceiling supported by a unique pair of large "heraldic" pillars, then built pylon VII and finished pylon VIII which Hatshepsut had begun.[26] He built a temenos wall around the central chapel containing smaller chapels, along with workshops and storerooms.[26] He built a jubilee hall east of the main sanctuary in which to celebrate his Sed Festival. It contained three rows of pillars supporting the ceiling on each side of the aisle, with the central two rows higher than the others to create windows where the ceiling was split.[26] 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.[26] He also raised three pairs of obelisks at Karnak and dug a sacred lake of 250 by 400 feet, and then placed another alabaster bark shrine near it.[26]


Like earlier pharoahs, Thutmose III placed statues inside his temples to show his strength and to portray him as a devout pharoah who worshipped the gods. Thutmose's statues, however, are among the first to show a pharoah in the "offering" position.[citation needed] These positions include the form called "offering to an altar" and show the pharoah both in the kneeling and standing positions. Thutmose is shown in other statues offering geese and, possibly, oil[27]. 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, Thutmosis IV and Amenhotep III.

Death and burialEdit

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.[citation needed] According to a book by the American Egyptologist Peter Der Manuelian, a statement in the tomb biography of an official named Amenemheb establishes that Thutmose III died on Year 54, III Peret day 30 of his reign after ruling Egypt for 53 years, 10 months, and 26 days.(Urk. 180.15) Thutmose III died just one month and four days shy of the start of his 55th regnal year.



Thutmose III's mummy was discovered in the Deir el-Bahri Cache above the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in 1881. He was interred along with those of other 18th and 19th dynasty leaders Ahmose I, Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Ramesses I, Seti I, Ramesses II, and Ramesses IX, as well as the 21st dynasty pharaohs Pinedjem I, Pinedjem II, and Siamun.

The mummy was unwrapped by Gaston Maspero in 1886. It was found to be in poor condition, as it had been extensively damaged in antiquity by tomb robbers. Maspero's description of the body provides an idea as to the magnitude of the damage done to the body:

His mummy was not securely hidden away, for towards the close of the XXth dynasty it was torn out of the coffin by robbers, who stripped it and rifled it of the jewels with which it was covered, injuring it in their haste to carry away the spoil. It was subsequently re-interred, and has remained undisturbed until the present day; but before re-burial some renovation of the wrappings was necessary, and as portions of the body had become loose, the restorers, in order to give the mummy the necessary firmness, compressed it between four oar-shaped slips of wood, painted white, and placed, three inside the wrappings and one outside, under the bands which confined the winding-sheet.[28]

Of the face, which was undamaged, Maspero's says the following:

Happily the face, which had been plastered over with pitch at the time of embalming, did not suffer at all from this rough treatment, and appeared intact when the protecting mask was removed. Its appearance does not answer to our ideal of the conqueror. His statues, though not representing him as a type of manly beauty, yet give him refined, intelligent features, but a comparison with the mummy shows that the artists have idealised their model. The forehead is abnormally low, the eyes deeply sunk, the jaw heavy, the lips thick, and the cheek-bones extremely prominent; the whole recalling the physiognomy of Thûtmosis II., though with a greater show of energy.[28]

Thutmose III was short at barely five feet (1.5m) tall.[citation needed] His mummy now rests in the Cairo Museum.

See alsoEdit


  1. Dodson, Aidan. Hilton, Dyan. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Thames and Hudson. p132. 2004. ISBN 0-500-05128-3
  2. page v-vi of the Preface to Thutmose III: A New Biography
  3. Joyce Tyldesley, Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh, Viking, 1996, pp.94-95
  4. Tyldesley, op. cit., p.95
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Lipińska, Jadwiga. "Thutmose III," p.403. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Ed. Donald Redford. Vol. 3, pp.401-403. Oxford University Press, 2001.
  6. Campbell, Edward Fay Jr. The Chronology of the Amarna Letters with Special Reference to the Hypothetical Coregency of Amenophis III and Akhenaten. p.5. Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1964.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Lipińska, Jadwiga. "Thutmose III," p.401. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Ed. Donald Redford. Vol. 3, pp.401-403. Oxford University Press, 2001.
  8. Grimal, Nicolas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p.202. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988.
  9. Redford, Donald B. The Chronology of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol 25, No 2. p.119. University of Chicago Press, 1966.
  10. Breasted, James Henry. Ancient Records of Egypt, Vol. II p. 234. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1906.
  11. Murnane, William J. Ancient Egyptian Coregencies. p.44. The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1977.
  12. Jürgen von Beckerath, Chronologie des Pharaonischen Ägypten. Mainz, Philipp von Zabern, p.189
  13. Redford, Donald B. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times. p. 156. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1992.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Steindorff, George; and Seele, Keith. When Egypt Ruled the East. p.53. University of Chicago, 1942.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Redford, Donald B. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times. p. 157. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1992.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Steindorff, George; and Seele, Keith. When Egypt Ruled the East. p.54. University of Chicago, 1947.
  17. Gardiner, Alan. Egypt of the Pharaohs. p. 192 Oxford University Press, 1964
  18. Urkunden der 18. Dynastie 657.2
  19. 19.0 19.1 Steindorff, George; and Seele, Keith. When Egypt Ruled the East. p.55. University of Chicago, 1942.
  20. Steindorff, George; and Seele, Keith. When Egypt Ruled the East. p.56. University of Chicago, 1942.
  21. Gardiner, Alan. Egypt of the Pharaohs. p. 193 Oxford University Press, 1964
  22. Grimal, Nicolas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p.214. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988.
  23. Breasted, James Henry. Ancient Records of Egypt, Vol. II p. 191. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1906.
  24. Breasted, James Henry. Ancient Records of Egypt, Vol. II p. 192. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1906.
  25. Breasted, James Henry. Ancient Records of Egypt, Vol. II p. 193. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1906.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 Lipińska, Jadwiga. "Thutmose III," p.402. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Ed. Donald Redford. Vol. 3, pp.401-403. Oxford University Press, 2001.
  27. (it is the first inscribed statuette Cairo CG 42060)
  28. 28.0 28.1 Maspero, Gaston. History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 5 (of 12), Project Gutenberg EBook, Release Date: December 16, 2005. EBook #17325.

Further readingEdit

  • Redford, Donald B., The Wars in Syria and Palestine of Thutmose III, [Culture and History of the Ancient Near East 16], Leiden: Brill, 2003. ISBN 90-04-12989-8, treats the military annals of Thutmose III, with regard to his conquests in the Levant
  • Der Manuelian, Peter, Studies in the Reign of Amenophis II, Hildesheimer Ägyptologische Beiträge(HÄB) Verlag: 1987
  • Cline, Eric H. and O'Connor, David, Thutmose III : A New Biography, University of Michigan Press, 2006. ISBN 0-472-11467-0, incorporates a number of important new survey articles regarding the reign of Thutmose III, including administration, art, religion and foreign affairs
  • Reisinger, Magnus, Entwicklung der ägyptischen Königsplastik in der frühen und hohen 18. Dynastie, Agnus-Verlag, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-00-015864-2

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