VIII — Egypt at her Apogee — Queen Hatasu and Thothmes III.
With the Eighteenth Dynasty there came changes in Egypt, culminating in the superseding of the former conditions of affairs and the introduction of another very different. Under the alien dynasties, before the reign of Aahmes, the country had been entirely dismembered like the body of Osiris; but now it was slowly coming back, every part to its place. With the kings who succeeded to him there was a more general change. The pursuits of peace by which the Egyptian population had been characterized were now cast into the shade. There was an immediate increase of wealth. The military calling rose into greater honor. The Sacerdotal order, which had included the men who were renowned for important achievements became a more distinct caste, and finally acquired immense power and influence, rivaling the kings themselves in dignity and authority. (1) After a while the several nomes, or cantons, which had always had their own separate governments, as in the United States, and hereditary princes of their own, were transformed into subordinate departments, with governors named by the king. There was accordingly a vast increase in the number of officials high and low, an incident common to a government in its decline. The king was more powerful, and public works were more magnificent than in former periods; but he was not now, like Amunemha III., seeking to secure and permanently benefit his people. All posts of honor and distinction were bestowed by favor and with less regard for fitness or deserving.
The commonalty, the "plain people," suffered by the changes. They were often obliged to furnish soldiers for the warlike expeditions. All manual industry fell into low repute as servile and not consistent with gentle rank. The schools, however, which existed in every temple, were open to all; and a youth of talent was able to make himself eligible to any official position for which he was found to be capable.
Pyramids had not been built since the time of the Old Empire. The Temples became the principal structures, illustrating the superior importance which the priesthood had acquired. The bodies of the kings were now deposited in artificial caves hewn out of the rocks, and their walls were covered with pictures of a religious character. There were also, however, grand temples built, having a connection with the royal sepulchres, and the sculptures in them commemorated the events of the reigns.
The tombs of the public officials and others, however, were of less note. But the scenes depicted in them exhibit a faithful view of life in Egypt at the time. There was abundance of luxury and festivity, but the welfare of the retainers in the abodes of the wealthy, and indeed of the people generally, was far less regarded. In short, there was more display of religion than in former times, and less actual freedom. The expulsion of the foreign dynasty from Lower Egypt resulted in the transferring of the national metropolis to Thebes, and the tutelary god Neph-Amun, or Amun-Ra, the "Mystic Sun," was distinctly acknowledged as the Supreme Divinity.
The last monarch of the Seventeenth Dynasty, Taa the Bold, had laid down his life in battle like a Maccabee in behalf of his country, its religion and its laws. The record of his conflict with King Apapi has not been found, but it is known that he braved the power of the imperious Overlord, who commanded him to forswear the worship of Amun-Ra, and pay homage to Sutekh alone. His body was found many years ago, but its bad condition led to a removing of the cerecloths. (2) The Egyptians evidently were the victors, as they were able to rescue the body of the king from desecration, but with such a loss the victory was dearly bought. The new king and queen, Kames and Aahhetep, were unable to follow up the advantage. Aahmes, a nobleman of distinction, at the death of Kames, succeeded to the throne.
The Eighteenth Dynasty, though its kings are enumerated in the Table of Abydos, immediately after those of the Twelfth, nevertheless appears to have been virtually a revival or continuation of the Eleventh.
Indeed, the Twelfth Dynasty was in many respects a dominion apart, a new departure. It had not only put an end to anarchy and chaotic conditions, but it brought on a new form of administration, in which the welfare of the people was consulted more then the glory of the monarch.
Despite the achievements of the Osir-tasens and Amunemhas, which had surpassed those of other monarchs, both in magnitude and actual benefits, Thothmes III., in the Tablet of Karnak, regarded more distinctly the name and times of Mentu-Hetep.
Aahmes, the founder of the Dynasty, appears, however, to have been an exception. Though he had restored Egypt to independence, putting an end to foreign rule and abolishing the obnoxious Phoenician worship with its human sacrifices, he was hardly regarded by the priests at Thebes as "divine," a legitimate sovereign. His body was entombed with those of the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty. The honors which he did not receive were bestowed liberally upon his consort, Nefert-ari-Aahmes, who had been associated with him in the royal authority. Probably he was only a military chief, and had gained his title to the throne by marriage, retaining it by having his queen for colleague.
His reign lasted twenty-five years. Queen Nefert continued to administer the government till the prince Amunhe-tep or Amunoph was of sufficient age. A tablet which was found by Mr. Harris represents this prince as the foster-child of the queen, and he actually claimed authority as the descendant of Taa the Great. Manetho has named Khebron or Hebron as reigning at this period, but that name, and indeed that also of Queen Nefert, have not been given in the Tablet of Karnak.
As was common in ancient times, the tributary peoples took advantage of the opportunity afforded by the death of Aahmes to revolt. The Libyans at the west of the Egyptian Lowlands also made warlike incursions. Amunoph I., upon his accession to power, hastened to reduce them again to submission. Accompanied by his general, Aahmes, the son of Baba, he first made war upon the Nahsi or negro tribes of the South and brought away a great number of prisoners. Another expedition was undertaken with Aahmes Pen Nekhet with equal success against the Marmaridae of Libya. Amunoph devoted the few remaining years of his reign to the prosecuting of the work on the Great Temple of Karnak at Thebes and other sanctuaries in that region. At his death, his tomb was among the sepulchres of the Eleventh Dynasty.
His queen, Aahhetep, survived him. Their son, Thothmes L, was of a warlike temper. The usual revolts of the conquered tribes took place, and he led an army into Khent-ben-Nefer," (3) or Nubia. The King Anti, who commanded the insurgents, was made a prisoner, and a multitude of the inhabitants were carried away captive. Thothmes pushed his successes further into the Soudan and brought away a large booty of ivory, gold, slaves and cattle. The conquest was this time thorough. "The country in its complete extent lay at his feet," is the language of the inscription on the rock of the Third Cataract. "Never had this been done under any other king."
Manetho, as recorded by Josephus, states that it was under this king that the Hyksos foreigners lost Egypt. (4)
The expulsion, as the monuments declare, took place in the reign of Aahmes. Doubtless, however, there were many incursions from them to enjoy the plenty there was always in Egypt, that required to be repelled. Besides, the rule of the Asiatic foreigners had always rankled in their remembrance, and Thothmes began with eagerness the war of vengeance which was to be waged for centuries.
The monumental inscriptions indicate Palestine as the region to which the departed Menti emigrated upon their overthrow in Egypt. Josephus insists that they were the ancestors of the Hebrews. "The Egyptians took many occasions to hate and envy us," says he, "because our ancestors had dominion over their country, and, when delivered from them, lived in prosperity." The book of Genesis mentions "the Zuzim in Ham," or the Hauran, and an ingenuous author, an English gentlewoman, suggests that they were the emigrant people. (5) When Thothmes I. invaded Palestine, that region was designated Kuthen or Luthen — perhaps the same time as Lydia. In several later reigns this name continues to be used. The people of Luthen are described as wearing tight dresses and long gloves, suggestive of a colder climate, and also as with long, red hair and blue eyes. The inhabitants of the Sethroite nome, which was at the east of Egypt, were of this physiognomy. The region beyond Syria was described in the monuments as the Khitaland, of which a principal city was Karkhemosh, the Kar or city of the God Khemosh. The Assyrian Tablets, however, denominate Syria itself the land of Khatti or Hittites. (6)
With the two generals, Aahmes, so famous in the inscriptions, Thothmes invaded Palestine, ravaging as he went. He overran Syria and Phoenicia, advancing as far as Naharaina, the river-country of Mesopotamia. He there set up a Tablet to signify that he had established his dominion over the country. "He washed his heart," taking vengeance upon the inhabitants for the injuries inflicted in Egypt. He brought away rich booty, prisoners, horses, war-cars taken in battle, vessels of gold and bronze, and numerous other precious articles of wrought work. On his return to Thebes he continued the additions to the temple, and erected in front of the Great Temple at Karmak two obelisks to commemorate his achievements and piety.
As the two generals outlived him and went to war under his successor, it is apparent that his reign was not a long one. He married his sister Aahmes, such alliances being in high favor with Caucasian peoples, always tenacious of purity of blood and race. (7) He left three children, a daughter, Hashep or Hatasu, and two sons, each known to us by the name of the father. They were, however, the offspring of different mothers. Hatasu was the favorite child, and reciprocated warmly her father's affection. He even admitted her to some degree of participation in the royal authority, and she continued after his death to share it with Thothmes II., her brother and husband. The events of their joint reign were not of great significance. The Shasu tribes from the East made incursions into the Egyptian Lowlands and were driven back. The Southern countries, however, made no attempt to recover their independence.
Ancient Egypt was celebrated beyond all other countries for the grandeur of the royal sepulchres. The kings of the Thinite dynasties were entombed at Abydos; and after that the monarchs of the Memphite dynasties built pyramids for the reception of their mortal remains. After the restoration, the Antefs and others of the Eleventh Dynasty were inhumed in brick pyramids near the metropolis of Thebes. The grotto-tombs of the Twelfth Dynasty at Beni Hassan were a great departure from the former simplicity. They were temples where death was honored, "everlasting homes," each with a grand chamber alive with pictures, and without superstition or terror. Architecture and the fine arts were now in their glory.
Queen Hatasu resolved that the house of Thothmes should have a resting-place for the dead surpassing the others. It should be a magnificent sepulchre hewn in the rock, with a temple to the dead in front of it, in memory of the princes of the royal house. This plan was carried out in the valley of Biban-el-Molokh. While the steep rock was pierced with grottos in the shape of vast halls for the reception of the occupants, there was in front a temple in the form of a long, extended building, approached by broad steps, that, from stage to stage, descended to the plain. An avenue bordered by sphinxes led to the river.
In the subterranean chambers were placed the bodies of the members of the royal family — Thothmes I. and Queen Aahmes, their daughter, the princess Kheb-nefer-Ra, Thothmes II. and Queen Hatasu and Thothmes III.
M. Renan graphically comments upon the sudden and complete change from the grotto-tombs of Beni Hassan. "A Christian and pagan tomb could not be more different," he declares. "The dead is no longer at home; a pantheon of gods has usurped his place; images of Osiris and chapters of the Ritual cover the walls, graved with care, as though everybody was to read them, and yet shut up in everlasting darkness, but supernaturally powerful. Horrible pictures, the foolishest vagaries of the human brain! The priest has got the better of the situation; the death-trials are good, alas, for him; he can abridge the poor soul's torments. What a nightmare is this Tomb of Sethi! How far we have got from the primeval faith and survivance after it, when there was no ceremonial of the priest, or long list of names divine, ending in sordid superstition. One of our Gothic tombs differs less from one of the tombs on the Appian Way than do the old tombs of Sakkara from those which filled the strange valley of Biban-el-Molokh."
An early death carried Thothmes II. to the realm of Osiris. We have reason to believe it a tragic occurrence of revolting character, such as was the assassination of Peter III. of Russia. He was in-inferior in every important respect to his energetic queen, and he had become the object of her supreme hatred. Immediately upon his death she laid aside her woman's dress, put on the robes of a king, and assumed all the dignities of masculine royalty. She even discarded the terms and titles of her sex, and her inscriptions describe her as lord and king. The hatred which existed between her and her two royal brothers seems to have been bitter and intense. She caused the name of her dead husband to be erased from every monument which they two had erected together, and replaced it with her own or that of her father. Although she formally acknowledged her infant brother, Thothmes III., as her colleague on the throne, he was shut out from all participation in public affairs, and made to pass his early years at Buto, in Northern Egypt. "So long as I was a child and a boy," he said afterward, "I remained in the temple of Amun; not even as a seer (epoptes) of the God did I hold an office."
The lady-king was duly enrolled in the King's Book of the priests, and her name announced as Maka-Ra-Num-Amun, Hatasu. She selected for her chief architect a skillful man named Se-en-Mut, a person without noble parentage — "his ancestors not to be found in writing." But his works praise him. He may be compared to Michael Angelo, who refused to be examined as to his qualifications by a commission from the Pope, although he was the only man fit to build St. Peter's Church.
Like her counterpart of modern times, the Empress Katharine, she was endowed with an intense passion for glory and adventure. The land of Pun or Punt (Somahli) was regarded by the Egyptians as the early home of the Gods before they came to the valley of the Nile. It was represented on the monuments as the cradle of Egypt, the country of the God Ra and a region of perfect happiness. It abounded with balsam and all tropical productions. The oracle of Amun gave auspicious assurances, and the Queen resolved upon an expedition to this Land of Mystery.
The enterprise, for the time, was as important as the voyages of discovery in modern times. A large fleet of sea-going vessels was fitted out and manned by able seamen and sailors. She commanded it herself and a royal ambassador accompanied the expedition, attended by the princes and highest lords of Egypt.
They sailed by way of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. The length of the voyage is not recorded. A landing was made at the foot of a mountain, and a new world unfolded itself to the voyagers.
The inhabitants of this "land of the gods" were no less astonished than their visitors. They lived in little dome-shaped houses built on piles, under the shade of cocoa-palms and incense-trees, beneath which their herds of cattle peacefully reposed. Overtures of friendship were exchanged with the princes of the country. Parihu, the King, his wife Ari, his daughter and two sons visited the ambassador at his encampment, and besought that the Queen, the mighty ruler of Egypt, would grant them peace and freedom. (8) The condition was exacted in return that the country of Punt shall be tributary to the Queen. It was accepted, and the usual expressions of contempt were made in the inscriptions, because of this peaceful submission.
The tribute which was brought to the galleys was immense. Thirty-one incense-trees were taken, to be planted again in Egypt. The pictorial inscription almost glows in the describing.
"The ships were laden to the utmost with the most wonderful products of the land of Punt, and with the different precious woods of the divine land, and with heaps of resin and incense, with ebony, ivory figures set in pure gold from the land of Amu, with sweet woods, Khesit-wood, with Ahem-incense, holy resin, and paint for the eyes, with dog-headed apes, long-tailed monkeys and greyhounds, with leopard skins, and with natives of the country, together with their children. Never was the like brought to any king (of Egypt) since the world began."
Princes of the country accompanied the Egyptians home. Upon their arrival at Thebes they made their submission to the Queen Hatasu, addressing her as "The Queen of Tamera [the North], the Sun that shines like the disk in the sky," and acknowledging her as their queen, the ruler of Punt.
Thus Queen Hatasu secured this newly-discovered region, with the wealth of its most valuable productions. She immediately dedicated the treasures to Amun-Ra, as the originator of the enterprise, and to the goddess Hathor, and instituted a series of festivals in commemoration.
The work on the temple of Amun-Ka was continued, and two obelisks standing before it bore her name in the following lines:
"The woman-king Makara, the gold among kings, has had these constructed as her memorial for her father, Amun-Ra of Thebes, inasmuch as she erected to him two large obelisks of hard granite of the South. Their tops were covered with copper from the best war-tributes of all countries. They are seen an endless number of miles off; it is a flood of shining splendor when the sun rises between the two."
The period of twenty-two years during which this queen had undivided authority was a reign of peace. She may have thought unduly to display her own personality, but she engaged only in undertakings that benefited and enriched the country. The subject-kings of Asia and the South paid the usual tributes, the productions of the soil and the mines, and goods which had been wrought by artistic skill. This state of affairs continued till near the close of her reign.
About this time, however, the world outside of Egypt was in commotion. The deluge of Deukalion was said to have taken place, which overflowed and changed the configuration of Greece. The ruling dynasty of Chaldgea was overthrown by the Arabs, who now became masters of the region of the Lower Euphrates; all the countries from Babylon to the Mediterranean were agitated by the commotion. The kings that had been tributary to Egypt now threw off the yoke. The numerous petty principalities of Ruthen, Khalu and Zahi, better known to us as Palestine, Syria, Phoenicia and the country of the Philistines, all the region which Thothmes I. had subjugated, were in open revolt.
Thothmes III., who had from his first year as king been consigned to seclusion like a prisoner of State, now left his retreat in the island of Buto. Queen Ha-tasu, who was declining in years, was no longer able to maintain authority alone and keep him from participation in the government. For a short period the two reigned together as colleagues. A sculptured tablet on a rock at the Waly Ma-gara, on the "holy mountain" of Sinai, exhibits them making offerings together to the guardian divinities, Surpet of the East and Hathor the Queen of Heaven.
Thothmes entertained the purpose of establishing the worship of Amun-Ra on a basis superior to what had formerly been at Thebes, to exhibit the pantheon with that end in view, and to rebuild the temple. He now began by an arranging of the service and the property of the temple. He assigned to its work a retinue of servants, many of whom were foreigners from Ruthen and Khent-hen-nefer. Some of these were children of kings and hostages. He also arranged gardens for flowers and vegetables, and bestowed some eighteen hundred acres of land in different parts of Egypt for its support. Hence it was said of him in eulogy:
"The king did more than his predecessors before him from the beginning, and proved himself a complete master of the Sacred Knowledge."
Whether Queen Hatasu passed peacefully from life or was compelled by her brother to abdicate, monuments do not tell. It is certain that he cherished for her a rancor deep and bitter. The disrespect with which she had treated the memory of Thothmes II. was now returned upon her. Where she had caused the name of her husband to be erased from the monuments and her own substituted, her own was now removed and that of Thothmes III. inscribed. This was done many years afterward, and the fact distinctly stated on a pillar.
The temple of Amun-Ra at Thebes was a structure of brick and much dilapidated; Thothmes laid the corner-stone anew, and caused it to be rebuilt. There was nothing spared to render the work satisfactory. The sacred dwellings of the gods were carved out of single blocks of stone, and in them their statues were placed and also the statues of the kings, his "divine ancestors." When the Khe-sem or sacred inner shrine was completed there were religious processions and general rejoicings.
The coronation of Thothmes as sole monarch of the two Egypts seems to have been celebrated on this occasion. The priests who took part in the ceremony chanted a hymn of thanks to Amun, who had put it into the heart of the king to build his sanctuary, and concluded with this address:
"He gives thee his kingdom. The crown shall be placed on thy head, upon the throne of Horus. The remembrance of thee as king of Egypt shall be lasting. To thee has he given power over the united lands in peace. All nations bow themselves before thee. Thy Holiness is set upon the high throne."
To this the king replied:
"This building which was executed in his temple shall be a memento of my good deeds in his dwelling. I shall be perpetuated in the history of the latest times."
The lords of Egypt there saluted him as sole monarch. His reply was characteristic:
"The always existing — is the city of Thebes.
"The Everlasting One is Amun-Ra, of Thebes.
"Amun is more delighted with me than with all the kings that have existed in this country since it was founded. I am his son, who loves his Holiness; for that is the same as to love my own royal being.
"He has poured strength into me to extend the boundaries of Egypt.
"He has united (sam) the countries (taui) of all the gods in this my home, Thothmes Samti.
"He has granted my coronation in the interior of Thebes."
After speaking further in this vein, he denounced his sister, "I know one who knows not me and who speaks lies," he vehemently declared. "She is monstrous in the sight of men and an enigma to the gods," he says again; "but she was not aware of it, for no one was (friendly to her) except herself."
Undoubtedly he had just cause for this resentment, but he was not free from similar foibles and from the personal vanity which he imputed to her. He never ceased to repeat his utterances, and his inscriptions in the Great Temple record his animosity.
His accession to an undivided sovereignty was followed by a complete change of affairs in Egypt, and of her relations to other countries. If Hatasu had been an Empress Katharine, Thothmes III. was a conquering Tamerlane. His history, in many of its phases, however, exhibits a close analogy to what is related of King David. He possessed indefatigable energy, unlimited ambition, a restless temper, and ample abilities to give these qualities full play. His first care was to seat himself firmly on the throne, after which he set himself immediately to regain the ascendency which Thothmes I. had won in former years. Collecting his army at Tanis, he set out early in March for Gaza, a city which had not revolted from Egypt.
The countries of Western Asia were governed by petty kings, each ruling over a city and its suburbs. They had confederated together for the common defense, and the Amorite king of Kadesh was the chief leader. This league included all the kings from the border of Egypt to Naharaina, or Mesopotamia, the Khananites, the Khitans, Phoenicians and tribes of the Lebanon. Their forces were assembled near Megiddo. After some preliminary parleying, Thothmes marched against them. The battle took place on the sixth of April, according to our calendar. It was a total rout. The enemy fled into Megiddo, which was immediately besieged and soon afterward surrendered. Thirty-four hundred prisoners were taken; and the defeated kings eagerly sought terms of peace. An immense booty was found at Megiddo consisting of slaves, domestic animals, vessels of exquisite Phoenician workmanship, the golden sceptre of the king, rings of gold and silver, (9) staffs, chairs, tables, footstools, precious gems, garments, and the entire harvest of the fields. All were carried away.
Megiddo was the key to Middle Asia, and Thothmes now was able to extend his conquests northward, over Phoenicia, the country of Lebanon, Syria and Mesopotamia. He built a strong fortress near Aradus, to maintain his authority, giving it the name of Men-kheper-Ra Uaf-shena, "Menkhephera or Mephres (the official name of Thothmes), who has subjugated the country of the foreigners." He then returned home.
His arrival at Thebes was celebrated by a grand triumphal procession. The captive princes with their children and thousands of subjects, the immense herds of animals and other booty were sights to exact enthusiastic admiration from the Egyptians for the brave young king. He declared that Amun-Ka, the God of his country, had given him his victories, and he now dedicated the richest of his spoils to that divinity. Three festivities of five days each were instituted in his honor, and the taxes annually collected from the conquered cities were assigned to the maintenance of the temple.
The first campaign of Thothmes against "Upper Ruthen" appears to have been the most important of his military expeditions. It is described most extensively and elaborately. The walls of the Great Temple of Amun-Ka are literally covered with names and pictures representing the nations and towns that he had subjugated. Many of the designations are no longer remembered, but we are familiar with such as Damascus, Berytus, Kadesh, Hamath, Megiddo, Joppa, Sharon, Gibeah, Aphaka and Ashtaroth.
The next act of Thothmes on record was the laying of the corner-stone of the northern wing of the Great Temple. This was a memorial building, and the site had been occupied by the shrine of the god Num, the god of the annual inundation. This was removed to another place, the ground cleared and all made ready for the ceremony. The time was fixed at the new moon, the fifteenth day of January of the twenty-fourth year. The king offered a sacrifice to Amun-Ea, and then proceeded to lay the stone. We are told that there was laid in it a document containing "the names of the great Circle of the Gods of Thebes, the gods and goddesses."
As Thothmes is recorded as having led fourteen expeditions into Palestine, almost at the rate of one in a year, he can hardly have regarded his dominion as firmly established. He pushed his conquests into the region beyond, into the country of the Hittites or Khitans, and as far as Aleppo and into Armenia, and the Assyrian territory. He set up a tablet beside that of his father in the land of Naharaina to commemorate his victory and to signify that Egypt possessed the country. Among the important conquests were the cities of Kar-khemosh and Tyre and the island of Cyprus.
When hostile places surrendered at his summons he was content to exact a light tribute, but an obstinate resistance was punished according to the pleasure of the conqueror by the destruction of the town, the cutting down of the trees, the confiscation of all wealth, including the crops in the fields, the carrying away of hostages and prisoners, and the exacting of heavy tributes. The kings were required to give their sons and brothers as hostages and to send others to Egypt whenever any of these died. In case of the death of a king one of the hostages that he had given was sent home, that he might succeed to the vacant throne.
The captives that were carried into Egypt were so numerous that it would almost seem that an object of the expedition had been for the procuring of them. They were confined for a time in a fortified camp near Thebes, till they could be properly distributed to the mines, quarries and public works. It would appear also that the inhabitants of Egypt that were of alien races were compelled to labor in the same way. A tomb in the necropolis of Thebes contains delineations of these workmen, makers of brick, drawers of water, bearers of burdens, together with the overseers carrying whips to urge them to greater activity. The countenances of the unfortunate men exhibit the characteristic features of the Semitic race, and the story of the Book of Exodus would seem to have been fairly represented. (10)
The inscriptions also record warlike expeditions into Nubia and Abyssinia. They were probably conducted by generals, although imputed to the king himself; and they are described, and doubtless are vastly exaggerated, in order to gratify his vanity. The government of the country had been placed under an Adon named Nahi, who superintended the working of the mines and the collecting of taxes. "I am a distinguished servant of the lord," he says in a tablet; "I fill his house with gold and make his countenance joyful by the products of the land of the South. The recompense for this is a reward for Nahi, 'the king's son (11) and the Governor of the South."
These products consisted of gold, ivory and ebony work. There was indeed an immense revenue obtained by the tribute exacted from the conquered peoples of Africa and Asia. Commerce was also extensive. Caravans brought to Egypt articles of use and luxury from all the East, from Arabia, India, China and the North. The Phoenicians were the traders of the world, both by sea and overland, and their towns and factories were everywhere.
Thothmes was preeminently fond of natural history. The acquisition of two geese from Lebanon and two unknown species of birds delighted him more than all the booty that he had obtained from the expedition. Water-lilies, trees, shrubs of various kinds and rare animals appear in the sculptures, representing the prodducts of foreign countries which had been brought to Egypt. "Here," says the inscription, "here are all sorts of plants and all sorts of flowers, from the land of Ta-neter, (12) which the king discovered when he went to the land of Ruthen to conquer it as his father Amun-Ea commanded him. "They were presented at the temple of the god," as were also "the plants which the king found in the land of Ruthen."
Thothmes III. was likewise an ardent lover of art and architecture. The immense booties and tributes which he collected from the countries which he subjugated were lavishly expended for the building of temples in the principal cities of Egypt, and in the preparing of obelisks, statues and other artistic works.
Directly after his return from his first campaign he began the erection of the famous "Hall of Pillars" the Khu men-nu, a "splendid memorial." He lived to see it finished, with its chambers and corridors in the east and the series of gigantic gateways on the south. It was dedicated to Amun-Ea, but with him were likewise included all the deified rulers of Egypt whom Thothmes regarded as his legitimate predecessors on the throne, and as ancestors of his own family. In one of the Southern chambers is the wall on which is the celebrated inscription known as the "Tablet of the Kings of Karnak."
It will be observed that Thothmes traces his pedigree back to the illustrious monarch Senefru, of the Third Dynasty, and includes in his catalogue Assa, Pepi, the Antefs who preceded the Eleventh Dynasty, the glorious kings of the Twelfth, and some thirty of the Thirteenth. These were acknowledged by priests of Thebes as legitimate sovereigns. This accounts in a great degree for the discrepancy between the lists of Manetho and those of Eratosthenes and the Theban record. Manetho gave the names of the kings that actually reigned, without question as to legitimacy; while the Tablet of Karnak contained only those in which they had received the priestly sanction, although some of them had only been kings nominally rather than in fact.
The piety of Thothmes, however, was further exemplified by his activity elsewhere. The temple of Amun in Medinet-Abu lay in ruins. He reared a new structure of hard stone, taking care to place in the Khesem or inner shrine an inscription declaring that he had erected it as a memorial-building to his father, the god. He rebuilt the temple at Semneh in Nubia to the god Didun (13) or Totun, and his ancestor, Osirtasen III., and commanded that funeral offerings should be made at stated periods to this famous progenitor. In this temple were pictures, one of which represented Isis as embracing Thothmes; the other exhibited him as a god with the goddess Safekh, the "lady of writings," and guardian of the library of the temple. Another magnificent sanctuary was erected in the island of Elephantina to Num, the tutelary divinity of the South. Here was recorded the rising of the star Sothis, on the twentieth of July and first of Epiphi, the New Year's day of Egypt.
Temples were also built by Thothmes in honor of the other guardian deities, of Sebek at Ombos, Num at Esne, of the goddess Nekheb at Eileithyia, of Menthu, the ancient tutelary of Thebes at Her-monthis. He also erected a temple to Ptah at the northern side of the Great Temple at Karnak.
Nor did Thothmes withhold attention from the great religious metropolis of Egypt, Abydos. Here it was fabled that the head of the dismembered Osiris had been buried, and the kings of Egypt, who belonged in the South, from the Eleventh Dynasty till that time, were lavish in contributing to his temple. The priests now petitioned Thothmes to build the structure anew, promising a rich recompense from the god. He hastened to set the most skillful workmen of Egypt at the work; "each one of his temple-artists knew the plan and was skillful in his own cunning." It was the purpose to build an enduring structure, and to "restore in good work the Sublime Mystery which no one can see, no one can explain, for no one knows his form." A lake was dedicated to Osiris, the baris of kheshem-bark, filled with acacia-wood, was borne through the sacred field beside the town, and launched with mystic ceremonies in the stillness of the night.
Gifts were also bestowed on the goddess Dud (or Dido), the mother of the great circle of the gods of Abydos. The king asked in the inscription that his memorials shall be preserved, and he extols his own actions. He taught the priests their duty, he declares; he had accomplished more than all the other kings of Egypt, and the gods were full of delight. He had placed the boundaries of his dominion on the horizon; he had set Egypt at the head of the nations, because the inhabitants were at one with him in the worship of Amim-Ra, the Mystic Sun.
Thothmes also rebuilt the temple of Hathor, "the lady of An," at Dendera, according to the plan originally employed by his ancestor, King Pepi. Nor was Lower Egypt omitted. He erected a temple to Ptah at Memphis, and another to Hormakhu the Sun-god at Heliopolis, and surrounded the temple at Heliopolis with a wall. Priests were assigned and provision made for their support.
The reign of Thothmes, including the period of the supremacy of Queen Hatasu, which he always reckoned with his own, was reckoned at fifty-three years and eleven months. "Then," says the inscription of Amun-em-hib, "on the last day of the month Phamenoth (the 14th of February), when the disk of the sun went down, he flew up to heaven, and the successor of a god became joined to his parent."
Such was the career of the most distinguished king in the history of Egypt. Like David of the Hebrew story, he accomplished a series of extensive conquests and employed the spoils and tributes in providing for the building of temples and the support of offices of religion. Nor does the comparison end with this. The psalms and sacred music for which the Hebrew monarch was famous had been anticipated. Hymns of praise also commemorated the achievements of Thothmes. One of these was found at Karnak, inscribed upon a tall tablet of granite, and corresponds in style and tenor with the effusions of the Hebrew bard of Jerusalem. Thothmes III. had been venerated as a god and the son of god while he lived; and the prayers of worshippers continued to be addressed to him as the guardian of deity of Egypt after he was dead. His name, inscribed on little images, and on stone scarabaei set in rings, was believed to be an infallible safeguard against evil magic arts.
He was personally brave; if his soldiers went into danger he was always with them. The temples which he built contained libraries and schools for the instruction of his people. He was religious, and established the worship of Amun-Ka as supreme above all other gods in Egypt. He was patriotic, and his victorious arms subjected the nations from the Upper Nile to the Euphrates. He was not a Senefru nor an Amunemha who sought chiefly the good of their people; but rather he emulated the glory of Osirtasen the conquerer and Kheops the Builder. If, as so many have imagined, and as many even now profess to believe, the real life of a man is in the remembrance of him after death, then Thothmes III. is certainly immortal. Wherever men love to know of the ancient time, and where they honor the heroic deeds of antiquity, there he is still named with a glow of admiration and even of enthusiasm.
1. Ancient authors writing in the Greek language actually dernominate the priests "basileis" or kings. (return to text)
2. This prince was six feet high and had a well-developed figure. M. Maspero examined his body, finding a dagger wound across the right temple just below the eye; and a blow, probably from a hatchet, mace, or some such blunt instrument, had split the left cheek-bone and broken the lower jaw. Beneath the hair was a long cleft caused by a splinter of the skull having been broken off by a downward stroke from an axe. (return to text)
3. The "country of good servants." Nubian slaves have always been considered superior to others, even to modern times. (return to text)
4. The account is not clearly told. Under Alisphragmuthosis or Misphragmuthosis, it is stated that the shepherds or Shasu were subdued, and shut up at Avaris; and that Thothmes, his son, negotiated with them to evacuate Egypt; after which, in fear of the Assyrians, they settled in Judea and built Jerusalem. The name "Hyksos," it may be remarked, is only used by Manetho. The monuments call them Shasu, or nomads and Amu. Again, in the lists of Manetho, Mephramuthosis is named as a descendant of Thothmes. Doubtless this name was Mei-Phra-Thothmosis or "Thothmes the beloved of Ra," — Thothmes III. (return to text)
5. This seems to be affirmed in the book of Joshua, xxiv, 12. "And I sent the hornet (the refugee Hyksos) before you, which drove them out from before you, even the two kings of Amorites (Sihon and Og); but not with thy sword nor with thy bow." (return to text)
6. Some writers have supposed the Khitans to have been a Mongol or Mongoloid people. Their dress resembled that of the Mongol tribes. The name, Kathay, given to China, is significant, as suggesting their origin. Indeed, in Russian records and literature, China is named Kataia. Whatever they were, they greatly influenced the other population of Western Asia. They coined money, and their priests, when entering a temple, were careful to step or leap over the threshold. See Samuel I., v. 5. (return to text)
7. In the book of Genesis, Abraham affirms of his wife: "She is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife." (return to text)
8. This would seem to imply that the expedition was warlike. (return to text)
9. Rings were anciently used for money. (return to text)
10. See Exodus L, 8-11; ii., 11; v., 4-19. (return to text)
11. This title of "King's son" for viceroys is analogous to that of Ab, or "father," to the chief minister. — Exodus, xlv., 8. (return to text)
12. The "land of God," the "Holy land;" Western Arabia, and especially the peninsula. (return to text)
13. This name seems to resemble closely the Hebrew appellation David. (return to text)