Thutmose II who is believed by Egyptologists to have reigned from c. 1493 to 1479 BC. He was the 18th dynasty’s (c. 1549/1550 to 1292 BC) 4th pharaoh. This was an era in which ancient Egypt rose to the peak of its wealth, military power and diplomatic influence. The 18th Dynasty has also been termed the Thutmosid Dynasty for its four pharaohs named Thutmose.
History has not been kind to Tuthmosis II. But for the premature deaths of his older brothers, he may never have ruled Egypt. Similarly, his wife and half-sister Hatshepsut took power in her own right not long after she had been appointed as regent to Tuthmosis II’s son Tuthmosis III.
Hatshepsut went on to forge a reputation as one of ancient Egypt’s most able and successful pharaohs. Upon Hatshepsut’s death, Thutmose III his son emerged as one of ancient Egypt’s greatest kings, far eclipsing his father.
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Facts About Thutmose II
- Thutmose II’s father was Thutmose I and his wife was Mutnofret a secondary wife
- The name Thutmose translates as “born of Thoth”
- His queen Hatshepsut attempted to claim many of his achievements and monuments as her own hence the actual length of his reign is unclear
- Thutmose II launched two military campaigns to subdue rebellions in the Levant and Nubia and suppressed a group of dissident nomads
- Egyptologists believe Thutmose II was in his early 30’s when he died
- In 1886, Thutmose II’s mummy was found amidst the cache of royal mummies from 18th and 19th Dynasty kings at Deir el-Bahari
- Thutmose II’s mummy had been badly damaged by tomb robbers searching from gold and precious gems concealed in the mummy wrappings.
What’s In A Name?
Thutmose in ancient Egyptian translates as “born of Thoth.” In the ancient Egyptian pantheon of gods, Thoth was the Egyptian deity of wisdom, writing, magic and the moon. He was similarly thought to Ra’s tongue and heart, making Thoth was one of the most powerful of ancient Egypt’s numerous gods.
Thutmose II’s Family Lineage
Thutmose II father was the Pharaoh Thutmose I while his mother was Mutnofret one of Thutmose I’s secondary wives. Thutmose II’s elder brothers, Amenmose and Wadjmose both died prior to inheriting their father’s throne, leaving Thutmose II as the surviving heir.
As was customary at the time within the Egyptian royal family, the eventual Thutmose II married into royalty at a young age. His wife Hatshepsut was the eldest daughter of Thutmose I and Ahmose his Great Queen, making her both Thutmose II’s half-sister as well as his cousin.
Thutmose II and Hatshepsut’s marriage produced Neferure a daughter. Thutmose III was Thutmose II’s son and heir son by Iset, his secondary wife.
Dating Thutmose II’s Rule
Egyptologists are still debating the likely duration of Thutmose II’s rule. Currently, the consensus amongst archaeologists is that Thutmose II reigned over Egypt for a mere 3 to 13 years. Following his death, Thutmose’s Queen and the co-regent with his son, Hatshepsut ordered his name stricken from temple inscriptions and monuments in an attempt to reinforce the legitimacy of her own reign.
Where Hatshepsut removed Thutmose II’s name, she had her own name inscribed in its place. Once Thutmose III succeeded Hatshepsut as Pharaoh, he attempted to restore his father’s cartouche on these monuments and buildings. This patchwork of names created inconsistencies, resulting in Egyptologists only being able to locate his rule anywhere from c. 1493 BC to c. 1479 BC.
Thutmose II’s Construction Projects
A traditional role of the Pharaoh is to sponsor large monumental construction programs. As Hatshepsut erased Thutmose II’s name from numerous monuments, identifying Thutmose II’s building projects is complex. However, several monuments survive on Elephantine Island, in Semna and Kumma.
Karnak’s massive limestone gateway is the biggest monument attributed to Thutmose II’s reign. Thutmose II and Hatshepsut are shown both separately and together in inscriptions carved onto the walls of the gateway to Karnak.
Thutmose II constructed a festival court at Karnak. However, the colossal blocks used for his gateway were ultimately recycled as foundation blocks by Amenhotep III.
Thutmose II’s comparatively short reign limited his accomplishments on the battlefield. His army suppressed Kush’s attempt to rebel against Egyptian rule by dispatching an armed force into Nubia. Thutmose II’s forces similarly put down small-scale uprisings across the Levant region. When nomadic Bedouins contested Egyptian rule in the Sinai Peninsula Thutmose II’s army met and vanquished them. While Thutmose II personally was not a military general, as his son Thutmose III proved himself to be, his assertive policies and support for Egypt’s military garnered him praise for his generals’ victories.
Thutmose II’s Tomb And Mummy
To date, Thutmose II’s tomb has not been discovered, nor has a royal mortuary temple dedicated to him. His mummy was discovered in 1886 amidst a reburied cache of royal mummies from 18th and 19th Dynasty kings at Deir el-Bahari. This cache of reburied royalty contained the mummies of 20 disinterred pharaohs.
The mummy of Thutmose II was badly degraded when in 1886 it was first unwrapped. It appears ancient tomb robbers had badly damaged his mummy in their search for amulets, scarabs and jewellery inset with gold and precious gems.
His left arm was snapped off at the shoulder and his forearm was separated at the elbow joint. His right arm had been off below the elbow. Evidence suggests much of his chest and his abdominal wall had been hacked by an axe. Finally, his right leg had been severed.
Based on a medical exam, it appears Thutmose II was in his early 30’s when he died. His skin had numerous scars and lesions on his skin indicating a possible form of skin disease even the skilled arts of the embalmer could not conceal.
Reflecting On The Past
Rather than carving a glorious individual name in history, Thutmose II in many ways can be seen as a force for continuity between his father Thutmose I, his wife Queen Hatshepsut and his son Thutmose III, some of Egypt’s most successful rulers.
Header Image courtesy: Wmpearlderivative work: JMCC1 [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons