Damien F. Mackey
In the early C20th Harold H. Nelson, Professor Henry Breasted’s talented student, wrote a doctoral thesis entitled “The Battle of Megiddo”, in which Nelson painstakingly examined the topographical and tactical aspects associated with Thutmose III’s “first campaign”, whose culmination Breasted believed to have been at the city of Megiddo.
But did what Nelson uncover in this thesis really bear out Breasted’s presumptions?
Professor James Henry Breasted considered the warlike Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh, Thutmose III, to have been “the Napoleon of Egypt” (Ancient Times, I, Ginn and Co., 1914, p. 85). And it is to that pharaoh’s records that we now turn, because they concern Breasted and his reconstruction of the so-called “Battle of Megiddo”.
Thutmose III has been confidently dated according to the ‘Sothic’ scheme of things to the C15th BC. Dr. Eva Danelius (whose research will be the inspiration for much of this present article) gives a brief summary of this astronomical scheme in her ground-breaking article, “Did Thutmose III Despoil the Temple in Jerusalem?” (SIS Review, Vol. II, No. 3, 1977/78, pp. 64-79). She wrote:
The scheme commonly applied is that of a calendar tied to the fixed star called Spdt in Egyptian, Sothis in Greek, and Sirius by the Romans – the English “Dog Star”. The star becomes visible in Egypt about the time when the Nile begins to rise – the most important event for a country the productivity of whose fields depended on the annual Nile Flood. After having tied the calendar to a fixed star, it became possible, through most complicated mathematical and astronomical observations and operations in combination with Egyptian texts, to secure so-called “astronomically fixed dates” for some pharaohs. In this way the reign of Thutmose III, including that of Thutmose II and Queen Hatshepsut, was “astronomically fixed” as from May 3, 1501 to March 17, 1447 BC ….
[End of quote]
Whilst some historians have come to regard this conventional theory as quite artificial and erroneous, see e.g. my:
The Fall of the Sothic Theory: Egyptian Chronology Revisited
hence yielding badly wrong dates for the likes of both Thutmose III and (to a lesser extent) Shoshenq I, the majority – with so much seemingly weighty scientific argument behind it – are prepared simply to fall into line with the ‘Sothic’ conclusions. And so they would not quibble with the bold conclusion that Thutmose III’s First Campaign, in his 22nd-23rd Year, occurred during April/May of 1479 BC.
A record of the pharaoh’s many campaigns, including this first one, have been inscribed upon the wall of the Temple of Amun. Thus, according to http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/annals-thutmosis-iii : “… around 1437 BC, Thutmosis [Thutmose] had the story of his campaigns in Syria and Palestine inscribed on the walls of one of the sanctuaries of the great temple of Amun at Karnak”. At the beginning of the first horizontal line that stands at the top of the wall, one can read the pharaoh’s dedication of this inscription to Amun: “His Majesty commanded that there be recorded on a stone wall in the temple he had renovated … the triumphs accorded him by his father, Amun, and the booty he took. And so it was done”. Moreover: “The narrative is organized by year (hence the name “annals”), and each entry gives the course of the campaign, together with accounts of booty brought back and of the supposedly voluntary tribute paid by Nubia and by various countries of the Near East in recognition of the pharaoh’s might”.
According to Breasted, the ‘Napoleonic’ pharaoh, in the 22nd year of his long reign (54 years), embarked upon a military expedition into Syria, in order to fight against a coalition of Syrian princes under the leadership of the “King of Kd-šw”, who had revolted against Egypt. Kd-šw has been identified as the city of Qadesh, or Kadesh.
Pharaoh Thutmose III emerged from this campaign with a great victory and immense spoils from the conquered territories. Dr. Eva Danelius takes up the story, and how Megiddo got into the picture (“Did Thutmose III Despoil the Temple in Jerusalem?”, SIS Review, Vol. II, No. 3, 1977/78, pp. 64-79):
… the greater part of Thutmose’s report is dedicated to the fight for a city My-k-ty (now read Mkty), its siege and final surrender. In their search for a city written this way in hieroglyphs, Egyptologists decided that My-k-ty must be the transcription of the name Megiddo, a city in the Plain of Esdraelon well known from the Old Testament.
According to common consent, Thutmose III was the first pharaoh to conquer Megiddo.
My-k-ty (Mkty) as Megiddo
Apparently we owe the identification of Mkty with Megiddo to the Frenchman, Champollion, who would also fatefully identify the biblical “Shishak king of Egypt” with Shoshenq I of the 22nd dynasty. Danelius tells of this:
The first Egyptologist who read the inscription was Jean François Champollion (1790-1832), the same who only a few years earlier (1822) had succeeded in solving the riddle of Egyptian hieroglyphs. When he came to the name of the town besieged and conquered by the Pharaoh … –Mkty – … he searched in his memory for a Biblical name that might lie behind this transcription. At that time detailed knowledge of the geography of the Holy Land was more or less confined to the Holy places and the pilgrims’ roads which led to them. One of the fortresses whose name was usually known to the average Christian was Megiddo, not only because of its repeated mention in the Old Testament, but maybe also because of its possible connection with the “Armageddon” of Revelation (Rev. 16:16).
Champollion’s identification was accepted by Lepsius (1810-1884), who was the first to publish the text, and by all the later Egyptologists who worked on it. Today, nearly 150 years after the first reading, it has almost become an axiom, and is treated as such by all concerned – historians, archaeologists and scholars of ancillary disciplines – a self-evident truth which needs no scientific investigation.
At the time when the first translations of the Egyptian text were made, the exact site of the Biblical Megiddo was unknown. Nor was a knowledge of it necessary for the interpretation of the text, which was ascribed to a time hundreds of years before the Children of Israel entered their Promised Land. ….
[End of quotes]
Regarding Champollion’s identification of “Shishak” with Shoshenq I, Dr. J. Bimson, in 1986, would turn this right on its head in his article, “Shoshenq and Shishak: A Case of Mistaken Identity” (Chronology and Catastrophism Review, vol. VIII, pp. 36-46). Despite the superficial similarity of the names, the fact is that Shoshenq I (as is generally agreed), never attacked Jerusalem (which “Shishak” most certainly did). Commenting on this, we read in “Unwrapping the Pharaohs” (https://answersingenesis.org/archaeology/ancient-egypt/the-third-intermediate-period/):
Shoshenq does not relate that he invaded Israel or that he conquered Jerusalem. He simply writes a list of cities that he is presenting to the god Amun, and Jerusalem is not among them. ….
If Shoshenq had conquered Jerusalem and taken all the fabulous treasures out of the temple there, he would certainly have made a big deal of it. Some have pointed out that some of the inscription has been damaged and perhaps Jerusalem was mentioned among the damaged section, but Jerusalem would have been the prize and would have been mentioned at the beginning of the inscription, which is still intact. ….
[End of quote]
François Champollion was obviously a prodigious talent to whom we owe the first translations of the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. But he was also a pioneer, hence susceptible to some early miscalculations. Might his identification, with Megiddo, of Thutmose III’s Mkty, turn out to be just as shaky as has his Shoshenq I = Shishak?
As far as Breasted was concerned, though, Champollion’s conclusion about Mkty was as if set in stone. Danelius continues, telling of this and of the very poor condition of part of the Egyptian Annals:
A hieroglyphic text, carved into the wall of a famous and much frequented Temple about 3,000 years ago, does not survive undamaged. And this is how Breasted described it when he started working on it around the turn of the century:
“They [the Annals] are in a very bad state of preservation, the upper courses having mostly disappeared, and with them the upper parts of the vertical lines of the inscription.” ….
Detailed information about the length of the various gaps is provided by Sethe, who worked on a critical edition of the Egyptian original during the same years that Breasted worked on its translation into English. Gaps noted by Sethe vary from a few centimetres to more than 1.75 metres! …. In addition, even the signs which remained were sometimes damaged and their reading open to question. Add to this the enormous difficulty of translating an Oriental text into a European language which differs from it fundamentally in its vocabulary, syntax etc. and its evaluation of events, and it will be understood how questionable all these translations actually are. No wonder, therefore, that the more important of these inscriptions induced every new generation of Egyptologists to try and produce a more complete rendering of the original.
Another pitfall for the translator is the licence to fill gaps not overly long with words which might have stood there, according to his – very subjective – ideas. Such words might have been taken from similar inscriptions where they have been preserved; or the translator/interpreter simply counts the number of missing “groups” and tries to fill the gap as best he can with fitting words of a similar length. Though these insertions by the translator have to be put in brackets as a warning to students, it happens only too often, especially when provided by a famous teacher, that in the end they are treated with the same respect as the original.
For Breasted, the identification of the fortress conquered by Thutmose with Biblical Megiddo was a fact not to be doubted. And his interpretation of the – very fragmentary – text was determined by this fact. ….
[End of quote]
Following the First Campaign
Trail of Thutmose III
Now, Dr. Danelius has done some marvellous critical work in her article whilst following the First Campaign of Thutmose III through the eyes of professor Breasted. She will point out some glaring discrepancies along the way, leading to her introduction of Harold Nelson and his doctoral thesis with its own criticisms of the conventional scenario. I take up Danelius’s account, adding my own comments here and there. Let us commence at the beginning:
The story, as told by Breasted, starts in the 22nd year of Pharaoh’s reign, “fourth month of the second season”, when he crossed the boundary of Egypt (Records, § 415). There had been a rebellion against the Pharaoh in the city of Sharuhen, known from the Bible: the city had been allocated to the tribe of Simeon, inside the territory of Judah (Josh. 19:6). Nine days later was “the day of the feast of the king’s coronation”, which meant the beginning of a new year, year 23. He spent it at the city “which the ruler seized”, G3-d3-tw, understood to be Gaza (§ 417) (33). He left Gaza the very next day 16 in power, in triumph, to overthrow that wretched foe, to extend 17“the boundaries of Egypt, according †[… L.P.H.: conventional representation of brief Egyptian form for “(may he have) life, prosperity, health”, an honorific customarily applied to the Pharaoh. – Ed.] to the command of his father the valiant†18 that he seize. Year 23, first month of the third season, on the sixteenth day, at the city of Yehem (Y-hm), he ordered [GAP – one word] 19 consultation with his valiant troops … (§§ 418-420)
The attentive reader will have observed that there is no gap in the middle of line 18. Nevertheless, Breasted inserted before the words “at the city of Y-hm” in brackets: “(he arrived)” (§ 419). In his History of Egypt he goes much more into detail: “Marching along the Shephela and through the sea-plain, he crossed the plain of Sharon, turning inland as he did so, and camped on the evening of May 10th (34) at Yehem, a town of uncertain location, some eighty or ninety miles from Gaza, on the southern slopes of the Carmel range.” (pp. 286/7)
Not a word of all this appears in the Egyptian text. All that the text says is that the Pharaoh spent one night at a city which has been identified with Gaza, and that nine days later he held a consultation with his officers at another place of which we know absolutely nothing. All else is guesswork. Its only justification, in the eyes of the translator, lies in the fact that it brings the army to the place where it should be if the location of the city to be conquered, My-k-ty, was in the Valley of Esdraelon. Quod erat demonstrandum.
[End of quote]
It is highly worrying when an authority takes it upon himself to ‘improve’ upon an ancient text. I also found similarly in my thesis:
A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah
and its Background
that Assyriologists had done the same in the case of adding the name “Sargon” where they had presumed it ought to have been (Volume One, Ch. 6, p. 137):
Another seemingly compelling evidence in favour of the conventional chronology, but one that has required heavy restoration work by the Assyriologists, is in regard to Sennacherib’s supposed accession. According to the usual interpretation of the eponym for Nashur(a)-bel, (705 BC, conventional dating), known as Eponym Cb6, Sargon was killed and Sennacherib then sat on the throne: ….
The king [against Tabal….] against Ešpai the Kulummaean. [……] The king was killed. The camp of the king of Assyria [was taken……]. On the 12th of Abu, Sennacherib, son [of Sargon, took his seat on the throne].
Tadmor informs us about this passage that: “Winckler and Delitzsch restored: [MU 16 Šarru-ki]n; ana Ta-ba-lu [illik]”. That is, these scholars took the liberty of adding Sargon’s name.
[End of quote]
Once we know that there has been some tampering with a text, in favour of one’s own preferred conclusion, then we can only wonder what further additions or deletions have occurred?
Choosing the Right Road
Danelius now proceeds on to the “war counsel” of the great pharaoh and his generals:
Details of this highly dramatic warcounsel have been preserved in the following 30 lines of the text, which are given here in Breasted’s translation (beginning at the end of line 19), but without his restorations and additions:-
… saying as follows: That [GAP] enemy 20 of Kd-šw has come (35) to My-k-ty;*he [GAP] 21at this moment. He has gathered to himself the chiefs of [GAP] countries 22on the water of Egypt (36), as far as N-h-ry-n [GAP of 23cm.] 23the H3-rw, the Kdw, their horses, their troops [GAP of ca. 23cm.] 24thus he speaks, “I have arisen to [LONG GAP] (37) 25“in My-k-ty Tell ye me [LONG GAP]” 26“They spoke in the presence of his majesty “How is it to go [GAP] 27on this road which threatens to be narrow? (38) While they [GAP] 28 say that the enemy is there waiting [LONG GAP] 29way against a multitude. Will not horse come behind horse [GAP] 30man likewise? Shall our vanguard be fighting while our [GAP: rearguard?] is yet standing yonder 31in ‘3-rw-n3 not having fought? (39) There are [GAP] two roads: 33one road, behold, it [GAP] come forth at 34 T3-‘3-n3-k3, the other behold, it is to 35the way north of Df-ty, so that we shall come out to the north (40) of My-k-ty. 36“Let our victorious lord proceed upon [GAP] he desires [GAP] 37cause us not to go by a difficult (41) road [GAP]. 38[ONLY TWO WORDS PRESERVED:] … messengers … design 39they had uttered, in view of what had been said by (42) the majesty of the Court, L.P.H.:† 40As Re loves me, as my father Amon favours me, as 1 am rejuvenated 41with satisfying life, my majesty will proceed upon the road of ‘3-42rw-n3. Let him who will 44among you, go upon those 43roads ye have mentioned, and let him who will 44among you, come in the following of my majesty. Shall they think among those 45enemies whom Re detests: ‘Does his majesty proceed upon 46another road? He begins to be fearful of us,’ so they will think,” 47They spoke before his majesty: “May thy father Amon [GAP], 48 Behold, we will follow thy majesty everywhere [GAP] go, 49as a servant is behind his master. (§§ 420-423)
This was indeed an amazing story – Thutmose’s generals rising almost in mutiny against their commander, the Pharaoh, “the Mighty Bull, Living Horus”, as he calls himself in his inscriptions. And, even more astonishing, the Pharaoh seemed to understand their reluctance to enter this road of ill omen: he neither blamed them, nor did he punish them, but left the decision to them. Upon which the officers decided to follow their master.
Breasted identified this defile, the road called “Aruna” in Egyptian records, with the Wadi ‘Ara which connects the Palestine maritime plain with the Valley of Esdraelon (43). It was this identification which aroused my curiosity, and my doubt.
And “doubt” she well might.
As it turns out, the Wadi ‘Ara is neither etymologically nor topographically appropriate for the dreaded “Aruna” pass of the Egyptian Annals:
If it is true that “the geography of a country determines the course of its wars” (44), the frightful defile, and attempts at its crossing by conquering armies, should have been reported in books of Biblical and/or post-Biblical history. There is no mention of either. Nor has the Wadi ‘Ara pass ever been considered to be secret, or dangerous.
“From the Plain of Sharon to Jordan. This line … ascends by the broad and open valley Wâdy ‘Ârah. crossing the watershed at Ain Ibrahim, which is about 1200 feet above the sea. Thence the road descends, falling some 700 feet in 3 miles to Lejjûn, where it bifurcates . . . This line, which appears to be ancient, is of great importance, being one of the easiest across the country, owing to the open character of Wâdy ‘Ârah.”
This was written years ago, by C. R. Conder (45), long before a modern highway was laid through.
Conder’s view is shared by later writers: “Most armies coming north over Sharon … would cut across the . . . hills by the easy passes which issue on Esdraelon at Megiddo and elsewhere.” – thus, a famous historian and geographer (46).
The last army which actually crossed by this pass on its way from the south was the Egyptian Expeditionary Force under General Allenby, in September 1918. General Wavell evaluates the difficulties of the crossing when discussing the operational plan for the final onslaught: “There was no obstacle to rapid movement along either the Plain of Sharon or Plain of Esdraelon. The crux of the ride would be the passage of the mountain belt which divides these two plains … the width of this obstacle is about seven miles. Two routes lead across it from Sharon, of which … the eastern debouches into Esdraelon at Lejjûn or Megiddo … Neither road presents any physical difficulties for a mounted force. On the other hand, either is easy of defence and would be hard to force against opposition”. On September 19th, 1918, a brigade with armoured cars was sent ahead to seize the defile leading to El Lejjûn. It was undefended, and on the following night “the 4th Cavalry Division passed the Musmus Defile (Wadi ‘Ara pass) during the night, after some delay due to a loss of direction by the leading brigade, and reached the plain at El Lejjûn by dawn. (47)
[End of quotes]
It is at this point that Danelius introduces into her discussion the somewhat ill-fated yoing scholar, Harold H. Nelson, whose task it was, as Danelius puts it, “to verify a foregone conclusion of Breasted”:
During the same years in which Breasted wrote his reconstruction of the campaign, a German team under Schuhmacher started to excavate at Tell el-Mutesellim. The excavation was led carried out during the years 1903 to 1905. Unfortunately, “At the spot excavated by Schuhmacher, absolutely nothing has been found which could provide any further information” (concerning identification of the mound with that besieged, and conquered by Thutmose III), states the report (48).
Schuhmacher’s excavation was much too limited to permit final judgement. Breasted, quite rightly, refused to give up so easily. He wanted specific proof for his identification, and suggested to one of his students, Harold H. Nelson, that he dedicate his doctoral thesis to the problem. Nelson was not given freedom to look for the frightening defile among the mountains of Palestine: Breasted confined him to a specific region: “This study is confined almost entirely to an effort to interpret the Annals of Thutmose III in the light of the geography of the environs of Megiddo”, explains Nelson in his preface (49). In other words, the “scientific investigation” had to verify a foregone conclusion of Breasted – it was “prove or perish” for the unhappy young man.
For the sensitive reader, the resulting dissertation is a moving testimony of an intelligent and honest young student who tried desperately to harmonise the theory of his venerated teacher with the observations made on the spot, which simply did not fit.
Danelius is not exaggerating here.
The conventional reconstruction of this campaign now begins to get very messy, with the situation on the ground being quite incompatible – ‘simply not fitting’ – with the data recorded in the Annals. The hard road that pharaoh Thutmose III had chosen, that made his officers extremely nervous, cannot be equated with the relatively peaceful and easy one that is the Wadi ‘Ara. Nor are the names etymologically compatible:
Nelson travelled the Wadi ‘Ara pass in 1909, and again in 1912. He described it in detail: “… the road enters the Wadi ‘Ara which is there … flat and open . . . All the way to a quarter of a mile above ‘Ar‘arah the valley is wide and level and cultivated up the slopes on either side … the ascent is so gradual as to be scarcely perceptible and it is possible to drive a carriage as far as the top of the pass.” The road follows an ancient Roman road which descends along a smaller way. “This latter gradually contracts as it proceeds till about half a mile above the mouth of the valley, it reaches its narrowest point, being not more than 10 yards wide. A little further on the road … opening out rapidly to a couple of 100 yards, emerges upon the plain of Lejjûn”. Nelson comes to the conclusion that: “Of course such a road could be easily defended by a comparatively small number of men, but, on the other hand, an invading army could readily keep possession of the hills on either hand which are neither steep nor high above the valley … a watcher posted on the hill above Lejjûn could descry an approaching army at least a mile above the mouth of the pass”. (50)
As an afterthought, Nelson warns not to be deceived by the Arabic name (wadi) ‘Ara: “Etymologically, it seems hardly possible to equate (Egyptian) ‘Aruna with (Arab) ‘Ar‘Arah (51).
Neither the physical appearance of the road as described by Nelson, nor its use as an international highway justify its identification with a road described as “inaccessible”, “secret” or “mysterious” in the Egyptian records.
Neither did it make sense tactically speaking:
Nelson’s difficulties did not end here. According to the timetable drawn up by Breasted, the Egyptian army emerged from the pass in the afternoon, set up camp, and spent a quiet night, to go forth to battle the next morning (52) – all this in full view of the army of the Asiatics!
Nelson is unable to understand the behaviour of the Allies, or why they should have “thrown away the advantage afforded by the narrowness of the pass … to strike Thutmose under circumstances so favourable to the success of the Allies. Our meagre sources must leave us forever ignorant of the reasons of the Allies for thus throwing away their greatest chance of victory . . . It is astonishing how little military wisdom the Asiatics seem to have displayed . . . The great opportunity [of successful resistance] they seem deliberately to have neglected.” (53).
The theme given to Nelson was “The Battle of Megiddo”, and this became the title of the dissertation. It seemed, however, that there was no battle. “On the actual conflict which took place there is not a vestige of information. To judge from the Annalist’s narrative it would seem that the Asiatics fled without striking a blow … why the Asiatics fled is not plain. They probably mustered a considerable force.” (54) And finally, why was the city not taken by storm? “Just why Thutmose did not make such an attempt at once is hard to surmise …” (55).
Habent sua fata libelli – books have their own fate, and Nelson’s was no exception.
Whilst Breasted appeared satisfied with the outcome, Nelson claimed that he “would gladly have re-written the whole manuscript” in retrospect:
Somehow, he managed to satisfy Breasted; he passed his examination, and his study was printed before the outbreak of World War I. He immediately returned to Beirut for the cuts of’ the illustrations and maps, when war caught up with him. During the whole of the war he was confined behind the Turkish lines in Syria; only in the Year 1920 did he manage to secure the material needed.
This unexpected turn of events provided him with the opportunity of discussing his thesis with some British officers who had participated in the conquest of Palestine, 1917/1918. Nelson refers to the outcome of these meetings in the Preface to the 1920 edition of’ his thesis: “Had the University of Chicago regulations governing the publication of theses permitted, I would gladly have re-written the whole manuscript in the light of the recent campaign of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force under Lord Allenby in the same region in which Thutmose III, nearly 3,500 years earlier, also defeated an enemy advancing from the north towards Egypt”, but “I cannot make use of certain valuable suggestions made by those who campaigned in Palestine in 1917-18 …”.
Nelson never rewrote his dissertation. Armed with the precious study, Breasted approached John D. Rockefeller Jr and persuaded him to finance a renewed excavation of Tell el-Mutesellim for a five-year period. Clarence S. Fisher was to be the director, and he came to Palestine in 1925 to start the preparations for the dig. A comfortable house was built for the members of the expedition, and in 1926 excavation was started, lasting until 1939.
Results, as far as the Thutmose campaign was concerned, were as negative as those of Schuhmacher’s excavation. Concerning identification of the mound with the city besieged and conquered by the Pharaoh, the excavators relied only and solely on Nelson’s dissertation: “There can now be no doubt concerning the identification of Tell el-Mutesellim as Megiddo (Armageddon). What little doubt might have remained … was entirely dispersed by Nelson’s translation of and commentary on the account of the Battle of Megiddo given in the annals of Thutmose III, which are recorded on the walls of the temple of Amon at Karnak.” (56)
And so, during the last 50 years, the doctoral dissertation of the young student became the unanswerable proof of the how, when and where of Thutmose III’s First Palestinian Campaign (57) ….
Nelson for his part, however – according to Danelius – “no longer identified himself with his findings” as published in his thesis:
However, there were at least two scholars who had their doubts about the localisation of the event. One was Nelson himself, the other the late P. L. O, Guy, who directed the excavations at Tell el-Mutesellim during–the years 1927 to 1935.
Harold Nelson, when asked by the Librarian of the Cairo Museum, the late Joseph Leibovitch, for a print for his private library, parted with his last copy of his doctoral thesis. He stressed this fact, adding that he no longer identified himself with his findings as expressed in the study (58).
- L. O. Guy was serving as Chief Inspector with the Department of Antiquities of the Mandatory Government of Palestine, when Breasted asked him to accept the leadership of the Megiddo excavation which Fisher had had to give up for health reasons. Guy was a Scotsman who had fought with the British Army in World War I in Europe and in the Middle East. Guy did not share Breasted’s enthusiasm. Time and again Breasted appeared at the Guy’s home in Jerusalem till Guy finally agreed to accept the offer to head the biggest and most richly endowed excavation in Mandatory Palestine (59).
Guy died in 1952. His wife, who had lived with him at Megiddo and shared work on the site, continued working with the Department of Antiquities of the State of Israel. Mrs Guy most willingly answered all my questions. Again and again she stressed the fact that nothing, absolutely nothing, had been found during their nine years of digging which would throw any light on the story of Thutmose’s campaign.
One brief work concerning post-World War II digs at the mound. All of these were small affairs undertaken to clarify special problems. The riddle of the stratification of the layers from the 10th and 9th centuries BC was investigated anew (60), and so “was that of the area around the temples. Among the various soundings carried out in the area, the only ones investigating ruins which could be ascribed to Late Bronze Age I – the time of Thutmose III, according to conventional chronology – were those carried out by a team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, under the direction of the (late) architect I. Dunayevski (61). They led to the conclusion that: “At the end of the Middle Bronze Age, the temple with the wide walls appeared, developing at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age to the temple with two towers at the entrance, a type of temple whose sources, like those of its predecessors, must be sought in the north.” (Emphasis added.) Similarities were observed with the temple at Byblos in LB I, that at Shechem and stratum Ib at Hazor, in LB II.
The report does not mention any Egyptian finds.
[End of quote]
A Big Leap in Logic: Gaza to Carmel ridge
Breasted’s reconstruction of the campaign almost seems to spirit the Egyptian army from Gaza all the way north to the Carmel ridge. To discuss this, Danelius returns to the beginning:
Let us stop here and survey the situation. To recapitulate: the one undisputed place reached by the Egyptian army was Gaza. From there on, every “identification” has been pure guesswork. This is especially true for the “identification” of Y-hm, which was supposed to have been near the entrance to Wadi ‘Ara (and identified, eventually, with Jemma, a nearby Arab village). In order to reach this place, the army which had just crossed the Sinai desert would have continued marching for 10 days, covering about 90 English miles (89). So far Breasted, and his followers to this day.
Experience has shown that an army which includes cavalry and chariots drawn by horses cannot progress that quickly in a country where drinking water is in short supply during the dry season, May to November. It seems that neither Breasted nor any of his followers has given any thought to this vital question, not to mention other problems of logistics. In this respect, the dispatches sent by General Allenby to the Secretary of State for War during the advance of the Forces in the Philistine Plain are a veritable eye-opener. Gaza had fallen on November 7th 1917. Two days later: “By the 9th, the problem became one of supply … the question of water and forage was a very difficult one. Even where water was found in sufficient quantities, it was usually in wells and not on the surface, and consequently … the process of watering a large quantity of animals was slow and difficult,” writes Allenby (90). The very next day, November l0th: “The hot wind is an additional trial, particularly to the cavalry already suffering from water shortage”. (This was near Ashdod, in the Philistine Plain) “Owing to the exhaustion of their horses on account of the lack of water”, two mounted brigades “had to be withdrawn into reserve”, on November 11th.
There is no reason to suppose that nature was kinder to Thutmose’s troops in May, the month with the greatest number of days with the destructive hot wind blowing from the desert, than to the Allied troops in November. Allenby’s advance, too, was considerably slower than that demanded in Breasted’s calendar for the advance of the Pharaoh’s army: the Allied left wing covered only 40 miles in 15 days along the plaint (91), while Breasted suggested 80-90 miles in 10-11 days.
These observations may justify a totally different interpretation of the events during the 10 or 11 days from the day Thutmose left Gaza to the council of war at Y-hm. According to the unanimous understanding of Egyptologists, the text of the Annals leaves no doubt that the entrance into Gaza was a peaceful one. There is no hint of any resistance by the inhabitants. ….
The place named immediately after Gaza is Y-hm. Petrie suggested an identification with the modern Arab village Yemma, south-west of the Carmel ridge, an identification that is “little more than guesswork” according to Nelson (94). [Danelius opted instead for Y-hm as the Egyptian equivalent of Yamnia (Yabne in Hebrew), a port about 40 km north of Gaza: “Today, Yamnia/Yabne lies about 7 km inland from the Mediterranean, from which it is separated by a broad belt of sand dunes. The plain around it is strewn with the remnants of Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements, among them a harbour town at the mouth of a little river which bypasses the city. Needless to say, possession of a harbour would facilitate the problem of supply and help considerably in its solution”].
[End of quote]
Taanach and Megiddo
We read above in the Annals the apparent close proximity of T3-‘3-n3-k3 to My-k-ty: “… behold, it [GAP] come forth at 34 T3-‘3-n3-k3, the other behold, it is to 35the way north of Df-ty, so that we shall come out to the north (40) of My-k-ty”.
Now, Taanach and Megiddo are so often associated together in the Bible, e.g. Joshua 12:21: “The king of Taanach The king of Megiddo”; Judges 5:19: “At Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo; 1 Kings 4:12: “Baana the son of Ahilud; [to him pertained] Taanach and Megiddo”; and so on.
This combination is, to my mind, one of the strongest points in favour of the conventional reconstruction of Thutmose III’s First Campaign. Indeed, it was a point especially raised by Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky in a letter response to Dr. Danelius as a criticism of her own thesis. However, given the eagerness of the Egyptologists to have the Egyptian army in the Megiddo region, I would like to know how well preserved is this part of the inscription.
If pharaoh Thutmose III did not lay siege to the city of Megiddo, as I must conclude from the above he certainly did not, then to which city does his Mkty actually refer?
And what now about his Kd-šw?
These locations will be reconsidered in Part Two.