The XVIII dynasty marked a great turning point in ancient Egyptian history, the New Kingdom was really new, especially politically, Egypt was not only the Due Terre but it started an expansionist policy towards both south and north.
The internal stability achieved by the pharaoh Ahmose reconfirmed and strengthened by his successor Amenhotep I, is such that the new pharaoh, Tuthmosis I, already thinks of extending his territory to the detriment of neighboring countries.
Tuthmosis I is less famous than other sovereigns of Egypt but he is one of the most important pharaohs because with him the country came to have the widest borders and because he was the father of a stupendous girl whose destiny will lead her to be the first true pharaoh woman, Hatshepsut. Without heirs Amenhotep I chose a man of noble extraction, the descendant of a collateral branch of the dynasty, a great general of the Pharaoh’s army. Tuthmosis I was the son of a court lady named Seniseneb, who is only mentioned as “Mother of the King”, while there is no news of her father.
The name of Horo who adopts “Toro Vittorioso” immediately underlines its military character which will be typical of the Egyptian royalty of this period. Tuthmosis I married the half-sister of Amenhotep I, Princess Ahmes, who is identified as “Sister of the King”. Of this union I like to quote the romantic story by Alessandra Grimaldi, (quoted in Fonti), which describes with superb tenderness what might have been the reality:
<< ……. were Ahmes and Tuthmosis I, the pharaoh in the flesh, to love each other ……… All his, (of Hatshepsut), nights, in those months, had been full of thoughts, often beautiful …….. that, a night of sighs for the Great Royal Bride in the throes of excitement ………. Ahmos stroked her lush belly, panted with anticipation, perceived the passage of time, the approach of light ….. …… In a room of a noble and sumptuous palace, the affection and love of two human beings enveloped, together with the heat of the sun, another small human being. His name, which praised royalty and nobility, made it already unique. Hatshepsut was born …….. >>.
From the secondary wife Mutnefret, Tuthmosis I had a male child who was named Thutmose II, he will succeed him at his death. The sovereign had many other children but among all, he always preferred his daughter Hatshepsut, a girl of good presence, adventurous, since his youth he followed his father in his travels, especially in the Delta where Tuthmosis I presented her like a queen.
Of him, we know the news of the first military enterprises that have come to us, as for his predecessors from the tomb inscriptions of the two generals who served in the army, Ahmes son of Abana and Ahmes Pennekhebet. One of Tuthmosis I’s first ventures was to quell the riots that broke out in Nubia.
In memory of the enterprise he had a stele engraved, found near Tombos, where, in addition to the description of the battles, the defeated peoples are listed (simple local tribes): “those with braids”, “those (with cheeks) scarified”, “The Nehesyu with a burnt face”, “those with skin”, “those with frizzy hair”.
To put an end once and for all to the rebelliousness of the Nubian tribes, he went with his army to the fifth cataract, up to El Kenisa staring there the southern border place. In this place, he had some inscriptions engraved to prove how far no Egyptian ruler had ever come.
He then arranged to divide Nubia into five districts which he entrusted to local leaders loyal to him. Later Tuthmosis I headed north, his military campaign led him to the conquest of Karkemish until the reign of Mitanni, which was later conquered by Tuthmosis III.
Some scholars maintain that it reached the Euphrates which defined the “great river turned backward” because, it flowed from north to south, in the opposite direction to that of the Nile. There Tuthmosis I placed a border stele which was later found by Tuthmosis III fifty years later.
However, according to other scholars, the king never reached the Euphrates but only to the river that separates Syria from Lebanon, today’s Nahr el-Kebir. It seems that he must be attributed to the constitution of the first chosen body of troops mounted on war chariots.
Tuthmosis I was not only a great warrior but also a great builder, he built monuments in various regions from Elephantine to Menfi where he owned a royal palace. For the glory of Amon, he enlarged the sanctuary of Karnak, built in the Middle Kingdom, surrounding it with a wall then adorned with the majestic fifth pillar.
Before this he had the fourth pylon erected, making a space between the two that took the name of Wadjiyt, the “Hall of the Coronation”. In front of the fourth pylon he raised two obelisks, (today there is only one more), 23 meters high with a weight of 143 tons, second only to that of Hatshepsut 30 meters high and 200 tons heavy.
It was Tuthmosis I who inaugurated the necropolis known as the “Valley of the Kings”, his tomb, the work of the royal architect Ineni, was, in fact, the first to be excavated in the necropolis.
Contrary to what happened up to then, when the sovereigns had the tombs built so that they were clearly visible and reflected their greatness, with the XVIII dynasty, in an attempt (and in hope) to put a stop to the continuous looting which the royal tombs were subjected, these were built so as not to offer visibility. After thirteen years of reign Tuthmosis I died and was initially buried in the tomb KV38, his mummy was locked up in two wooden sarcophagi, one inside the other.
Queen Hatshepsut later transferred the body to the KV20 tomb and placed it in the painted quartzite sarcophagus which she had prepared specifically for herself.
To do this it was necessary to modify the original inscriptions to adapt them to a man, the scrolls with the names of Thutmose I were superimposed on those of Hatshepsut. According to some scholars, there are indications that suggest that since the wooden sarcophagi of Tuthmosis were the longest, it became necessary to thin the walls of the stone sarcophagus to let them enter.
With great veneration and filial piety, he had the outer right side of the sarcophagus carved: “She, (Hatshepsut), made it her monument for her beloved father, the perfect god, lord of the Two Lands, king of the High and of the Lower Egypt Aakheperkara son of Ra, Thutmose, the justified “.
It is not known why Thutmosis III then moved the mummy back to the original tomb. The magnificent sarcophagus remained in the KV20 and was found in 1905, today it is located at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Even the tomb of Tuthmosis I, although it was the first to be built so as not to offer visibility, was sacked already in antiquity and the mummy of Tuthmosis I, undamaged, like those of many other pharaohs, was hidden in the cachette of Deir el-Bahari, tomb DB320 where it was found.
By: Piero Cargnino
Sources and bibliography:
Cimmino, Franco, “Dictionary of Pharaonic dynasties”, Bompiani, Milan 2003
Gardiner Alan, “The Egyptian civilization”, Oxford University Press 1961 Einaudi, Turin 1997
Salima Ikram, “Ancient Egypt”, Ananke 2013
Alessandra Grimaldi, “Hatshepsut the daughter of the Sun”, ed. L’Asino d’Oro, 2016
Regine Schulz, Matthias Seidel, “Egypt: the land of the pharaohs”, Gribaudo / Könemann, 2004
Maurizio Damiano, “Encyclopedic dictionary of ancient Egypt and of the Nubian civilizations”, Mondadori 1996)