Today I am going to present you 15 interesting facts about Thutmose III, the Warrior Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.
He was the sixth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty and the son of Thutmose II from his wife Iset.
History said about him that he is the greatest ruler of Egypt and that he was one of the most powerful emperors in history, Thutmose established the first Egyptian empire, which lasted for more than four centuries, specifically from 1479 BC, until 1070 BC.
His empire stretched from Mesopotamia to the North East to Nubia in the South and modern-day Libia to the West.
15 interesting facts about Thutmose III:
I. His name means…
His pharaoh name can be translated as ”Thoth is Born” while his birth name, Menkhperre, means ”Eternal are the Manifestations of Ra”.
As we can easily observe, both names are referencing 2 of the most important Gods of Ancient Egypt, Thoth and Ra, the God of wisdom and writing and the God of Sun.
II. First part of his reign was dominated by Queen Hatshepsut
When his father, Thutmose II, died, his only son, Thutmose III, was too young to become the ruler of Egypt (only 3 years old).
The power vacuum was quickly exploited by Thutmose II’s first wife, Hatshepsut, which was also the aunt and stepmother of Thutmose III.
Although formally it was a coregency, Queen Hatshepsut had, in reality, the upper hand.
Hatshepsut ruled Egypt first as a regent in the name of Thutmose III, then after a few years, she declared herself Pharaoh.
III. He was responsible for the military affairs during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut
During the coregency era with Queen Hatshepsut, Thutmose receives a very good education.
Most probably he was sent to a scriptorium near the Temple of Karnak to learn how to read and write.
It is not exactly known when he finished his studies at the temple and when he joined the army for military training.
There are no records about the military training of the young pharaoh, but we can safely assume that it was rigorous and it very mentally and physically demanding.
Most probably, the young Pharaoh had to familiarize himself with all combat arms, from infantry, archers, and even chariot fighting.
In addition to learning the fighting techniques of the time, the young pharaoh was probably taught to survive even in extreme weather conditions and with little food.
At the age of 16, at the orders of Queen Hatshepsut, Thutmose III was appointed the supreme commander of the Egyptian Army. This position will help him later achieve complete power and immense popularity.
IV. Thutmose III’s rise to total power is surrounded by mystery
Before the discovery of Hatshepsut’s mummy in 2007 by Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, followed by detailed investigations, many speculated on how Thutmose III manage to take full power.
Some experts have supported the theory of a coup organized by Thutmose, with the support of the Egyptian army.
But this theory failed with the discovery and analysis of the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut.
The mummy’s analysis determined that she suffered from several diseases: arthritis, diabetes, and even a form of bone cancer. Most likely cancer led to the end of woman Pharaoh.
There was no evidence of violence or unnatural death causes found on the mummy, meaning that most probably Hatshepsut was not eliminated during a coup.
In conclusion, most probably Thutmose III’s rise to power was peaceful and with little to no opposition.
V. He won the battle of Megiddo with an ingenious plan
When Thutmose III officially took the throne of Egypt, a coalition of Asiatic kingdoms(most important, the city of Kadesh and the Kingdom of Mittani) tried to revolt and march against Egypt.
Thutmose, being a military leader, choose to deal with this enemy alliance in the field of battle.
The result is the battle of Megiddo in 1481 B.C. According to various historical sources, the Egyptian army numbered between 6000 to 20,000 troops. Most probably the main Egyptian force was supported by 500 chariots.
The enemy forces’ strength was estimated at 15,000 troops and they assembled near the town of Megiddo.
Before the battle, Thutmose organized a War Council and discussed with his commanders the order of battle. The Egyptian generals argued about the 3 possible paths to reach the enemy army near Megiddo.
All Egyptian commanders wanted to choose the 2 easy roads to Meggido because they feared that the third one was very narrow and could reduce the marching speed of the Egyptian army, also there was the possibility that this road could be easily defended by the enemy army.
Most likely, Thutmose already made his decision before the War Council. His orders were to march through the third narrow road and attack the enemy army.
His decision, though risky, would lead to a great victory for the Egyptian Army, the enemy forces were routed.
Unfortunately for Thutmose, the Egyptian Army failed to destroy completely the enemy army in the open field, thus the enemy forces managed to take refuge in the city of Meggido and prepare for a long siege.
Thutmose was forced to lay siege to the city of Meggido for 7-8 months until the city defenders finally surrender.
VI. Thutmose III was also a great hunter
According to the Annals, Elephants were still present in Syria during the reign of Thutmose III.
According to his claims, he manages to hunt a huge herd of 120 elephants, located near the Syrian town of Niy.
It seems that the official version of events does not seem to be entirely true, according to the writings of one of Thutmose’s commanders, Amenemhab, who helped the Pharaoh during this great hunting.
For his support, Amenemhab was rewarded with gold and clothes.
VII. One of the longest reigns in Ancient Egypt?
In total, Thutmose III ruled Egypt for 54 years, his reign lasted from 1479 B.C to 1425 B.C. In this time frame, it is important to mention that 22 years are represented by the regency under Queen Hatshepsut.
By comparison, the reign of Ramses II(1279-1213 B.C) lasted for 66 years.
Officially, Thutmose took all power after the death of Hatshepsut at the age of 24, but it is important to note that under the regency of the Egyptian Queen, the young Pharaoh enjoyed an important degree of freedom/autonomy, meaning that he was not a puppet of Queen Hatshepsut.
If we separate the 22 years under Hatshepsut, the total reign of Thutmose III will be of only 32 years, which is still a long reign for an Egyptian Pharaoh.
VIII. Ancient Egypt reaches its maximum territorial expansion during his reign
Undeniably, Thutmose III was one of the great military leaders of the Ancient World.
He successfully organized and led 17 military campaigns, without suffering any defeat. Maybe this number doesn’t mean anything important, but let us place it in a historical context.
Sixty years before Thutmose III’s reign, from Ahmose to Thutmose II, an Egyptian foreign military expedition was organized once every 10.5 years.
Between the official ruling years of Thutmose III, from 23 to 42, the great warrior of Egypt organized all 17 previously mentioned expeditions, which means an average of one military expedition every 1.2 years.
In addition, during the last decade of his reign, Thutmose also invaded the Kingdom of Nubia.
During these campaigns, Thutmose and the Egyptian Army captured 350 cities.
Thutmose III is often compared to Napoleon Bonaparte, it is important here to emphasize two aspects; Napoleon suffered several military defeats (Leipzig, Waterloo) and the end of his military career also meant the fall of his empire.
Thutmose III not only did not suffer any military defeat, according to historical sources but during his reign, Egypt reached its maximum territorial expansion.
Thutmose III’s reign marked the transformation of Egypt from a regional nation to a superpower of the ancient world.
IX. Most of Cleopatra’s Needles were built during the reign of Thutmose III
Cleopatra’s needles is a popular name given to 3 Ancient Egyptian obelisks, currently located in the modern cities of New York, London, and Paris.
They were named in honor of the Egyptian queen but were not built during her reign.
In fact, 2 of these obelisks (London and New York) were erected during the reign of Thutmose III in the city of Heliopolis.
The estimated year of construction would be 1450 B.C. and red granite from the Aswan mines was used to raise them.
The height of each obelisk is 21 meters (68 feet).
X. Due to his military genius and military campaigns he is often called the Napoleon of Egypt.
As a result of his great military victories, Thutmose III is often called the “Napoleon of Egypt”. During his 54 years rule, he captured 350 cities and transformed Egypt into a military power
Fierce and ingenious warrior, he proved quickly after taking the throne that he wasn’t afraid of any battle. He also understood very well the importance of logistics and speed during a long military campaign.
There is no surviving record of a battle in which the Great Pharaoh was defeated.
This however doesn’t mean that he didn’t suffer any defeat. The lack of any record about any military defeat could also mean that the official propaganda has done its best to cover up any defeat if one ever existed, of course, this is a personal hypothesis.
Unlike Napoleon, the reign of Thutmose III ended in glory, Egypt was a respected military and political power at that time.
XI. Thutmose III had started a vast architectural program
In most situations in history, military leaders are not great builders at the same time, however, this is not the case with Thutmose III.
With the riches obtained during the military conquests, Thutmose III began the implementation of an extensive architectural program.
It is estimated that during his reign, approximately 50 temples were either built from zero or have been consolidated/improved.
The Great Temple of Karnak also received special attention from the Pharaoh. The hypostyle hall built during the reign of his grandfather Thutmose I was rebuild.
For celebrating the Sed Festival, the Pharaoh ordered the construction of the jubilee hall.
XII. Thutmose III’s legacy contributed to the outcome of an important battle in WWI.
The influence of Thutmose III’s rule would be felt even during the events of the First World War.
In WWI, Allied forces commanded by Marshal Allenby fought for control of Palestine against the Ottomans.
Allenby’s forces arrived just like Thutmose and the Egyptian army, near the same city of Megiddo.
Allenby being friends with an American Egyptologist, James Henry Breasted had access to translations of the annals of Thutmose III.
Reading and analyzing this historical source, he used exactly the same strategy as Thutmose, with equal success.
XIII. He used an early form of cultural diplomacy
Let’s first start with the basic definition of cultural diplomacy before trying to integrate the concept in Thutmose III’s rule. The below is the most relevant definition of cultural diplomacy:
“Cultural Diplomacy may best be described as a course of actions, which are based on and utilize the exchange of ideas, values, traditions and other aspects of culture or identity, whether to strengthen relationships, enhance socio-cultural cooperation, promote national interests and beyond; Cultural diplomacy can be practiced by either the public sector, private sector or civil society.”
Without knowing, of course, the great ruler of Egypt used the cultural power of Egypt as cultural diplomacy tool to consolidate its rule and influence.
Thutmose III did not limit himself to military conquests in order to consolidate his kingdom.
Thutmose III also sought methods to gain the loyalty of the new subjects in the conquered territories, because any leader knows that it is not enough to conquer a territory, you must also gain the loyalty of the inhabitants of those lands.
The most effective method, in this case, was to take hostage the sons of the local warlords from the newly conquered territories to the Egyptian Court in an attempt to educate them and make them learn more about Egyptian traditions and culture, thus winning their loyalty.
Once they were old enough, they could be sent back as rulers, but this time as loyal servants of the Pharaoh.
This strategy proved very effective, not only that it consolidated the Empire, but it also provided a shield against future revolts and invasions.
Thutmose’s strategy of trying to integrate local rulers would be later used by other Egyptian Pharaohs.
XIV. He was buried alongside other famous Pharaohs
Thutmose III died in 1425 B.C., at the age of 56, in unknown conditions.
The mummy was deposited in the grave now known by the code name, KV34.
KV34 is in turn part of a much larger mortuary complex known as the Royal Cache, where pharaohs from the 18 to 21 dynasties are also buried (important mentions: Ahmose I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Seti I, Ramses I, and many others…).
The tomb of Thutmose III, KV34, would be discovered in 1881 by the French Egyptologist Victor Loret.
When Thutmose’s mummy was first unwrapped by Émile Brugsch it was found in a very poor condition because his grave was previously discovered and plundered by tomb robbers.
XV. Controversy behind the defacing of Hatshepsut monuments
Until recent times, there was a popular theory among the majority of Egyptologists and archaeologists that the man responsible behind the destruction of monuments and paintings with the image of Hatshepsut was Thutmose III, and according to this theory, he did it because he wanted to take revenge against his Stepmother who took his throne through manipulation.
After several analyzes and debates, this theory does not stand, primarily because there is no written source or official document to prove that Thutmose III ordered the destruction of all monuments built by Hatshepsut.
And there is another aspect worth mentioning here, as a Pharaoh you wanted to boast that you took power from a usurper to legitimize your own rule.
Secondly, many of the destructions took place in the last part of Thutmose’s reign, and from here we wonder why he waited until then?
If he wanted revenge on his stepmother, he had the opportunity when he took power or in the first part of his reign, he didn’t have to wait until the end of his rule.
And now the son of Thutmose III, Amenhotep I, enters the scene, some Egyptologists and specialists consider that the campaign to destroy the monuments and images with Hatshepsut is part of a complex plan to legitimize his succession to the Egyptian throne.
Probably, Amenhotep I, wanting to remove any potential claimants to the throne, considered that he could remove any representation of Hatshepsut to decrease the chances of any potential rival, thus securing his succession.
We hope that you find these 15 interesting facts about Thutmose III both educational and informative, if yes, please share the article.
Richard A. Gabriel, Thutmose III The Military Biography of Egypt’s Greatest Warrior King, Potomac Books, Inc. Washington, D.C.
Eric H. Cline and David O’Connor, Thutmose III a New Biography, The University of Michigan Press.