Mummy of Thutmose III – Egypt Museum
The mummy of King Thutmose III was moved from its original burial place in tomb (KV34), in the Valley of the Kings, to the Deir el-Bahari Royal Cache (DB320) in his original middle coffin.
The king, who was keen on leaving his own mark on his expanding empire, was extremely active all over Egypt and Nubia.
Mummy of Thutmose III
Photo: Patrick Landmann
Under his guidance, Egypt carried out at least 17 major military expeditions. He also left behind evidence of major building programs, including the “Akh-Menu,” a temple in the precinct of Amun-Re at Karnak in which he carved a king list recording the names of his predecessors.
The mummy is badly damaged by tomb-robbers, probably during the 21st Dynasty (ca. 1069-945 BC). When they moved the royal mummies, they had to use narrow wooden splints to hold the body together. Macroscopic measurement of the body indicated a height of about 1.63 m (5 feet 4¼ inches). His hands were crossed over his chest, in the Osirian position.
During the last years of his life, Thutmose appointed his son Amenhotep II, the son of his second wife, Merytre-Hatshepsut, as coregent. When he died, he was laid to rest in a remote corner of the Valley of the Kings in western Thebes.
Of all the kings of ancient Egypt, Thutmose III is perhaps the one who, for the modern historian, most nearly comes to life. His records, though couched in the boastful and extravagant terms thought befitting a king’s exploits, leave little doubt not only of his ability as a soldier and a statesman but also of his abilities as an athlete and a hunter of lion, wild cattle, and elephant.
From his mummy it is known that he was a small man, not above five feet three inches (1.6 metres) in height. His statues show a youthful, smooth face with a large, high-bridged nose and pleasantly smiling mouth.
Thutmose III flexed his military might repeatedly: in Nubia, in Phoenician ports, in the valuable trade center of Kadesh, and in the kingdom of Mitanni, in modern-day Syria and Turkey. Over the course of 17 campaigns, he secured more territory than any other king.
By the end, he controlled Egypt’s largest ever empire. He fought more battles over a longer period of time and experienced more victories than Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar did.
In addition to his many military accomplishments, art and architecture thrived under Thutmose III’s reign. He commissioned the building of over 50 temples, monuments, and other structures. He provided the greatest contribution of any king to the Temple of Karnak, a temple dedicated to several Egyptian gods.
Interest in the Natural World
Thutmose III was also known for his interest in the natural world; at Karnak, he commissioned the construction of the “botanical garden”, a chamber decorated with images of the exotic flora and fauna he and his troops had encountered in their foreign campaigns. Including his joint reign with Hatshepsut, he ruled for 54 years over a prosperous and powerful Egypt.
Interior of the Tomb of Thutmose III
Legacy and Treasury
The tomb of Thutmose III (KV34) in the Valley of the Kings is remarkable for its decoration, which illustrates the journey of the sun god through the 12 hours of the night in a style that mimics drawing on papyrus. He was originally buried in a cartouche-shaped sarcophagus, which still lies in his burial chamber. However, like many of the other royal mummies, he was eventually taken to the mummy cache at Deir el-Bahari.
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.
Read more: Inside the Tomb of Thutmose III
The spoils from Thutmose III’s military campaigns—including plunder, taxes, and tribute—vastly enriched Egypt’s treasury and made him the richest man in the world at the time. But he also secured human capital from his captured lands.
The sons of conquered rulers were taken to Egypt and educated at court. Acclimated to Egyptian ways, those offspring returned home sympathetic to Egyptian rule.
Unlike one of his later successors, Ramesses II — who exaggerated his military achievements — Thutmose III earned the triumphs recorded on the numerous monuments he built. His annals were inscribed on the sanctuary walls at the great Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak.
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Thutmose III, ca. 1458-1425 BC. Now in the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC), Cairo. CG 61068