4 – Ahmose I (1539-1514? BC)
Ahmose I was probably only 10 years of age when he became Pharaoh. Despite his tender age, Ahmose was to become one of the great rulers of Egypt. During his reign, Ahmose drove the Hyksos from the Delta region, restored the rule of Thebes over the entire nation and expanded his empire by retaking former Egyptian territories in Canaan and Nubia. He also founded the 18th Dynasty.
Soon after taking the throne, Ahmose fought the Hyksos and destroyed their allies in Middle Egypt. After capturing the traditional capital, Memphis, Ahmose attacked the Hyksos capital, Avaris. He was successful in sea and land attacks but had to go north to suppress an uprising. He achieved this, returned to Avaris, captured it, chased the Hyksos to modern day Palestine and defeated them after a three-year siege.
Rather than marching further into Palestine, he advanced into Nubia and benefitted from the gold mines he found there. With secure borders, Ahmose established an administration he could trust and rewarded loyal soldiers and supporters with gifts of land. The next step was to reopen the copper mines in Sinai and resume trade with cities located on the coast of Syria.
Ahmose was not just a supreme military commander; he also found the time to support the arts and a variety of stunning structures were built during his reign. However, his building program probably only began after the Hyksos were defeated which means it wouldn’t have lasted more than seven years. As a consequence, much of the work started during his reign would have concluded during the era of his successor, Amenhotep I.
Although the quality of craftsmanship doesn’t equal that of the Old or Middle Kingdoms, the material used was of superior quality to the Second Intermediate Period. Glass making probably began during Ahmose’s reign and the Pharaoh also built various temples to gods in Upper Egypt. His pyramid in Abydos was discovered in 1899, but it is possible that he was initially buried in the Dra Abu el-Naga area before being moved to Deir al-Bahari to protect him from tomb robbers.
5 – Thutmose III (1479-1425 BC)
Also known as the Napoleon of Egypt, Thutmose III was the sixth Pharaoh of the legendary 18th Dynasty and created the biggest empire in the nation’s history to that point. He became Pharaoh at the age of two so his stepmother and Aunt Hatshepsut was his co-ruler for 22 years until her death. As well as being an accomplished warrior, Thutmose was one of the great military leaders of the ancient world. Over the course of an estimated 17 campaigns, it is reputed that he never lost a battle.
Hatshepsut ruled Egypt according to her wishes during Thutmose’s formative years. He was taught all necessary military skills such as archery and horsemanship. He once boasted that none of his followers were his equal in terms of marksmanship and physical strength. While the early years of his reign were far from being a disaster, Egypt did lose influence in Palestine and Syria. This was due to the inaction of Hatshepsut who was reluctant to send armies into battle.
This era of passivity ended once Thutmose became sole monarch. To be fair, it seems as if his hand was forced because the king of Kadesh helped form a powerful coalition against Egypt in the 22nd year of Thutmose’s reign. At this point, the queen died, so Thutmose had to face the crisis alone. He responded like the great leader he was to become by leading his army into battle against the enemy. After an eight-month siege, he took Megiddo and launched further successful campaigns. Ports along the Phoenician coast were turned into supply bases, and various other cities were taken.
After a decade in power, Thutmose launched a daring attack on the kingdom of Mitanni. Once again, he emerged victorious but did not march any further. Upon his return to Thebes, Thutmose was content to consolidate his kingdom which he did by allowing conquered peoples to rule their own territories as vassals of Egypt. A number of fortresses were built along the coast with garrisons placed at key points. Thutmose was even successful in subduing Nubian tribes by giving them employment in the gold mines.
He was content to enjoy the fruits of his labor in the final decade or so of his reign. His architects created some remarkable structures including the Temple of Amon and beautiful obelisks. In approximately 1427 BC or two years before he died, Thutmose appointed his son Amenhotep II as co-regent. Upon his death, he was buried in the famous Valley of the Kings.