Thutmose III

the greatest Military Leader in Ancient Egypt

Thutmose III (1481–1425 BC) was Egypt’s 18th Dynasty’s sixth king, one of antiquity’s greatest military leaders, and one of Egypt’s most effective and magnificent kings. Thutmose, his throne name, means’Thoth is Born,’ while Menkhperre, his birth name, means’Eternal are Ra’s Manifestations. Thutmose III was born in 1481 BC and was just two years old when his father died, leaving Hatshepsut as regent and eventually ruler. During the majority of the New Kingdom period, he grew up at the royal court of Thebes, Egypt’s capital. Despite the fact that there is little evidence of his life at this time, physical and intellectual growth were prioritised.

Thutmose III

During the New Kingdom of Egypt, a great deal of focus was placed on the physical and intellectual growth of princes, as they were anticipated to one day govern over an expanding kingdom, despite the fact that there is little record of his life at the time.


Thutmose iii would lead 17 successful military campaigns in 20 years as pharaoh.

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Thutmose III smiting his enemies

Rise to Power

Hatshepsut may have married her daughter Neferu-Ra to Thutmose III in order to ensure the throne, although he does not appear to have spent much time at court after his childhood. To keep out of Hatshepsut’s way and prove himself valuable to her rule, he lived among the troops from a young age. Noble princes were frequently removed at the discretion of ruling monarchs who saw them as a danger, and Thutmose III has much too much ambition to have put himself in such a position. Hatshepsut had placed him in command of her forces before the end of her reign, indicating that he was successful in his goals. Her reign came to an end when she died in 1458 BC, and Thutmose III was crowned. Hatshepsut held strict control over Egypt’s boundaries and provinces, but her death sparked rebellion among the rulers of Egyptian-controlled nations in Canaan and Syria. Thutmose III was not interested in bargaining and was not about to allow these provinces leave the empire on their own, so he launched his first military expedition.

Karnak within the Thutmoside core, Thutmose III

Military Campaigns

The pharaoh convenes a meeting with his top staff to discuss marching orders to Megiddo, and informs them that they would be using the small route from Aruna, on which the army will have to march single-file, rather than either of the bigger and more readily travelled highways available.
He marched to Megiddo with an army of 20,000 troops only a few months after becoming control. Outside the city, a coalition of opponents had assembled. The Annals of Thutmose III is a remarkable chronicle that was written by scribes who went with Thutmose III’s army and chronicled the facts of the war. The pharaoh ignored his counsellors and startled his enemies by storming through a dangerous mountain pass on his way to conduct a fatal frontal assault on Megiddo. During that risky march, he rode up front to indicate that he trusted the gods to protect him and his warriors, and they all made it across the pass safely. Then he rode into combat at Megiddo “in a chariot of exquisite gold, clad in his shining armour,” dazzled and intimidated his foes, who quickly surrendered and escaped to their last stronghold of safety within the city walls. Thutmose III besieged Megiddo for seven months, starving the city’s surviving residents to death until they surrendered.

Karnak within the Thutmoside core of the temple, Thutmose III

He had the accounts of his triumphs recorded in Karnak’s Temple of Amun, and they are regarded the most comprehensive chronicles of ancient Egyptian military battles. The Battle of Megiddo is his most renowned battle, and it is also the one with the most detailed narrative. Later expeditions lose this structure and are described in less detail, resembling spoils lists rather than accounts of the king’s conquests.
At Megiddo, he also began a policy of bringing the aristocratic children of fallen rulers back to Egypt to be educated as Egyptians, which he would continue throughout his conquests. These children were held as hostages to ensure their parents’ good behaviour, yet they were pampered as royalty, housed in the palace, and granted several liberties. They were permitted to return home when they reached the age of majority, and since they had spent their upbringing in Egypt, they supported and fostered Egyptian culture and the state’s interests when they rose to positions of authority.

Depiction of Syrians bringing presents to Thutmose III, in the tomb of Rekhmire

Thutmose III’s victory at Megiddo gave him control of northern Canaan, from whence he planned to launch an attack on Kadesh in Syria. He fought the Mitanni and constructed a stele near the Euphrates River, which is remembered in Thutmose III’s Hymn of Victory inscription at Karnak. His Nubian conquests were similarly successful, and by his 50th year, he had surpassed all of his predecessors in terms of expanding Egypt’s possessions and making the kingdom wealthier than it had been since the commencement of the 4th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Egypt.

Thutmose's tekhen waty, today standing in Rome as the Lateran obelisk

Monumental construction

Thutmose III was a master builder who built over 50 temples, some of which have since been destroyed and are only recorded in written documents. He also ordered the construction of several noble graves, which were built with more skill than ever before. Sculpture, paintings, and reliefs related with building saw significant stylistic modifications throughout his reign, with much of it commencing under Hatshepsut’s reign. 

Wide-necked jar and lid naming Thutmose III

Under Thutmose III, artistic skills and inventiveness reached new heights. Glass-making had been practised for ages, but it had now progressed to the point where it could be used to drinking. Statuary became less idealised and more realistic, a movement that began in Egypt’s Middle Kingdom, but was abandoned in favour of the Old Kingdom’s typical idealism in art. Thutmose III is shown as a tall, attractive guy in superb physical shape in his sculpture, which is regarded a realistic representation since, first, all depictions are consistent, and second, images of others – likewise constant – are far from flattering. His artists created some of Egypt’s most beautiful masterpieces.

Defaced Hatshepsut

Defacing of Hatshepsut’s monuments

Thutmose III most likely ordered this punishment to prevent Hatshepsut from serving as a role model for future female rulers. He reversed the dates of her reign to erase any traces of her reign in Egypt, and he replaced some of her pictures in her tomb temple with his own. All of her public monuments were demolished and replaced by his, with the exception of those at Karnak, where just her name was erased. Hatshepsut’s was so forgotten in Egyptian history that his name did not occur until the nineteenth century. Later many thought Thutmose III built the magnificent Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri.

Thutmose III

Death and burial

He was interred in his own mortuary temple alongside Hatshepsut’s at Deir el-Bahri after he died of natural causes in 1425 BC. Victor Loret uncovered Thutmose’s tomb (KV34) in the Valley of the Kings in 1898. It has a classic 18th Dynasty tomb layout, with a steep curve in the vestibule before the burial chamber. The entryway is reached through two stairways and two corridors, which are preceded by a quadrangular shaft or “well.”

Ahmose IAmenhotep IThutmose IThutmose IIRamesses ISeti IRamesses II, and Ramesses IX, as well as the 21st Dynasty pharaohs Pinedjem I, Pinedjem II, and Siamun, were all buried beside him.


How long did Thutmose III rule?

Thutmose III ruled Egypt for nearly 54 years, from the age of two until his death at the age of fifty-six, from 1479 BC to 1425 BC; however, during the first 22 years of his reign, he was co-regent with his stepmother and aunt, Hatshepsut, who was crowned pharaoh.

What is Thutmose III best known for?

Egypt was transformed from an inward-looking kingdom to a conquest empire under Thutmose III, a conquest pharaoh. Due to the spoils of his various conflicts, Thutmose III became the world’s wealthiest man.

What did Thutmose III do to Hatshepsut?

Thutmose III finally got his hands on the throne after Hatshepsut died in 1458 B.C. Hatshepsut’s revolutionary reign was kept hidden for generations. Thutmose III attempted to remove Hatshepsut from history by defacing her monuments and erasing her name from the list of rulers before his death.

What age did Thutmose III die?

56 years (1481 BC–1425 BC)


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