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James Henry Breadsted





IN spite of the strategic isolation and seeming safety of the Nile valley from foreign attack, the country is nevertheless vulnerable on both north and south. Since their occupation of Egypt the British have been called upon to meet dangerous assaults from both directions: from the south at the hands of the Mahdist fanatics; and from the north in the Turkish attack on the Suez Canal during the Great War. These modern experiences of the British in Egypt illustrate very strikingly the ancient situation at the beginning of the New Kingdom or Empire. The Middle Kingdom had fallen to the Hycsos, the Asiatic invaders whom the Egyptians neither forgave nor forgot. What little is known of this mysterious enemy has been recorded, and with their expulsion by Ahmose (Aahmes) Egyptian history enters upon a new stage.

No sooner had Ahmose (1580—1557 c. BC) freed the country from the Hycsos pressure on the northern frontiers than he, likewise, was obliged to turn his attention to the south. The long period of disorganization following the Middle Kingdom had given the Nubians an opportunity to revolt which they did not fail to improve, Ahmose invaded the country and how far he penetrated we do not know, but he evidently met with no serious resistance in the recovery of the old territory between the first and second cataracts. He was no sooner well out of the country, however, than his inveterate rivals in Egypt south of el-Kab, who had troubled him during the Hycsos war, again rose against him.

Totally defeated in a battle on the Nile, they rose yet again, and Ahmose was obliged to quell one more rebellion before he was left in undisputed possession of the throne.

The leader of the noble family of el-Kab, Ahmose son of Ebana, who continued faithful to the king, was rewarded for his valor in these actions by the gift of five slaves and five stat (nearly three-and-a-half acres) of land at el-Kab, presented to him by his sovereign. It was in this way that the new Pharaoh bound his supporters to his cause. He did not stop, however, with land, slaves and gold, but in some cases even granted to the local princes, the few surviving descendants of the feudal lords of the Middle Kingdom, high and royal titles like first king’s son, which while perhaps conveying few or no prerogatives, satisfied the vanity of old and illustrious families, like that of el-Kab, which deserved well at his hands.

There seem to have been but few of the local nobles who thus supported Ahmose and gained his favor. The larger number opposed both him and the Hycsos and perished in the struggle. As their more fortunate rivals were now nothing more than administrative, military or court officials, the feudal lords thus practically disappeared. The lands which formed their hereditary possessions were confiscated and passed to the crown, where they permanently remained. There was one notable exception: the house of el-Kab, to which the Theban dynasty owed so much, was allowed to retain its lands, and, two generations after the expulsion of the Hycsos, the head of the house appears as lord, not only of el-Kab but also of Esneh and all the intervening territory. Besides this he was given administrative charge, though not hereditary possession, of the lands of the south from the vicinity of Thebes (Per-Hathor) to el-Kab. This exception serves but to accentuate more sharply the total extinction of the landed nobility, which had so largely formed the substance of the governmental organization under the Middle Kingdom. We do indeed find a handful of barons still bearing their old feudal titles, but they resided at Thebes and were buried there. All Egypt thus became the personal estate of the Pharaoh, just as it did after the destruction of the Mamelukes by Mohammed Ali early in the nineteenth century. It is this state of affairs which in Hebrew tradition was represented as the direct result of Joseph's sagacity. 

The course of events, which culminated in the expulsion of the Hycsos, determined for Ahmose the form which the new" state was to assume. He was now at the head of a strong army effectively organized and welded together by long campaigns and sieges protracted through years, during which he had been both general in the field and head of the state. The character of the government followed automatically out of these conditions. Egypt became a military state. The long war with the Hycsos had now educated the Egyptian as a soldier, the large army or Ahmose had spent years in Asia, and had even been for a longer or shorter period among the rich cities of Syria. Having thoroughly learned war, and having perceived the enormous wealth to be gained by it in Asia, the whole land was roused and stirred with a lust of conquest, which was not quenched for two centuries. The wealth, the rewards and the promotion open to the professional soldier were a constant incentive to a military career, and the middle classes, usually so unwarlike, now entered the ranks with ardor. Among the survivors of the noble class the profession of arms became the most attractive of all careers. In the auto-biographies which they have left in their tombs at Thebes they narrate with the greatest satisfaction the campaigns which they went through at the Pharaoh’s side, and the honors which he bestowed upon them. Many a campaign, all record of which would have been irretrievably lost, has thus come to our knowledge through one of these military biographies, like that of Ahmose, son of Ebana, whom we have already named. The sons of the Pharaoh, who in the Old Kingdom held administrative offices, were now generals in the army.

For the next century and a half, therefore, the story of the achievements of the army will be the story of Egypt, for the army had now become the dominant force and the chief motive power in the new state. In organization it quite surpassed the militia of the old days, if for no other reason than that it was now a standing army. It was organized into two grand divisions, one in the Delta and the other in the upper country. In Syria it had learned tactics and proper strategic disposition of forces, the earliest of which we know anything in history. We shall now find partition of an army into divisions, we shall hear of wings and centre, we shall even trace a flank movement and define battle-lines. All this is fundamentally different from the disorganized plundering expeditions naively reported as wars by the monuments of the older periods. The troops were armed as of old with bow and spear, and the infantry was made up of spearmen and archers, While the archers of the Middle Kingdom often carried their arrows loose in the hand, the quiver had now been introduced from Asia. It was thus the easier for them, to learn archery 'fire' by alleys, and the dreaded archers of Egypt now gained a reputation which persisted, and which made them feared even in classic times. But more than this, the Hycsos having brought the horse into Egypt, the Egyptian armies now for the first time possessed a large proportion of chariotry. Cavalry in the modern sense of the term was not employed. The deft craftsmen of Egypt soon mastered the art of chariot-making, while the stables of the Pharaoh contained thousands of the best horses to be had in Asia. In accordance with the spirit of the time, the Pharaoh was accompanied on all public appearances by a body-guard of elite troops and a group of his favorite military officers. With such force at his back, the man who expelled the Hycsos was thoroughly master of the situation.

It is evidently in large measure to him that we owe the reconstruction of the state which was now emerging from the turmoils of two centuries of internal disorder and foreign invasion. This new state is revealed to us more clearly than that of any other period of Egyptian history under native dynasties, and while we recognize many elements surviving from earlier times, we discern also much that is new. The supreme position occupied by the Pharaoh meant a very active participation in the affairs of government. He was accustomed every morning to meet the vizier, still the mainspring of the administration, to consult with him on all the interests of the country and all the current business which necessarily came under his eye. Immediately thereafter he held a conference with the chief treasurer. These two men controlled the chief departments of government: the treasury and the judiciary. The Pharaoh's office, in which they made their daily reports to him, was the central organ of the whole government where all its lines converged. Even in the limited number of state or administrative documents preserved to us, we discern the vast array of detailed questions in practical administration which the busy monarch decided. The internal administration required frequent journeys to examine new buildings and check all sorts of official abuses. The official cults in the great temples, too, demanded more and more of the monarch's time and attention's the rituals in the vast state temples increased m complexity with the development of the elaborate state religion. These journeys were in addition to his many enterprises abroad and often required his personal leadership. Besides frequent campaigns in Nubia and Asia, he visited the quarries and mines in the desert or inspected the desert routes, seeking suitable locations for wells and stations. In these circumstances the burden inevitably exceeded the powers of one man, even with the assistance of his vizier. Early in the XVIIIth Dynasty, therefore, the increasing business of government constrained the Pharaoh to appoint two viziers, one residing at Thebes, for the administration of the south, from the cataract as far as the nome of Siut; while the other, who had charge of all the region north of the latter point, lived at Heliopolis.

For administrative purposes the territory of Egypt was divided into irregular districts, of which there were at least twenty-seven between Siut and the cataract. The country as a whole must have been divided into over twice that number. In the old towns the head of government still bore the feudal title count but this now indicated solely administrative duties and might better be translated “mayor” or governor. There was a town-ruler also in each of the smaller towns, but elsewhere there were only recorders and scribes, with one of their number at their head. As we shall see, these men served both as the administrators, chiefly in a fiscal capacity, and also as the Judicial officials within their districts.

The great object of government was to make the country economically strong and productive. To secure this end, its lands, now chiefly owned by the crown, were worked by the king's serfs, controlled by his officials, or entrusted by him as permanent and indivisible fiefs to his favorite nobles, his partisans and relatives. Divisible parcels might also be held by tenants of the untitled classes. Both classes or holdings might be transferred by will or sale in much the same way as if the holder actually owned the land. For purposes of taxation all lands and other property of the crown, except that held by the temples, were recorded In the tax-registers of the White House, as the treasury was still called. On the basis of these, taxes were assessed. They were still collected in kind: cattle, grain, wine, oil, honey, textiles, and the like. Besides the cattle-yards, the granary was the chief sub-department of the White House, and there were innumerable other magazines for the storage of its receipts. All the products which filled these repositories were termed “labour”, the word employed in ancient Egypt as we use taxes. If we may accept Hebrew tradition as transmitted in the story of Joseph such taxes comprised one-fifth of the produce of the land.

Unlike early Greece and Rome, which for centuries possessed no organization of state officials for gathering taxes, the Egyptian state from the days of the Old Kingdom had organized its local officials chiefly for that purpose. Their collection and their payment from the various magazines to pay government debts demanded a host of scribes and subordinates, now more numerous than ever before in the history of the country. The chief treasurer at their head was under the authority of the vizier, to whom the former made a report every morning, after which he received permission to open the offices and magazines for the day's business. The collection of a second class of revenue, that paid by the local officials themselves as a tax upon their offices, was exclusively in the hands of the viziers. This tax on the officials consisted chiefly of gold, silver, gram, cattle and linen. Unfortunately our sources do not permit the calculation of even the approximate total of this tax, but the officials under the jurisdiction of the southern vizier paid him annually at least some 220,000 grains of gold, nine gold necklaces, over 16,000 grams of silver, some forty chests and other measures of linen, one hundred and six cattle of all ages and some grain. These figures however are short by probably at least twenty per cent, of the real total. As the king presumably received a similar amount from the northern vizier’s collections, this tax on the officials formed a stately sum in the annual revenues. But we can form no estimate of the total of all the revenues.

Of the royal income from all sources in the XVIIIth Dynasty the southern vizier had general charge. The amount of all taxes to be levied and the distribution of the revenue when collected were determined in his office, where a balance-sheet was constantly kept. In order to control both income and outgoings, a monthly fiscal report was made to him by all local officials, and thus the southern vizier was able to furnish the king from month to month with a full statement of prospective resources in the royal treasury. The taxes were so dependent, as they still are, upon the height of the inundation and the consequent prospects of a plentiful or scanty harvest, that the level of the rising river was also reported to him. As the income of the crown was, henceforth, largely augmented by foreign tribute, this was also received by the southern vizier and by him communicated to the king. The great vizier, Rekh-mire, depicts himself in the gorgeous reliefs in his tomb receiving both the tribute of the Asiatic vassal-princes and that of the Nubian chiefs.

In the administration of justice the southern vizier played even a greater role than in the treasury. Here he was supreme. The magnates of the “Southern Tens”, as they were called, once possessed of important judicial functions, and “the six great houses”, or courts of justice, of which the vizier was chief, had lost their power or disappeared. Meanwhile, the officers of administration were incidentally the dispensers of justice. They constantly served in a judicial capacity. Although there was no class of judges with exclusively legal duties, every man of important administrative rank was thoroughly versed in the law and must be ready at any moment to serve as judge. The vizier was no exception. All petitioners for legal redress applied first to him in his audience hall; if possible in person, but in any case in writing. For this purpose he held a daily audience or “sitting” as the Egyptian called it. Every morning "the people crowded into the hull of the vizier, where the ushers and bailiffs jostled them into line that they might be heard, in order of arrival, one after another”. In cases concerning land located in Thebes he was obliged by law to render a decision in three days, but if the land lay in the 'South or North' he required two months. Such cases demanded rapid and convenient access to the archives. They were therefore all filed in his offices. No one might make a will without filing it in the vizier's hall. Copies of all nome archives, boundary records and all contracts were deposited with him or with his colleague in the north. Every petitioner to the king wan obliged to hand in his petition in writing at the same office.

Besides the vizier’s hall, also called the great council, there were local courts throughout the land, not primarily of a legal character, being, as we have already explained, merely file body of administrative officiate in each district, who were correspondently empowered to try cases. They were the “great men of the town” or “the local council”, and acted as the local representatives of the great council. The number of these local courts is entirely uncertain, but the most important two known were at Thebes and Memphis. At Thebes its composition varied from day to day; in cases of a delicate nature, where the members of the royal house were implicated, it was appointed by the vizier; and in case of conspiracy against the ruler, the monarch himself commissioned them, with instructions to determine who were the guilty, and with power to execute the sentence. All courts were largely made up of priests. They did not, however, enjoy the best reputation among the people, who bewailed the hapless plight of the one who stands alone before the court when he is a poor man and his opponent is rich, while the court oppresses him (saying), “Silver and gold, for the scribes! Clothing for the servants!” For of course the bribe of the rich was often stronger than the justice of the poor man’s cause.

The law to which the poor appealed had long since been recorded in writing, and much of it was undoubtedly very old. The vizier was obliged to keep it constantly before him, contained in forty rolls (four decalogues) which were laid out before his daïs at all his public sessions, where they were doubtless accessible to all. Unfortunately this code has perished, but of its justice we can have no doubt, for apparently already in the Middle Kingdom the vizier had been admonished by the Pharaoh: Forget not to judge justice. It is an abomination of the god to show partiality … Behold the dread of a prince is that he does justice ... As for him who shall do justice before all the people, it is the vizier”. Even conspirators against the king's life were not summarily put to death, but were handed over to a legally constituted court to be duly tried, and condemned only when found guilty. The great world of the Nile-dwellers under the Empire was therefore not at the mercy of arbitrary whim on the part of either king or court, but was governed by a large body of long respected law, embodying principles of justice and humanity.

The motive power behind the organization and administration of Egypt was the southern vizier. We recall that he went in every morning and took council with the Pharaoh on the affairs of the country; and the only other check upon his untrammeled control of the state was a law constraining him to report the condition of his administration to the chief treasurer. His office was the means of communication with the local authorities, who reported to him in writing on the first day of each season, that is, three times a year. It is in his office then that we discern the complete centralization of government in practically all its functions. He was minister of war for both army and navy, and he had legal control of the temples throughout the country, so that he was minister of ecclesiastical affairs. Besides his treasury responsibilities, he had economic oversight of many important resources of the country; for no timber could be cut without his permission, and the administration of irrigation and water supply was under his charge. In order to establish the calendar for state business, the rising of Sirius was reported to him. He exercised advisory functions in all the offices of the state; so long as his office was undivided with a vizier of the north he was grand steward of all Egypt. He was a veritable Joseph, and it must have been this office which the Hebrew narrator had in mind as that to which Joseph was appointed. He was regarded by the people as their great protector, and no higher praise could be proffered to Amon when addressed by a worshipper than to call him the poor man’s vizier who does not accept the bribe of the guilty. His appointment was of such importance that it was made by the king himself, and the instructions given him by the monarch on that occasion were not such as we should expect from the lips of an oriental conqueror three thousand five hundred years ago. They display a spirit of kindness and humanity and exhibit an appreciation of statecraft surprising in an age so remote. Such was the government of the imperial age in Egypt.

In society the disappearance of the landed nobility, and the administration of the local districts by an army of petty functionaries of the crown, opened the way more fully than in the Middle Kingdom for numerous official careers among the middle class. These opportunities must have worked a gradual change in their condition. One such official relates his obscure origin thus: “Ye shall talk of it, one to another, and the old men shall teach it to the youth. I was one whose family was poor and whose town was small, but the Lord of Two Lands [the king] recognized me; I was accounted great in his heart, the king..in the splendor of his palace saw me. He exalted me more than the courtiers, introducing me among the princes of the palace”. Such possibilities of promotion and royal favor awaited success in local administration; for in some local office the career of this unknown official in the small town must have begum Thus there grew up a new official class its lower ranks drawn from the old middle class, while on the other hand in its upper strata were the relatives and dependents of the old landed nobility, by whom the higher and more important local offices were administered. Here the official class gradually merged into the large circle of royal favorites who filled the great offices of the central government or commanded the Pharaoh's forces on his campaigns. As there was no longer a feudal nobility, the great government officials and military commanders became the nobles of the Empire, or the New Kingdom, as it is otherwise called. The old middle class of merchants, skilled craftsmen and artists also still survived and continued to replenish the lower ranks of the official class. Below these were the masses who worked the fields and estates, the serfs of the Pharaoh. They formed so large a portion of the inhabitants that the Hebrew scribe, evidently writing from the outside, knew only this class of society beside the priests. These lower strata passed away and left little or no trace, but the official class was now able to erect tombs and mortuary stelae in such surprising numbers that they furnish us with a vast mass of materials for reconstructing the life and customs of the time.

An official who took the census in the XVIIIth Dynasty divided the people into soldiers, priests, royal serfs and all the craftsmen, and this classification is corroborated by all that we know of the time; although we must understand that all callings of the free middle class are here included among the soldiers. The soldiers in the standing army had therefore now also become a social class. The free middle class, liable to military service, were called citizens of the army, a term already known in the Middle Kingdom, but now very common; so that liability to military service became the significant designation of this class of society. Politically the soldier's influence grew with every reign and he soon became the natural support of the Pharaoh in the execution of numerous civil commissions where formerly the soldier had never been employed.

Side by side with the soldier appeared another new and powerful influence, the ancient institution of the priesthood. As a natural consequence of the great wealth of the temples under the Empire, the priesthood became a profession, no longer merely an incidental office held by a layman, as in the Old and Middle Kingdoms. As the priests increased in numbers they gained more and more political power; while the growing wealth of the temples demanded for its proper administration a veritable army of temple officials of all sorts, who were unknown in the old days of simplicity. Probably one-fourth of all the persons buried in the great and sacred cemetery of Abydos at this period were priests. Priestly communities had thus grown up. All these priestly bodies were now united in a new sacerdotal organization embracing the whole land. The head of the state temple at Thebes, the High Priest of Amon, was the supreme head of this greater body also, and his power was thereby increased far beyond that of his older rivals at Heliopolis and Memphis. Thus priests, soldiers and officials now stood together as three great social classes.

The state religion maintained by the priesthood was in its outward observances richer and more elaborate than Egypt had ever seen before. The days of the old simplicity were forever past. The wealth gained by foreign conquest enabled the Pharaohs henceforth to endow the temples with such riches as no sanctuary of the old days had ever possessed. The temples grew into vast and gorgeous palaces, each with its community of priests, and the high priest of such a community in the larger centres was a veritable sacerdotal prince, wielding considerable political power. The high priest's wife at Thebes was called the chief concubine of the god, whose real consort was no less a person than the queen herself, who was therefore known as the “Divine Consort”. In the gorgeous ritual which now prevailed, her part was to lead the singing of the women who participated in the service. She possessed also a fortune, which belonged to the temple endowment, and for this reason it was desirable that the queen should hold the office in order to retain this fortune in the royal house.

The supremacy of Amon now followed the triumph of a noble of Thebes as it had not done in the Middle Kingdom. Although the rise of a Theban family had then given him some distinction, it was not until now that he became the great god of the state. His essential character and individuality had already been obscured by the solar theology of the Middle Kingdom, when he had become Amon-Re, and, with some attributes borrowed from his ithyphallic neighbor, Min of Coptos, he now rose to a unique and supreme position of unprecedented splendor. He was popular with the people, too, and, as a Moslem says, Inshallah ('If Allah will'), so the Egyptian now added to all his promises “If Amon spare my life”. They called him the vizier of the poor, the people carried to him their wants and wishes, and their hopes for future prosperity were implicitly staked upon his favor. But the fusion of the old gods had not deprived Amon alone of his individuality, for in the general flux almost any god might possess the qualities and functions of the others, although the dominant position was still occupied by the Sun-god.

The tendencies already plainly observable in the Middle Kingdom had shaped the mortuary beliefs of the Empire. The magical formulae by which the dead were to triumph in the Hereafter became more and more numerous, so that it was no longer possible to record them on the inside of the coffin, but they must be written on papyrus and the roll placed in the tomb.

A highly variable selection of the most important of these texts formed what we now call “The Book of the Dead”. It was dominated throughout by magic; by this all-powerful means a dead man might effect all that he desired. The luxurious lords of the Empire no longer looked forward with pleasure to the prospect of ploughing, sowing and reaping m the happy fields of Yarn. To escape such peasant labor a statuette bearing the implements of labor in the held and inscribed with a potent charm was placed in the tomb. It insured to the deceased immunity from such toil, which would always be performed by this miniature representative of the deceased whenever the call to the fields was heard. Such “ushabtis” or “respondents” as they were termed, were now placed in the necropolis by scores and hundreds.

This magical means of obtaining material good was now unfortunately transferred also to the world of ethical values in order to secure exemption from the consequences of an evil life. A sacred beetle or scarabaeus was cut from stone and inscribed with a charm, beginning with the significant words, “O my heart, rise not up against me as a witness”. So powerful was this cunning invention when laid upon the breast of the mummy under the wrappings, that when the guilty soul stood in the judgment-hall in the awful presence of Osiris, the accusing voice of the heart was silenced and the great god did not perceive the evil of which it would testify. Likewise the rolls of the Book of the Dead containing, besides all the other charms, also the scene of judgment, and especially the welcome verdict of acquittal, were now sold by the priestly scribes to anyone with the means to buy. The fortunate purchaser’s name was then inserted in the blanks left for this purpose throughout the document; thus securing for him the certainty of such a verdict, before it was known whose name should be so inserted. The invention of these devices by the priests, in the effort to stifle the admonishing voice within, was undoubtedly subversive of moral progress. The moral aspirations which had come into the religion of Egypt through the Solar theology, and had been greatly quickened by the Osirian myth, were now choked and poisoned by the assurance that, however vicious a man's life, exculpation in the hereafter could be purchased at any time from the priests. The priestly literature on the Hereafter, produced probably for no other purpose than for gain, continued to grow. We have a “Book of What is in the Nether World” describing the twelve caverns, or hours of the night through which the Sun passed beneath the earth, and a “Book of the Portals”, treating of the gates and strongholds between these caverns. Although these edifying compositions never gained the wide circulation enjoyed by the Book of the Dead, the former of the two was engraved in the tombs of the XIXth and XXth Dynasty kings at Thebes, showing that these grotesque creations of the perverted priestly imagination finally gamed the credence of the highest circles.

The cemetery graphically illustrates these developments in Egyptian religion. As before, the tomb of the noble consisted of chambers hewn in the face of the cliff, and in accordance with the prevailing tendency its interior walls were painted with imaginary scenes from the next world and with mortuary and religious texts, many of them of a magical character. At the same time the tomb has also become more of a personal monument to the deceased; and the walls of the chapel bear many scenes from his life, especially from ins official career, including particularly all honors received from the king. Thus the chits opposite Thebes, honey-combed as they are with the tombs of the lords of the Empire, contain whole chapters of the life and history of the period, with which we shall now deal. In a solitary valley, the “Valley of the Kings’ Tombs” behind these cliffs the kings excavated their own tombs in the limestone walls and the pyramid was no longer employed. Deep galleries were driven into the cliffs, and passing from hall to hall, they terminated many hundreds of feet from the entrance in a large chamber, where the body of the king was laid in a huge stone sarcophagus. It is possible that the whole excavation was intended to represent the passages of the Nether "World along which the sun passed in his nightly journey.

On the plain east of this valley of tombs (the western plain of Thebes), just as the pyramid temple was built on the east side of the pyramid, arose the splendid mortuary temples of the emperors, of which we shall later have occasion to say more. But these elaborate mortuary customs were now no longer confined to the Pharaoh and his nobles; the necessity for such equipment in preparation for the hereafter was now felt by all classes. The manufacture of such materials, resulting from the gradual extension of these customs, had become an industry; the embalmers, undertakers and manufacturers of coffins and tomb furniture occupied a quarter at Thebes, forming almost a guild by themselves, as they did in later Greek times. The middle class were now frequently able to excavate and decorate a tomb; but when too poor for this luxury, they rented a place for their dead in great common tombs maintained by the priests, and here the embalmed body was deposited in a chamber where the mummies piled, up like faggots, but nevertheless received the benefit of the ritual maintained, for all in common.





As Ahmose I gradually gained leisure from his arduous wars, the new state and the new conditions slowly emerged. None of his buildings and few of his monuments have survived. His greatest work remains the XVIIIth Dynasty itself, for whose brilliant career his own achievements had laid so firm a foundation. Notwithstanding his reign of at least twenty-two years, Ahmose must have died young (1557 BC) for his mother was still living in the tenth year of his son and successor, Amenhotep I. By him he was buried in the old XIth Dynasty cemetery at the north end of the western Theban plain. The jewellery of his mother, stolen from her neighboring tomb at a remote date, was found by Mariette concealed in the vicinity; and it, together with the body of Ahmose I, is now preserved in the Museum at Cairo.

Affairs in Africa were not long to withhold the sovereigns of the new dynasty from the great achievements which awaited them. Nubia had so long been without a strong arm from the north that Amenhotep I, Ahmose's successor, was obliged to invade the country in force. He penetrated to the Middle Kingdom frontier at the second cataract and, having thoroughly defeated the most powerful chief, placed northern Nubia under the administration of the mayor or governor of the old city of Nekhen (Hieraconpolis), which now became the northern limit of a southern administrative district, including all the territory on the south of it, controlled by Egypt, at least as far as northern Nubia, or Wawat, From this time the new governor was able to go north with the tribute of the country regularly every year.

There was similar trouble in the western Delta where the long period of weakness and disorganization accompanying the rule of the Hycsos had given the Libyans the opportunity, which they had always seized, of pushing in and occupying the rich Delta lands. Though our only source does not mention any such invasion, it is evident that Amenhotep I’s war with the Libyans at this particular time can be explained in no other way. Finding their aggressions too threatening to be longer ignored, the Pharaoh now drove them back and invaded their country. Having thus relieved his frontiers and secured Nubia, Amenhotep was at liberty to turn his arms toward Asia, Unfortunately we have no records of his Syrian war, but he seems to have penetrated far to the north, even to the Euphrates; for he accomplished enough to enable his successor to boast of ruling as far as that river before the latter had himself undertaken any Asiatic conquests. The architect who erected his Theban buildings, all of which have perished, narrates the king's death at Thebes, after a reign of at least ten years.

There is some doubt whether Amenhotep I left a son entitled to the throne. His successor, Thutmose I, was the son of a woman whose birth and family are of doubtful connection, and her great son evidently gained the kingship by his marriage with a princess of the old line, named Ahmose, through whom he could assert a valid claim to the throne. This occurred about January 1540 or 1535 BC. Thutmose I at once gave his attention to Nubia, which he reorganized by withdrawing it from the control of the mayor of Nekhen and placing it under the administration of a viceroy with the title: “Governor of the South Countries, King’s-Son of Kush”, although he was not necessarily a member of the royal household or of royal birth. The jurisdiction of the new viceroy extended to the fourth cataract, and it was the region between this southern limit and the first cataract which was known as Kush. There was still no great or dominant kingdom in Kush, nor in lower Nubia, but the country was under the rule of powerful chiefs, each controlling a limited territory. It was impossible to suppress these native rulers at once and nearly two hundred years after this we still find the chiefs of Kush and a chief of Wawat as far north as Ibrim.

In the time of Thutmose I the southern half of the new province was far from being sufficiently pacified, and the king went south early in his second year, personally to oversee the task of more thorough subjugation. Leaving the first cataract in February or March, by early April Thutmose had reached Tangur, about seventy-five miles above the second cataract. Having beaten the barbarians in a decisive battle, he pushed on through the exceedingly difficult country of the second and third cataracts—where his scribes and officers have left a trail of names and titles scratched on the rocks. At the island of Tombos he emerged upon the rich and fertile Dongola province of today. Here he erected a fortress, of which some remains still survive, and garrisoned it with troops from the army of conquest, who were to guard the new territory stretching two hundred and fifty miles around the great bend of the Nile from the third to the foot of the fourth cataract. In August of the same year, five months after he had passed Tangur on the way up, he erected five tablets of victory beside Tombos, on which he boasts of ruling from his new southern frontier to the Euphrates on the north, a statement to which, his own achievements in Asia did not yet entitle him. He then began a leisurely return, the slowness of which we can only explain by supposing that he devoted much time to the reorganization and thorough pacification of the country on his way; for he did not reach the first cataract until some seven months after he bad erected his monuments of victory at Tombos. With the body of the Nubian chief hanging head downward at the bow of his royal barge, the king passed through the canal at the first cataract and sailed triumphantly northward to Thebes.

The Pharaoh was now able to give his attention to a similar task at the other extremity of his realm, in Asia. Evidently the conquests of Amenhotep I, which had enabled Thutmose I to claim the Euphrates as his northern boundary, had not been sufficient to ensure to the Pharaoh’s treasury the regular tribute which he was now enjoying from Nubia, but the conditions in Syria were very favorable for a long continuance of Egyptian supremacy. The geography of the country along the eastern end of the Mediterranean is not such as to permit the gradual amalgamation of small and petty states into one great nation, as had already taken place in the valleys of the Nile and the Euphrates. From north to south, roughly parallel with the four hundred miles of eastern Mediterranean coast, the region is traversed by rugged mountain ranges, in two main ridges, known as the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon in the north. In the south Lebanon, the western ridge, with some interruptions, drops finally into the bare and forbidding hills of Judah, which merge then into the desert of Sinai south of Palestine. South of the plain of Megiddo, it throws off the transverse ridge of Carmel, which drops like a Gothic buttress, abruptly to the sea. Anti-Lebanon, the eastern ridge, not beginning as far north as Lebanon, shifts somewhat farther eastward in its southern course, interrupted here and there, especially near Damascus, and spreading on the east of the Dead Sea in the mountains of Moab, its southern flanks are likewise lost in the sandy plateau of northern Arabia. Between the two Lebanons, in the fertile valley traversed by the river Orontes, lies the only extensive region in Syria not cut up by hills and mountains, where a strong kingdom might develop .

The coast is completely isolated from the interior by the ridge of Lebanon, along whose western slopes a people might rise to wealth and power only by man tune expansion. On the other hand, in the south, Palestine, with its hurbourless coast and its large tracts of desolate limestone hills, hardly furnished the economic basis for the development of a strong nation. Palestine is, moreover, badly cut up, both by the transverse ridge of Carmel and by the deep cleft in which he the Jordan and the Dead Sea. Along almost its entire eastern frontier, Syria-Palestine merges into the northern extension of the Arabian desert, save in the extreme north, where the valley of the Orontes and that of the Euphrates almost blend, just as they part, the one to seek the Mediterranean by the Gulf of Alexandretta (Issus), while the other tarns away toward Babylon and the Persian Gulf, Syria-Palestine is thus a narrow strip some four hundred miles long and only eighty to a hundred miles wide, hemmed in by the sea on the west and the desert on the east. The long corridor thus formed between desert and sea is the narrow bridge joining Asia and Africa, and the nations distributed along it were inevitably involved in the great rivalry between the leading powers of the two continents as they struggled for supremacy in the earnest imperial rivalries which the inter-continental dominion of the Hycsos had provoked.

The Semitic population which the ancient Pharaohs of the Old Kingdom had found in this region had doubtless been augmented by additional migrations of the nomads from the grassy fringes of the desert. In the north these people were Amorites and, subsequently, Aramaeans, while in the south they may be most conveniently designated as Canaanites. In general these people showed little genius for government, and were totally without any motives for consolidation. Divided by the physical conformation of the country, they were organized into numerous city-kingdoms, or petty principalities, each consisting of a city, with the surrounding fields and outlying villages, all under the rule of a local dynast, who lived and ruled in the city. Each city had not only its own kinglet, but also its own god, a local Baal or “lord”, with whom was often associated a Baalath or “lady”, a goddess like that of Byblus. These miniature kingdoms were embroiled in frequent wars with one another, each dynast endeavoring to unseat his neighbor and absorb his territory and revenues. Exceeding all the others in size was the kingdom of Kadesh, probably the surviving nucleus of Hycsos power. It had developed in the only place where the conditions permitted such an expansion, occupying a very advantageous position on the Orontes. It thus commanded the road northward through inner Syria, the route of commerce from Egypt and the south, which, following the Orontes, diverged thence to the Euphrates, to cross to Assyria, or descend the Euphrates to Babylon. Being likewise at the north end of both LebanonsKadesh commanded also the road from the interior seaward through the Eleutherus valley to the Phoenician harbors, especially Arvad and Simyra. We now discern it for two generations, struggling desperately to maintain its independence, and only crushed at last by twenty years of warfare under Thutmose III.

Some of these kingdoms of the interior possessed a high degree of civilization. The craftsmen of Syria learned the arts and crafts from the far older civilization on the Nile. Babylonian caravans and trade had brought in cuneiform writing, which was in common use throughout Syria and far across the Hittite world of Asia Minor; while intrusive elements of culture from the Hittite peoples, as well as from the remarkable civilization of Crete and the Aegean were imparting additional diversity to the composite civilization of this inter-continental region. Like the rest of Asia, the peoples of this region knew more of the art of war than the Egyptians, and in this particular they had, during Hycsos supremacy, taught he Egyptians much.

The Semites were inveterate traders, and an animated commerce was passing from town to town, where the market-place was a busy scene of traffic as it is today. On the scanty western slopes of the Lebanon, Semites had by this time long gained a footing on the coast, to become the Phoenicians of historic times. The earliest known reference to them is in the Old Kingdom, where the Egyptians already had dealings with them. The Phoenicians, although hardly as yet a great maritime power a position more probably held by the Cretans—at least participated in the sea-trade. They entered the Nile mouths, and, sailing up the great river, moored at Thebes and trafficked in its extensive bazaars. Here they perfected their knowledge of the practical arts, learning especially how to cast hollow bronzes, and the new art of making glass vessels which arose in Egypt in the XVIIIth Dynasty. Creeping westward along the coast of Asia Minor they gradually gained Rhodes and the islands of the Aegean; the date is disputed, though it may be as early as 1200 BC. In many a favorable harbor they eventually established their colonies. Their manufactories multiplied; and everywhere throughout the regions which they reached, their wares were prominent in the markets. As their wealth increased, every harbor along the Phoenician coast was the seat of a rich and flourishing city, among which Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, Byblos, Arvad and, the northernmost Simyra were the greatest, each being the seat of a wealthy dynasty. Thus it was that in the Homeric poems the Phoenician merchant and his wares were proverbial: the commercial and maritime activity of the Phoenicians, as it had been at the rise of the Egyptian Empire, thereafter increased greatly when relieved of all competition by the fall of that Empire and the collapse of Cretan power.

The civilization which the Egyptians found in the northern Mediterranean was Cretan. The sea-people who appear with Mycenaean vessels as gifts and tribute for the Pharaoh in this age, are termed by the Egyptian monuments men of Keftiu, and so regular was the traffic of the Phoenician fleets with these people that the Phoenician craft plying on these voyages were known as “Keftiu ships”. All this northern region was known to the Egyptians as “the Isles of the Sea” for, having at first no acquaintance with the interior of Asia Minor, they supposed it to be but island coasts, like those of the Aegean. In northern Syria, on the upper reaches of the Euphrates, the world, as conceived by the Egyptians, ended m the marshes in which they thought the Euphrates had its rise, and these again were encircled by the Great Circle, the ocean, which was the end of all.

The northern Mediterranean world, apart from the Phoenicians, and practically all the great peninsula of Asia Minor were non-Semitic. In the great bend of the Euphrates where it sweeps westward toward Syria there was another non-Semitic intrusion. A group of warriors of Iran had by 1500 BC pushed westward to the upper Euphrates. In the great western bend of the river they established an Aryan dynasty ruling the kingdom of  Mitanni. Their influence and language extended westward to Tunip in the Orontes valley and eastward to Nineveh. They formed a powerful and cultivated state, which, planted thus on the road leading westward from Babylon along the Euphrates, effectively cut off the latter from her profitable western trade, and doubtless had much to do with the decline in which Babylon, under her foreign Kassite dynasty, now found herself. Assyria was as yet but a relatively feeble city-Kingdom, whose coming struggle with Babylon only rendered the Pharaohs less liable to interference from the east, in the realization of their plans of conquest in Asia. Everything thus conspired to favor the permanence of Egyptian power there.

Seemingly without serious opposition, Thutmose I reached the region of Naharin, or the land of the rivers as the name signifies, which was the Egyptian designation of the country of Mitanni, as contrasted with its people. The ensuing battle resulted in a great slaughter of the Asiatics, followed by the capture of a large number of prisoners. Unfortunately for our knowledge of Thutmose I’s campaigns in Asia, we are dependent entirely upon the scanty autobiographies of the two Ahmoses of el-Kab, which offer us little more than the bald fact of the first campaign, and do not recount any other. Somewhere along the Euphrates at its nearest approach to the Mediterranean, Thutmose now erected a stone boundary-tablet, marking the northern and, at this point, the eastern limit of his Syrian possessions. He had made good the boast so proudly recorded possibly only a year before, on the tablet marking the other extreme frontier of his empire at the third cataract of the, Nile. Henceforth he was even less measured in his claims, for he later boasted to the priests of Abydos,  “I made the boundary of Egypt as far as the circuit of the sun, I made strong those who had been in fear, I expelled evil from them, I made Egypt to become the sovereign and every land her serfs”—words in which it is evident we must see a reference to Egypt’s deliverance from humiliation under Hycsos rule and her ensuing supremacy in Asia.

How much Thutmose I may have been able to accomplish in organizing his conquests in Asia we do not yet know. He seems to have been able to retire from his Asiatic war without anxiety and devote himself to the regeneration of Egypt. He was thus able to begin the restoration of the temples so neglected since the time of the Hyksos. The modest old temple of the Middle Kingdom monarchs at Thebes was no longer in keeping with the Pharaoh's increasing wealth and pomp. His chief architect, Ineni, was therefore commissioned to erect two massive pylons, or towered gateways, in front of the old Amon-temple, and between these a covered hall, with the roof supported upon large cedar columns, brought of course, like the splendid electron-tipped flag staves of cedar at the temple front, from the new possessions in the Lebanon. The huge door was likewise of Asiatic bronze, with the image of the god upon it, inlaid with gold. He likewise restored the revered temple of Osiris at Abydos, equipping it with rich ceremonial implements and furniture of silver and gold, with magnificent images of the gods, such as it had doubtless lost in Hycsos days. Admonished by his advancing years, he also endowed it with an income for the offering of mortuary oblations to himself, giving the priests instructions regarding the preservation of his name and memory,

Thutmose I was now an old man and the claim to the throne which he had thus far successfully maintained may have been weakened by the death of his queen, Ahmose, to whom it is probable his only valid claim to the crown was due. She was the descendant and representative of the old Theban princes who had fought and expelled the Hycsos, and there was “a strong-party” who regarded the blood of this line as alone entitled to royal honors. All her children had died save one daughter, Makere-Hatshepsut, who was thus the only child of the old line, and so strong was the party of legitimacy, that they had forced the king, years before, at about the middle of his reign, to proclaim her his successor, in spite of the disinclination general throughout Egyptian history to submit to the rule of a queen. The close of the reign of Thutmose I is involved in deep obscurity, and there is no reconstruction without its difficulties. The traces left on temple walls by family dissensions are not likely to be sufficiently conclusive to enable us to follow the complicated struggle with entire certainty three thousand five hundred years later. The current verdict of historians has long been that Thutmose II, a feeble and diseased son of the old Pharaoh, followed at once upon his father's demise. His brief reign is of such slight consequence, however, that its exact place in the transition from Thutmose I to Hatshepsut and Thutmose III is not of great importance.

Hatshepsut’s partisans were not able to crown their favorite without a difficult struggle with a third Thutmose. He was the son of an obscure concubine named. Isis, and there is some uncertainty whether the first or the second Thutmose was his father. It is probable that he married Hatshepsut, thus gaining a valid title to the throne. Placed in the Karnack temple as a priest of low rank, he had ere long won the priesthood to his support. By a dramatic coup d'etat which was at first completely successful, on the third of May, in the year 1501 BC, the young Thutmose III suddenly stepped from the duties of an obscure prophet of Amon into the palace of the Pharaohs. On his earliest monuments he made no reference to any co-regency of Hatshepsut, his queen, in the royal titulary preceding the dedication. Indeed he allowed her no more honorable title than 'great' or 'chief royal wife.' But the party of legitimacy was not to be so easily put off. Before long the queen's partisans had become so strong that the king was seriously hampered, and eventually even thrust into the background. Hatshepsut thus became king, an enormity with which the state fiction of the Pharaoh's origin could not be harmonized. She was called 'the female Horus!' The word majesty was given a feminine ending (as in Egyptian it agrees with the sex of the ruler), and the conventions of the court were all warped and distorted to suit the rule of a woman.

The queen now entered upon an aggressive career: she is the first great woman in history of whom we are informed. Her father's architect, Ineni, thus defines the position of the two: after a brief reference to Thutmose III as “the ruler upon the throne of him who begat him”, he says: “His sister, the Divine Consort, Hatshepsut, administered the affairs of the Two Lands by her designs; Egypt was made to labor with bowed head for her, the excellent seed of the god, who came forth from him”. Her partisans had now installed themselves in the most powerful offices. Closest to the queen’s person stood one, Sennemut, who deeply ingratiated himself in her favor. He had been the tutor of Thutmose III as a child, and he was now entrusted with the education of the queen’s little daughter Nefrure. His brother Senmen likewise supported Hatshepsut's cause. The most powerful of her coterie however was Hapuseneb, who as both vizier and high priest of Amon, united in his person all the power of the administrative government with that of the strong priestly party. The aged Ineni was succeeded as “overseer of the gold and silver treasury” by a noble named Thutiy, while one Nehsi was chief treasurer and colleague of Hapuseneb. The whole machinery of the state was thus in the hands of these partisans of the queen. It is needless to say that the careers and probably the lives of these men were identified with the fortunes of Hatshepsut; they therefore took good care that her position should be maintained. In every way they were at great pains to show that the queen had been destined for the throne by the gods from the beginning. In her temple at Der el-Bahri, where work was now actively resumed, they had sculptured on the walls a long series of reliefs depicting the birth of the queen. Here all the details of the old state fiction that the sovereign should be the bodily son of the Sun-god were elaborately pictured. The artist who did the work followed the current tradition so closely that the new-born child appears as a boy showing how the introduction of a woman into the situation was wrenching the inherited forms. With such devices as these and many others, it was sought to overcome the prejudice against a queen upon the throne of the Pharaohs.

Confident in her Imperial wealth, Hatshepsut’s first enterprise was the building of her magnificent temple against the western cliffs at Thebes. The building was in design quite unlike the great temples of the age. It betrays the influence of the more modest terraced temple tomb of the XIth Dynasty rulers immediately south of Hatshepsut's new building, in a series of three terraces it rose from the plain to the level of an elevated court, flanked by the plastic russet cliffs, into which the holy of holies was cut. In front of the terraces were ranged rhythmic piers and colonnades, which, when seen from a distance, to this day exhibit a fine sense of proportion and of proper grouping, quite disproving the common assertion that the Greeks were the first to understand the art of distributing external colonnades, and that the Egyptians practiced the employment of the column only in interiors. The queen found especial pleasure in the design of this temple. She saw in it a paradise of Amon and conceived its terraces as the myrrh-terraces of Punt, the original home of the gods. She refers in one of her Inscriptions to the fact that Amon had desired her “to establish for him a Punt in his house”, but to carry out the design fully it was further necessary to plant the terraces with myrrh trees from Punt and to send an expedition thither to bring them.

Foreign traffic had suffered severely during the long rule of the Hycsos. Indeed, as far back as anyone could remember in Hatshepsut’s day, even the myrrh necessary for the incense in the temple service had been passed from hand to hand by overland traffic until it reached Egypt. With propitiatory offerings to the divinities of the air to ensure a fair wind, the five vessels of the expedition to Punt set sail early m the ninth year of the queen's reign. The route was down the Nile and through the Middle Kingdom canal leading from the eastern Delta through the Wadi Tumilat, and connecting the Nile with the Red Sea. They arrived at Punt in safety and the Egyptian commander pitched his tent on the shore, where he was received with friendliness by Perchu, the chief of Punt, followed by his absurdly corpulent wife and three children. Besides plentiful gifts with which to traffic with these Puntites, the Egyptians brought with them a statue group of stone showing Queen Hatshepsut with her protector Amon standing beside her. This group was set up in Punt and must be standing there somewhere near the sea at the present day.

Hatshepsut’s records tell us that her fleet was laden very heavily with marvels of the country of Punt; all goodly fragrant woods of God’s land, heaps of myrrh-resin, of fresh myrrh-trees, with ebony and pure ivory, with green gold of Emu, with cinnamon-wood, with incense, eye-cosmetic, with baboons, monkeys, dogs, with skins of the southern panther, with natives and their children. After a safe return voyage the fleet finally moored again at the docks of Thebes. Probably the Thebans had never before been diverted by such a sight as now greeted them, when the motley array of Puntites and the strange products of their far-off country passed through the streets to the queen's palace, where the Egyptian commander presented them to her majesty. The queen immediately offered a generous portion of them to Amon, together with the impost of Nubia, with which Punt was always classed. Besides thirty-one living myrrh-trees, she presented to the gods, electrum, eye-paint, throw-sticks of the Puntites, ebony, ivory, shells, a live southern panther, which had been especially caught for her majesty, many panther skins and three thousand three hundred small cattle. Huge piles of myrrh of twice a man’s stature were measured in grain-measures under the oversight of the queen's favorite, Thutiy, and large rings of commercial gold were weighed in tall balances ten feet high. After formally announcing to Amon the success of the expedition which his oracle had called forth, Hatshepsut then summoned the court, giving to her favorite Sennemut, and the chief treasurer, Nehsi, who had dispatched the expedition, places of honor at her feet, while she told the nobles the result of her great venture. She proudly added: “I have made for him a Punt in his garden, just as he commanded me....It is large enough for him to walk abroad in it”. Later she had all the incidents of the remarkable expedition recorded in relief on the wall of her Der el-Bahri temple once appropriated by Thutmose II for the record of his brief Asiatic campaign, where they still form one of the great beauties of her temple. All her chief favorites found place among the scenes, Sennemut was even allowed to depict himself on one of the walls praying to Hathor for the queen, an unparalleled honor.

This unique temple was in its function the culmination of a new development in the arrangement and architecture of the royal tomb and its chapel or temple. Perhaps because they had other uses for their resources, perhaps because they recognized the futility of so vast a tomb, which yet failed to preserve from violation the body of the builder, the Pharaohs had gradually abandoned the construction of tomb pyramids. Probably for purposes of safety Thutmose I had taken the radical step of separating his tomb from the mortuary chapel before it. The latter was still left upon the plain at the foot of the western hills, but the royal sepulcher chamber, with the passage leading to it, was hewn into the rocky wall of a wild and desolate valley, now known as the 'Valley of the Kings' Tombs , lying behind the western cliffs, some two miles in a direct line from the river, and accessible only by a long detour north­ward, involving nearly twice that distance. It is evident that the exact spot where the king's body was entombed was intended to be kept secret, that all possibility of robbing the royal burial might be precluded. Thutmose's architect, Ineni, says that he “superintended the excavation of the clit-tomb of his majesty alone, no one seeing and no one hearing”. Hatshepsut likewise chose a remote and secret spot for her tomb high up on the face of a dangerous cliff behind the Valley of the Kings’ Tombs, where it has only recently been discovered; but this she abandoned in favor of a tomb in the valley with her father. The new arrangement was such that the royal sepulcher was still behind the chapel or temple, which thus continued to be on the east of the tomb as before, although the two were now separated by the intervening cliffs. The valley rapidly filled with the vast tomb excavations of Thutmose I’s successors. It continued to be the cemetery of the XVIIIthXXth Dynasties, and over sixty royal tombs of the Empire were excavated there. Sixteen now accessible form one of the wonders which attract the Nile tourists to Thebes, and Strabo speaks of forty which were worthy to lie visited in his time. Hatshepsut’s terraced sanctuary was therefore her mortuary temple, dedicated also to her father. As the tombs multiplied in the valley behind, there rose upon the plain before it temple after temple endowed for the mortuary service of the departed gods, the emperors who had once ruled Egypt. They were also sacred to Amon as the state god; but they bore euphemistic names significant of their mortuary function. For example, the temple of Thutmose III was called “Gift of Life”, Hatshepsut's architect, Hapuseneb, who was also her vizier, likewise excavated her tomb in the desolate valley, the second royal sepulcher to be excavated there.

Besides her Der el-Bahri temple and her adjacent tomb, the queen employed her evidently growing wealth, also in the restoration of the old temples, which, although two generations had elapsed, had not even yet recovered from the neglect which they had suffered under the Hycsos. She recorded her good work upon a rock temple of Pakht at Beni-Hasan, saying, “I have restored that which was ruins, I have raised up that which was unfinished since the Asiatics were in the midst of Avaris of the Northland, and the barbarians in the midst of them, overthrowing that which had been made while they ruled in ignorance of Re”. At the same time, in celebration of her royal jubilee she made preparation for the erection of the obelisks, which were the customary memorial of such jubilees. Her Invariable favorite, Sennemut, levied the necessary forced labor and began work early in February of the queen's fifteenth year. By early August, exactly six months later, he had freed the huge blocks from the quarry, was able to employ the high water, then rapidly approaching, to float them, and towed them to Thebes before the inundation had again fallen. The queen then chose an extraordinary location for her obelisks, namely, that colonnaded hall of the Karnack temple erected by her father, where her husband Thutmose III had been named king by oracle of Amon; although this involved serious architectural changes and even necessitated permanently unroofing the hall. They were richly overlaid with electrum, the work on which was done for the queen by Thutiy. She avers that she measured out the precious metal by the peck, like sacks of grain, and she is supported in this extraordinary statement by Thutiy, who states that by royal command he piled up in the festival hall of the palace no less than nearly twelve bushels of electrum. These obelisks were the tallest shafts ever erected in Egypt up to that time, being ninety-seven-and-a-half feet high and weighing nearly three hundred and fifty tons each. One of them still stands, an object of daily admiration among the modern visitors at Thebes. It is possible that the queen also set up two more pairs of obelisks, making six in all.

A relief in the Wadi Maghara in Sinai, whither the tireless queen had sent a mining expedition to resume the work there which had been interrupted by the Hycsos invasion, reveals her operations among the copper mines, in the same year that saw her Karnak obelisks finished. This work in Sinai continued in her name until the twentieth year of her reign. Sometime between this date and the close of the year twenty-one, when we find Thutmose III ruling alone, the great queen must have died.

Great though she was, her rule was a distinct misfortune, falling, as it did, at a time when Egypt’s power in Asia had not yet been seriously tested, and Syria was only to ready to revolt.  Considering the age in which she lived, we must not too much blame Thutmose III for his treatment of the departed queen. Around her obelisks in her father's hall at Karnack he had now a masonry sheathing built, covering her name and the record of her erection of them on the base. Everywhere he had her name erased and in her splendid terraced temple on all the walls both her figure and her name have been hacked out. Her partisans must have met short shrift. In the relief-scenes in the same temple, where Sennemut and Nehsi and Thuyti has been so proud to appear, their names and their figures were  ruthlessly chiseled away. The statues and tombs of all the queen’s supporters were treated similarly. And these mutilated monuments stand to this day, grim witnesses of the great king’s vengeance. But in her splendid temple her fame still lives, and the masonry around her Karnack obelisks has fallen down, exposing their gigantic shaft to proclaim to the modern world the greatness of Hatshepsut