Did Thutmose III Really Lay Siege To Megiddo? Part One B: Points Raised by R. Faulkner.

THutmose

by

 Damien F. Mackey

  

Essential to Part One (A) were observations made by Harold H. Nelson in his doctoral thesis entitled “The Battle of Megiddo” (1913) pertaining to topography and battle tactics.

Egyptologist R. Faulkner published an article of the same title, “The Battle of Megiddo” (1942), in which he lauded Nelson’s thesis as “admirable” and his “sketch-maps … indispensable to the student”. Faulkner gave as his justification for re-visiting the subject, not “any difference of opinion on topographical questions”, but “because a study of the hieroglyphic text … has led to somewhat different conclusions on various points regarding the operations”. Here I would like to recall some of what Faulkner had picked up.  

 

The Battle of Megiddo

R. O. Faulkner

The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology

Vol. 28 (Dec., 1942), pp. 2-15

 

 

Faulkner applies his expertise in Egyptology to clarify certain points in the Egyptian Annals.

On pp. 7-8 (note t) he queries the Syrian tactics:

  1. So restored by Sethe and tentatively accepted by Nelson, Megiddo, 36-7, where ḳ‘ḥ is rendered ‘corner’ instead of ‘bend’. If the restoration be adopted the wings (lit. ‘horns’) of the Syrian army, a Nelson has seen, must be understood as detached forces holding Taanach and the Ḳina valley respectively, while between them will have been a strong central reserve which could be rushed to whichever point was threatened (see Map I); it is not to be credited that the Syrian army was strung out in a continuous line along four miles of road and mostly fronting on to impassable hills.

Faulkner now finds himself confronted with the same sort of strange military tactic on behalf of the Syrians (Nelson’s “Allies”) as had puzzled Nelson before him (my emphasis):

That the Ḳina valley should be held by the Syrians would be a most obvious military precaution, but if the restoration be correct – and it is hard to conceive any reasonable alternative – it is impossible to understand why the Ḳina force supinely allowed the Egyptian army to emerge virtually unopposed from the Aruna pass, or why an adequate detachment was not posted in the mouth of the pass itself. It is true that in the broken lines which follow there is a hint of a skirmish in the mouth of the pass, as if a small body of the enemy had been found (see note v), but clearly there was no serious attempt to dispute the exit of the Egyptian army. If the restoration ‘the valley of Ḳina’ be wrong, then the dispositions of the Syrian High Command must have been incredibly inept; if it be right, then the refusal of the commander of the Ḳina force to act can have been due only to either utter incompetence, cowardice or treachery.

Or, if I am right in what I have written in Part One (A), following Dr. Eva Danelius, then the “Syrian” army was not actually in the vicinity of Megiddo at all, hence the need to reconsider the topographical and military details of the Annals for the First Campaign of Thutmose III.

Faulkner continues on in this same vein, on p. 9:

By taking the ‘Aruna road, [Thutmose III] not only chose the shortest way to his objective, but also came out on his enemy’s right flank. If the Syrians failed to block his egress from the hills, as was indeed the case, they were left with no choice but to conform to the Egyptian movements – in other words, the initiative passed completely into the hands of [Thutmose]. In fact, they were defeated not by hard hitting, but by being outmanoeuvred, a result that was partly due to reluctance to engage, and probably partly due to a defective Intelligence service; they apparently had no inkling of [Thutmose’s] route until he actually appeared in the Ḳina valley.

….

  1. …. It is hard to believe that the Syrians had not established even a small guard-post in the mouth of the pass. If indeed there were resistance, it could not have been serious and was easily brushed aside; it is abundantly clear that at no time … was any part of the main Syrian force engaged.
  1. 11:
  1. At this point we meet a serious difficulty regarding the date of the battle. All previous commentators have assumed that the Egyptian army spent the night of the 19th at ‘Aruna and marched on Megiddo on the 20th, but from ll. 56 ff. (Urk. iv, 652-3) it is clear that the Egyptians left ‘Aruna on the 19th (see, too, note n) and went into camp in the Ḳina valley the same evening. They were then informed that battle would be joined the next day, yet according to the annalist, the clash did not take place till the 21st. What happened on the 20th? It is impossible to believe that for a whole day the two armies sat and looked at one another, and it is equally hard to credit that the whole of the 20th was taken up with preliminary manoeuvring. Besides, there is the clear order given on the evening of the 19th, ‘Prepare ye, make ready your weapons, for One will engage with yon wretched foe in the morning’. In view of these considerations, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that either the scribe who wrote up the narrative from his rough field notes, or the sculptor who transferred it to the temple wall, made a mistake in the date, and that for ‘day 21’ we should read ‘day 20’.

Some of these confusing geographical and time reconstructions remind me of certain verses in the 1966 song, “Substitute”, by The WHO

….

The simple things you see are all complicated I look pretty young, but I’m just back-dated.

….

 I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth The north side of my town faced east,

and the east was facing south.

….

That is because the textbook reconstructions of pharaoh Thutmose III’s First Campaign are really serving to lead students ‘up the garden path’ by ‘substituting’, for the fearsome ‘Aruna pass of the Egyptian annals, the relatively benign Wadi ‘Ara route towards Megiddo.

The geography is all wrongside up, the timeline doesn’t fit, and the battle tactics do not appear to make any military sense!

Faulkner continues:

Pp. 11-13:

  1. Nelson restores ‘cross [the valley of the Kina]’. This restoration is decidedly suspect, for it suggests that the whole army was still within the Ḳina valley. This is very doubtful, for a little farther on we read that the Egyptian northern wing was to the north-west of Megiddo, while their southern wing rested on a hill somewhere near the Ḳina …. The crucial question is, when did the Egyptian army take up this position?

. the signal to ‘deploy’ … [Thutmose received] … a report that the southern and northern troops were safe …. Such a report would be quite meaningless if the whole army were still massed in the Ḳina camp, as there would be no ‘southern’ or ‘northern’ troops.

[End of quotes]

Conclusion

 

It becomes glaringly apparent from Part One (A and B) that a completely new scenario is now required to accommodate the quite specific geographical details of the Egyptian Annals for this most important First Campaign of Thutmose III. The task of providing a better alternative to the ‘Wadi ‘Ara route towards Megiddo’ version, as held by Egyptologists and historians, will be taken up in Part Two of this series.

Deo volente.

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