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 Niy in north Syria to the fourth waterfall of the Nile in Nubia. After his years of campaigning were over, he established himself as a great builder pharaoh as well. Thutmose III was responsible for building over fifty temples in Egypt and building massive additions to Egypt's chief temple at Karnak. New levels of artistic skills were reached during his reign, as well as unique architectural developments never seen before and never again after his reign.
Officially, Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost fifty-four years, and his reign is usually dated from April 24, 1479 to March 11, 1425 BCE; however, the first twenty-two years of his reign was as the co-regent to Hatshepsut--his stepmother and aunt--who was named as the pharaoh. During the last two years of his reign he became a coregent again, with his son, Amenhotep II, who would succeed him. When he died he was buried in the Valley of the Kings as were the rest of the kings from this period in Egypt.
Regardless of this, when Thutmose II died Thutmose III was too young to rule, so Hatshepsut became his regent, soon his coregent, and shortly thereafter, she was declared to be the pharaoh. Thutmose III had little power over the empire while Hatshepsut exercised the formal titulary of kingship, complete with a royal prenomen—Maatkare. 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. After the death of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III ruled Egypt on his own for thirty years, until the last two years of his reign, when his son became a coregent for two years. He died in his fifty-fourth regnal year.
Thutmose III had two known wives: Satiah and Merytre-Hatshepsut. Satiah bore him his firstborn son, Amenemhet, but the child preeceased his father. His successor, the crown prince and future king Amenhotep II, was born to Merytre-Hatshepsut II.
The length of Thutmose III's reign is known to the day thanks to information found in the tomb of the court official Amenemheb. Amenemheb records Thutmose III's death to his master's fifty-fourth regnal year, on the thirtieth day of the third month of Peret. 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.
Widely considered a military genius by historians, he was an active expansionist ruler, sometimes called Egypt's greatest conqueror or "the Napoleon of Egypt. 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. 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. 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.
When Hatshepsut died on the tenth day of the sixth month of Thutmose III's twenty second year--according to information from a single stela from Armant--the king of Kadesh advanced his army to Megiddo. 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. 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. The ensuing Battle of Megiddo probably was the largest battle in any of Thutmose's seventeen campaigns. A ridge of mountains jutting inland from Mount Carmel stood between Thutmose and Megiddo, and he had three potential routes to take. 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 through a mountain pass which he alleged was only wide enough for the army to pass "horse after horse and man after man."
Despite the laudatory nature of Thutmose's annals, such a pass does indeed exist (although it is not quite so narrow as Thutmose indicates) 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. For some reason, the Canaanite forces did not attack him as his army emerged, and his army routed them decisively. 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. 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 – 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.. 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).
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. 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. The only noticeable absence is Mitanni, which would bear the brunt of the following Egyptian campaigns into Asia.
Thutmose's second, third, and fourth campaigns appear to have been nothing more than tours of Syria and Canaan to collect tribute. Traditionally, the material directly after the text of the first campaign has been considered to be the second campaign. 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. 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.. This survey is dated to Thutmose's twenty-fifth year. No record remains of Thutmose's fourth campaign whatsoever, 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.
The next two campaigns are lost. 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. 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.
In his thirteenth campaign Thutmose returned to Nukhashashe for a very minor campaign. 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. 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 lead by an official). Only the tribute list remains from Thutmose's next campaign in the annals, and nothing may be deduced about it, except that it probably was another raid to the frontiers around Niy. 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. Thutmose moved his troops by land up the coastal road and put down rebellions in the Arka plain and moved on Tunip. After taking Tunip, his attention turned to Kadesh again. He engaged and destroyed three surrounding Mitannian garrisons and returned to Egypt in victory. However, his victory in this final campaign was neither complete, nor permanent, since he did not take Kadesh, and Tunip could not have remained aligned to him for very long, certainly not beyond his own death.
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. 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.
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. 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. His jubilee hall was also revolutionary, and is arguably the earliest known building created in the basilica style. 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. 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.
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. He built a temenos wall around the central chapel containing smaller chapels, along with workshops and storerooms. 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. The central two rows were higher than the others to create windows where the ceiling was split. 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.
East of the Iput-Isut, he erected another temple to Aten where he was depicted as being supported by Amun. It was inside this temple that Thutmose planned on erecting his tekhen waty, or "unique obelisk." 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, thirty five years later. It was later moved to Rome and is 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 390 CE. 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. 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. It was built for use during his jubilee, and was covered with scenes of defeated enemies. He set royal colossi on both sides of the pylon, and put two more obelisks on the south face in front of the gateway. The eastern one's base remains in place, but the western one was transported to hippodrome in Constantinople. farther south, alone the road, he put up pylon VIII which Hatshepsut had begun. East of the road, he dug a sacred lake of 250 by 400 feet, and then placed another alabaster bark shrine near it.
Statuary of both of these rulers often share the same almond-shaped eyes, arching browline, moderately aquiline nose and a gently curved mouth with a slight smile. Systematic studies of the inscribed statues of these two pharaohs have been developed that provide a set of stylistic, iconographic, contextual, and technical criteria necessary to identify uninscribed statues of these pharaohs with some degree of certainty.
There are many examples of statues depicting Thutmose III kneeling down in an "offering" position, typically offering milk, wine, or some other food substance to a deity. While examples of this style may be found with some of the earlier pharaohs of the New Kingdom, it is thought that the emphasis on this style marks a change in the increasingly public aspects of the Egyptian religion. These positions include the form called "offering to an altar" and show the pharaoh both in the kneeling and standing positions. Thutmose is shown in other statues offering geese and, possibly, oil. The faces of the statues are idealized to portray both a traditional view of kings and the contemporary idea of beauty; this first was apparent in statues of Hatshepsut, but is more obvious in statues of Thutmose III and his immediate descendants Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV, and Amenhotep III. Another important development that relates to this form of statuary is that at least one instance of this type represents the first known royal statuette that was cast in bronze.
Thutmose's tomb, discovered by Victor Loret in 1898, was 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.
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. 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 he 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). Another often overlooked fact is that Hatshepsut was not 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. All of this evidence casts serious doubt upon the popular theory that Thutmose III order 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 surviving relatives of Hatshepsut who may have 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. Later, Amenhotep II even claimed that he had built the items he defaced.
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-fifth regnal year. 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.
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. Maspero's description of the body provides an idea as to the magnitude of the damage done to the body:
Of the face, which was undamaged, Maspero's says the following:
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.
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, G. Eliot Smith, stated the height of Thutmose III's mummy to be 1.615m (5ft. 3.58in.). 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. The mummy of Thutmose III now resides in the Royal Mummies Hall of the Cairo Museum, catalog number 61068.
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