Thutmose III

Thutmose III
Thutmose III
Tuthmosis III, "Manahpi(r)ya" in the Amarna letters

Thutmosis III statue in Luxor Museum
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign 1479–1425 BC, 18th Dynasty
Predecessor Hatshepsut
Successor Amenhotep II
Consort(s) Satiah,[2] Hatshepsut-Meryetre, Nebtu, Menwi, Merti, Menhet
Children Amenemhat, Amenhotep II, Beketamun, Iset, Menkheperre, Meryetamun, Meryetamun, Nebetiunet, Nefertiry, Siamun[2]
Father Thutmose II
Mother Iset
Died 1425 BC
Burial KV34
Monuments Cleopatra's Needles
Obelisk of Thutmosis III, at the base showing Theodosius the Great (Roman Emperor, 379-395). The obelisk is now located in Istanbul, Turkey Hippodrome of Constantinople. In 390, Theodosius had the obelisk cut into three pieces and brought to Constantinople. Only the top section survives, and it stands today where he placed it, on a marble pedestal.

Thutmose III (sometimes read as Thutmosis or Tuthmosis III, and meaning Thoth is born) was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. During the first twenty-two years of Thutmose's reign he was co-regent with his stepmother, Hatshepsut, who was named the pharaoh. While he is shown first on surviving monuments, both were assigned the usual royal names and insignia and neither is given any obvious seniority over the other.[3] He served as the head of her armies.

After her death and his later rise to being the pharaoh of the kingdom, he created the largest empire Egypt had ever seen; no fewer than seventeen campaigns were conducted, and he conquered from Niya in North Syria to the fourth waterfall of the Nile in Nubia.

Officially, Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost fifty-four years, and his reign is usually dated from April 24, 1479 BC to March 11, 1425 BC; however, this includes the twenty-two years he was co-regent to Hatshepsut—his stepmother and aunt. During the final two years of his reign, he appointed his son-and successor-Amenhotep II, as his junior co-regent. When Thutmose III died, he was buried in the Valley of the Kings as were the rest of the kings from this period in Egypt.



Thutmose III was the son of Thutmose II by a secondary wife, Iset.[4] His father's great royal wife was Queen Hatshepsut. Her daughter Neferure was Thutmose's half-sister.

When Thutmose II died Thutmose III was too young to rule, so Hatshepsut became his regent, soon his coregent, and shortly thereafter, she declared herself to be the pharaoh while never denying kinship to young Thutmose III. Thutmosis III had little power over the empire while Hatshepsut exercised the formal titulary of kingship. Her rule was quite prosperous and marked by great advancements. When he reached a suitable age and demonstrated the capability, she appointed him to head her armies.

Thutmosis III had several wives:

  • Satiah: She may have been the mother of his firstborn son, Amenemhat.[5] An alternative theory is that the boy was the son of Neferure. Amenemhat predeceased his father.[2]
  • Merytre-Hatshepsut. Thutmose's successor, the crown prince and future king Amenhotep II, was the son of Merytre-Hatshepsut.[5] Additional children include Menkheperre and daughters named Nebetiunet, Meryetamun (C), Meryetamun (D) and Iset. Merytre-Hatshepsut was the daughter of the divine adoratrice Huy.[2]
  • Nebtu: she is depicted on a pillar in Thutmose III's tomb.[2]
  • Menwi, Merti, Menhet three foreign wives.[2]
  • Neferure?: Thutmose III may have married his half-sister,[5] but there is no conclusive evidence for this marriage. It has been suggested that Neferure may have been the mother of Amenemhat instead of Satiah.[2]

Dates and length of reign

Thutmose III reigned from 1479 BC to 1425 BC according to the Low Chronology of Ancient Egypt. This has been the conventional Egyptian chronology in academic circles since the 1960s,[6] though in some circles the older dates 1504 BC to 1450 BC are preferred from the High Chronology of Egypt.[7] These dates, just as all the dates of the Eighteenth 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.[8] A papyrus from Amenhotep I's reign records this astronomical observation which, theoretically, could 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 such as Memphis or Heliopolis, or in Thebes. These two latitudes give dates twenty 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.[9] Amenemheb records Thutmose III's death to his master's fifty-fourth regnal year,[10] on the thirtieth day of the third month of Peret.[11] The day of Thutmose III's 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 the king's reign (assuming the low chronology) from April 24, 1479 BC to March 11, 1425 BC respectively.[12]

According to 1 Kings 6:1 the Exodus took place in 1448 b.C. That is, 477 years before Solomon became king in 971 b.C. This would make Thutmoses III pharaoh during the Exodus.

Thutmose's military campaigns

Widely considered a military genius by historians, Thutmose III made 16 raids in 20 years. He was an active expansionist ruler, sometimes called Egypt's greatest conqueror or "the Napoleon of Egypt."[13] He is 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 Thutmose I 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.[14] In most of his campaigns his enemies were defeated town by town, until being beaten into submission. The preferred tactic was to subdue a much weaker city or state one at a time resulting in surrender of each fraction until complete domination was achieved.

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.[citation needed] He encountered only little resistance from neighbouring kingdoms, allowing him to expand his realm of influence easily. His army also had carried boats on dry land. These campaigns (17 in 20 years), are inscribed on the inner wall of the great chamber housing the "holy of holies" at the Karnak Temple of Amun. These inscriptions give the most detailed and accurate account of any Egyptian king.

First Campaign

Thutmose III smiting his enemies. Relief on the seventh pylon in Karnak.

When Hatshepsut died on the tenth day of the sixth month of Thutmose III's twenty first[15] year — according to information from a single stela from Armant - the king of Kadesh advanced 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 probably was the largest battle in any of Thutmose's seventeen 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 boasts, but such self-praise is normal in Egyptian texts), accused the council of cowardice and took a dangerous route[19] through the Aruna 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 so 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 may be used to determine the size of the Egyptian force, and if the number of sheep and goats captured may be used to determine the size of the Canaanite force, then both armies were around 10,000 men.[21] However most scholars do believe that the Egyptian army was more numerous. 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 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.[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

Annals of Tuthmoses III at Karnak depicting him standing before the offerings made to him after his foreign campaigns.

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 fortieth year or later, and thus have nothing to do with the second campaign at all. If so, then so far, no records of this campaign have been found at all.[27][29] This survey is dated to Thutmose's twenty-fifth year.[30] No record remains of Thutmose's fourth campaign whatsoever,[31] 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 time frame.[32]

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 Orontes. In Thutmose's twenty-ninth year, he began his fifth campaign where he first took an unknown city (the name falls in a lacuna) which had been garrisoned by Tunip.[33] He then moved inland and took the city and territory around Ardata,[34] the town was pillaged and the wheat fields burnt. Unlike previous plundering raids, however, Thutmose III subsequently garrisoned the area known as Djahy, which is probably a reference to southern Syria.[26] This subsequently permitted him to ship supplies and troops between Syria and Egypt.[34] Although there is no direct evidence for it, it is for this reason that some have supposed that Thutmose's sixth campaign, in his thirtieth year, commenced with a naval transportation of troops directly into to Byblos, bypassing Canaan entirely.[34] 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 apparently had 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 so 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 thirty-first year, and he returned to Syria for his seventh campaign, took the port city of Ullaza[35] 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 Byblos[38] 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's tekhen waty, today standing in Rome as the Lateran obelisk. The move from Egypt to Rome was initiated by Constantine the Great (Roman Emperor, 324-337) in 326, though he died before it could be shipped out of Alexandria. His son, the Emperor Constantius II completed the transfer in 357. An account of the shipment was written by contemporary historian Ammianus Marcellinus.

Thutmose III returned to Syria for his ninth campaign in his thirty-fourth 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 thirty-fifth year, the king of Mitanni had raised a large army and engaged the Egyptians around Aleppo.[43] As usual for any Egyptian king, Thutmose boasted 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 only took a total of ten prisoners of war.[44] He may simply have 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 details about his next two campaigns are unknown.[40] His eleventh is presumed to have happened in his thirty-sixth regnal year, and his twelfth is presumed to have happened in his thirty-seventh, since his thirteenth is mentioned at Karnak as happening in his thirty-eighth 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 thirty-ninth 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 considered a campaign (i.e. if the king went with it or if it was led by an official).[48] Only the tribute list remains from Thutmose's next campaign in the annals,[49] and nothing may be deduced about it, except that it probably was another raid to the frontiers around Niy.[50] His final Asian campaign is better documented, however. Sometime before Thutmose's forty-second 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]

Nubian Campaign

Thutmose took one last campaign in his fiftieth regnal year, very late in his life. He attacked Nubia, but only went so far as the fourth cataract of the Nile. Although no king of Egypt had ever penetrated so 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.[36]

Monumental construction

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 craftsmanship than ever before. His reign was also a period of great stylistic changes in the sculpture, paintings, and reliefs associated with construction, much of it beginning during the reign of Hatshepsut.

Artistic developments

Glass making advanced during the reign of Thutmose III and this cup bears his name.
Depiction of Tuthmoses III at Karnak holding a Hedj Club and a Sekhem Scepter standing before two obelisks he had erected there.

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, after his forty-second year, he began having himself depicted wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt and a šndyt-kilt, an unprecedented style.[53] Architecturally, his use of pillars also was 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.[53] Finally, although not directly pertaining to his monuments, it appears that Thutmose's artisans finally had learned how to use the skill of glass making—developed in the early eighteenth dynasty—to create drinking vessels by the core-formed method.[55]


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, built Pylon VI, 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, or "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 it,[57] thirty five years later.[58] It was later moved to Rome by Emperor Constantius II and is now known as the Lateran Obelisk.

Another Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius I re-erected another obelisk from the Temple of Karnak in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, in AD 390. Thus, two obelisks of Tuthmosis III's Karnak temple stand in Papal Rome and in Caesaropapist Constantinople, the two main historical capitals of the Roman Empire.

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] farther 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]


A scene from the Amduat on the walls of the tomb of Thutmose III, KV34, in the Valley of the Kings.

Thutmose's tomb, discovered by Victor Loret in 1898, is in the Valley of the Kings. It uses a plan which is typical of eighteenth 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 deity 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 later sun deity, who is identified with the pharaoh at this time. 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 executed in a simple, "diagrammatic" way, imitating the manner of the cursive script one might expect to see on a funerary papyrus rather than the more typically lavish wall decorations seen on most other royal tomb walls. The colouring is similarly muted, executed in simple black figures accompanied by text on a cream background with highlights in red and pink. The decorations depict the pharaoh aiding the deities in defeating Apep, the serpent of chaos, thereby helping to ensure the daily rebirth of the sun as well as the pharaoh's own resurrection.[59]

Defacing of Hatshepsut's monuments

Djeser-Djeseru is the main building of Hatshepsut's mortuary temple complex at Deir el-Bahri; designed by Senemut, the building is an example of perfect symmetry that predates the Parthenon, and it was the first complex built on the site she chose, which would become the Valley of the Kings.

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 stepmother for denying him access to the throne for the first two decades of his reign.[60] However, in recent times this theory has been revised after questions arose as to why Hatshepsut would have allowed a resentful heir to control armies, which it is known she did. This view is supported further by the fact that no strong evidence has been found to show Thutmose III sought to claim the throne. He kept Hatshepsut's religious and administrative leaders. Added to this is the fact that the monuments of Hatshepsut were not damaged until at least twenty years after her death in the late reign of Thutmose III when he was quite elderly and in another coregency—with his son who would become Amenhotep II—who is known to have attempted to identify her works as his own.

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. Traditionally, these have been interpreted by early modern scholars to be evidence of acts of damnatio memoriae (condemning a person by erasure from recorded existence) by Thutmose III. However, recent research by scholars such as Charles Nims and Peter Dorman, has re-examined these erasures and found that the acts of erasure which could be dated, only began sometime during year forty-six or forty-seven of Thutmose's reign (c. 1433/2 BC).[61] Another often overlooked fact is that Hatshepsut was not the only one who received this treatment. The monuments of her chief steward Senenmut, who was closely associated with her rule, were similarly defaced where they were found.[62] All of this evidence casts serious doubt upon the popular theory that Thutmose III ordered the destruction in a fit of vengeful rage shortly after his accession.

Currently, the purposeful destruction of the memory of Hatshepsut is seen as a measure designed to ensure a smooth succession for the son of Thutmose III, the future Amenhotep II, as opposed to any of the surviving relatives of Hatshepsut who had an equal, or better, claim to the throne. It also may be likely that this measure could not have been taken earlier—until the passing of powerful religious and administrative officials who had served under both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III had occurred.[63] Later, Amenhotep II even claimed that he had built the items he defaced.

Death and burial

Mummified head of Thutmose III.
Statue of Thutmosis III at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

According to 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, hence, died just one month and four days shy of the start of his fifty-fourth regnal year.[64] When the co-regencies with Hatshepsut and Amenhotep II are deducted, he ruled alone as pharaoh for just over thirty of those years.


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 eighteenth and nineteenth dynasty leaders Ahmose I, Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Ramesses I, Seti I, Ramesses II, and Ramesses IX, as well as the twenty-first dynasty pharaohs Pinedjem I, Pinedjem II, and Siamun.

While it is popularly thought that his mummy originally was unwrapped by Gaston Maspero in 1886, it was in fact first unwrapped by Émile Brugsch, the Egyptologist who supervised the evacuation of the mummies from the Deir el-Bahri Cache five years previously in 1881, soon after its arrival in the Boulak Museum. This was while Maspero was away in France, and the Director General of the Egyptian Antiquities Service ordered the mummy re-wrapped. So when it was "officially" unwrapped by Maspero in 1886, he almost certainly knew it was in relatively poor condition.[65]

The mummy had been damaged extensively in antiquity by tomb robbers, and its wrappings subsequently cut into and torn by the Rassul family who had rediscovered the tomb and its contents only a few years before.[66] 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 20th 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.[67]

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.[67]

Maspero was so disheartened at the state of the mummy, and the prospect that all of the other mummies were similarly damaged (as it turned out, few were in so poor a state), that he would not unwrap another for several years.[68]

Unlike many other examples from the Deir el-Bahri Cache, the wooden mummiform coffin that contained the body was original to the pharaoh, though any gilding or decoration it might have had had been hacked off in antiquity.

In his examination of the mummy, the anatomist Grafton Elliot Smith stated the height of Thutmose III's mummy to be 1.615m (5 ft. 3.58in.).[69] This has led people to believe that Thutmose was a short man, but Smith measured the height of a body whose feet were absent, so he was undoubtedly taller than the figure given by Smith.[70] The mummy of Thutmose III now resides in the Royal Mummies Hall of the Cairo Museum, catalog number 61068.

See also


  1. ^ Clayton, Peter. Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames & Hudson Ltd., 1994. p.104
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Dodson, Aidan. Hilton, Dyan. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Thames and Hudson. p132. 2004. ISBN 0-500-05128-3
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Further reading

  • Eloise Jarvis McGraw, "Mara, Daughter of the Nile"
  • Marianne Luban, "The Pharaoh's Barber"
  • 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
  • Breasted, James Henry.Ancient Records of Egypt, [Volume Two, The Eighteenth Dynasty], University of Illinois Press, 2001.ISBN 0-252-06974-9
  • River God by Smith, Wilbur along with the rest of his Egyptian series of historical fiction novels are based in a large part on Thutmose III's time along with his story and that of his mother through the eyes of his mother's vizier mixing in elements of the Hyskos' domination and eventual overthrow.

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