Thutmose I

His name Thutmose, written by the Greeks Thotraosis, means "Thut's child", I have already called attention to its meaning according to its derivation. The victories and wars of this king, who for the first time undertook a campaign in the East as far as the banks of the Euphrates, constitute the principal events of his history so far as the contemporary and later monuments have transmitted them to us.

The inscription we have already noticed from the tomb of the chief of the sailors Aahmes, mentions next a campaign of King Thutmose I. against the country of Khont-Hon-nofer, or “the nearer Hon-nofer” Perhaps I may be allowed on this occasion to offer a few words of explanation.

The lands on the South of Egypt, as well as their inhabitants, were designated in general terms as a mixture of dusky coloured races, known according to their situation, by particular names, which perhaps varied at different epochs. The countries which bordered on Egypt from the first cataract as far as Mount Barkal to the south, bore the general appellation of Ta-khont, or “the land of Khont” the capital of which (with its very celebrated temple of Amon) was Napata, situated at “the holy mountain,” Mount Barkal. The name of Khont-Hon-nofer, as appears to us, comprehended on the other hand, all the countries of the African continent, and included the countries and peoples situated to the West of the Nile as far as the Libyan north coast, while the expression Kush was confined to those regions which we at the present day call the Sudan. On a tract of this enormous extent there lived an almost innumerable mass of tribes, who belonged to an original pure ancient African stock, which we still at this day find in these countries; the black and brown negro races called Nahasi on the monuments. Among these, from the side of the sea, lighter coloured races of Semitic or Kushite origin had thrust themselves, who in the course of ages had settled in the valleys of the mountain districts between the Nile and Red Sea, the so-called An of Ta-Khont, which a later memorial of the time of the Ptolemies calls by the name of the Senti.

In alluding to the situation of these countries and the habitations of these peoples, we have in our works substituted for the Egyptian appellations Ta-Khont and Kush the better known names Nubia and Ethiopia, for Nahasi the term Negro, and for An the term "Kushites". To all these nations the Nile afforded the only great waterway, on which the hosts of the Pharaohs were transported to effect their landings at the harbours, in order to follow the enemy into the interior of their empire.

In spite of all the efforts of the inhabitants in these remote parts of the world, to beard the Egyptian kings and to destroy the monuments of the Pharaohs, so as annihilate all memorial of their tyrants, there are still traces enough left to give us information about the supremacy of the Egyptian kings in these countries. The name of Thutmose I. is not wanting here. The inscriptions on the rocks in the neighbourhood of the waterfalls of Kerman, in sight of Tombos, between the 20th and the 19th degree of latitude, have preserved the remembrance of the great deeds of this king. The longest of them, with the date of the fifteenth day of the month Paophi, of the second year of the reign of this Pharaoh, exalts to heaven the praises of the warlike activity of the first Thutmose, and relates in a long succession the general names of the conquered peoples, who in the south as well as in the north were subjected to his supremacy. The holy letters which are engraved on the stone relate how Thutmose I had taken possession of the throne of Horus, to extend the boundary marks of the Thebais,' how 'in the territory of the Theban quarter of the town called Khefti-nib-s, the inhabitants of the desert (Heru-sha), and the Aaraoo and all foreign nations are obliged to work, how bowed down are the northern people of Khebau-nib, and extinguished are the Agabot (Libyans), how 'now peace is there, since the inhabitants of the southern lands were driven downwards and the northern people were driven upwards, and how they altogether subjected themselves to the king, how the inhabitants of the wiser country hastened to Pharaoh to bow before his throne how he smote the king of An (the Kushites), and the negroes, how the An of Nubia were hewed in pieces and scattered all over their lands, and how their stink filled the valleys Then the inscription continues. The lords of the great king's house have made a frontier watch of his war people, that they might not be over-ridden by the foreign peoples; they have assembled like the panther against the bull. He remains still; he is blinded. Even to the uttermost end of his realm is the king come; he has reached his extreme boundary through his mighty arm. He sought the struggle, but found it not, which might have offered him resistance. He opened the valleys, which had remained unknown to his forefathers, and which had never beheld the wearer of the double crown. His southern boundary mark was at the beginning of this land, the northern boundary at that water where the traveler downwards turns for his upward journey. Never was this the case under any other king Then the inscription concludes with the words: The land in its complete extent lay at the feet of the king.

The office of a governor of the Southern land or of Kush, mention of which is henceforwards more and more frequently made, to which the real king's sons (the so-called king's sons of Kush) laid claim, was mentioned for the first time under the rule of Thutmose I. On the wall of the temple at Semne there is represented an official called Nehi, of the time of Thutmose I, who had won his spurs under Aahmes and Thutmose I. and was raised by the latter king to this new dignity.

And in fact, the riches of Nubia and Ethiopia made it at all times important for the Pharaohs to secure the possession of these countries, and by governors to carry on the administration and to collect the revenues.

In the course of trade, as also in consequence of the never-ending plundering wars, which were undertaken against the obstinate resistance of these dusky races, there floated, coming from the south down stream, richly laden ships freighted with cattle and rare animals, panther skins, ivory, ebony, other costly woods, balsam, and sweet-smelling resin, gold and precious stones, corn, and lastly, negroes in almost countless numbers, to fill the temples and adorn the palaces of Pharaoh. In the mines of the scorching valleys of the country of Wawa there languished prisoners and negro slaves, who out of deep gullies loosened the gold sprinkled stone from the rocks, crushed it in mills, and with unspeakable pains washed out the particles o gold. Egyptian men-at-arms and foreign soldiers under their captains kept close watch, and looked after the complete fulfilling of the day's work. Where now in our day to the traveler from the banks of the river the temples filled with sand, and the towns and fortresses present themselves drearily on the miserable desolate sides of the narrow Nubian valleys, and a wretched people struggle with want and necessity, and is scarcely able to gain from the scanty soil sufficient to maintain themselves and their cattle, and the date palm alone or in groves 6tretches heavenward its proud head as the only representative of the cheerful green tree world and is overtopped in the background by the dark masses of rock of the long broken mountain chain, there, thirty-four centuries ago was presented to the eye of the wanderer a picture of active life.

In the villages, which were placed in the neighborhood of the temple of the country, there dwelt an industrious dusky population, to whom the Egyptian corn stores delivered the sustenance, which the soil of their own home denied them. The service of the temple, and the neighborhood of the Egyptian fortresses and the frontier guards of Pharaoh, gave them profit enough to support themselves and their cattle. The sailor folk, well experienced in the dangerous cataracts of the Upper Nile, exercised their calling in the service of the king's generals and merchants. These also gained the reward of their labor. On feast days the crowd, bent on piety or amusement, flocked to the stone-built houses of the Gods, or to the grottos of the divine ones, and enjoyed themselves in the pomp of “the Holy Fathers” cheerfully performing the duty of carrying on their shoulders, or in their hands, the golden barks with their divine inhabitants, and exhibiting them to the devout inhabitants of the country surrounding the Temple. If Pharaoh reached the Nubian country in his richly-adorned Nile ship, in whose sails of costly byssus the north wind blew with full power during his day journey upwards, and at night brought to his ship in the harbours, there was no end to the wonder and admiration, the joy and the hurras, for on the part of the king and his exalted courtiers there were rich and gracious gifts to the inhabitants. It answered well to the kings to leave behind them generous presents, so that the inhabitants might learn that the Pharaoh was the father and benefactor of his subjects. These dusky-coloured men might well sing that wonderful song of praise to the king which a rock grotto at Silsilis has preserved for us down to the present day, and the literal translation of which is contained in the following lines: "Hail to thee king of Egypt. Sun of the foreign peoples I Thy name is great in the land of Kush, Where thy war cry resounded thro'. The dwellings of men. Great is thy power Thou beneficent ruler. It puts to shame the peoples. The Pharaoh Life, salvation health to him. He is a shining sun".

After Thutmose I, in the first year of his government, had undertaken his campaign by water against Nubia and Kush, and had fixed the boundaries of his empire to the south, and had returned laden with a rich booty to his home in Egypt, it seemed to him that the favourable moment had arrived to send forward his experienced troops to the east, to attack in their own homes the ancient hereditary enemies of the country, the hated inhabitants of Western Asia. The great war of vengeance against Asia now began, which for nearly 500 years was carried on by succeeding Pharaohs with almost uninterrupted good fortune. Before we follow the wars of King Thutmose, it appears fitting carefully to survey the theatre of the coining important campaigns, and to become acquainted with the peoples and cities whose names from this time forward will constantly come under our notice.