Thutmose III (c.1479-1425 BC) spent the first twen-ty-two years of his reign in the shadow of his dom-inant co-ruler, the female pharaoh Hatshepsut. Immediately after her death he embarked on a series of campaigns designed to strengthen Egypt’s eastern influence. In so doing he was following the example set by his grandfather, general Thutmose I, who had marched his troops eastwards to the banks of the Euphrates River. At least sixteen seasonal campaigns would follow over the next twenty years.
The details of these campaigns, the Annals were recorded in daybooks by scribes who travelled with the army to witness events first-hand. Later, when the empire was secure, they were copied onto the walls of the Karnak temple of Amun. As Thutmose himself explains:
“His Majesty ordered that the great victories, granted to him by the grace of the god Amun, be recorded within the temple that he had built for his father Amun. The inscription was to record every campaign, and to give details of the booty and tribute recovered from the foreign lands.”
This writing has an immediacy and a believable realism which other, more formally composed texts, lack. By Egyptian standards, and particularly when compared to the exaggerated battle stories told by Ramesses II, these are surprisingly modest compositions.