13. History’s First Reliably Recorded Battle Was Fought During the Bronze Age
The Bronze Age’s Battle of Megiddo, which took place in 1457 BC, is the earliest recorded battle for which we have reliable details. It was fought between an Ancient Egyptian army led by Pharaoh Thutmose III, and a coalition of rebellious Canaanite states that sought to free themselves of vassalage to Egypt. The rebellion’s center was the city of Megiddo, an important hub at the southern edge of the Jezreel Valley, astride the main trade route between Mesopotamia and Egypt. Thutmose advanced from Egypt at the head of a strong army to Yaham, en route to the rebel city.
From Yaham, the pharaoh had the choice of three routes: a southern one via Taanach, a northern route via Yoqneam, and a central one via Aruna that would take him straight to Megiddo (see map above). The southern and northern routes were longer, but safer. The central route was quicker but risky: it involved passage through narrow ravines in which an approaching army would have to advance single file. Once an army was in the ravines, an alert enemy could block the entrances and exits and bottle it up. As seen below, Thutmose took that risk and transformed it from a liability to an asset.