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By James Henry Breadsted




THE peaceful and unmilitary Nile of Hatshepsut, falling as it did early in Egypt’s imperial career in Asia, was followed by serious consequences. Not having seen an Egyptian army for many years, the Syrian dynasts grew continually more restless. The king of Kadesh, once probably the suzerain of all Syria and Palestine, had stirred all the city-kings of northern Palestine and Syria to accept his leader ship in a great coalition, in which they at last felt themselves strong enough to begin open revolt. “Behold from Yeraza (in northern Judea) to the marshes of the earth (i.e. the upper Euphrates), they had begun to revolt against his majesty”. In these words the annals of Thutmose III record the Asiatic situation. Only southern Palestine was loth to take up arms against the Pharaoh, for its people had witnessed the long siege of Sharuhen at the hands of Ahmose in Hycsos days, and they were too well aware of what to expect, to assume thoughtlessly the offensive against Egypt. Not only were “all the allied countries of Zahi” (Syria) in open rebellion against the Pharaoh, but it is also evident that the powerful kingdom of Mitanni, on the east of the Euphrates, had done all in her power to support the rebellion. It was natural that Mitanni should view with distrust the presence of a new empire on its western borders; and its king exerted himself to the utmost to rehabilitate the once great kingdom of Kadesh, as a buffer between himself and Egypt. The armies of the early Orient, at least those of Egypt, were not large, and it is not probable that any Pharaoh ever invaded Asia with more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men, while less than twenty thousand is probably nearer the usual figure. Late in his twenty-second year we find Thutmose with his army ready to take the field. He marched from Tharu, the predecessor of modern Kantara, the last Egyptian city on the north-eastern Delta frontier, about the 19th of April, 1479 BC. Nine days first army we are able to follow as it enters that historic plain, which, as Armageddon, has become the proverbial battle-field of the ages from Thutmose III to Lord Allenby, Indeed the pass through which Thutmose went was the same as that through which Allenby flung his cavalry to positions in the rear of the fleeing Turks in 1918. By one o’ clock Thutmose halted without opposition on the south of Megiddo, “on the bank of the brook Kina”. The Asiatics had thus lost an inestimable opportunity to destroy him in detail. They seem to have been posted too far south-eastward toward Taanach to draw in quickly and concentrate against his thin line of march as it defiled from the mountains. It is impossible to determine the exact position of the Asiatics, but when the skirmishing in the mountains took place their southern wing was at Taanach, doubtless in expectation that Thutmose would cross the mountain by the Taanach road. Late in the afternoon of the same day (the 14th), or during the ensuing night, Thutmose took advantage of his enemy's position on the east and south-east of his own force to draw his line around the west side of Megiddo and boldly threw out his left wing on the north-west of the city. He thus secured, in case of necessity, a safe and easy line of retreat westward along the Zefti road, while at the same time his extreme left might cut off the enemy from flight northward.

To protect their stronghold the Asiatics drew in between the Egyptian forces and the city. Early the next morning (May 15th) Thutmose led forth his army in order of battle. In a shining chariot of electrum he took up his position with the centre; his right or southern wing rested on a hill south of the brook of Kina; while as we have seen, his left was north-west of Megiddo. He immediately attacked, leading the onset himself at the head of his army. The enemy gave way at the first charge. Thutmose’s Annals show evident gratification at the humiliating flight of the Asiatics: “they flew headlong to Megiddo in fear, abandoning their horses and their chariots of gold and silver, and the people hauled them up, pulling them by their clothing into this city; the people of this city having closed it against them and lowered clothing to pull them up into this city. Now if only the army of his majesty had not given their heart to plundering the things of the enemy they would have captured Megiddo at this moment, when the wretched vanquished king of Kadesh and the wretched vanquished king of this city (Megiddo) were hauled up in haste to bring them into this city”. The discipline of the Egyptian host could not resist the spoil of the combined armies of Syria. “Then were captured their horses, their chariots of gold and silver were made spoil....Their champions lay stretched out like fishes on the ground. The victorious army of his majesty went round counting the spoils, their portions. Behold there was captured the tent of that wretched vanquished foe (the king of Kadesh) in which was his son....The whole army made jubilee, giving praise to Amon for the victory which he had granted to his son (the Pharaoh.... they brought in the booty which they had taken, consisting of hands (severed from the slain), living prisoners, of horses, chariots, gold, and silver”. It is thus evident that in the disorganized rout the camp of the king of Kadesh fell into the hands of the Egyptians.

Hereupon Thutmose gave orders for the investment of the city: they measured this city, surrounding it with an enclosure, walled about with green timber of all their pleasant trees. His majesty himself was upon the fortification east of the city, inspecting what was done. Thutmose boasts after his return to Egypt saying: “Amon gave to me all the allied countries of Zahi shut up in one city....I snared them in one city, I built around them with a rampart of thick wall”. They called this wall of investment: “Thutmose is the Ensnarer of the Asiatics”, according to the custom under the Empire of naming every royal building after the king. As the siege went on, the dynasts who were fortunate enough not to be shut up in the city hastened to make their peace with the incensed Pharaoh: “The Asiatics of all countries came with bowed head, doing obeisance to the fame of his majesty”.

The king of Kadesh was not among the prisoners; he had escaped before the completion of the investment. To compensate for the failure to capture this dangerous enemy, the Egyptians secured his family as hostages; for Thutmose says: “Lo, my majesty carried off the wives of that vanquished one, together with his children, and the wives of the chiefs who were there, together with their children”. The catalogue of the spoils found in the fallen city, as given in Thutmose’s Annals, is a surprising revelation of the wealth and splendor of contemporary Syria. Nine hundred and twenty-four chariots, including those of the kings of Kadesh and Megiddo, two thousand two hundred and thirty-eight horses, two hundred suits of armor, again inducting those of the same two kings, the gorgeous tent of the king of Kadesh, the magnificent household furniture of the same king, and among it his royal scepter, a silver statue, perhaps of his god, and an ebony statue of himself, wrought with gold and lapis lazuli, besides immense quantities of gold and silver were taken from the city.

In order to prevent another southward advance of the still unconquered king of Kadesh and to hold command of the important road northward between the Lebanons, Thutmose pushed northward and built a fortress at this point, which he called “Thutmose-is-the-Binder-of-the-Barbarians”. He now began the reorganization of the conquered territory, supplanting the old revolting dynasts with others who might be expected to show loyalty to Egypt. These new rulers were allowed to govern much as they pleased, if only they regularly and promptly sent in the yearly tribute to Egypt. To hold them to their obligations Thutmose carried off with him to Egypt their eldest sons, whom he placed in a special quarter or building called “Castle in Thebes”. Here they were educated and so treated as to engender feelings of friendliness toward Egypt. Later, whenever a king of one of the Syrian cities died “his majesty would cause his son to stand in his place”. Thutmose now controlled all Palestine as far north as the southern end of Lebanon, and farther inland also Damascus. In so far as they had rebelled, he stripped all the towns of their wealth, and returned to Egypt with some four hundred and twenty-six pounds of gold and silver in commercial rings, or wrought into magnificent vessels and other objects of art, besides untold quantities of less valuable property and the spoil of Megiddo already mentioned.

In less than six months, that is, within the limits of the dry season in Palestine, he had marched from Tharu, gained a sweeping victory at Megiddo, captured the city after a long and arduous investment, marched to the Lebanon and taken three cities there, built and garrisoned a permanent fort near them, begun reorganizing the government in northern Palestine and completed the return journey to Thebes, which he reached early in October. With what difficulties such an achievement was beset we may learn not only from Napoleon's campaign from Egypt over the same route against Acre, which is almost exactly as far from Egypt as Megiddo, but also by following Lord Allenby’s brilliant campaign against the Turks through the same country. We may then understand why it was that Thutmose immediately celebrated three “Feasts of Victory” in his capital. These feasts were made permanent, and endowed with an annual income of plentiful offerings. At the feast of Opet, which was Amon’s greatest annual feast and lasted eleven days, he presented to the god the three towns which he had captured in Lebanon, besides a rich array of magnificent vessels of gold, silver and costly stones from the prodigious spoils of Retenu. In order to furnish income to maintain the temple on the sumptuous plan thus projected, he gave Amon not only the said three towns, but also extensive lands in Upper and Lower Egypt, and supplied them with plentiful herds and with hosts of serfs taken from among his Asiatic prisoners. Thus was established the foundation of that vast fortune of Amon, which now began to grow out of all proportion to the increased wealth of other temples. Nevertheless, if we may judge from the small temple of Ptah by the great Karnak sanctuary which Thutmose also rebuilt at his return from his campaign, he probably showed like generosity to he two more ancient sanctuaries at Heliopolis and Memphis, of which the former was still in a traditional sense the temple of the State-god, in that Amon had long been identified with the Sun-god of Heliopolis.


Egyptian power in Asia during the long military inactivity of Hatshepsut’s reign had been so thoroughly shaken that Thutmose III was far from ready, as a result of the first campaign, to march immediately upon Kadesh, his most dangerous enemy. Moreover, he desired properly to organize and render perfectly secure the states already under the power of Egypt. In the twenty-fourth year, therefore, on his second campaign, he marched in a wide curve through the conquered territory of northern Palestine and southern Syria, while the dynasts came to pay their tribute and do him homage in every place of his majesty's circuit where the tent was pitched. The news of his great victory of the year before had by this time reached Assyria, till then a small power far over on the Upper Tigris. Her king naturally desired to be on good terms with the great empire of the west, and the gifts of costly stone, chiefly lapis lazuli from Babylon, and the horses which he sent to Thutmose, so that they reached him while on this campaign, were, as usual, interpreted by the Egyptians as tribute. In all probability no battles were fought on this expedition.

Thutmose's return to Thebes, which again fell in October, gave him opportunity to plan for the enlargement of the Karnak temple, to suit the needs of the empire of which he dreamed. As the west end, the real front of the temple, was marred by Hatshepsut's obelisks, rising from his father's dismantled hall, and he was unable or unwilling to build around his father’s obelisks, which stood before the western entrance of the temple, Thutmose III laid out his imposing colonnaded halls at the other, or east end, of the temple, where they today form one of the great architectural beauties of Thebes. The greatest hall is nearly one hundred and forty feet long and lies transversely across the axis of the temple. Behind it is the sanctuary, or holy of holies, while grouped about it are some half a hundred halls and chambers. Among these, on the south side, was a hall for the mortuary service of his ancestors. In the chamber to which this hall led he commanded to record the names of his fathers, to increase their offerings and to fashion statues of all these their bodies. These names formed an extensive list which was removed and is now in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris. Though many of the statues of his fathers have perished, some have been discovered in a court south of the temple, where they had been concealed for safety presumably in time of war.

When Thutmose returned from his third campaing, chiefly an organizing expedition, his building at Karnak was sufficiently far advanced to record upon the walls of one of the chambers the plants and animals of Asia which he had found on his march and brought home with him to beautify the garden of the temple of Amon, the sacred lake of which he supplied with a masonry coping. No records of the fourth campaign have survived, but the course of his subsequent operations were such that it must have been confined like the others to the territory already regained, that is the southern half of the future Asiatic empire.

It had now become evident to Thutmose that he could not march northward between the Lebanons and operate against Kadesh, while leaving his left flank exposed to the unsubdued Phoenician cities of the coast. It was likewise impossible to strike Naharin and Mitanni without first destroying Kadesh, which dominated the Orontes valley. He therefore organized a fleet which would enable him to land an army on the north Syrian or Phoenician coast. He conceived that he would then be able to use the coast as a base of operations against Kadesh and the interior; and this being once disposed of, he could again push in from the coast against Mitanni and the whole Naharin region. No modern strategist could have conceived a series of operations better suited to the conditions, nor have gone about putting them into execution with more indomitable energy than Thutmose now displayed. In the year twenty-nine, on his fifth campaign, he moved for the first time against the northern coast cities, the wealthy commercial kingdoms of Phoenicia. The name of the first city which Thutmose took is unfortunately lost, but it was on the coast opposite Tunip, and must have been a place of considerable importance, for it brought him rich spoils; and there was in the town a temple of Amon, erected by one of Thutmose III’s predecessors (either Thutmose I or possibly Amenhotep I). Tunip sent forces from the interior to strengthen the garrison of this unknown city, the fall of which would involve the ultimate capture of Tunip also. Thutmose now seized the fleet of the city, and was able rapidly to move his army southward against the powerful city of Arvad. A short siege, compelling the Pharaoh to cut down the groves about the town, as at Megiddo, sufficed to bring the place to terms, and with its surrender a vast quantity of the wealth of Phoenicia fell into the hands of the Egyptians. Besides this, it being now autumn, the gardens and groves “were filled with their fruit, their wines were found left in their presses as water flows, their gram on the (hillside) terraces…; it was more plentiful than the sand of the shore. The army were overwhelmed with their portions”. Under these circumstances it was useless for Thutmose to attempt to maintain discipline, and during the first days following the surrender, “behold the army of his majesty was drunk and anointed with oil every day as at a feast in Egypt”. The dynasts along the coast now came in with their tribute and offered submission. Thutmose had thus gamed a secure footing on the northern coast, easily accessible by water from Egypt, and forming an admirable base for operations inland as he had foreseen. He then returned to Egypt, possibly not for the first time, by water.

It had taken five expeditions to gain the south and the coast; the sixth campaign was at last directed against Kadesh, his long invulnerable enemy. In the year thirty the close of the spring rains found Thutmose disembarking his army from the fleet at Simyra, by the mouth of the Eleutherus, up the valley of which he immediately marched upon Kadesh. The city lay on the west side of the Orontes River at the north end of the high valley between the two Lebanons. A small tributary of the Orontes joined the larger stream from the west just below the city, so that it lay on a point of land between the two. A canal was cut across the tongue of land above the town, thus connecting the two streams and entirely surrounding the place by water. Within the banks of the rivers an inner moat encircling the high curtain-walls reinforced the natural water-defenses, so that, in spite of its location in a perfectly level plain, it was a place of great strength, and probably the most formidable fortress in Syria. In its relation to the surrounding country also the place was skillfully chosen; for, besides commanding the Orontes valley, it also dominated the only road inland from the coast for a long distance both north and south. This was the road up the Eleutherus valley, along which we have followed Thutmose. The capture of such a place by siege was an achievement of no slight difficulty, and indeed the siege continued long enough to encourage the coast cities in the hope that Thutmose had suffered if reverse. In spite of the chastisement inflicted upon Arvad the year before, the opulent harbor town could not resist an attempt to rid itself of the annual obligation to the Pharaoh. As soon as Kadesh fell, however, Thutmose quickly returned to Simyra, embarked his army on his waiting fleet and sailed to Arvad to inflict swift retribution.

This revolt showed Thutmose that he must devote another campaign to the thorough subjugation of the coast before he could safely push inland beyond the valley of the Orontes on the long planned advance into Naharin. He therefore spent the summer of the year thirty-one, the seven campaign, in completely quenching any shouldering embers of revolt in the coast cities. He skirted the coast with his fleets entering harbor after harbor, displaying his force and thoroughly organizing the administration of the cities. In particular he saw to it that every harbor-town should be liberally supplied with provisions for his coming campaign in Naharin. On his return to Egypt he found envoys from the extreme south, probably eastern Nubia, bringing to the Pharaoh their tribute, which shows that he was maintaining an aggressive policy in the far south while at the same time so active in the north.


It was not until the spring of the year thirty-three that Thutmose was able to land his forces in the harbor of Simyra, on his eighth campaign. For the second time he marched inland along the Kadesh road, this time with the Euphrates country as his objective. Continuing the march northward down the Orontes he fought a battle at the city of Senzar, where he probably crossed and forsook the Orontes. He now entered Naharin and, marching rapidly on, found no serious force confronting him until he had arrived at the “Height of Wan, on the west of Aleppo”, where a considerable battle was fought. Aleppo itself must have fallen, for the Pharaoh could otherwise hardly have pushed on without delay, as he evidently did. “Behold his majesty went north, capturing the towns and laying waste the settlements of that foe of wretched Naharin”, who was, of course, the king of Mitanni.

Egyptians troops were again plundering me Euphrates valley, a license which they had not enjoyed since the days of their fathers under Thutmose I, some fifty years before. A victorious battle at Carchemish at last enabled Thutmose to do what he had been fighting ten years to attain, for he now crossed the Euphrates into Mitanni and set up his boundary tablet on the east side. Without wintering in Naharin however, it was impossible for Thutmose to advance farther, and he was too wise a soldier to risk exposing to the inclement northern winter the seasoned veterans of so many campaigns. He therefore returned unmolested to the west shore, where it would seem he found the tablet of his father, Thutmose I, and with the greatest satisfaction he set up another of his own alongside it.

His troops had already harvested the fields of the Euphrates valley, and it was now late in the season. Before he returned, however, one serious enterprise still awaited him. The city of Niy, somewhere in the region between Aleppo and the Euphrates, was still unconquered and all his work in Naharin might be undone were this place left unscathed. In so far as we know, the capture of Niy was an enterprise quickly achieved. Thutmose was then at liberty to relax and we learn that he organized a great elephant hunt in the region of Niy, where these animals have now been extinct for ages. He and his party attacked the north Syrian herd of one hundred and twenty animals. In the course of the hunt the king, having come to close quarters with one great beast, was in some danger when his general, Amenemhab, rushed between and cut off the animal's trunk, thus diverting the infuriated animal at the critical moment. All western Asia was now apprehensively watching the expansion of the Pharaoh’s power. The local princes and dynasts of Naharin appeared at his camp and brought in their tribute as a token of their submission. Even far off Babylon was now anxious to secure the goodwill of the Pharaoh, and its king sent him gifts wrought of lapis lazuli. But what was still more important, the mighty people of the Kheta, whose domain stretched far away into the unknown regions of Asia Minor, sent him a rich gift. As he was on the march from Naharin to reach the coast again the envoys from the king of Great Kheta met him. They bore eight massive commercial rings of silver, weighing nearly ninety-eight pounds, besides some unknown precious stone and costly wood. In Great Kheta we must recognize the Hittite empire, thus emerging for the first time, as far as we know, upon the stage of oriental history.

On Thutmose's arrival at the coast, he laid upon the chiefs of the Lebanon the yearly obligation to keep the Phoenician harbors supplied with the necessary provision for his campaigns. From any point in this line of harbors which he could reach by ship from Egypt in a few days, he was then able to strike inland without delay and bring delinquents to an immediate accounting. His sea-power, the first that we can discern in history, was such that the king of Alashiya (? Cyprus) became practically a vassal of Egypt, as later in Saitic times. Moreover, the Pharaoh’s fleet made him so feared in the islands of the north that he was able to exert a loose control over the eastern Mediterranean, as far as the islands of the Aegean. Thus, his general, Thutiy, includes “the isles in the midst of the sea”, that is, the Aegean Islands, as within his jurisdiction as “governor of the north countries”. Egypt's maritime supremacy in the fifteenth century BC was thus an obvious anticipation of the sea-power of the Ptolemies in the Greek Age.





This expansion of Egyptian power in the north and north-west was balanced by similar aggressiveness in the south and south­west. From Punt Thutmose's expeditions, seemingly of more than merely mercantile power, brought back the usual rich and varied cargoes of ivory, ebony, panther-skins, gold, and over two hundred and twenty-three bushels of myrrh, besides male and female slaves and many cattle. At some time during these wars Thutmose also gained possession of the entire oasis-region on the west of Egypt. The oases thus became Pharaonic territory and were placed under the government of Intef, Thutmose’s herald, who was a descendant of the old line of lords of Thinis-Abydos, whence the Great Oasis was most easily reached. The oasis-region remained an appanage of the lords of Thinis and became famous for its fine wines.

The kings of western Asia, whom Thutmose’s fathers had been able to defeat singly and in succession, he had been obliged to meet united; and against the combined military resources of Syria and northern Palestine under their old-time Hycsos suzerain of Kadesh, he had forced his way through to the north. He might pardonably permit himself some satisfaction in the contemplation of what he had accomplished in ten years of campaigning in Asia. Nearly thirty-three years had elapsed since the day when Amon called him to the throne. Already on his thirtieth anniversary his architect, Puemre, had erected the jubilee obelisks at Thebes; but on his return from the great campaign the date for the customary second jubilee-celebration was approaching. A pair of enormous obelisks, which had been in preparation for the event, were erected at the Karnak temple and one of them bore the proud words, “Thutmose, who crossed the great Bend of Naharin [the Euphrates] with might and with victory at the head of his army”. The other obelisk of this pair has perished, but this one now stands in Constantinople. Indeed, of the great king's obelisks in Egypt, all have either perished or been removed, so that not a single one still stands in the land he ruled so mightily, while the modern world possesses a line of them reaching from Constantinople, through Rome and London to New York. The last two, which commemorate his fourth jubilee-celebration, now rise on opposite shores of the Atlantic, on the Thames Embankment and in Central Park, as they once stood on either side of the approach to the Sun-temple at Heliopolis.

These stately shafts were not the only memorials of Thutmose’s achievements. On the walls of the magnificent Karnak temple were recorded long annals of his victories in Asia, extensive lists of the plunder he had taken, with splendid reliefs picturing the rich portion which fell to Amon. A list of one hundred and nineteen towns which he captured on his first campaigns was three times displayed upon the pylons, while from his recent successes in the north the same walls bore a record of no less than two hundred and forty-eight towns which had submitted to him. Unfortunately these records are but excerpts from the state-records, made by priests who wished to explain the source of the gifts received by the temple, and to show how Thutmose was repaying his debt to Amon for the many victories which the favoring god had vouchsafed him. Hence they are but meager sources from which to reconstruct the campaigns of the first great strategist of whom we know anything in history.

But the Thebans were not restricted to the monuments of Karnak for evidence of the greatness of their king. In the gardens of Amon’s temple, as we have seen, grew the strange plants of Syria, while Asiatic animals unknown to the hunter of the Nile Valley wandered among trees equally unfamiliar. Envoys from the north and south were constantly appearing at the court. Levantine galleys, such as the upper Nile had never seen before, delighted the eyes of the curious crowd at the docks of Thebes; and from these landed sumptuous cargoes of the finest stuffs of Phoenicia, gold and silver vessels of magnificent workmanship from the cunning hand of the Tyrian artificer or the workshops of distant Asia Minor, Cyprus, Crete and the Aegean Islands; exquisite furniture of carved ivory, delicately wrought ebony, chariots mounted with gold and electrum, and bronze implements of war; besides these, fine horses for the Pharaoh’s stables and untold quantities of the best that the fields, gardens, vineyards, orchards and pastures of Asia produced. Under heavy guard emerged from these ships, too, the annual tribute of gold and silver in large commercial rings, some of which weighed as much as twelve pounds each, while others for purposes of daily trade were of but a few grains weight. Winding through the streets crowded with the wondering Theban multitude, the strange-tongued Asiatics in long procession bore their tribute to the Pharaoh's treasury. They were received by the vizier, Rekhmire, and when unusually rich tribute was presented, he conducted them to Thutmose's presence, where, enthroned in splendor, the Pharaoh reviewed them and praised the vizier and his officials for their zeal in his behalf. It was such scenes as this that the vizier and the treasury officials loved to perpetuate in gorgeous paintings on the walls of their tombs, where they are still preserved at Thebes. The amount of wealth which thus came into Egypt from Asia and Nubia must have been enormous for those times, and on one occasion the treasury was able to weigh out some eight thousand nine hundred and forty-three pounds of gold-silver alloy.

Similar sights diverted the multitudes of the once provincial Thebes when every year, toward the close of September or the opening clays of October, Thutmose’s war-galleys moored in the harbor of the town. But at this time not merely the wealth of Asia was unloaded from the ships, the Asiatics themselves, bound one to another in long lines, were led down the gang-planks to begin a life of slave-labor for the Pharaoh. They wore long matted beards, an abomination to the Egyptians; their hair hung in heavy black masses upon their shoulders, and they were clad in gaily-colored woolen stuffs, such as the Egyptian, spotless in his white linen robe, would never put on his body. Their arms were pinioned behind them at the elbows or crossed over their heads and lashed together, or, again, were thrust through odd pointed ovals of wood, which served as hand-cuffs. The women carried their children slung in a fold of the mantle over their shoulders. With their strange speech and uncouth postures the poor wretches were the subject of jibe and merriment on the part of the multitude, while the artists of the time could never forbear caricaturing them. Many of them found their way into the houses of the Pharaoh's favorites, and his generals were liberally rewarded with gifts of such slaves; but the larger number were employed on the temple estates, the Pharaoh’s domains, or in the construction of his great monuments and buildings, especially the last, a custom which continued until Saladin built the cathedral at Cairo with the labor of the Christian knights whom he captured from the ranks of the Crusaders. We shall see later how this captive labor transformed Thebes.

With the next campaign but six months distant, the return of the king every autumn, under such circumstances, began for him a winter in Egypt, if not so arduous, at least as busily occupied as the campaigning season in Asia. Shortly after his return in October, Thutmose made a tour of inspection throughout Egypt, closely questioning the local authorities wherever he landed, for the purpose of suppressing corruption in the local administration during the collection of taxes. On these journeys, too, he had opportunity of observing the progress of the noble temple buildings which he was either erecting, restoring or adorning at over thirty different places of which we know, and many more which have perished. He revived the Delta, neglected since Hycsos times, and from there to the third cataract his buildings were rising, strung like gems along the river. Returning to Thebes his interests were wide and his power was felt in every avenue of administration. The increasing wealth of the Amon temple demanded reorganization of its management, which the king accomplished personally, giving the priests careful regulations for the conduct of the state temple and its growing fortune. As the fruit of a moment's respite from the cares of state, he even handed to his chief of artificers in the royal workshops designs sketched by his own royal hand for vessels which he desired for the temple service. Thutmose himself thought sufficiently well of this accomplishment to have it noted over a relief depicting these vessels on the temple walls at Karnak; while in the opinion of the official who received the commission it was a fact so remarkable that he had the execution of these vessels by his artificers shown in the paintings on the walls of his tomb-chapel. Both these evidences of Thutmose's restless versatility still survive at Thebes. The great state-temple received another pylon on the south, and the whole mass of Karnak buildings, with the adjoining grove and garden, was given unity by an enclosure wall, with which Thutmose surrounded them.

The spring of the thirty-fourth year found Thutmose again in Zahi on his ninth campaign:; for the advancement of Egypt’s Asiatic frontier to the Euphrates was, in the light of past experience, not an achievement from which he might expect lasting results. Some disaffection, probably in the Lebanon region, obliged him to take three towns in which considerable spoil was captured. This year evidently saw the extension of his power in the south also; for he secured the son of the chief of Irem, the neighbor of Punt, as a hostage. But, on the other hand, it was now nearly two years since he had seen Naharin and in so short a time its princes had ceased to fear his power. They formed a powerful and far-reaching coalition, with a prince at its head, whom Thutmose’s Annals call that wretched foe of Naharin, probably meaning the king of Mitanni. Thutmose's continual state of preparation enabled him to appear promptly on the plains of Naharin in the spring of the year thirty-five on his tenth campaign. He engaged the allies in battle at a place called Araina, which we are unable to locate with certainty, but it was probably somewhere in the Lower Orontes valley. “Then his majesty prevailed against these barbarians…they fled headlong, falling one over another before his majesty”. The alliance of the Naharin dynasts was completely shattered and its resources for future resistance destroyed or carried off by the victorious Egyptians. Far as were these Syrian princes from Egypt, they had learned the length and the might of the Pharaoh’s arm, and it was seven years before they again revolted.

We know nothing of the objective of Thutmose’s eleventh and twelfth campaigns; but the year thirty-eight found him again in the southern Lebanon region on his thirteenth campaign, while the turbulent Bedouins of southern Palestine forced him to march through their country the very next year. He then spent the rest of this fourteenth campaign in Syria, where it became merely a tour of inspection; but in both years he kept the harbors supplied as before, ready for every emergency. The tribute seems to have come in regularly for the next two years (forty and forty-one), and again the king of Kheta the great sent gifts, which Thutmose as before records among the tribute.


Egyptian supremacy in Asia, however, was not to be accepted by the princes of Syria without one more despairing effort to achieve independence. Incited by Kadesh, Thutmose's inveterate enemy, they again rose in a final united effort to shake off the Pharaoh's strong hand. All Naharin, especially the king of Tunip, and also some of the northern coast cities, had been induced to join the alliance. The great king was now an old man, probably over seventy years of age, but with his accustomed promptitude he appeared with his fleet off the coast of northern Syria, in the spring of the year forty-two. It was his last campaign. Like his first it was directed against his arch-enemy, Kadesh. Instead of approaching the place from the south, as before, Thutmose determined, to isolate her from her northern support and to capture Tunip first. He therefore landed at some point between the mouth of the Orontes and the Eleutherus, whence he marched against Tunip. He was detained at Tunip until the harvest season, but he captured the place after a short resistance. He then accomplished the march up the Orontes to Kadesh without mishap and wasted the towns of the region. The king of Kadesh engaged the Egyptians in battle before the city, and in the effort to make headway against Thutmose’s seasoned troops the Syrian king resorted to a stratagem. He sent forth a mare against the Egyptian chariotry, hoping thus to excite the stallions and produce confusion, or even a break in the Egyptian battle-line, of which he might take advantage. But Thutmose’s veteran general, Amenemhab, leaped from his chariot, sword in hand, pursued the mare on foot, ripped her up and cut off her tail, which he carried in triumph to the king. After a short investment, the powerful city was taken by assault. The Naharin auxiliaries who were aiding in the defense fell into Thutmose's hands, and it was not even necessary for him to march into the north. With the fall of Kadesh disappeared the last vestige of the Hycsos power which had once subdued Egypt, a catastrophe of such impressiveness that it was long remembered. Even the tradition of late Greek days made Thutmose III the conqueror of the Hycsos. Indeed Thutmose's name became proverbial in Asia, and when, four generations later, his successors failed to shield their faithful vassals in Naharin from the aggressions of the Kheta, the forsaken unfortunates remembered Thutmose’s great name, and wrote pathetically to Egypt: “Who formerly could have plundered Tunip without being plundered by Manakhbiria (Thutmose III)?”. But even now, at three score and ten or more, the indomitable old warrior had the harbors equipped with the necessary supplier and there is little doubt that if it had been necessary he would have led his army into Syria again. Once more he received the envoys of the tribute-paying princes in his tent, and then for the last time he returned to Egypt,

In concluding his wars in Asia Thutmose was relinquishing what had become a seemingly permanent organization, for his campaigning was now as thoroughly organized as the administration at Thebes. As soon as the spring rains in Syria and Palestine had ceased, he had regularly disembarked his troops in some Phoenician or north Syrian harbor. Here his permanent officials had effected the collection of the necessary stores from the neighbouring dynasts, who were compelled to furnish them. His palace-herald, or marshal, Intef, who was of the old princely line of Thinis, and still held his title as count of Thinis and lord of the entire oasis-region, had accompanied him on all his marches; and as Thutmose advanced inland Intel preceded him until the proximity of the enemy prevented. Whenever he reached a town in which the king was expected to spend the night, he sought out the palace of the local dynast and prepared it for Thutmose’s reception. One is reminded of the regular and detailed preparation of Napoleon's tent, which he always found awaiting him after his day's march, as he rode into the quarters each night. Had it been preserved, the life of these warriors of Thutmose would form a stirring chapter in the history of the Ancient East. The career of his general, Amenemhab, who cut off the elephant's trunk and rescued the king, is but a hint of the life of the Pharaoh’s followers in bivouac and on battlefield, crowded to the full with perilous adventure and hard-won distinction. The fame of these tried veterans of Thutmose, of course, found its way among the common people and many a stirring adventure from the Syrian campaigns took form in folk-tales, told with eager interest in the market-places and the streets of Thebes. A lucky chance has rescued one of these tales on a page or two of papyrus. It concerns one Thutiy, a great general of Thutmose, and his clever capture of the city of Joppa by introducing his picked soldiers into the town, concealed in panniers, borne by a train of donkeys, an incident long afterward reappearing in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. But Thutiy was not a creation of fancy; his tomb, though now unknown, must still exist somewhere in Thebes, for it was plundered many years ago by the natives, who took from it some of the rich gifts which Thutmose gave him as a reward for his valor. A splendid golden dish, which found its way into the Louvre, bears the words; “Given as a distinction from king Thutmose to the prince and priest who satisfies the king in every country, and the isles in the midst of the sea, filling the treasury with lapis lazuli, silver and gold, the governor of countries, commander of the army, favorite of the king, the king's scribe, Thutiy”.

Had the great king’s Annals survived intact we could, have followed step by step the entire course of his campaigns; for a record of every day’s happenings was carefully kept by one Thaneni, a scribe appointed  for the purpose by Thutmose. Thaneni tells us of his duties with great pride, saying: “I followed king Thutmose; I beheld the victories of the king which he won in every country.... recorded the victories which he won in every land, putting them into writing according to the facts”. These records of Thaneni were seemingly rolls of leather, but they have perished and we have upon the walls at Karnak only the capricious extracts of a temple scribe, more anxious to set forth the spoil and Amon’s share therein than to perpetuate the story of his king’s great deeds. How much he has passed over, the biography of Amenemhab shows only too well; and thus all that we have of the wars of Egypt’s greatest commander has filtered through the shriveled soul of an ancient bureaucrat, who little dreamed how hungrily future ages would ponder his meager excerpts.


Having at last established the sovereignty of Egypt in Asia on a permanent basis, Thutmose could now turn his attention to Nubia. It is evident that Menkheperreseneb, the head of his gold and silver treasury, was now receiving thence six to eight hundred pounds of gold every year. The king also organized the neighboring gold country on the Coptos road and put it under a “governor of the gold country of Coptos”. His viceroy, Nehi, had now been administering Kush for twenty years and had placed the productivity of the country on a high plane; but it was the desire of the great king to extend still farther his dominions in the south. In his last years his buildings show that he was extremely active throughout the province; as far as the third cataract we trace his temples at Kalabsheh, Amada, Wadi HalfaKummeh and Semneh, where he restored the temple of his great ancestor Sesostris III, and at Soleb. We learn, through the clearance of the canal at the first cataract in the fiftieth year, that an expedition of his was then returning from a campaign against the Nubians. There must have been earlier expeditions also in the same region, for Thutmose was able to record in duplicate upon the pylons of his Karnak temple a list of one hundred and fifteen places which he had conquered in Nubia and another containing some four hundred such names. The geography of Nubia is too little known to enable us to locate the territory represented, and it is uncertain exactly how far up the Nile his new frontier may have been, but it was doubtless in the region of the fourth cataract, where we find it under his son.

As he felt his strength failing, the great king made co-regent his son, Amenhotep II, born to him by Hatshepsut-Meretre, a queen of whose origin we know nothing, It was twelve years since he had returned from his last campaign in Asia. When the co-regency had lasted for about a year, in the spring of the year 1447 BC, when he was within five weeks of the end of his forty-fourth year upon the throne, the greatest of the Egyptian conquerors passed away. He was buried in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings by his son, and his body still survives.

The character of Thutmose III stands forth with more of color and individuality than that of any king of early Egypt, except Ikhnaton. We see the man of a tireless energy unknown in any Pharaoh before or since; the man of versatility, designing exquisite vases in a moment of leisure; the lynx-eyed administrator, who launched his armies upon Asia with one hand and with the other, crushed the extortionate tax-gatherer. His vizier, Rekhmire, who stood closest to his person, says of him: “Lo, his majesty was one who knew what happened; there was nothing of which he was ignorant; he was Thoth (the god of knowledge) in everything; there was no matter which he did not carry out”. While he was proud to leave a record of his unparalleled achievements, Thutmose protests more than once his deep respect for the truth in so doing. “I have not uttered exaggeration” says he, “in order to boast of that which I did, saying, I have done something, although my majesty had not done it. I have not done anything ...against which contradiction might be uttered, I have done this for my father, Amon....because he knoweth heaven and he knoweth earth, he seeth the whole earth hourly”.

It is quite evident, indeed, that the reign of Thutmose III marks an epoch not only in Egypt but in the whole Near East as we know it in his age. Never before in history had a single brain wielded the resources of so great a nation and wrought them into such centralize, permanent, and at the same time mobile efficiency, that for years they could be brought to bear with incessant impact upon another continent as a skilled artisan manipulates a hundred-ton forge hammer; although the figure is inadequate unless we remember that Thutmose forged his own hammer. The genius which rose from an obscure priestly office to accomplish this for the first time in history reminds us of a Napoleon. He was the first to build an empire in any real sense; he was the first world-hero. He made not only a world-wide impression upon his age, but an impression of a new order. His commanding figure, towering over the trivial plots and schemes of the petty Syrian dynasts, must have clarified the atmosphere of oriental politics as a strong wind drives away miasmic vapors. The inevitable chastisement of his strong arm was held in awed remembrance by the men of Naharin for three generations. His name was one to conjure with, and centuries after his empire had crumbled to pieces it was placed on amulets as a word of power. And today two of this king’s greatest monuments, his Heliopolitan obelisks, now rise on opposite shores of the western ocean, memorials of the world’s first empire builder.