Thutmose III was a pharaoh who reigned over ancient Egypt for nearly fifty four years and took its empire to unprecedented heights. Known as the Warrior King and the Napoleon of Egypt, Thutmose III is considered a military genius and the greatest expansionist pharaoh in ancient Egyptian history. Know about the life, military campaigns, accomplishments and death of Egypt’s greatest conqueror through these 10 interesting facts.

 

#1 He was the son of Thutmose II and Isis

Thutmose III was the only son of Thutmose II, who reigned over Egypt from 1493 BC to 1479 BC, and his secondary wife or concubine Isis. When Thutmose II died in 1479 BC, Thutmose III was crowned king. But as he was too young to rule, the great royal wife of Thutmose II, Queen Hatshepsut became his regent. Hatshepsut soon declared herself Pharaoh. Her reign was marked by prosperity and advancements. Thutmose III was given education befitting a prince and when he reached a suitable age, Hatshepsut appointed him head of her armies.

Hatshepsut depicted as a male pharaoh
Hatshepsut depicted as a male pharaoh with a beard

 

Thoth - Ancient Egyptian God
Thoth, ancient Egyptian god often depicted as an ibis-headed man

#2 Thutmose III reigned over Egypt for around fifty-four years

After the death of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III assumed the role of Pharaoh. He was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt. The reign of Thutmose III is usually dated from April 24, 1479 BC to March 11, 1425 BC, that is, if one includes the twenty-two years of his co-regency with Hatshepsut. Thoth was one of the prominent deities of ancient Egypt who among other things was responsible for maintaining the universe. The name Thutmose means “Thoth is born”.

#3 His act of bravery won Egypt the Battle of Megiddo

Canaan was, in the ancient world, a region which roughly corresponds to the modern Middle East. It was home of several early civilizations. After the death of Hatshepsut, a large rebellious coalition of Canaanite vassal states led by the King of Kadesh, advanced their army to Megiddo. Thutmose III mustered his own army and departed Egypt. He surprised the enemy by taking the least expected and most dangerous of the three possible routes. It proved to be a brilliant strategic move and in the ensuing Battle of Megiddo, the Egyptian army routed the Canaanite forces decisively.

Battle of Megiddo Relief in Karnak Temple
Relief in Karnak Temple showing Thutmose III slaying Canaanites in the Battle of Megiddo

 

#4 Thutmose III gained control of northern Canaan through his first campaign

Thutmose III Statue
Thutmose III statue in Luxor Museum

Egyptian victory in the Battle of Megiddo, which was probably the largest Thutmose ever fought, forced the Canaanite army to flee to safety in the city of Megiddo. This led to Thutmose’s Siege of Megiddo, which lasted for seven or eight months. Though the king of Kadesh escaped, the Egyptian army forced the occupants of the city to surrender. Egypt’s realm was expanded by the campaign and its authority in the area was restored. The defeated kings were obligated to send tribute and their own sons as hostages to Egypt.

#5 He spread his kingdom as far as Mitanni in subsequent campaigns

In subsequent campaigns Thutmose III took control of the Syrian cities. He then planned a campaign against Mitanni, which had grown stronger. He brilliantly planned the campaign, crossing Euphrates River in his boats and taking the Mitannian king entirely by surprise. Thutmose captured the city with little opposition and the Mitannian king fled. Triumphantly, Thutmose III set up his commemorative inscription by the edge of Euphrates, next to that of his grandfather Thutmose I. It was his farthest point of advance.

 

#6 Thutmose III is called Napoleon of Egypt due to his military genius

During his reign Thutmose III launched at least 17 military campaigns. He never lost a battle and is recorded to have captured 350 cities. The success of the campaigns is attributed to the genius of Thutmose III as a military leader and the use of improved weapons by his army. Thutmose III transformed Egypt into an international superpower with its empire reaching unprecedented heights and stretching from southern Syria through to Canaan and Nubia. Thutmose III is referred to as Egypt’s greatest conqueror and “the Napoleon of Egypt.”

Thutmose III Empire
Egyptian Empire (c. 1476 BC) during the reign of Thutmose III

 

#7 His reign saw new developments in art and architecture

Due to prosperity in the kingdom, architecture and art flourished during the reign of Thutmose III. He built Egypt’s only known set of heraldic pillars and his jubilee hall is arguably the earliest known building created in the basilica style. Artisans achieved new heights of skill in painting, and tombs from his reign were the earliest to be entirely painted, instead of painted reliefs. Also it appears that his artisans learned glass making skills.

Heraldic Pillars at the temple of Amun at Karnak
Heraldic Pillars at the temple of Amun at Karnak, erected by Tuthmosis III

 

#8 Cleopatra’s Needles were constructed during his reign

Over fifty temples were constructed during the reign of Thutmose III. The site on which he paid the most attention was Karnak. The Temple of Amon at Karnak in particular was enlarged and enriched by many new buildings and a number of obelisks. Two of the famous obelisks that he erected are now in New York City and London. Each is known as Cleopatra’s Needle, though it is a misnomer. He also started the construction of tekhen waty, or “unique obelisk”. However it was completed during the reign of his by his grandson Thutmose IV. Now known as Lateran Obelisk, it is the largest standing ancient Egyptian obelisk in the world.

Cleopatra's Needle in London
Cleopatra’s Needle in London

 

#9 He was succeeded by his son Amenhotep II

Mummified head of Thutmose III
Mummified head of Thutmose III

Thutmose III had several wives and at least nine children. He had his first son Amenemhat with his Great Royal Wife Satiah but Amenemhat died before him. Thutmose III had a son with his second wife Merytre-Hatshepsut whom he appointed as co-regent in the final years of his reign. Known as Amenhotep II, he became the Pharaoh of Egypt after the death of Thutmose III in 1426 BC. Thutmose III was laid to rest the in the Valley of the Kings in one of the most sophisticated tombs. His tomb (KV34) was discovered by French Egyptologist Victor Loret in 1898.

#10 The mummy of Thutmose III was discovered in 1881

Deir el-Bahari is a complex of mortuary temples and tombs located on the west bank of the Nile, opposite the city of Luxor, Egypt. In 1881, the mummy of Thutmose III was discovered in the Deir el-Bahri Cache, above the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. It was first unwrapped by German-born Egyptologist Émile Brugsch. A memorial temple, which Thutmose III built at Dayr al-Baḥri beside that of Hatshepsut, was discovered in 1962. Another temple built by him containing numerous artifacts was discovered in 2014.

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