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Work Annals of Thutmosis III

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Religious and funerary beliefs

Les Annales de Thoutmosis III

© R.M.N./H. Lewandowski

Egyptian Antiquities
Religious and funerary beliefs

Author(s):
De Cenival Jean-Louis

"His Majesty commanded that there be recorded on a stone wall in the temple he had renovated...the triumphs accorded him by his father, Amun, and the booty he took. And so it was done." This is the beginning of the first horizontal line that stands at the top of the wall inscribed with the annals of Thutmosis III, the principal text of which reads from top to bottom and from right to left.

A wall from the temple of Karnak

It is the gods who grant the pharaoh his victories, it is to them that the fruits of victory are due, and to them the greater part of the booty will be offered. It is in their temples, then, that these matters will be most suitably recorded, and in the greatest detail, for nothing was more important to the Egyptians than the keeping of proper accounts. And so, around 1437 BC, Thutmosis had the story of his campaigns in Syria and Palestine inscribed on the walls of one of the sanctuaries of the great temple of Amun at Karnak. This sanctuary was partially destroyed, but taken together, the inscribed blocks remaining on site and those exhibited here offer the best evidence we have of the foreign policy and the wars of the period.
The narrative is organized by year (hence the name "annals"), and each entry gives the course of the campaign, together with accounts of booty brought back and of the supposedly voluntary tribute paid by Nubia and by various countries of the Near East in recognition of the pharaoh's might.

Thutmosis III and the Egyptian protectorates

Having expelled the Hyksos from Egypt, the first kings of the 18th Dynasty (from 1550 on) invaded Palestine and then Syria. The conquered territories were placed under a protectorate, each of the cities or principalities being forcefully encouraged to recognize the suzerainty of the pharaoh, to accept his protection, to pay a "voluntary" contribution each year, and to tolerate Egyptian interference in its internal affairs. Those so "protected," of course, took advantage of any opportunity to escape these shackles, either by accepting the less costly or more effective protection of another great neighbor (such as Mitanni), or by concluding alliances among themselves that gave them the confidence to refuse to pay. It would then be necessary to bring them back into line by making examples of some of them. This was the situation that Thutmosis faced on the death of Hatshepsut, his aunt and regent. From then on, almost every year, he set off north to wage war.

Campaigns and their booty

In general, campaigns were short, limited to the pillaging of two or three towns, enough to convince the others of the continuing efficacity of Egyptian protection. Sometimes, the situation might be more serious, when facing a substantial coalition or having to undertake a long siege of several months. But the forces in the field and the interests at stake were hardly enormous: Thutmosis returned triumphant from the thirteenth campaign with 50 prisoners, from the ninth with 90, and from the seventh with 492. Booty in gold or silver amounted to 9 kilograms in the fifth campaign, 4.5 kilograms and 14 kilograms in the ninth campaign. The tribute paid as a consequence of these ventures was obviously more significant. (One notes, for example, the 136 kilograms of silver delivered by Syria after the fourteenth campaign and the 90 kilograms of gold after the seventh.)
It isn't much compared with the treasures found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, but the trickle-down effects of these revenues and the constant contact with more sophisticated material cultures were enough to bring about substantial changes in the way of life of the most privileged strata of the Egyptian population.

Bibliography

G. Andreu, M. H. Rutschowscaya, C. Ziegler, L'Egypte au Louvre, Hachette, Paris, 1997, p. 109-110, 252, notice 45.

Technical description

  • Les Annales de Thoutmosis III

    Nouvel Empire, 18ème dynastie, règne de Thoutmosis III, vers1479 - 1425 avant J.-C.Les annales du Louvre concernent l'an 29 à 35

    Temple d'Amon à Karnak, Louxor

  • Grès sculpté en bas-relief

    H. : 4,77 m. ; L. : 5 m. ; Pr. : 0,20 m.

  • Achat, 1826 , 1826

    C 51 (N 205)

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    The temple
    Room 12

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