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Thutmose III's Battle of Megiddo Inscription

Thutmose III's Battle of Megiddo Inscription

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The Battle of Megiddo (c. 1457 BCE) is one of the most famous military engagements in history in which Thutmose III (1458-1425 BCE) of Egypt defeated the coalition of subject regions led in rebellion by the kings of Kadesh and Megiddo. The battle itself was a decisive victory for Egypt and the seven- or eight-month siege which followed reduced the power of the subject kings, gave Thutmose III control of northern Canaan (from which he launched his campaigns into Mesopotamia), and elevated the Egyptian king's status to legend.

Thutmose III was the son of Thutmose II (1492-1479 BCE) by a lesser wife named Iset. Thutmose II's great royal wife was Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BCE), who was appointed regent to the young Thutmose III upon the death of his father. Hatshepsut, however, broke with the tradition which insisted on a male pharaoh and assumed the position herself.

Thutmose III grew up at court and received extensive military training as was expected for a prince in the period of the New Kingdom of Egypt (c. 1570 - c. 1069 BCE), the age of empire. When Hatshepsut died, Thutmose III came to power, and believing him to be weak and inexperienced, the king of the Syrian city of Kadesh incited a rebellion in the Egyptian province of Canaan which quickly gained support from other regions hoping to cast off Egyptian rule. This coalition assembled at the city of Megiddo.

Tjaneni's account so pleased Thutmose III that he had portions of it inscribed on the walls of the great Temple of Amun at Karnak.

In c. April of 1457 BCE, Thutmose III marched his army from Thebes to Megiddo in northern Canaan (northern Israel in the present day), prudently chose to approach the city by a narrow pass from the town of Aruna – instead of the wider and easier routes to the city – and surprised his enemies by entering the Qina Valley behind their defensive positions and driving them from the field. The entire campaign could have been ended that day, had the Egyptian army not halted their pursuit of survivors to collect treasures and trophies from the field; Thutmose III had to lay siege to the city to take it.

Thutmose III's commander and military scribe Tjaneni (also given as Thanuny, c. 1455 BCE) naturally accompanied his king on the campaign to put down the revolt and kept a journal detailing the engagement. Tjaneni's account so pleased Thutmose III that he had portions of it inscribed on the walls of the great Temple of Amun at Karnak and, to lesser extents, elsewhere. Tjaneni's report is among the most detailed of any campaign in Egypt's history including that of Ramesses II's famous account of The Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE.

Tjaneni begins by explaining why the inscription is to be found engraved on the temple's walls. He then proceeds to detail the campaign and the reasons for it. The 'wretched enemy' mentioned periodically is the king of Kadesh who initiated the rebellion and organized the forces against Egypt but at some points is used to designate all who had joined the rebellion. Following the Battle of Megiddo, Thutmose III would subjugate and punish all who participated, conquering not only Kadesh but all of Syria and the lands of the Mitanni in Mesopotamia, among others.

The following translation is by James B. Pritchard from his work Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (1955), reprinted in The Ancient Near East, Volume I: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures also by Pritchard. Some passages have been omitted here for brevity or because they are incomplete or unclear. At points, a passage will be summarized in parentheses for clarity and to maintain narrative form. Brackets are used to clarify dates, expressions, or certain locations:

His majesty commanded that the victories which his father Amun had given to him should be established upon a monument in the temple which his majest had made for his father Amun, in order to set down each individual campaign together with the booty which his majesty carried off from it and the dues of every foreign country which his father Ra had given to him.

Year 22, 4th month of the second season, day 25 [possibly 16 April 1457 BCE]. His majesty passed the fortress of Sile [on the Egyptian frontier] on the first campaign of victory which his majesty made to extend the frontiers of Egypt, in valor, in victory, in power, and in justification. Now this was a long time in years…while every man was tributary before Egypt. But it happened in later times that the garrison which was there was in the town of Sharuhen while from Iursa to the outer ends of the earth [from southern Canaan to northern Syria] had become rebellious against his majesty.

(The army marched at a rate of 150 miles in 10 days to reach Gaza where they rested. They then moved on to the town of Yehem near Aruna where Thutmose III called a council of his commanders. There were three ways the army could travel to Megiddo: a narrow path where the troops would have to march single-file, a road to the south, and another to the north both of which were wider and would allow for an easier movement of the army. Thutmose III had decided on the narrow road from Aruna; his generals wanted to go by either of the two other easier routes).

His majesty ordered a conference with his victorious army, speaking as follows:

"That wretched enemy of Kadesh has come and has entered into Megiddo. He there at this very moment. He has gathered to him the princes of every foreign country which had been loyal to Egypt, as well as those as far as Naharin and Mitanni, them of Hurru, them of Kode, their horses, their armies, and their people, for he says – so it is reported - 'I shall wait here in Megiddo to fight against his majesty'. Will you tell me what is in your hearts?"

They said in the presence of his majesty: "What is it like to go on this road which becomes so narrow? It is reported that the foe is there, waiting on the outside, while they are becoming more numerous. Will not horse have to go after horse and the army and the people similarly? Will the vanguard of us be fighting while the rear guard is waiting here in Aruna unable to fight? Now, two other roads are here. One of the roads – behold, it is to the east of us, so that it comes out at Taanach. The other – behold, it is to the north side of Djefti, and we will come out to the north of Megiddo. Let our victorious lord proceed on the one of them which is satisfactory to his heart but do not make us go on that difficult road!"

Then messages were brought in about that wretched enemy and discussion was continued of that problem on which they had previously spoken. That which was said in the majesty of the Court – life, prosperity, health [a common blessing regarding pharaoh. Thutmose III spoke to the assembly:]

"I swear, as Ra loves me, as my father Amun favors me, as my nostrils are rejuvenated with life and satisfaction, my majesty shall proceed upon this Aruna road! Let him of you who wishes go upon these roads of which you speak and let him of you who wishes come in the following of my majesty! 'Behold', they will say, these enemies whom Ra abominates, 'has his majesty set out on another road because he has become afraid of us?' – So they will speak."

They said in the presence of his majesty:

"May thy father Amun, Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, Presiding over Karnak, act according to thy desire! Behold, we are following they majesty everywhere that thy majesty goes, for a servant will be after his lord."

Then his majesty laid a charge upon the entire army:

"Ye shall hold fast to the stride of your victorious lord on that road which becomes so narrow. Behold, his majesty has taken an oath, saying: 'I will not let my victorious army go forth ahead of my majesty in this place!'"

Now, his majesty had laid it in his heart that he himself should go forth at the head of his army. Every man was made aware of his order of march, horse following horse, while his majesty was at the head of his army.

(The army traveled by the narrow road from Aruna to Megiddo. The men marched in single-file, leading the horses. The chariots were dismantled and carried by the soldiers. Although reports had been received that the enemy would be waiting for them at the end of the narrow road, they found no one there. The coalition expected Thutmose III to take either of the easier paths and were actually waiting for him at the end of those roads.)

Then his majesty issued forth [from the narrow road] at the head of his army which was prepared in many ranks. He had not met a single enemy. Their southern wing was in Taanach while their northern wing was on the south side of the Qina valley. Then his majesty rallied [his troops] saying: "They are fallen! While that wretched enemy [watched for us in the wrong place, we have arrived to surprise them.] May ye give praise to Amun; may he extol the might of his majesty, because his arm is greater than that of any king. It has indeed protected the rear of his majesty's army in Aruna!"

Now while the rear of his majesty's victorious army was still at the town of Aruna, the vanguard had come out into Qina Valley and they filled the mouth of this valley.

Then they [his generals] said to his majesty – life, prosperity, health! – "Behold, his majesty has come forth with his victorious army and they have filled the valley. Let our victorious lord listen to us this time and let our lord guard for us the rear of his army and his people. When the rear of the army comes forth for us into the open, then we shall fight against these foreigners, then we shall not trouble our hearts about the rear of our army."

A halt was made by his majesty outside [of the valley] and he [sat] there guarding the rear of his victorious army. Now the leaders had just finished coming forth on this road when the shadow turned [meaning it was noon, when the sundial had to be repositioned. It took seven hours before the rearguard caught up to the vanguard of the army in the valley]. His majesty reached the south of Megiddo on the bank of the Qina brook when the seventh hour was in its course in the day.

Then a camp was pitched there for his majesty and a charge was laid upon the entire army, saying: "Prepare ye! Make your weapons ready, since one will engage in combat with that wretched enemy in the morning."

Resting in the enclosure of life, prosperity, and health [in the royal pavilion] the pharaoh provided for the officials, issuing rations to the retinue, posting the sentries of the army, saying to them: "Be steadfast, be steadfast! Be vigilant, be vigilant!" Awakening in life in the tent of life, prosperity, and health [he met with his messengers]. They came to tell his majesty: "The desert is well and the garrisons of the south and north also!"

His majesty set forth in a chariot of fine gold, adorned with his accoutrements of combat, like Horus, the Mighty of Arm, a lord of action like Montu, the Theban, while his father Amun made strong his arms. The southern wing of his majesty's army was at a hill south of the Qina brook and the northern wing was to the northwest of Megiddo, while his majesty was in their center. Amun being the protection of his person in the melee and the strength of Set pervading his members.

Thereupon his majesty prevailed over them at the head of his army. Then they [the enemy] saw his majesty prevailing over them, and they fled headlong to Megiddo with faces of fear. They abandoned their horses and their chariots of gold and silver so that someone might draw them up into this town by hoisting on their garments. Now, the people had shut this town against them but they let down garments to hoist them up into this town. Now, if only his majesty's army had not given up their hearts to capturing the possessions of the enemy, they would have captured Megiddo at this time, while the wretched enemy of Kadesh and the wretched enemy of this town were being dragged up hastily to get them into their town, for fear of his majesty entered their bodies and their arms were weak for his serpent-diadem had overpowered them.

Then their horses and their chariots of gold and silver were captured as easy as prey. Ranks of them were lying stretched out on their backs like fish in the bight of a net while his majesty's victorious army counted up their possessions. Now there was captured that wretched enemy's tent which was worked with silver.

Then the entire army rejoiced and gave praise to Amun because of the victory which he had given to his son on this day. They lauded his majesty and extolled his victories. Then they presented the plunder which they had taken: hands [hands cut off as spoils of war], living prisoners, horses, and chariots of fold and silver and of painted work.

Then his majesty commanded his army with these words:

"Capture ye effectively, my victorious army! Behold, all foreign countries have been put in this town by the command of Ra on this day, inasmuch as every prince of every northern country is shut up within it for the capturing of Megiddo is the capturing of a thousand towns! Capture ye firmly, Firmly!"

Orders were issued to the commanders of the troops to provide for their divisions and to inform each man of his place. They measured this city, which was corralled with a moat and enclosed with fresh timbers of all their pleasant trees, while his majesty himself was in a fortress east of this town, being watchful. He ordered the town enclosed with a girdled wall. Its name was called "Men-kheper-Ra-is-the Corraller-of-the-Asiatics." People were appointed as sentries at the enclosure of his majesty and they were told: "Be steadfast, be steadfast! Be vigilant, be vigilant!" Not one of them was permitted to go outside from behind this wall except to come out at a knock on the door of their fortress [by an Egyptian].

Now everything which his majesty did to this town and to that wretched enemy and his wretched army is set down by the individual day by the individual expedition and by the individual troop commanders. They are set down on a roll of leather in the Temple of Amun today.

Now the princes of this foreign country came on their bellies to kiss the ground to the glory of his majesty and to beg breath for their nostrils because his arm was so great, because the prowess of Amun was so great over every foreign country, all the princes whom the prowess of his majesty carried off, bearing their tribute of silver, gold, lapis lazuli, and turquoise, and carrying grain, wine, and large and small cattle for the army of his majesty, with one gang of them bearing tribute southward. Then his majesty appointed princes anew for every town.

List of the booty which his majesty's army carried off from the town of Megiddo:

340 living prisoners and 83 hands, 2,041 horses, 191 foals, 6 stallions; 1 chariot worked with gold with a body of gold belonging to that enemy, 1 fine chariot worked with gold belonging to the prince of Megiddo, and 892 chariots of his wretched army – total: 924. 1 fine bronze coat of mail belonging to that enemy, 1 fine bronze coat of mail belonging to the prince of Megiddo, and 200 leather coats of mail belonging to his wretched army; 502 bows, and 7 poles of meru-wood worked with silver of the tent of that enemy.

Now the army of his majesty carried off cattle of 387, 1,929 cows, 2,000 goats, and 20,500 sheep. List of what was carried off afterward by the king from the household goods of that enemy who was in Uanoam, Nuges, and Herenkeru [of northern Syria] together with the property of those towns which had made themselves subject to him: 38 [officers] belonging to the enemy, 84 children of that enemy and of the princes who were with him, 5 [officers] belonging to them and 1,796 male and female slaves as well as their children and 103 pardoned persons who had come out from that enemy because of hunger – total: 2,503 – apart from bowls of costly stone and gold, various vessels (100), a large jar in Syrian work, jars, bowls, plates, various drinking vessels, large kettles, 17 knives – making 1,784 deben [the Egyptian monetary unit], gold in discs found in the process of being worked, as well as abundant silver in discs – 966 deben and 1 kidet, a silver statue with a head of gold, 3 walking sticks with human heads, 6 carrying chairs of that enemy of ivory, ebony, and carob-wood, 1 bed belonging to that enemy of carob-wood worked with gold and with every kind of costly stone, completely worked in gold, a statue of that enemy which was there of ebony worked with gold, its head of lapis lazuli, bronze vessels and much clothing of that enemy.

Now the fields were made into arable plots and assigned to inspectors of the palace in order to reap their harvest. List of the harvest which his majesty carried off from the Megiddo acres: 207,300 plus sacks of what apart from what was cut as forage by his majesty's army.

Which fortress east of Ancient Megiddo did Thutmose III go to during the siege?

After the ancient Battle of Megiddo, the rebels fell back to the city of Megiddo and the Egyptian army was victorious. The Egyptian army besieged the city of Megiddo by building a moat and a wooden palisade around the city.

The texts say that Thutmose III was in a fortress east of Megiddo and he gave orders to his army to not allow any of the rebels to get out of the city unless they were going to announce that they are surrendering.

Here is what is confusing me:

Where is this fortress that is east of Megiddo? was it just a small fortress that was near Megiddo but was abandoned by the rebels? Or was it, as some Historians say, Jerusalem?

Breasted did not give explanations regarding this because one third of the line was lacking (Breasted - Ancient Records of Egypt Vol. II, Eighteenth Dynasty, page 214)

Many other historians, like Breasted, either did not explain this part at all or they just said that information was lacking.

But (and this is the more confusing part) other historians say that the "fortress east of this city" means Jerusalem! And they explain that the name of the city at the time was Qadesh and it had peaceful relationships with the Egyptians (Like these couple of pages here Just search for "his majesty himself was in a fortress east of this town" and you will find the pages I am talking about)

Thutmose III at The Battle of Megiddo

The ancient site of Megiddo was the scene of a number of battles in antiquity and is best known as the source of the word armageddon, the Greek rendering of the Hebrew Har-Megiddo ('Mount of Megiddo') from the biblical Book of Revelation 16:16. Revelation 16:16 is the only use of the word in the Bible and designates the site of the final battle between the forces of the Christian god and those of his adversary Satan. Megiddo, however, is mentioned at least 12 times in the Hebrew scriptures (the Christian Old Testament) concerning a number of military conflicts between the Israelites and various opponents.


The Egyptian empire was initiated by Ahmose I (c.1570-1544 BCE) whose victory over the Hyksos of Lower Egypt marks the beginning of the period known as the New Kingdom of Egypt (c. 1570 - c. 1069 BCE), and every pharaoh who succeeded him maintained or enlarged the boundaries. Thutmose III, however, would go further than any others. In 20 years, he led 17 successful military campaigns, recorded on the walls of the Temple of Amun at Karnak but the most detailed account is of his first, and most famous, at Megiddo.

Background to the Battle

Thutmose III was the son and successor of Thutmose II (1492-1479 BCE), but when his father died, he was only three years old and so his step-mother, Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BCE), held the throne as regent. Soon after assuming this position, however, Hatshepsut broke with tradition and assumed power. Thutmose III spent his youth at the court of Thebes, in military training, and pursuing the kind of education expected for a prince of the New Kingdom.


After her first few years as pharaoh, Hatshepsut organized no major military campaigns but kept her forces at peak efficiency and, when he proved able, promoted Thutmose III to commander of her forces. She was one of the most powerful, resourceful, and efficient monarchs in Egypt's history and, when she died, left Thutmose III a prosperous country with a well-organized and highly-trained fighting force.

Hatshepsut had maintained the empire steadily throughout her reign, but when she died, the kings of Megiddo and Kadesh rebelled against her successor whom they seem to have believed was weak. It was actually fairly common in the ancient world for subject states to rise against a new ruler in order to take advantage of the transition of power to win their independence. It is possible, in fact, that Hatshepsut anticipated this in that there seems to be some evidence that Thutmose III's first campaign had been commissioned by her this claim is disputed, however. The coalition between the Canaanites of Megiddo and the Syrians of Kadesh attracted others dissatisfied with Egyptian rule, who gathered their forces outside the city of Megiddo in late 1458 or early 1457 BCE.

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The Battle of Megiddo

Thutmose III wasted no time in mobilizing his forces and marching from Thebes toward the city. The army covered 150 miles in 10 days and rested at Gaza before moving on to the town of Yehem where Thutmose III halted to confer with his senior staff. There were three roads they could take from the nearby town of Aruna to reach Megiddo: a narrow pass which would require the army to march in single file and two other broader roads which would enable faster and easier movement. The generals claimed they had intelligence that the enemy was waiting for them at the end of the narrow pass and, further, progress would be slow and difficult with the vanguard reaching the battle site while the rearguard was still on the march.

Thutmose III listened to their council but disagreed with their points. According to the record of the engagement kept by his military scribe Tjaneni, Thutmose III addressed his commanders, saying:


I swear, as Ra loves me, as my father Amun favors me, as my nostrils are rejuvenated with life and satisfaction, my majesty shall proceed upon this Aruna road! Let him of you who wishes go upon these roads of which you speak and let him of you who wishes come in the following of my majesty! 'Behold', they will say, these enemies whom Ra abominates, 'has his majesty set out on another road because he has become afraid of us?' – So they will speak. (Pritchard, 177)

The generals instantly bowed to his decision and then Thutmose III addressed his army. He encouraged them to march swiftly on the narrow road and assured them that he, himself, would lead from the front, saying "I will not let my victorious army go forth ahead of my majesty in this place!" (Pritchard, 177). The chariots and wagons were dismantled and carried and the men led the horses single-file through the pass to emerge in the Qina Valley by Megiddo.

They found no enemy waiting for them, and in fact, the coalition had assumed that Thutmose III would choose either of the easier routes and had troops prepared to defend at both locations. Thutmose III's decision to choose the more difficult path gave him the advantage of the element of surprise. He could not attack at once, however, since the better part of his army was still strung along the Aruna pass. It would take the rearguard over seven hours of marching to catch up with their king.

Thutmose III ordered the troops to rest and refresh themselves near the Qina Brook. Throughout the night, he personally received sentry reports and gave orders for the provisioning of the troops and their placement in battle for the following day. He positioned his army so that the southern wing was on a hill above the Qina Brook and the northern wing was on a rise to the northwest of Megiddo the king would personally command the attack and lead from the center. Tjaneni's account reads:


His majesty set forth in a chariot of fine gold, adorned with his accoutrements of combat, like Horus, the Mighty of Arm, a lord of action like Montu, the Theban, while his father Amun made strong his arms…Thereupon his majesty prevailed over them at the head of his army. Then they [the enemy] saw his majesty prevailing over them and they fled headlong to Megiddo with their faces of fear. They abandoned their horses and their chariots of gold and silver so that someone might draw them up into this town by hoisting on their garments. Now the people had shut this town against them but they let down garments to hoist them up into this town. (Pritchard, 179)

Tjaneni's report notes how, if the army had pursued the fleeing enemy across the field and cut them down in their flight, then the battle would have ended decisively that day. Instead, the soldiers "gave up their hearts to capturing the possessions of the enemy" on the field and allowed their opponents to not only reach the sanctuary of the city but mount defenses (Pritchard, 179). Thutmose III ordered a moat dug around Megiddo and a stockade built around the moat. No one from inside the city was allowed out except to surrender or if called to parley by an Egyptian officer.

The siege lasted at least seven, possibly eight, months before the leaders of the coalition surrendered the city. Thutmose III offered very generous terms, which amounted to a promise from his opponents that they would not raise another rebellion against Egypt none of the ringleaders were executed and the city was left untouched. Thutmose III did strip the ringleaders of their positions and appointed new officials, loyal to Egypt, in their place. He also took their children as hostages back to Egypt to guarantee their good behavior. Although this may sound harsh, the hostages were well cared for and continued to live at the level of comfort they were used to. The children were educated in Egyptian culture and, when they came of age, were sent back to their lands with an appreciation for and loyalty to the Egyptian pharaoh.

Significance of the Battle

The list of loot carried back to Egypt from the campaign, including prisoners of war, slaves, hostages, arms and armor, gold and silver chariots, jewels and precious metals, and livestock, would have been enough to mark it an overwhelming triumph. In addition to putting down the rebellion and enriching Egypt's treasury, however, the victory also gave Thutmose III control over northern Canaan and provided him with a base from which to launch campaigns into Mesopotamia. The great princes of the Mesopotamian cities which had not joined the coalition sent tribute to Egypt of their own accord to win favor with – and hopefully buy protection from - the great warrior-king and champion of The Battle of Megiddo, and his fame became legendary quite quickly.


In the following years, he would conquer Syria and the lands of the Mitanni – both of whom had been involved in the Megiddo uprising - before turning his attention to the southern borders of Egypt to defeat the Nubians and expand Egypt's holdings in that region. As at Megiddo, he always relied on the element of surprise and was never deterred by the difficulties or obstacles to victory. His triumph over the coalition at Megiddo established his reputation early and assured that the success of all his future campaigns was all but certain as the enemy would know in advance they were facing an invincible opponent.

The battle most likely suggested itself to the writer of Revelation in that the description of the forces of Satan and God in the biblical narrative are similar to those of the coalition and of Thutmose III's army in the official inscription of Tjaneni at Karnak. In both, the writers describe the victorious forces of good over the assembled coalition of evil. There can be little doubt that the scribe who wrote the biblical work was acquainted with The Battle of Megiddo since the story of Thutmose III's great victory against the combined forces of his enemies remained well known for centuries afterwards.


Thutmose's two main names transliterate as mn-ḫpr-rˁ ḏḥwty-ms. They are normally realised as Menkheperra Djehutymes, meaning "Eternal are the manifestations of Ra, Born of Thoth". While modern Egyptological pronunciation renders his name as Djehutymes, at the time of his reign his name was probably pronounced as Tahati'missaw. [4]

Thutmose III was the son of Thutmose II by a secondary wife, Iset (or Aset) [5] . [6] His father's great royal wife was Queen Hatshepsut. Her daughter, Neferure, was Thutmose's half-sister.

When Thutmose II died, Thutmose III was too young to rule. Hatshepsut became his regent, soon his co-regent, and shortly thereafter declared herself to be the pharaoh while never denying kingship to Thutmose III. Thutmosis III had little power over the empire while Hatshepsut exercised the formal titulary of kingship. Her rule was quite prosperous and marked by great advancements. When Thutmose III reached a suitable age and demonstrated the capability, she appointed him to head her armies. [ citation needed ]

Thutmose III had several wives:

    : She may have been the mother of his firstborn son, Amenemhat. [7] An alternative theory is that the boy was the son of Neferure. Amenemhat predeceased his father. [2] . Thutmose's successor, the crown prince and future king Amenhotep II, was the son of Merytre-Hatshepsut. [7] Additional children include Menkheperre and daughters named Nebetiunet, Meryetamun (C), Meryetamun (D) and Iset. Merytre-Hatshepsut was the daughter of the divine adoratrice Huy. [2] : she is depicted on a pillar in Thutmose III's tomb. [2] , three foreign wives. [2] : Thutmose III may have married his half-sister, [7] but there is no conclusive evidence for this marriage. It has been suggested that Neferure, instead of Satiah, may have been the mother of Amenemhat. [2]

Thutmose III reigned from 1479 BC to 1425 BC according to the Low Chronology of Ancient Egypt. This has been the conventional Egyptian chronology in academic circles since the 1960s, [8] though in some circles the older dates 1504 BC to 1450 BC are preferred from the High Chronology of Egypt. [9] These dates, just as all the dates of the Eighteenth Dynasty, are open to dispute because of uncertainty about the circumstances surrounding the recording of a Heliacal Rise of Sothis in the reign of Amenhotep I. [10] A papyrus from Amenhotep I's reign records this astronomical observation which theoretically could be used to perfectly correlate the Egyptian chronology with the modern calendar however, to do this the latitude where the observation was taken must also be known. This document has no note of the place of observation, but it can safely be assumed that it was taken in either a Delta city, such as Memphis or Heliopolis, or in Thebes. These two latitudes give dates 25 years apart, the High and Low chronologies, respectively.

The length of Thutmose III's reign is known to the day thanks to information found in the tomb of the military commander Amenemheb-Mahu. [11] Amenemheb-Mahu records Thutmose III's death to his master's 54th regnal year, [12] on the 30th day of the third month of Peret. [13] The day of Thutmose III's accession is known to be I Shemu day four, and astronomical observations can be used to establish the exact dates of the beginning and end of the king's reign (assuming the low chronology) from 28 April 1479 BC to 11 March 1425 BC respectively. [14]

Widely considered a military genius by historians, Thutmose III conducted at least 16 campaigns in 20 years. [15] He was an active expansionist ruler, sometimes called Egypt's greatest conqueror or "the Napoleon of Egypt" by the Egyptologiest James Breasted. [5] [16] He is recorded to have captured 350 cities during his rule and conquered much of the Near East from the Euphrates to Nubia during seventeen known military campaigns. He was the first pharaoh after Thutmose I to cross the Euphrates, doing so during his campaign against Mitanni. His campaign records were transcribed onto the walls of the temple of Amun at Karnak and are now transcribed into Urkunden IV. He is consistently regarded as one of the greatest of Egypt's warrior pharaohs who transformed Egypt into an international superpower by creating an empire that stretched from the Asian regions of southern Syria and Canaan to the east, to Nubia to the south. [17] Whether the Egyptian empire covered even more areas is even less certain. The older Egyptologists, most recently Ed. Meyer, believed that Thutmosis had also subjected the islands of the Aegean Sea. [18] This can no longer be upheld today. A submission of Mesopotamia is unthinkable and whether the tributes of Alashia (Cyprus) were more than occasional gifts remains questionable. [19] In most of his campaigns, his enemies were defeated town by town until being beaten into submission. The preferred tactic was to subdue a much weaker city or state one at a time resulting in surrender of each fraction until complete domination was achieved.

Much is known about Thutmosis "the warrior" not only because of his military achievements, but also because of his royal scribe and army commander, Thanuny, who wrote about his conquests and reign. Thutmose III was able to conquer such a large number of lands because of the revolution and improvement in military weapons. When the Hyksos invaded and took over Egypt with more advanced weapons, such as horse-drawn chariots, the people of Egypt learned to use these weapons. Thutmose III encountered little resistance from neighbouring kingdoms, allowing him to expand his realm of influence easily. His army also carried boats on dry land. These campaigns are inscribed on the inner wall of the great chamber housing the "holy of holies" at the Karnak Temple of Amun. These inscriptions give the most detailed and accurate account of any Egyptian king. [ citation needed ]

First Campaign

When Hatshepsut died on the 10th day of the sixth month of Thutmose III's 21st year, according to information from a single stela from Armant, the king of Kadesh advanced his army to Megiddo. [20] Thutmose III mustered his own army and departed Egypt, passing through the border fortress of Tjaru (Sile) on the 25th day of the eighth month. Thutmose marched his troops through the coastal plain as far as Jamnia, then inland to Yehem, a small city near Megiddo, which he reached in the middle of the ninth month of the same year. [21] The ensuing Battle of Megiddo probably was the largest battle of Thutmose's 17 campaigns. A ridge of mountains jutting inland from Mount Carmel stood between Thutmose and Megiddo and he had three potential routes to take. [22] The northern route and the southern route, both of which went around the mountain, were judged by his council of war to be the safest, but Thutmose, in an act of great bravery (or so he boasts, but such self-praise is normal in Egyptian texts), accused the council of cowardice and took a dangerous route [23] through the Aruna mountain pass, which he alleged was only wide enough for the army to pass "horse after horse and man after man." [21]

Despite the laudatory nature of Thutmose's annals, such a pass does indeed exist, although not as narrow as Thutmose indicates, [24] and taking it was a brilliant strategic move since when his army emerged from the pass they were situated on the plain of Esdraelon, directly between the rear of the Canaanite forces and Megiddo itself. [22] For some reason, the Canaanite forces did not attack him as his army emerged, [23] and his army routed them decisively. [22] The size of the two forces is difficult to determine, but if, as Redford suggests, the amount of time it took to move the army through the pass may be used to determine the size of the Egyptian force, and if the number of sheep and goats captured may be used to determine the size of the Canaanite force, then both armies were around 10,000 men. [25] Most scholars believe that the Egyptian army was more numerous. [ citation needed ] According to Thutmose III's Hall of Annals in the Temple of Amun at Karnak, the battle occurred on "Year 23, I Shemu [day] 21, the exact day of the feast of the new moon", [26] a lunar date. This date corresponds to 9 May 1457 BC based on Thutmose III's accession in 1479 BC. After victory in battle, his troops stopped to plunder the enemy and the enemy was able to escape into Megiddo. [27] Thutmose was forced to besiege the city, but he finally succeeded in conquering it after a siege of seven or eight months (see Battle of Megiddo (15th century BC)). [27]

This campaign drastically changed the political situation in the ancient Near East. By taking Megiddo, Thutmose gained control of all of northern Canaan and the Syrian princes were obligated to send tribute and their own sons as hostages to Egypt. [28] Beyond the Euphrates, the Assyrian, Babylonian and Hittite kings all gave Thutmose gifts, which he alleged to be "tribute" when he recorded it on the walls of Karnak. [29] The only noticeable absence is Mitanni, which would bear the brunt of the following Egyptian campaigns into Western Asia.

Tours of Canaan and Syria

Thutmose's second, third and fourth campaigns appear to have been nothing more than tours of Syria and Canaan to collect tribute. [30] Traditionally, the material directly after the text of the first campaign has been considered to be the second campaign. [31] This text records tribute from the area which the Egyptians called Retjenu (roughly equivalent to Canaan) and it was also at this time that Assyria paid a second "tribute" to Thutmose III. [32] It is probable that these texts come from Thutmose's 40th year or later and thus have nothing to do with the second campaign at all. If so, no records of this campaign have been found. [31] Thutmose's third campaign was not considered significant enough to appear in his otherwise extensive Annals at Karnak. A survey was made of the animals and plants he found in Canaan, which was illustrated on the walls of a special room at Karnak. [33] This survey is dated to Thutmose's 25th year. [34] No record remains of Thutmose's fourth campaign, [35] but at some point a fort was built in lower Lebanon and timber was cut for construction of a processional barque, and this probably fits best during this time frame. [36]

Conquest of Syria

The fifth, sixth and seventh campaigns of Thutmose III were directed against the Phoenician cities in Syria and against Kadesh on the Orontes. In Thutmose's 29th year, he began his fifth campaign, where he first took an unknown city (the name falls in a lacuna) which had been garrisoned by Tunip. [37] He then moved inland and took the city and territory around Ardata [38] the town was pillaged and the wheatfields burned. Unlike previous plundering raids, Thutmose III garrisoned the area known as Djahy, which is probably a reference to southern Syria. [30] This permitted him to ship supplies and troops between Syria and Egypt. Although there is no direct evidence for it, it is for this reason that some have supposed that Thutmose's sixth campaign, in his thirtieth year, commenced with a naval transportation of troops directly to Byblos, bypassing Canaan entirely. [38] After the troops arrived in Syria by whatever means, they proceeded into the Jordan River valley and moved north, pillaging Kadesh's lands. [39] Turning west again, Thutmose took Simyra and quelled a rebellion in Ardata, which apparently had rebelled again. [40] To stop such rebellions, Thutmose began taking hostages from the cities in Syria. The cities in Syria were not guided by the popular sentiment of the people so much as they were by the small number of nobles who were aligned to Mitanni: a king and a small number of foreign Maryannu. Thutmose III found that by taking family members of these key people to Egypt as hostages, he could drastically increase their loyalty to him. [39] Syria rebelled again in Thutmose's 31st year and he returned to Syria for his seventh campaign, took the port city of Ullaza [39] and the smaller Phoenician ports [40] and took more measures to prevent further rebellions. [39] All the excess grain which was produced in Syria was stored in the harbors he had recently conquered and was used for the support of the military and civilian Egyptian presence ruling Syria. [39] This left the cities in Syria desperately impoverished. With their economies in ruins, they had no means of funding a rebellion. [41]

Attack on Mitanni

After Thutmose III had taken control of the Syrian cities, the obvious target for his eighth campaign was the state of Mitanni, a Hurrian country with an Indo-Aryan ruling class. However, to reach Mitanni, he had to cross the Euphrates River. He sailed directly to Byblos [44] and made boats which he took with him over land on what appeared to otherwise be just another tour of Syria, [40] and he proceeded with the usual raiding and pillaging as he moved north through the lands he had already taken. [45] He continued north through the territory belonging to the still unconquered cities of Aleppo and Carchemish and quickly crossed the Euphrates in his boats, taking the Mitannian king entirely by surprise. [45] It appears that Mitanni was not expecting an invasion, so they had no army of any kind ready to defend against Thutmose, although their ships on the Euphrates did try to defend against the Egyptian crossing. [44] Thutmose III then went freely from city to city and pillaged them while the nobles hid in caves, or at least this is the typically propagandistic way Egyptian records chose to record it. During this period of no opposition, Thutmose put up a second stele commemorating his crossing of the Euphrates next to the stele his grandfather, Thutmose I, had put up several decades earlier. A militia was raised to fight the invaders, but it fared very poorly. [45] Thutmose III then returned to Syria by way of Niy, where he records that he engaged in an elephant hunt. [46] He collected tribute from foreign powers and returned to Egypt in victory. [44]

Tours of Syria

Thutmose III returned to Syria for his ninth campaign in his 34th year, but this appears to have been just a raid of the area called Nukhashshe, a region populated by semi-nomadic people. [47] The plunder recorded is minimal, so it was probably just a minor raid. [48] Records from his 10th campaign indicate much more fighting. By Thutmose's 35th year, the king of Mitanni had raised a large army and engaged the Egyptians around Aleppo. As usual for any Egyptian king, Thutmose boasted a total crushing victory, but this statement is suspect due to the very small amount of plunder taken. [49] Thutmose's annals at Karnak indicate he only took a total of 10 prisoners of war. [50] He may have fought the Mitannians to a stalemate, [49] yet he did receive tribute from the Hittites after that campaign, which seems to indicate the outcome of the battle was in Thutmose's favor. [46]

The details about his next two campaigns are unknown. [46] His 11th is presumed to have happened in his 36th regnal year and his 12th is presumed to have happened in his 37th year since his 13th is mentioned at Karnak as happening in his 38th regnal year. [51] Part of the tribute list for his 12th campaign remains immediately before his 13th begins, and the contents recorded, specifically wild game and certain minerals of uncertain identification, might indicate that it took place on the steppe around Nukhashshe, but this remains mere speculation. [52]

In his 13th campaign, Thutmose returned to Nukhashshe for a very minor campaign. [51] His 14th campaign, waged during his 39th year, was against the Shasu. The location of this campaign is impossible to determine since the Shasu were nomads who could have lived anywhere from Lebanon to the Transjordan to Edom. [53] After this campaign, the numbers given by Thutmose's scribes to his campaigns all fall in lacunae, so they can only be counted by date. In his 40th year, tribute was collected from foreign powers, but it is unknown if this was considered a campaign (i.e. if the king went with it or if it was led by an official). [54] Only the tribute list remains from Thutmose's next campaign, [55] and nothing may be deduced about it except that it was probably another raid to the frontiers around Niy. [56] His final Asian campaign is better documented. Sometime before Thutmose's 42nd year, Mitanni apparently began spreading revolt among all the major cities in Syria. Thutmose moved his troops by land up the coastal road and put down rebellions in the Arka plain ("Arkantu" in Thutmose's chronicle) and moved on Tunip. [56] After taking Tunip, his attention turned to Kadesh again. He engaged and destroyed three surrounding Mitannian garrisons and returned to Egypt in victory. [57] His victory in this final campaign was neither complete nor permanent since he did not take Kadesh, [57] and Tunip could not have remained aligned to him for very long, certainly not beyond his own death. [58]

Nubian Campaign

Thutmose's last campaign was waged in his 50th regnal year. He attacked Nubia, but only went so far as the fourth cataract of the Nile. Although no king of Egypt had ever penetrated so far with an army, previous kings' campaigns had spread Egyptian culture that far already, and the earliest Egyptian document found at Gebel Barkal dates from three years before Thutmose's campaign. [40]

Thutmose III was a great builder and constructed over 50 temples, although some of these are now lost and only mentioned in written records. [9] He also commissioned the building of many tombs for nobles, which were made with greater craftsmanship than ever before. His reign was also a period of great stylistic changes in the sculpture, paintings and reliefs associated with construction, much of it beginning during the reign of Hatshepsut.

Artistic developments

Thutmose's architects and artisans showed great continuity with the formal style of previous kings, but several developments set him apart from his predecessors. Although he followed the traditional relief styles for most of his reign, after his 42nd year he began having himself depicted wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt and a šndyt-kilt, an unprecedented style. [59] Architecturally, his use of pillars also was unprecedented. He built Egypt's only known set of heraldic pillars, two large columns standing alone instead of being part of a set supporting the roof. His jubilee hall was also revolutionary and is arguably the earliest known building created in the basilica style. [60] Thutmose's artisans achieved new heights of skill in painting, and tombs from his reign were the earliest to be entirely painted instead of painted reliefs. [59] Although not directly pertaining to his monuments, it appears that Thutmose's artisans had learned glass making skills, developed in the early 18th Dynasty, to create drinking vessels by the core-formed method. [61]


Thutmose dedicated far more attention to Karnak than any other site. In the Iput-isut, the temple proper in the center, he rebuilt the hypostyle hall of his grandfather Thutmose I, dismantled the red chapel of Hatshepsut, built Pylon VI, a shrine for the bark of Amun in its place, and built an antechamber in front of it, the ceiling of which was supported by his heraldic pillars. He built a temenos wall around the central chapel containing smaller chapels, along with workshops and storerooms. East of the main sanctuary, he built a jubilee hall in which to celebrate his Sed festival. The main hall was built in basilica style with rows of pillars supporting the ceiling on each side of the aisle. The central two rows were higher than the others to create windows where the ceiling was split. [60] Two of the smaller rooms in this temple contained the reliefs of the survey of the plants and animals of Canaan which he took in his third campaign. [62]

East of the Iput-Isut, he erected another temple to Aten, where he was depicted as being supported by Amun. [63] It was inside this temple that Thutmose planned on erecting his tekhen waty, or "unique obelisk." [63] The tekhen waty was designed to stand alone instead as part of a pair and is the tallest obelisk ever successfully cut. It was not, however, erected until Thutmose IV raised it [63] 35 years later. [64] It was later moved to Rome by Emperor Constantius II and is now known as the Lateran Obelisk.

In 390 AD, Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius I re-erected another obelisk from the Temple of Karnak in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, now known as the Obelisk of Theodosius. Thus, two obelisks of Tuthmosis III's Karnak temple stand in Papal Rome and in Caesaropapist Constantinople, the two main historical capitals of the Roman Empire.

Thutmose also undertook building projects to the south of the main temple between the sanctuary of Amun and the temple of Mut. Immediately to the south of the main temple, he built the seventh pylon on the north–south road which entered the temple between the fourth and fifth pylons. It was built for use during his jubilee and was covered with scenes of defeated enemies. He set royal colossi on both sides of the pylon and put two more obelisks on the south face in front of the gateway. The eastern obelisk's base remains in place, but the western obelisk was transported to the Hippodrome in Constantinople. [63] Farther south along the road, he put up Pylon VIII, which Hatshepsut had begun. [60] East of the road, he dug a sacred lake of 250 by 400 feet and placed another alabaster bark shrine near it. [60] He commissioned royal artists to depict his extensive collections of fauna and flora in the Botanical garden of Thutmosis III.

Until recently, a general theory has been that after the death of her husband Thutmose II, Hatshepsut 'usurped' the throne from Thutmose III. Although Thutmose III was a co-regent during this time, early historians have speculated that Thutmose III never forgave his stepmother for denying him access to the throne for the first two decades of his reign. [65] However, in recent times this theory has been revised after questions arose as to why Hatshepsut would have allowed a resentful heir to control armies, which it is known she did. This view is supported further by the fact that no strong evidence has been found to show Thutmose III sought to claim the throne. He kept Hatshepsut's religious and administrative leaders. Added to this is the fact that the monuments of Hatshepsut were not damaged until at least 25 years after her death, late in the reign of Thutmose III when he was quite elderly. He was in another coregency, this one with his son, who would become Amenhotep II, who is known to have attempted to identify the works of Hatshepsut as his own. Additionally, Thutmose III's mortuary temple was built directly next to Hatshepsut's, an act that would have been unlikely to occur if Thutmose III bore a grudge against her. [ citation needed ]

After her death, many of Hatshepsut's monuments and depictions were subsequently defaced or destroyed, including those in her famous mortuary temple complex at Deir el-Bahri. Traditionally, these have been interpreted by early modern scholars to be evidence of acts of damnatio memoriae (condemning a person by erasure from recorded existence) by Thutmose III. However, recent research by scholars such as Charles Nims and Peter Dorman has re-examined these erasures and found that the acts of erasure which could be dated only began some time during year 46 or 47 of Thutmose's reign (c. 1433/2 BC). [66] Another often overlooked fact is that Hatshepsut was not the only one who received this treatment. The monuments of her chief steward, Senenmut, who was closely associated with her rule, were similarly defaced where they were found. [67] All of this evidence casts serious doubt upon the popular theory that Thutmose III ordered the destruction in a fit of vengeful rage shortly after his accession. [ citation needed ]

Currently, the purposeful destruction of the memory of Hatshepsut is seen as a measure designed to ensure a smooth succession for the son of Thutmose III, the future Amenhotep II, as opposed to any of the surviving relatives of Hatshepsut who had an equal or better claim to the throne. It also may be likely that this measure could not have been taken until the deaths of powerful religious and administrative officials who had served under both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. [66] Later, Amenhotep II even claimed that he had built the items he defaced. [ citation needed ]

Thutmose's tomb (KV34) was discovered by Victor Loret in 1898 in the Valley of the Kings. It uses a plan which is typical of 18th Dynasty tombs, with a sharp turn at the vestibule preceding the burial chamber. Two stairways and two corridors provide access to the vestibule, which is preceded by a quadrangular shaft or "well". [ citation needed ]

A complete version of Amduat, an important New Kingdom funerary text, is in the vestibule, making it the first tomb where Egyptologists found the complete text. The burial chamber, which is supported by two pillars, is oval-shaped and its ceiling decorated with stars, symbolizing the cave of the deity Sokar. In the middle lies a large red quartzite sarcophagus in the shape of a cartouche. On the two pillars in the middle of the chamber there are passages from the Litanies of Re, a text that celebrates the later sun deity, who is identified with the pharaoh at this time. On the other pillar is a unique image depicting Thutmosis III being suckled by the goddess Isis in the guise of the tree. [ citation needed ]

The wall decorations are executed in a simple "diagrammatic" way, imitating the manner of the cursive script one might expect to see on a funerary papyrus rather than the more typically lavish wall decorations seen on most other royal tomb walls. The colouring is similarly muted, executed in simple black figures accompanied by text on a cream background with highlights in red and pink. The decorations depict the pharaoh aiding the deities in defeating Apep, the serpent of chaos, thereby helping to ensure the daily rebirth of the sun as well as the pharaoh's own resurrection. [68]

According to the American Egyptologist Peter Der Manuelian, a statement in the tomb biography of an official named Amenemheb establishes that Thutmose III died in Year 54, III Peret day 30 of his reign after ruling Egypt for "53 years, 10 months and 26 days" (Urk. 180.15). Thutmose III died one month and four days shy of the start of his 54th regnal year. [69] When the co-regencies with Hatshepsut and Amenhotep II are deducted, he ruled alone as pharaoh for just over 30 of those years.


Thutmose III's mummy was discovered in the Deir el-Bahri Cache above the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in 1881. He was interred along with those of other 18th and 19th Dynasty leaders Ahmose I, Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Ramesses I, Seti I, Ramesses II and Ramesses IX, as well as the 21st Dynasty pharaohs Pinedjem I, Pinedjem II and Siamun.

While it is popularly thought that his mummy originally was unwrapped by Gaston Maspero in 1886, it was in fact first unwrapped by Émile Brugsch, the Egyptologist who supervised the evacuation of the mummies from the Deir el-Bahri Cache in 1881. It was unwrapped soon after its arrival in the Boulak Museum while Maspero was away in France, and the Director General of the Egyptian Antiquities Service ordered the mummy re-wrapped. So when it was "officially" unwrapped by Maspero in 1886, he almost certainly knew it was in relatively poor condition. [70]

The mummy had been damaged extensively in antiquity by tomb robbers and its wrappings subsequently cut into and torn by the Rassul family, who had rediscovered the tomb and its contents only a few years before. [71] Maspero's description of the body provides an idea as to the magnitude of the damage done:

His mummy was not securely hidden away, for towards the close of the 20th dynasty it was torn out of the coffin by robbers, who stripped it and rifled it of the jewels with which it was covered, injuring it in their haste to carry away the spoil. It was subsequently re-interred, and has remained undisturbed until the present day but before re-burial some renovation of the wrappings was necessary, and as portions of the body had become loose, the restorers, in order to give the mummy the necessary firmness, compressed it between four oar-shaped slips of wood, painted white, and placed, three inside the wrappings and one outside, under the bands which confined the winding-sheet. [72]

Of the face, which was undamaged, Maspero says the following:

Happily the face, which had been plastered over with pitch at the time of embalming, did not suffer at all from this rough treatment, and appeared intact when the protecting mask was removed. Its appearance does not answer to our ideal of the conqueror. His statues, though not representing him as a type of manly beauty, yet give him refined, intelligent features, but a comparison with the mummy shows that the artists have idealised their model. The forehead is abnormally low, the eyes deeply sunk, the jaw heavy, the lips thick, and the cheek-bones extremely prominent the whole recalling the physiognomy of Thûtmosis II, though with a greater show of energy. [72]

Maspero was so disheartened at the state of the mummy and the prospect that all of the other mummies were similarly damaged (as it turned out, few were in so poor a state) that he would not unwrap another for several years. [71]

Unlike many other examples from the Deir el-Bahri Cache, the wooden mummiform coffin that contained the body was original to the pharaoh, though any gilding or decoration it might have had had been hacked off in antiquity.

In his examination of the mummy, the anatomist Grafton Elliot Smith stated the height of Thutmose III's mummy to be 1.615m (5 ft. 3.58in.), [73] but the mummy was missing its feet, so Thutmose III was undoubtedly taller than the figure given by Smith. [74] The mummy of Thutmose III resided in the Royal Mummies Hall of the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, catalog number CG 61068, [75] until April 2021 when his mummy was moved to National Museum of Egyptian Civilization along with those of 17 other kings and 4 queens in an event termed the Pharaohs' Golden Parade. [76]

2 Answers 2

Although the Battle of Megiddo is often described as "the first recorded battle of military history", the truth is that we only have the Egyptian account of the battle. Clearly, that account is unlikely to be completely impartial. We cannot know what wasn't recorded, and so we have to speculate about many of the details - particularly as regards the actions of the King of Kadesh and the armies of Megiddo. However, with that caveat in mind .

What do we know about how events transpired?

As you say, Thutmose III took the route that passed through the Aruna Pass. When he emerged at Aruna (the area now called Wadi Ara) with his army, Thutmose could see how King Durusha of Kadesh had arrayed his forces. He had infantry units guarding the roads at Djefti in the north and Taanakh in the south. His chariots were deployed in the centre near the city of Megiddo itself.

Given this deployment, we can infer that Durusha had intended for Thutmose to attack the infantry units when he emerged from either the northern or southern route. The infantry could then feign retreat, and the Egyptians would presumably pursue them. This would split Thutmose's forces and leave them vulnerable to a massed attack by Durusha's chariots.

Whatever King Durusha's plans had been, they were effectively nullified by Thutmose taking the Aruna pass route. The Egyptian forces would have needed to rest after such a long march. Darusha's forces were fresh, but in the wrong place to attack Thutmose. Thutmose established his camp as we know from the record, and his army prepared for battle the following day.

Presumably Durusha spent whatever daylight remained redeploying his forces in preparation for an attack on Thutmose's position the following day.

We know that on the following morning Thutmose found himself facing the Cananite army of Megiddo. This army consisted mainly of men from the upper classes who had trained from a very young age. Most came from warrior families and were held in high esteem. They were well armed, having a sword, spear and shield, and they were highly skilled in using these weapons.

Rather than waiting for Darusha to get all his forces in place, Thutmose launched a pre-emptive attack.

For all their strengths, it seems that the army of Megiddo lacked a unified command structure, and that was probably a major factor in why they broke so quickly under Thutmose's attack.

At this point, the Egyptian army stopped to plunder the Cananite camp. This kind of behaviour was normal in battles in the ancient world. However, this delay in pressing home the attack on Megiddo allowed the town to reorganise its defences, and what could have been a swift victory became a siege which lasted some seven months.

For more detail, see The Battle of Megiddo and its Result, or the sources listed below.

1 - Did the rebels really not leave any garrison behind?

Obviously we can't know for certain, but it seems likely that any garrison left in Megiddo would have been relatively small. King Durusha needed his forces in numbers in the field, ready to attack Thutmose. Any garrison remaining in the town would probably have been far too small to offer any effective resistance to the Egyptian army.

2 - How did the citizens and the people inside Megiddo itself not see the Egyptian army?

They almost certainly did. However, they may not have realised initially that they were seeing the arrival of the main Egyptian army. By the time they realised, it would have been too late, and in any event they would have been ill-equipped to tackle a large Egyptian army.

It is reasonably safe to assume that they sent messengers to King Darusha and his commanders to warn them that Thutmose wasn't where they had expected him to be.

3 - Why did the Egyptians set up camp?

Ancient battles were almost never fought at night. Even moving large forces at night was unusual. The Egyptian army had just endured a long march and would have been tired, while Darusha's forces were fresh, but out of position.

As the inscription states, the Egyptian army could use the time to prepare for the battle the following day, which they did.

Megiddo - First & Last Battlefield

A great battle took place at Megiddo in the 15th century B.C. The Bible book of Revelations tells us that the forces for the last battle between good and evil will gather here. The place called Armageddon in Revelations is Megiddo in the Old Testament. The Canaanites were in control of this area when Joshua came to take this "Land of Milk and Honey" for the Israelites.

This is Tel Megiddo, where 26 layers of fortified cities were found to have been built and destroyed. Across the Jazreel Valley are the Judean Hills. The road across the valley here was the main road from Egypt to the Euphrates River in what is now Iraq. (click on photographs for higher resolution images).

Megiddo is Hebrew for a “gathering place for soldiers.” The Greeks called it Armageddon. The first well-documented battle took place there almost 3,500 years ago. Bible prophecy tells about the last battle between good and evil being fought at Armageddon.

There is nothing like being there! We spent Thanksgiving week 2009 in the land where Bible events took place. We stood on the cliff where the people of Nazareth tried to kill Jesus. From there, we took the road southeast through the beautiful Jezreel valley. This ancient road from Damascus to the Mediterranean Sea down through the Judean hills was called the “Via Maris” (Latin for ”The Way of the Sea”). We traveled the same paths taken by invaders thousands of year age. Egyptians from the south, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Persians and Romans, all fought and controlled passage of this road at different times.

Across the relatively small Jezreel Valley stands Tel Megiddo. A tell is an artificial mound built up over centuries and sometimes thousands of years when a city was built, destroyed, and rebuilt on the rubble of the destruction. Megiddo is mentioned thirteen times in the Bible. Command of this ancient town controlled the most direct passage through the Mount Carmel Mountains to the Sea. Archaeologist have identified between 25 and 30 settlement levels here dating back several thousand of year before the birth of Jesus Christ.

The earliest well-documented battle here was in the 15th century B. C. Even at that early date the city was well fortified with strong walls. A coalition of Canaanite and Mitanni (Syrian) kings declared their independence from Egyptian domination. The king of Kadesh on the Orontes River headed the allied Canaanite kings. Pharaoh Thutmose III (circa 1504-1450 B.C.) marched out to retake the land. It appears that the kings had gathered together and were preparing for an attack. Thutmose III had slightly exaggerated inscriptions erected at Karnak in Egypt: “All the princes of all the northern countries are cooped up within it. The capture of Megiddo is the capture of a thousand towns.” Only the leader managed to escape from Megiddo during a long siege that ensued and he was later captured in his kingdom to the north.

The year was about 1468 B.C., when Thutmose III marched for ten days, with a force of 10,000 to the city of Gaza, which had remained loyal to the Egyptians. From Gaza through the Mount Carmel mountain range, there were three choices. The Pharaoh took “the least most traveled” pass. It was the most direct, but also the most dangerous route through a narrow ravine. The defenders of Megiddo were, for the most part, stationed at the passes to the north and south of the city. Thutmose and his army marched to surround Megiddo with little resistance. A seven-month siege followed until there was no food within the walls.

Each side were said to have had at least 1,000 chariots. The temple carvings at Karnak describe what the Egyptians captured at Megiddo:

(5) “A chariot wrought with gold, it pole of gold, belonging to that foe.”

(6) “A beautiful chariot, wrought with gold belonging to the Chief of Megiddo.”

(7) � chariots of his wretched army.”

(9) “A beautiful suit of bronze armor belonging to that foe.”

(10) “A beautiful suit of bronze armor belonging to the Chief of Megiddo.”

(11) � suits of armor belonging to his wretched army.”

(13) 𔄟 poles of mry wood wrought with silver belonging to the tent of the foe.”

(16) 20,500 white small cattle.

(17) 200 leather coats of armor.

Although monument inscriptions were often exaggerated, we see that a large and prosperous city was located here almost a century and a half before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Another Karnak inscription lists what was “afterwards taken” from Megiddo by the Egyptians: (1) 󈬖 Lords of theirs”

(2) 87 children of that foe and of the chiefs who were with them.”

(4) � male and female slaves with their children, non-combatants who surrendered because of famine with that foe.”

Thutmose III expanded Egyptian territory to its greatest extent. It is recorded that he conquered 350 cities. He had a great army and never lost a battle. For almost a thousand years, battles continued in this fertile valle.

Sid Roth's group at the ruins of Megiddo.

Across the Jazreel Valley and hills is the Jordon River.

The Visitor's Center model of Tel Megiddo

This is a 5,000 year old Canaanite sacrificial altar. Seven steps lead up to the round altar which is about 32 feet in diameter. Animal bones and ashes were found here.

The Battle of Deborah and Barak
Another great battle took place near Megiddo about the year 1125 B.C.

Never underestimate what a couple of girls can get done. Joshua and the Israelites came from slavery in Egypt and conquered many cities in the promised land of milk and honey. The Canaanites in the Jezreel Valley and the fortified city of Megiddo kept the Israelites in the hill country to the east.

Ancient history seems to have been a man’s world, but somehow Deborah became the leader of Egypt. We are not told how she came to that position of power. It was about the year 1,125 before the birth of Jesus Christ. The Lord told Deborah that He would give the Canaanites into her hands. She called on her general Barak to assemble 10,000 fighting men on Mount Tabor.

The Canaanites gathered near the cities of Taanack and Megiddo. They had 900 iron chariots and the Israelites had none. But the Lord won the battle.

And here is the rest of the story from Judges chapter five beginning with verse 20:

20 From the heavens the stars fought,
from their courses they fought against Sisera.

21 The river Kishon swept them away,
the age-old river, the river Kishon.
March on, my soul be strong!

22 Then thundered the horses’ hoofs—
galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds.

23 ‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the LORD.
‘Curse its people bitterly,
because they did not come to help the LORD,
to help the LORD against the mighty.’

24 “Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
most blessed of tent-dwelling women.

25 He asked for water, and she gave him milk
in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.

26 Her hand reached for the tent peg,
her right hand for the workman’s hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.

27 At her feet he sank,
he fell there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell
where he sank, there he fell—dead.

28“Through the window peered Sisera’s mother
behind the lattice she cried out,
‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’

29 The wisest of her ladies answer her
indeed, she keeps saying to herself,

30 ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils:
a girl or two for each man,
colorful garments as plunder for Sisera,
colorful garments embroidered,
highly embroidered garments for my neck—
all this as plunder?’

31 “So may all your enemies perish, O LORD!
But may they who love you be like the sun
when it rises in its strength. Then the land had peace forty years. "

The Kishon River flows northeast near Taanack and Megiddo to the northwest east of the Carmel Mountain range. The Lord sent a flood, which made the iron chariots useless, and the Israelites killed all of Barak’s men, except the leader Sisera. The Bible tells us here that another woman took care of Sisera, who was leading the Canaanites. Here is another verse which tells about Sisera's death:

“Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. "Come," she said, "I will show you the man you're looking for." So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead.” (Judges 4:22 – NIV).

The Bible tells us that there was peace for 40 years after this important battle. That was a true miracle for that time and that part of the world.

King Josiah Fatally Wounded At Megiddo.

Just over 500 years later, another there was another battle near Megiddo. King Josiah started out young. He became king when he was eight years old and reigned for 31 years from 641-609 B.C.

In the spring of 609 B.C., Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt led his large army towards the Euphrates River to aid the Assyrians. They took the best path through Mount Carmel, which made Megiddo such an important and strategic city.

Josiah’s Judean army was there at Megiddo and tried to block the Egyptians. It was a fatal mistake. In 2nd Chronicles 35:21, the Bible tells us “But Necho sent messengers to him saying, ‘What quarrel is there between you and me, o King of Judea? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.” (22) ‘Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Necho had said at God’s command, but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo.’ (23) ‘Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, ‘Take me away, I am badly wounded.’ (24) ‘So they took him out of his chariot, put him in the other chariot he had and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his fathers, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him.”

This old tomb was discovered when a road was cut to the east through the hills near the tel.

Pharaoh on the March

Like many ancient rulers, Thutmose III took personal command of his forces. He gathered an army of between ten and twenty thousand men, consisting of infantry and charioteers, at the border fortress of Tjaru.

This was the heyday of chariot warfare. Horses had not yet been bred strong enough to carry an armed rider, making chariots the only way to move quickly around the battlefield and deliver sudden shock attacks. The recently developed composite bow gave chariot riders a powerful weapon with which to attack infantry before galloping away. Iron weapons, which would eventually lead to the downfall of the chariot aristocracies, had not yet been developed.

At the heart of Pharaoh’s army were the deadliest weapons of their day.

Choosing the most direct but also most dangerous of three available routes, Thutmose took Aruna – the area now called Wadi Ara – with almost no resistance. The Kadeshi army had been sent far to the north and south to block his other routes of advance, and he could now march on Megiddo.

The King of Kadesh, surprised by the Egyptians’ appearance in the center of his defensive line, scrambled to gather his troops on the high ground outside the fortress of Megiddo. Pharaoh gave him little time to prepare.

Hatshepsut as the Biblical Queen of Sheba

Damien F. Mackey

In the early C20th Harold H. Nelson, Professor Henry Breasted’s talented student, wrote a doctoral thesis entitled “The Battle of Megiddo”, in which Nelson painstakingly examined the topographical and tactical aspects associated with Thutmose III’s “first campaign”, whose culmination Breasted believed to have been at the city of Megiddo.

But did what Nelson uncover in this thesis really bear out Breasted’s presumptions?


Professor James Henry Breasted considered the warlike Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh, Thutmose III, to have been “the Napoleon of Egypt” (Ancient Times, I, Ginn and Co., 1914, p. 85). And it is to that pharaoh’s records that we now turn, because they concern Breasted and his reconstruction of the so-called “Battle of Megiddo”.

Thutmose III has been confidently dated according to the ‘Sothic’ scheme of things to the C15th BC. Dr. Eva Danelius (whose research will be the inspiration for much of this present article) gives a brief summary of this astronomical scheme in her ground-breaking article, “Did Thutmose III Despoil the Temple in Jerusalem?” (SIS Review, Vol. II, No. 3, 1977/78, pp. 64-79). She wrote:

The scheme commonly applied is that of a calendar tied to the fixed star called Spdt in Egyptian, Sothis in Greek, and Sirius by the Romans – the English “Dog Star”. The star becomes visible in Egypt about the time when the Nile begins to rise – the most important event for a country the pro­ductivity of whose fields depended on the annual Nile Flood. After having tied the calendar to a fixed star, it became poss­ible, through most complicated mathematical and astronomical observations and operations in combination with Egyptian texts, to secure so-called “astronomically fixed dates” for some pharaohs. In this way the reign of Thutmose III, includ­ing that of Thutmose II and Queen Hatshepsut, was “astronomically fixed” as from May 3, 1501 to March 17, 1447 BC ….

Whilst some historians have come to regard this conventional theory as quite artificial and erroneous, see e.g. my:

The Fall of the Sothic Theory: Egyptian Chronology Revisited

hence yielding badly wrong dates for the likes of both Thutmose III and (to a lesser extent) Shoshenq I, the majority – with so much seemingly weighty scientific argument behind it – are prepared simply to fall into line with the ‘Sothic’ conclusions. And so they would not quibble with the bold conclusion that Thutmose III’s First Campaign, in his 22 nd -23 rd Year, occurred during April/May of 1479 BC.

A record of the pharaoh’s many campaigns, including this first one, have been inscribed upon the wall of the Temple of Amun. Thus, according to http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/annals-thutmosis-iii : “… around 1437 BC, Thutmosis [Thutmose] 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”. At the beginning of the first horizontal line that stands at the top of the wall, one can read the pharaoh’s dedication of this inscription to Amun: “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”. Moreover: “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”.

According to Breasted, the ‘Napoleonic’ pharaoh, in the 22 nd year of his long reign (54 years), embarked upon a military expedition into Syria, in order to fight against a coalition of Syrian princes under the leadership of the “King of Kd-šw”, who had revolted against Egypt. Kd-šw has been identified as the city of Qadesh, or Kadesh.

Pharaoh Thutmose III emerged from this campaign with a great victory and immense spoils from the conquered territories. Dr. Eva Danelius takes up the story, and how Megiddo got into the picture (“Did Thutmose III Despoil the Temple in Jerusalem?”, SIS Review, Vol. II, No. 3, 1977/78, pp. 64-79):

… the greater part of Thutmose’s report is dedicated to the fight for a city My-k-ty (now read Mkty), its siege and final surrender. In their search for a city written this way in hieroglyphs, Egyptologists decided that My-k-ty must be the transcription of the name Megiddo, a city in the Plain of Esdraelon well known from the Old Testament.

According to common consent, Thutmose III was the first pharaoh to conquer Megiddo.

My-k-ty (Mkty) as Megiddo

Apparently we owe the identification of Mkty with Megiddo to the Frenchman, Champollion, who would also fatefully identify the biblical “Shishak king of Egypt” with Shoshenq I of the 22 nd dynasty. Danelius tells of this:

The first Egyptologist who read the inscription was Jean­ François Champollion (1790-1832), the same who only a few years earlier (1822) had succeeded in solving the riddle of Egyptian hieroglyphs. When he came to the name of the town besieged and conquered by the Pharaoh … –Mkty – … he searched in his memory for a Biblical name that might lie behind this transcription. At that time detailed knowledge of the geography of the Holy Land was more or less confined to the Holy places and the pilgrims’ roads which led to them. One of the fortresses whose name was usually known to the average Christian was Megiddo, not only because of its repeated mention in the Old Testament, but maybe also because of its possible connection with the “Armageddon” of Reve­lation (Rev. 16:16).

Champollion’s identification was accepted by Lepsius (1810-1884), who was the first to publish the text, and by all the later Egyptologists who worked on it. Today, nearly 150 years after the first reading, it has almost become an axiom, and is treated as such by all concerned – historians, archaeologists and scholars of ancillary disciplines – a self-­evident truth which needs no scientific investigation.

At the time when the first translations of the Egyptian text were made, the exact site of the Biblical Megiddo was unknown. Nor was a knowledge of it necessary for the interpretation of the text, which was ascribed to a time hun­dreds of years before the Children of Israel entered their Promised Land. ….

Regarding Champollion’s identification of “Shishak” with Shoshenq I, Dr. J. Bimson, in 1986, would turn this right on its head in his article, “Shoshenq and Shishak: A Case of Mistaken Identity” (Chronology and Catastrophism Review, vol. VIII, pp. 36-46). Despite the superficial similarity of the names, the fact is that Shoshenq I (as is generally agreed), never attacked Jerusalem (which “Shishak” most certainly did). Commenting on this, we read in “Unwrapping the Pharaohs” ( https://answersingenesis.org/archaeology/ancient-egypt/the-third-intermediate-period/ ):

Shoshenq does not relate that he invaded Israel or that he conquered Jerusalem. He simply writes a list of cities that he is presenting to the god Amun, and Jerusalem is not among them. ….

If Shoshenq had conquered Jerusalem and taken all the fabulous treasures out of the temple there, he would certainly have made a big deal of it. Some have pointed out that some of the inscription has been damaged and perhaps Jerusalem was mentioned among the damaged section, but Jerusalem would have been the prize and would have been mentioned at the beginning of the inscription, which is still intact. ….

François Champollion was obviously a prodigious talent to whom we owe the first translations of the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. But he was also a pioneer, hence susceptible to some early miscalculations. Might his identification, with Megiddo, of Thutmose III’s Mkty, turn out to be just as shaky as has his Shoshenq I = Shishak?

As far as Breasted was concerned, though, Champollion’s conclusion about Mkty was as if set in stone. Danelius continues, telling of this and of the very poor condition of part of the Egyptian Annals:

A hieroglyphic text, carved into the wall of a famous and much frequented Temple about 3,000 years ago, does not sur­vive undamaged. And this is how Breasted described it when he started working on it around the turn of the century:

“They [the Annals] are in a very bad state of preservation, the upper courses having mostly disappeared, and with them the upper parts of the vertical lines of the inscription.” ….

Detailed information about the length of the various gaps is provided by Sethe, who worked on a critical edition of the Egyptian original during the same years that Breasted worked on its translation into English. Gaps noted by Sethe vary from a few centimetres to more than 1.75 metres! …. In addition, even the signs which remained were sometimes damaged and their reading open to question. Add to this the enormous dif­ficulty of translating an Oriental text into a European lan­guage which differs from it fundamentally in its vocabulary, syntax etc. and its evaluation of events, and it will be under­stood how questionable all these translations actually are. No wonder, therefore, that the more important of these inscrip­tions induced every new generation of Egyptologists to try and produce a more complete rendering of the original.

Another pitfall for the translator is the licence to fill gaps not overly long with words which might have stood there, according to his – very subjective – ideas. Such words might have been taken from similar inscriptions where they have been preserved or the translator/interpreter simply counts the number of missing “groups” and tries to fill the gap as best he can with fitting words of a similar length. Though these inser­tions by the translator have to be put in brackets as a warning to students, it happens only too often, especially when pro­vided by a famous teacher, that in the end they are treated with the same respect as the original.

For Breasted, the identification of the fortress conquered by Thutmose with Biblical Megiddo was a fact not to be doubted. And his interpretation of the – very fragmentary – text was determined by this fact. ….

Following the First Campaign

Now, Dr. Danelius has done some marvellous critical work in her article whilst following the First Campaign of Thutmose III through the eyes of professor Breasted. She will point out some glaring discrepancies along the way, leading to her introduction of Harold Nelson and his doctoral thesis with its own criticisms of the conventional scenario. I take up Danelius’s account, adding my own comments here and there. Let us commence at the beginning:

The story, as told by Breasted, starts in the 22nd year of Pharaoh’s reign, “fourth month of the second season”, when he crossed the boundary of Egypt (Records, § 415). There had been a rebellion against the Pharaoh in the city of Sharuhen, known from the Bible: the city had been allocated to the tribe of Simeon, inside the territory of Judah (Josh. 19:6). Nine days later was “the day of the feast of the king’s coronation”, which meant the beginning of a new year, year 23. He spent it at the city “which the ruler seized”, G3-d3-tw, understood to be Gaza (§ 417) (33). He left Gaza the very next day 16 in power, in triumph, to overthrow that wretched foe, to extend 17 “the boundaries of Egypt, according †[… L.P.H.: conventional representation of brief Egyptian form for “(may he have) life, prosperity, health”, an honorific customarily applied to the Pharaoh. – Ed.] to the command of his father the valiant† 18 that he seize. Year 23, first month of the third season, on the sixteenth day, at the city of Yehem (Y-hm), he ordered [GAP – one word] 19 consultation with his valiant troops … (§§ 418-420)

The attentive reader will have observed that there is no gap in the middle of line 18. Nevertheless, Breasted inserted before the words “at the city of Y-hm” in brackets: “(he arrived)” (§ 419). In his History of Egypt he goes much more into detail: “Marching along the Shephela and through the sea-plain, he crossed the plain of Sharon, turning inland as he did so, and camped on the evening of May 10th (34) at Yehem, a town of uncertain location, some eighty or ninety miles from Gaza, on the southern slopes of the Carmel range.” (pp. 286/7)

Not a word of all this appears in the Egyptian text. All that the text says is that the Pharaoh spent one night at a city which has been identified with Gaza, and that nine days later he held a consultation with his officers at another place of which we know absolutely nothing. All else is guesswork. Its only justification, in the eyes of the translator, lies in the fact that it brings the army to the place where it should be if the location of the city to be conquered, My-k-ty, was in the Valley of Esdraelon. Quod erat demonstrandum.

It is highly worrying when an authority takes it upon himself to ‘improve’ upon an ancient text. I also found similarly in my thesis:

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background

that Assyriologists had done the same in the case of adding the name “Sargon” where they had presumed it ought to have been (Volume One, Ch. 6, p. 137):

Another seemingly compelling evidence in favour of the conventional chronology, but one that has required heavy restoration work by the Assyriologists, is in regard to Sennacherib’s supposed accession. According to the usual interpretation of the eponym for Nashur(a)-bel, (705 BC, conventional dating), known as Eponym Cb6, Sargon was killed and Sennacherib then sat on the throne: ….

The king [against Tabal….] against Ešpai the Kulummaean. [……] The king was killed. The camp of the king of Assyria [was taken……]. On the 12th of Abu, Sennacherib, son [of Sargon, took his seat on the throne].

Tadmor informs us about this passage that: “Winckler and Delitzsch restored: [MU 16 Šarru-ki]n ana Ta-ba-lu [illik]”. That is, these scholars took the liberty of adding Sargon’s name.

Once we know that there has been some tampering with a text, in favour of one’s own preferred conclusion, then we can only wonder what further additions or deletions have occurred?

Danelius now proceeds on to the “war counsel” of the great pharaoh and his generals:

Details of this highly dramatic warcounsel have been pre­served in the following 30 lines of the text, which are given here in Breasted’s translation (beginning at the end of line 19), but without his restorations and additions:-­

… saying as follows: That [GAP] enemy 20 of Kd-šw has come (35) to My-k-ty*he [GAP] 21 at this moment. He has gathered to himself the chiefs of [GAP] countries 22 on the water of Egypt (36), as far as N-h-ry-n [GAP of 23cm.] 23 the H3-rw, the Kdw, their horses, their troops [GAP of ca. 23cm.] 24 thus he speaks, “I have arisen to [LONG GAP] (37) 25 “in My-k-ty Tell ye me [LONG GAP]” 26 “They spoke in the presence of his majesty “How is it to go [GAP] 27 on this road which threatens to be narrow? (38) While they [GAP] 28 say that the enemy is there waiting [LONG GAP] 29 way against a multitude. Will not horse come behind horse [GAP] 30 man likewise? Shall our vanguard be fight­ing while our [GAP: rearguard?] is yet standing yonder 31 in 3-rw-n3 not having fought? (39) There are [GAP] two roads: 33 one road, behold, it [GAP] come forth at 34 T3-3-n3-k3, the other behold, it is to 35 the way north of Df-ty, so that we shall come out to the north (40) of My-k-ty. 36 “Let our victorious lord proceed upon [GAP] he desires [GAP] 37 cause us not to go by a difficult (41) road [GAP]. 38 [ONLY TWO WORDS PRESERVED:] … messengers … design 39 they had uttered, in view of what had been said by (42) the majesty of the Court, L.P.H.:† 40 As Re loves me, as my father Amon favours me, as 1 am rejuve­nated 41 with satisfying life, my majesty will proceed upon the road of 3- 42 rw-n3. Let him who will 44 among you, go upon those 43 roads ye have mentioned, and let him who will 44 among you, come in the following of my majesty. Shall they think among those 45 enemies whom Re detests: ‘Does his majesty proceed upon 46 another road? He begins to be fearful of us,’ so they will think,” 47 They spoke before his majesty: “May thy father Amon [GAP], 48 Behold, we will follow thy majesty everywhere [GAP] go, 49 as a servant is behind his master. (§§ 420-423)

This was indeed an amazing story – Thutmose’s generals rising almost in mutiny against their commander, the Pharaoh, “the Mighty Bull, Living Horus”, as he calls himself in his inscriptions. And, even more astonishing, the Pharaoh seemed to understand their reluctance to enter this road of ill omen: he neither blamed them, nor did he punish them, but left the decision to them. Upon which the officers decided to follow their master.

Breasted identified this defile, the road called “Aruna” in Egyptian records, with the Wadi Ara which connects the Palestine maritime plain with the Valley of Esdraelon (43). It was this identification which aroused my curiosity, and my doubt.

As it turns out, the Wadi Ara is neither etymologically nor topographically appropriate for the dreaded “Aruna” pass of the Egyptian Annals:

If it is true that “the geography of a country determines the course of its wars” (44), the frightful defile, and attempts at its crossing by conquering armies, should have been reported in books of Biblical and/or post-Biblical history. There is no mention of either. Nor has the Wadi Ara pass ever been con­sidered to be secret, or dangerous.

“From the Plain of Sharon to Jordan. This line … ascends by the broad and open valley Wâdy Ârah. crossing the watershed at Ain Ibrahim, which is about 1200 feet above the sea. Thence the road descends, falling some 700 feet in 3 miles to Lejjûn, where it bifurcates . . . This line, which appears to be ancient, is of great importance, being one of the easiest across the country, owing to the open character of Wâdy Ârah.”

This was written years ago, by C. R. Con­der (45), long before a modern highway was laid through.

Conder’s view is shared by later writers: “Most armies coming north over Sharon … ­would cut across the . . . hills by the easy passes which issue on Esdraelon at Megiddo and elsewhere.” – thus, a famous historian and geographer (46).

The last army which actually crossed by this pass on its way from the south was the Egyptian Expeditionary Force under General Allenby, in September 1918. General Wavell evalu­ates the difficulties of the crossing when discussing the oper­ational plan for the final onslaught: “There was no obstacle to rapid movement along either the Plain of Sharon or Plain of Esdraelon. The crux of the ride would be the passage of the mountain belt which divides these two plains … the width of this obstacle is about seven miles. Two routes lead across it from Sharon, of which … the eastern debouches into Esdraelon at Lejjûn or Megiddo … Neither road presents any physical difficulties for a mounted force. On the other hand, either is easy of defence and would be hard to force against opposition”. On September 19th, 1918, a brigade with armoured cars was sent ahead to seize the defile leading to El Lejjûn. It was undefended, and on the following night “the 4 th Cavalry Division passed the Musmus Defile (Wadi Ara pass) during the night, after some delay due to a loss of direction by the leading brigade, and reached the plain at El Lejjûn by dawn. (47)

It is at this point that Danelius introduces into her discussion the somewhat ill-fated yoing scholar, Harold H. Nelson, whose task it was, as Danelius puts it, “to verify a foregone conclusion of Breasted”:

During the same years in which Breasted wrote his reconstruction of the campaign, a German team under Schuhmacher started to excavate at Tell el-Mutesellim. The excavation was led carried out during the years 1903 to 1905. Unfortunately, “At the spot excavated by Schuhmacher, absolutely nothing has been found which could provide any further information” (concerning identification of the mound with that besieged, and conquered by Thutmose III), states the report (48).

Schuhmacher’s excavation was much too limited to permit final judgement. Breasted, quite rightly, refused to give up so easily. He wanted specific proof for his identification, and suggested to one of his students, Harold H. Nelson, that he dedicate his doctoral thesis to the problem. Nelson was not given freedom to look for the frightening defile among the mountains of Palestine: Breasted confined him to a specific region: “This study is confined almost entirely to an effort to interpret the Annals of Thutmose III in the light of the geography of the environs of Megiddo”, explains Nelson in his preface (49). In other words, the “scientific investigation” had to verify a foregone conclusion of Breasted – it was “prove or perish” for the unhappy young man.

For the sensitive reader, the resulting dissertation is a moving testimony of an intelligent and honest young student who tried desperately to harmonise the theory of his venerated teacher with the observations made on the spot, which simply did not fit.

Danelius is not exaggerating here.

The conventional reconstruction of this campaign now begins to get very messy, with the situation on the ground being quite incompatible – ‘simply not fitting’ – with the data recorded in the Annals. The hard road that pharaoh Thutmose III had chosen, that made his officers extremely nervous, cannot be equated with the relatively peaceful and easy one that is the Wadi ‘Ara. Nor are the names etymologically compatible:

Nelson travelled the Wadi ‘Ara pass in 1909, and again in 1912. He described it in detail: “… the road enters the Wadi ‘Ara which is there … flat and open . . . All the way to a quarter of a mile above ‘Ar‘arah the valley is wide and level and cultivated up the slopes on either side … the ascent is so gradual as to be scarcely perceptible and it is possible to drive a carriage as far as the top of the pass.” The road follows an ancient Roman road which descends along a smaller way. “This latter gradually contracts as it proceeds till about half a mile above the mouth of the valley, it reaches its narrowest point, being not more than 10 yards wide. A little further on the road … opening out rapidly to a couple of 100 yards, emerges upon the plain of Lejjûn”. Nelson comes to the conclusion that: “Of course such a road could be easily defended by a comparatively small number of men, but, on the other hand, an invading army could readily keep pos­session of the hills on either hand which are neither steep nor high above the valley … a watcher posted on the hill above Lejjûn could descry an approaching army at least a mile above the mouth of the pass”. (50)

As an afterthought, Nelson warns not to be deceived by the Arabic name (wadi) ‘Ara: “Etymologically, it seems hardly possible to equate (Egyptian) Aruna with (Arab) Ar‘Arah (51).

Neither the physical appearance of the road as described by Nelson, nor its use as an international highway justify its identification with a road described as “inaccessible”, “secret” or “mysterious” in the Egyptian records.

Neither did it make sense tactically speaking:

Nelson’s difficulties did not end here. According to the timetable drawn up by Breasted, the Egyptian army emerged from the pass in the afternoon, set up camp, and spent a quiet night, to go forth to battle the next morning (52) – all this in full view of the army of the Asiatics!

Nelson is unable to understand the behaviour of the Allies, or why they should have “thrown away the advantage afforded by the narrowness of the pass … to strike Thutmose under circumstances so favourable to the success of the Allies. Our meagre sources must leave us forever ignorant of the reasons of the Allies for thus throwing away their greatest chance of victory . . . It is astonishing how little military wisdom the Asiatics seem to have displayed . . . The great opportunity [of successful resistance] they seem deliberately to have neg­lected.” (53).

The theme given to Nelson was “The Battle of Megiddo”, and this became the title of the dissertation. It seemed, how­ever, that there was no battle. “On the actual conflict which took place there is not a vestige of information. To judge from the Annalist’s narrative it would seem that the Asiatics fled without striking a blow … why the Asiatics fled is not plain. They probably mustered a considerable force.” (54) And finally, why was the city not taken by storm? “Just why Thutmose did not make such an attempt at once is hard to sur­mise …” (55).

Habent sua fata libelli – books have their own fate, and Nelson’s was no exception.

Whilst Breasted appeared satisfied with the outcome, Nelson claimed that he “would gladly have re-written the whole manuscript” in retrospect:

Somehow, he managed to satisfy Breasted he passed his examination, and his study was printed before the outbreak of World War I. He immediately returned to Beirut for the cuts of’ the illustrations and maps, when war caught up with him. During the whole of the war he was confined behind the Turk­ish lines in Syria only in the Year 1920 did he manage to sec­ure the material needed.

This unexpected turn of events provided him with the opportunity of discussing his thesis with some British officers who had participated in the conquest of Palestine, 1917/1918. Nelson refers to the outcome of these meetings in the Preface to the 1920 edition of’ his thesis: “Had the University of Chicago regulations governing the publication of theses permitted, I would gladly have re-written the whole manuscript in the light of the recent campaign of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force under Lord Allenby in the same region in which Thut­mose III, nearly 3,500 years earlier, also defeated an enemy advancing from the north towards Egypt”, but “I cannot make use of certain valuable suggestions made by those who cam­paigned in Palestine in 1917-18 …”.

Nelson never rewrote his dissertation. Armed with the pre­cious study, Breasted approached John D. Rockefeller Jr and persuaded him to finance a renewed excavation of Tell el-­Mutesellim for a five-year period. Clarence S. Fisher was to be the director, and he came to Palestine in 1925 to start the preparations for the dig. A comfortable house was built for the members of the expedition, and in 1926 excavation was started, lasting until 1939.

Results, as far as the Thutmose campaign was concerned, were as negative as those of Schuhmacher’s excavation. Con­cerning identification of the mound with the city besieged and conquered by the Pharaoh, the excavators relied only and sol­ely on Nelson’s dissertation: “There can now be no doubt concerning the identification of Tell el-Mutesellim as Megiddo (Armageddon). What little doubt might have remained … was entirely dispersed by Nelson’s translation of and commentary on the account of the Battle of Megiddo given in the annals of Thutmose III, which are recorded on the walls of the temple of Amon at Karnak.” (56)

And so, during the last 50 years, the doctoral dissertation of the young student became the unanswerable proof of the how, when and where of Thutmose III’s First Palestinian Campaign (57) ….

Nelson for his part, however – according to Danelius – “no longer identified himself with his findings” as published in his thesis:

However, there were at least two scholars who had their doubts about the localisation of the event. One was Nelson himself, the other the late P. L. O, Guy, who directed the excavations at Tell el-Mutesellim dur­ing – the years 1927 to 1935.

Harold Nelson, when asked by the Librarian of the Cairo Museum, the late Joseph Leibovitch, for a print for his private library, parted with his last copy of his doctoral thesis. He stressed this fact, adding that he no longer identified himself with his findings as expressed in the study (58).

  1. L. O. Guy was serving as Chief Inspector with the Department of Antiquities of the Mandatory Government of Palestine, when Breasted asked him to accept the leadership of the Megiddo excavation which Fisher had had to give up for health reasons. Guy was a Scotsman who had fought with the British Army in World War I in Europe and in the Middle East. Guy did not share Breasted’s enthusiasm. Time and again Breasted appeared at the Guy’s home in Jerusalem till Guy finally agreed to accept the offer to head the biggest and most richly endowed excavation in Mandatory Palestine (59).

Guy died in 1952. His wife, who had lived with him at Megiddo and shared work on the site, continued working with the Department of Antiquities of the State of Israel. Mrs Guy most willingly answered all my questions. Again and again she stressed the fact that nothing, absolutely nothing, had been found during their nine years of digging which would throw any light on the story of Thutmose’s campaign.

One brief work concerning post-World War II digs at the mound. All of these were small affairs undertaken to clarify special problems. The riddle of the stratification of the layers from the 10th and 9th centuries BC was investigated anew (60), and so “was that of the area around the temples. Among the various soundings carried out in the area, the only ones investigating ruins which could be ascribed to Late Bronze Age I – the time of Thutmose III, according to conventional chronology – were those carried out by a team from the Heb­rew University of Jerusalem, under the direction of the (late) architect I. Dunayevski (61). They led to the conclusion that: “At the end of the Middle Bronze Age, the temple with the wide walls appeared, developing at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age to the temple with two towers at the entrance, a type of temple whose sources, like those of its predecessors, must be sought in the north.” (Emphasis added.) Similarities were observed with the temple at Byblos in LB I, that at Shechem and stratum Ib at Hazor, in LB II.

The report does not mention any Egyptian finds.

A Big Leap in Logic: Gaza to Carmel ridge

Breasted’s reconstruction of the campaign almost seems to spirit the Egyptian army from Gaza all the way north to the Carmel ridge. To discuss this, Danelius returns to the beginning:

Let us stop here and survey the situation. To recapitulate: the one undisputed place reached by the Egyptian army was Gaza. From there on, every “identification” has been pure guesswork. This is especially true for the “identification” of Y-hm, which was supposed to have been near the entrance to Wadi Ara (and identified, eventually, with Jemma, a nearby Arab village). In order to reach this place, the army which had just crossed the Sinai desert would have continued marching for 10 days, covering about 90 English miles (89). So far Breasted, and his followers to this day.

Experience has shown that an army which includes cavalry and chariots drawn by horses cannot progress that quickly in a country where drinking water is in short supply during the dry season, May to November. It seems that neither Breasted nor any of his followers has given any thought to this vital ques­tion, not to mention other problems of logistics. In this respect, the dispatches sent by General Allenby to the Secretary of State for War during the advance of the Forces in the Philistine Plain are a veritable eye-opener. Gaza had fallen on November 7th 1917. Two days later: “By the 9th, the problem became one of supply … the question of water and forage was a very difficult one. Even where water was found in sufficient quantities, it was usually in wells and not on the surface, and consequently … the process of watering a large quantity of animals was slow and difficult,” writes Allenby (90). The very next day, November l0th: “The hot wind is an additional trial, particularly to the cavalry already suffering from water shortage”. (This was near Ashdod, in the Philistine Plain) “Owing to the exhaustion of their horses on account of the lack of water”, two mounted brigades “had to be with­drawn into reserve”, on November 11th.

There is no reason to suppose that nature was kinder to Thutmose’s troops in May, the month with the greatest number of days with the destructive hot wind blowing from the desert, than to the Allied troops in November. Allenby’s advance, too, was considerably slower than that demanded in Breasted’s calendar for the advance of the Pharaoh’s army: the Allied left wing covered only 40 miles in 15 days along the plaint (91), while Breasted suggested 80-90 miles in 10-11 days.

These observations may justify a totally different interpretation of the events during the 10 or 11 days from the day Thutmose left Gaza to the council of war at Y-hm. According to the unanimous understanding of Egyptologists, the text of the Annals leaves no doubt that the entrance into Gaza was a peaceful one. There is no hint of any resistance by the inhabitants. ….

The place named immediately after Gaza is Y-hm. Petrie suggested an identification with the modern Arab village Yemma, south-west of the Carmel ridge, an identification that is “little more than guesswork” according to Nelson (94). [Danelius opted instead for Y-hm as the Egyptian equivalent of Yamnia (Yabne in Hebrew), a port about 40 km north of Gaza: “Today, Yamnia/Yabne lies about 7 km inland from the Mediterranean, from which it is sepa­rated by a broad belt of sand dunes. The plain around it is strewn with the remnants of Bronze Age and Iron Age set­tlements, among them a harbour town at the mouth of a little river which bypasses the city. Needless to say, possession of a harbour would facilitate the problem of supply and help con­siderably in its solution”].

We read above in the Annals the apparent close proximity of T3-3-n3-k3 to My-k-ty: “… behold, it [GAP] come forth at 34 T3-3-n3-k3, the other behold, it is to 35 the way north of Df-ty, so that we shall come out to the north (40) of My-k-ty”.

Now, Taanach and Megiddo are so often associated together in the Bible, e.g. Joshua 12:21: “The king of Taanach The king of Megiddo” Judges 5:19: “At Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo 1 Kings 4:12: “Baana the son of Ahilud [to him pertained] Taanach and Megiddo” and so on.

This combination is, to my mind, one of the strongest points in favour of the conventional reconstruction of Thutmose III’s First Campaign. Indeed, it was a point especially raised by Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky in a letter response to Dr. Danelius as a criticism of her own thesis. However, given the eagerness of the Egyptologists to have the Egyptian army in the Megiddo region, I would like to know how well preserved is this part of the inscription.

If pharaoh Thutmose III did not lay siege to the city of Megiddo, as I must conclude from the above he certainly did not, then to which city does his Mkty actually refer?

Will the Real Shishak Please Stand Up?

So how do we know Shishak and Thutmose III were one and the same person? To be fair, we don’t. But based on the archaeological evidence presently available, we agree with David Down and John Ashton (see Unwrapping the Pharaohs, The Greatest of All the Pharaohs) that Thutmose III is the most likely candidate. The chronological analysis in The New Answers Book 2 details how the placement of Thutmose in this spot is in accord with what we know of biblical, Hittite, Assyrian, and Egyptian chronology. Certainly the matching loot depicted at Karnak strengthens the case. What we do know is that whoever the correct Shishak is, his correct place in history and history’s timeline must match information provided in the Bible and the Bible ’s chronology.

There are other candidates in the running. David Rohl, for instance, in his reconstruction of Egyptian chronology, suggests Ramses II was the biblical Shishak. This Ramses (“the Great”) was another of Egypt’s warrior pharaohs with his share of inscriptions and monuments—including the broken colossus that inspired Shelley’s “Ozymandias” (the poem that inspired my interest in Egyptian history in the first place, incidentally). His treaty with the Hittite Hattusilis III is recorded at Karnak, but we have no way of determining its date. Traditional chronology had assigned Ramses II a date to make him the pharaoh of the Exodus—a position that fails chronologically, archaeologically, biblically, and historically. But Rohl’s reassignment of this Ramses to the time of Rehoboam creates other problems in the effort to align the chronologies of Egypt with the rest of the ancient world. Rohl, an Egyptologist who treats the Bible as reliable history but not an infallible source, has provided a great deal of information and thoughtful analysis in his book, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, yet he wrote (page 144) that this latter part of Egypt’s history still needed additional research and revision.

Isaac Newton not only laid the foundation for much of our scientific understanding but also studied ancient history and biblical chronology. He lacked access to the archaeological discoveries we have today, but he believed the Bible and considered it the standard by which chronological possibilities should be judged. Newton’s work was published posthumously and is now available to us, thanks to the efforts of Larry and Marion Pierce, in Newton’s Revised History of Ancient Kingdoms. Sources for information about ancient Egyptian chronology are fragmentary, and much has been based on a compilation by Manetho, a third century BC Egyptian priest. Newton saw the inconsistencies of Manetho’s work and believed that Herodotus’s interpretation of Egyptian history provided a reliable yardstick. Newton believed Shishak was Sesostris I. Like other warrior pharaohs, Sesostris had campaigned in the Levant, and Herodotus—travelling in the fifth century BC—saw some of his pillars and inscriptions in Syria. Herodotus drew his information about Egypt from the Egyptian priests, and Newton tried to synchronize that information about Egyptian chronology with what was known of Greek history (another chronological quagmire) and, of course, the Bible . Newton constructed an Egyptian timeline that placed Sesostris at the correct time to be Shishak and attack Rehoboam in the tenth century BC. However, archaeological material not yet discovered in Newton’s day strongly suggests Sesostris I belongs about seven centuries earlier and ironically may well have been the pharaoh who employed Joseph.

Notice the most important consideration in trying to determine the identity of Shishak is to determine who ruled Egypt at the time Rehoboam ruled Judah. The Bible is the one completely reliable yardstick. The three candidates mentioned above all made it into consideration because the historians who proposed them found reasons to rebuild Egypt’s chronology and—in the case of both Down and Rohl—found it completely different from the traditional chronologies that have burdened and confused historians, archaeologists, students of the Bible, and even children since the nineteenth century. With each turn of the spade, there is the possibility of discovering additional data to straighten out the Egyptian timeline, but all acceptable possibilities must accord with the Bible. (Interestingly, Rohl constructs much of his revision without reliance on Scripture and still finds traditional views must be revised.)

Hallowed Ground | Megiddo (Armageddon), Israel

M egiddo, in Israel’s Jezreel Valley, is among the most fought-over pieces of ground in history. The world’s great armies have waged 34 known battles across the terrain surrounding the base of Tel Megiddo, the hilltop settlement dating from 7000 bc. It is the site of history’s first re liably recorded battle, when in 1457 bc Egyp tians under Pharaoh Thutmose III defeated a coalition of Canaanite tribes. Many people also believe Megiddo will host history’s last great battle, a climactic clash between the forces of good and evil at the place the New Testament Book of Revelation calls by its Greek name—Armageddon.

Present-day Tel Megiddo (Armageddon) National Park is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Israel. (Itamar Grinberg/Flckr)

In an age when merchants transported almost all trade goods on the backs of camels and horses, Megiddo was strategic terrain in every sense of the term. From its posi tion on the western edge of the Jezreel Valley this high ground dominated the narrow Musmus Pass on the Via Maris, a primary overland trade route in ancient and early medieval times. It linked Egypt with Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) and Mesopotamia’s Fertile Crescent (present- day Iraq). Branches of the fabled Silk and Spice roads ran through the Jezreel along the Via Maris.

Battles since lost to the mists of time were undoubtedly fought there before 1457 bc. Fragmentary inscriptions on ancient Egyptian tombs strongly suggest that in 2350 bc forces under Pharaoh Pepi I defeated Canaanite rebels at the Nose of the Gazelle’s Head, a landmark historians have placed somewhere in the Mount Carmel coastal range, just a few miles northwest of Megiddo.

The Old Testament records five key clashes around Megiddo. In 1285 bc the Israelite prophet Deborah and her military counterpart, Barak, sent Canaanite General Sisera packing in battle near Mount Tabor, 21 miles northeast of Megiddo. Sisera kept running until a turncoat drove a tent peg through his skull. Forty years later a band of 300 Isra elites under the prophet and commander Gideon routed a greatly superior Midianite army at the Hill of Moreh, just east of Megiddo. In 1055 bc Saul, first king of a united Israel, lost the battle, his life, his head and three sons to the Philistines at Mount Gilboa, 20 miles southeast of Megiddo, leaving son-in-law David as king. In 841 bc the Israelite captain Jehu staged a coup against King Joram, piercing his heart with an arrow in a chariot duel just east of Megiddo before having his mother, the infamous Queen Jezebel, thrown from a window to her death in Jezreel. Finally, in 609 bc Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II defeated and killed King Josiah of Judah (opposite, in lead chariot) in battle at Me giddo and turned the southern kingdom into a vassal state.

Tel Megiddo was abandoned in 586 bc, about the time Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II besieged Jerusalem, overran Judah and sent many survivors into the infamous “Babylonian captivity.” But over the subsequent two and a half millennia the fighting has continued on the plain surrounding Megiddo. In ad 67, during the Jewish Revolt against Rome, future emperor Vespasian routed a rebel force at Mount Tabor. In 1182 and again in 1187 Sultan Saladin of Egypt and Syria defeated the Crusaders at Mount Tabor, though in 1183 he cut and ran at Ain Jalut (present- day Ein Harod, Israel), between Megiddo and Mount Gil boa. The Egyptian Mamluks defeated a force of invading Mongols at Ain Jalut in 1260, only to be thrashed them selves four years later by a combined Crusader force of Templers and Hospitallers at Lejjun, a mile east of the Tel Megiddo ruins.

In the modern era Napoléon Bonaparte turned around a French battle against Ottoman Turks at Mount Tabor in 1799, while in 1918 British General Edmund Allenby defeated a mixed force of Ottomans and Germans at Me giddo. Israel fought four distinct battles—two in 1948, one in 1967 and another in 1973—against Arab forces around Megiddo. Present-day Tel Megiddo (Armaged don) National Park [en.parks.org.il/ParksAndReserves/TelMegiddo] encompasses perhaps the most significant archeological site in Israel, where excavations have un earthed more than two-dozen layers of habitation stretching back to the early Bronze Age.

Peace may reign for the time being in Megiddo, but if the final battle between good and evil foretold in the New Testament comes to pass, it may not be confined to the surrounding plain. Since the end of World War II the name Armageddon has become synonymous with a potential global nuclear cataclysm. MH

Watch the video: Pharaoh Thutmose III and the Battle of Megiddo (June 2022).


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