Assess the importance of the “warrior pharaoh” image in this period. The image and status of pharaohs within the Middle Kingdom of Egypt had suffered notably due to the plights of the Hyksos during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Dynasties. However, after King Ahmose’s expulsion of the Hyksos and reunification of Egypt, prestige was restored, and the omnipresence of the warrior king emerged. By emphasizing his military achievements and connection to the gods, using his royal regalia and iconography as propaganda, the god-king could protect his kingdom and provide for all its subjects.
The warrior image of New Kingdom pharaohs were reflected in their grand royal regalia and iconography – which acted as a form of propaganda, ahus portraying a divine war warlord was the king’s duty to protect the nation from physical threats, internal and external. To do this, they had to place a great emphasis on their physical capabilities as a warrior. The ‘smasher of heads’ legend had perpetuated from the Middle Kingdom and can be found within the frescoes at Luxor and Karnak – showing the mighty king, towering over his enemies, ready to strike.
The king was always depicted to be much larger than his subjects, which eemphasizedhis superiority and served to intimidate opposers. He was also portrayed to be wearing the feathers of Amun-Ra and the wings of Montu when in battle, as these aesthetics accentuated their warlike and godly proportions. The khperesh (a blue war crown) was adopted into the royal regalia, and was not only worn within battle scenes but whenever a king wanted to intensify his divine warrior image, representing them as manifestations of a god on earth, as evidenced by the reliefs on King Thutmose IV’s war chariot.
The combative image of Egyptian pharaohs was further indoctrinated by their kingly titles: “Mighty In Strength” (Thutmose III), “Great In Strength, Smiter of Asiatics” (Amenhotep III). By advocating the warlike ttransienceof their kingship, New Kingdom pharaohs provided a narrative that would reiterate their warlike presence, and further support their relationship to the gods.
By aligning themselves with the state god ‘Amun-Ra’, pharaohs within Nethe w Kingdom Egypt could further intensify their warlike image, to convey their almighty strength to the Egyptian populace. Pharaohs claimed to be direct descendants of Amun, shown through Hatshepsut’s birth and coronation scenes at Deir El-Bahri, which emphasiseemphasizedvine image, and godly powers. The relationship between Amun and the pharaoh was the measure by which their military successes were determined. Many pharaohs credited their conquests to Amun, and in return provided grandiose buildings and tribute to the god, as evidenced by the gateway built by Thutmose III at Karnak. By emphasizing the vast amounts of tribute paid to the great god, New Kingdom pharaohs could heighten their status as warrior pharaohs.
To ultimately prove themselves as a warrior king, New Kingdom pharaohs had to complete military campaigns that would demonstrate Egypt’s strength as an empire. Pharaohs frequently campaigned in Nubia and the Asiatics, the most notable ones led by Thutmose I and Thutmose III. Many scholars believe that Thutmose I was the true founder of the 18th Dynasty, in that he set an example of the benefits of acquiring an empire, and quashing the dissidents that tried to oppose it. Thutmose I devoted his time to maintaining order throughout the kingdom, which included conquered nations. This is evidenced by Ahmose, son Ebina’sa’s accounts of the campaign in which they traveled along the Nile to “crush the rebellion in the highlands, to suppress the raiding of the desert region”. Thutmose set the example for succeeding kings to follow in his footsteps with his expansion campaigns. A stela erected by Thutmose I, on the Euphrates river in Western Asia, notes his achievements. His campaigns to Nubia and Syria provided the Egyptian empire with immense wealth as Nubia is rich in gold, but also demonstrated his abilities as a military leader, emphasizing his warlike image. Thutmose III demonstrated his military capabilities during his co-rule with his stepmother Hatshepsut, as while extending Egypt’s borders during his military campaigns, she was administering the empire. Thutmose III followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and recorded his successes on the walls of the Temple of Amun at Karnak.
Through the declaration and emphasis of his achievements, Thutmose III was able to demonstrate his warlike qualities, which accentuated his warrior pharaoh image.