April 14, 2012

Tuthmosis III Pharaoh 1504-1450 BC

Tuthmosis III
Menkheperre
Dynasty 18
1504-1450 BC

Tuthmosis III
With Hatshepsut's death Tuthmosis III came into his rightful inheritance. Senenmut, Hatshepsut's powerful minister and supporter, had died about a year before the queen and could no longer stand in Tuthmosis' way. Hatshepsut had maintained her position with the support of powerful ministers but, above all, by virtue of her impeccable royal lineage. Tuthmosis, too, was to draw on his family credentials, because he had been married to the princess Neferure - daughter of Tuthmosis II by Hatshepsut. Neferure died some time before Year 11, so Tuthmosis III was a widower when he came to the throne; he then took Hatshepsut-Merytre as his principal queen who was to be the mother of his heir, Amenhotep II.

Tuthmosis III Picture
During Hatshepsut's reign Tuthmosis had been kept well in the background. From the prowess he later demonstrated on the battlefield it appears that he probably spent a lot of this time with the army. Egyptian control in Syria and the Lebanon had slipped under Hatshepsut, and a number of the local princes had transferred their allegiance from Egypt to the closer and powerful kingdom of Mitanni. This was to change radically with the new king.

Once Tuthmosis III had a clear field, he set about expunging the memory of his stepmother Hatshepsut from the monuments. He exacted retribution at her temple at Deir el-Bahari, destroying many of the reliefs and smashing numerous of her statues into a quarry just in front of the temple. The tombs of her courtiers were also attacked. Moreover, the obelisks which Senenmut had proudly brought from the granite quarries at Aswan to Karnak were walled up and their inscriptions hidden. This actually helped to preserve the lower inscriptions in pristine condition, and they have now been revealed again.

At Deir el-Bahari, tucked on to a ledge between the southern half of the queen's temple and Mentuhotep's Middle Kingdom temple, Tuthmosis built a small temple of his own. Excavated in recent years by the Polish mission, the incredibly fresh condition of the shattered reliefs seems to indicate that the temple was destroyed by a rock fall from the high cliffs above it very shortly after its completion.

Thutmose III smiting his enemies. Relief on the seventh pylon in Karnak
Nearby, Tuthmosis had a rock-cut sanctuary dedicated to the cow- goddess Hathor. The shrine was found by accident in the last century during clearance work by the Swiss Egyptologist Edouard Naville. A sudden rock fall exposed the opening to a painted shrine which, local graffiti indicated, had been a place of worship until Ramesside times, when it was destroyed by an earthquake. The shrine was dedicated by Tuthmosis III, accompanied in the wall paintings by his wife Merytre. Within the shrine was a large statue of Hathor as a cow walking forward with a standing figure of the king under her dewlap and a kneeling figure of Tuthmosis' son and successor, Amenhotep II, painted in profile suckling at her udder.

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