Statue of Thutmose III

This statue of Thutmose III was found in the Karnak Cachette in 1904. Thutmose III created the largest empire Egypt had ever seen; no fewer than 17 campaigns were conducted and he conquered lands from the Niya Kingdom in northern Syria to the Fourth Cataract of the Nile in Nubia.

Thutmose III who reigned ca. 1479-1425 BC was the sixth king of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. During the first 22 years of his reign, he was coregent with his stepmother and aunt, Hatshepsut, who was named the King. The statue is now in the Luxor Museum. Thutmose III flexed his military might repeatedly: in Nubia, in Phoenician ports, in the valuable trade center of Kadesh, and in the kingdom of Mitanni, in modern-day Syria and Turkey. Over the course of 17 campaigns, he secured more territory than any other king. By the end, he controlled Egypt’s largest ever empire.

A statue of Thutmose III in the Luxor museum
A statue of Thutmose III in the Luxor museum

The spoils from Thutmose III’s military campaigns—including plunder, taxes, and tribute—vastly enriched Egypt’s treasury and made him the richest man in the world at the time. But he also secured human capital from his captured lands. The sons of conquered rulers were taken to Egypt and educated at court. Acclimated to Egyptian ways, those offspring returned home sympathetic to Egyptian rule.

Statue of King Thutmose III
Statue of King Thutmose III
Fragment of a relief depicting the cartouches of Thutmose III. Luxor Museum.
Fragment of a relief depicting the cartouches of Thutmose III. Luxor Museum.

Unlike one of his later successors, Ramesses II—who exaggerated his military achievements—Thutmose III earned the triumphs recorded on the numerous monuments he built. His annals were inscribed on the sanctuary walls at the great Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak.

The Festival Hall there depicts the fauna and flora—including 275 plants—he collected on his Asian campaigns. He installed obelisks at Karnak and built the sun god temple at Heliopolis. And by destroying—albeit incompletely—references to Hatshepsut and her reign, Thutmose III fashioned a direct line to his eponymous predecessors, strengthening his claim and his legacy as the rightful and most powerful ruler of Egypt.