The Battle of Megiddo
This battle of Megiddo was fought between Egyptian forces commanded by Pharaoh Thutmose III and a rebellious alliance of Canaanite vassal kingdoms led by the king of Kadesh. The battle of Megiddo is the first fight to be recorded in full. Megiddo also saw the first composite bow and the first body count. The battle’s specifics originate from Egyptian sources, particularly Tjaneni’s hieroglyphic writings on the Hall of Annals in the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak Temple Complex. The fight took place on the 21st day of the first month of the third season of Thutmose III’s reign. According to the Middle Chronology, this was April 16, 1457 BC, although other sources place it in 1482 BC or 1479 BC. The Egyptians routed the Canaanite army, who fled to Megiddo for safety. Their actions caused the long Megiddo Siege. Thutmose III began his reign by restoring Egyptian control in the Levant.
Pharaoh Thutmose III expanded the Egyptian Empire’s long-standing influence in the Levant. He responded promptly to an uprising of local rulers near Kadesh in modern-day Syria after the Egyptian Pharaoh Hatshepsut had ended his regency. As Egyptian buffer provinces along the Hittite border tried to alter their vassalage, Thutmose III dealt with it directly. The Canaanites were associated with the Mitanni and Amurru from the area between the Orontes and the Jordan. The King of Kadesh was the major driver of this uprising. The formidable Kadesh castle guarded him and the city. Megiddo’s King joined the coalition with an equal castle. Megiddo’s strategic location on the southwestern border of the Jezreel Valley, beyond the Mount Carmel range and the Mediterranean, was vital. Megiddo commanded the Via Maris, the primary Egyptian-Mesopotamian trading route.
The Battle Details on the Walls of Amun Temple in Karnak
The details of the battle of Megiddo were meticulously carved on the walls of Karnak. Egyptian mythology has it that, Thutmose assembled a chariot and infantry army of ten to twenty thousand soldiers. “At the same time, the Egyptians assembled their troops, the king of Kadesh invaded Megiddo and stationed his forces at the rivers of Taanach.” From the Mediterranean lowlands into the Valley of Kishon, and from Egypt into Mesopotamia, he anticipated Egyptians by Taanach via Dothaim. The Egyptian army gathered in Tjaru (Sele in Greek) and arrived 10 days later in Gaza. After a day’s respite, it marched 11 days north to Yehem. Thutmose dispatched scouts here. The army had to cross the Carmel mountain range to reach the Jezreel Valley and Megiddo, where the rebel troops had congregated. From Yehem to Megiddo, there were three options. They were both safer but longer routes, via Zefti and Tel Yokneam. On the other hand, the central route via Aruna (current Wadi Ara) was shorter but riskier, since it followed a small canyon. The Egyptians would be cut down piecemeal if the enemy waited at the ravine’s mouth. The army chiefs pleaded with him to choose the easier way. Thutmose III chose the straight route to Megiddo based on scout reports. And although his generals had urged him to take the simpler paths, he chose to go against their advice.
To protect the two most plausible pathways, the King of Kadesh left huge military detachments watching them. Aruna being far behind, Thutmose followed the direct path through Wadi Ara, disregarding the dangers of spreading out his army into the highlands, where leading troops may be ambushed in small mountain passes by enemy forces. Aruna was avoided by Thutmose himself. That left his chariots to deal with any rebel pickets. Surrounded by rebels, Thutmose launched a rapid assault, scattering them and entering uncontested the valley. As a result, the Egyptian army had a free route to Megiddo, with the rebel army’s major troops to the north and south.
Thutmose III Wins the Battle
Thutmose took advantage of the situation. He made up camp at the end of the day but positioned his men close to the enemy throughout the night, and they attacked the next morning. It’s unclear if the King of Kadesh, who was caught off guard, was able to adequately prepare for combat. Even if he did, it was of little use to him. The Egyptian line was organized in a concave shape, consisting of three wings, that threatened both Canaanite sides, despite the fact that his men were on high ground near the citadel. Both the Egyptians and the Canaanites are thought to have possessed 1,000 chariots and 10,000-foot soldiers. From the middle, the Pharaoh led the onslaught. The enemy’s will was broken when their line disintegrated due to a combination of position and numbers, better mobility of their left-wing, and an early, aggressive attack. Those that were close to the city entered it, closing the gates behind them. Egyptian troops began looting the opposing camp. They took 924 chariots and 200 armor outfits during the pillage. Sadly for the Egyptians, the scattered Canaanite soldiers, including the kings of Kadesh and Megiddo, were able to rejoin the defenders within the city during this chaos. Inside, those on the inside dropped tied-together clothes to the soldiers and chariots and dragged them up over the walls. As a result, the chance of capturing the city quickly after the fight was lost. The city was besieged for seven months, during which time the King of Kadesh managed to flee. Thutmose encircled the city with a moat and a timber wall, compelling the people to submit. The victorious army captured 340 captives, 2,041 mares, 191 foals, 6 stallions, 924 chariots, 200 suits of armor, 502 arrows, 1,929 cattle, 22,500 sheep, and the King of Megiddo’s royal armor, chariot, and tent-poles at Karnak. The city and its residents were not harmed. Other settlements in the Jezreel Valley were captured, and Egyptian control was re-established in the region.
Battle of Megiddo Results
This campaign resulted in the expansion of Egypt’s territory. “By reestablishing Egyptian authority in Canaan, Thutmose inaugurated a reign in which Egypt achieved its greatest extent as an empire,” stated Paul K. Davis.  The vanquished monarchs were forced to send a son to the Egyptian court by Thutmose III. They obtained an Egyptian education there. They governed with Egyptian inclinations when they returned to their homelands. Nonetheless, the conquest of Megiddo was merely the beginning of the Levant’s pacification. The discontent subsided only after several more campaigns, which were held practically annually. One unexpected outcome was the word Armageddon, which was derived from Megiddo’s name. Visit the beautiful temples and ancient sites of Egypt to learn about Egyptian mythology, wars, civilization, history, and much more. Check out our breathtaking Egypt tour packages or Egypt Nile cruises to plan your ideal holiday.