The New Egyptian Empire - World History

The New Egyptian Empire - World History
Posted on 27-12-2022

The New Egyptian Empire ( 1600 ) Egypt expels foreigners and rebuilds its empire.

During the sixteenth century, the island of Crete recovered from its decline. Palaces grander than those of former times were rebuilt. The new palaces had a large central patio with monumental stands for spectators, where wrestling competitions were held (something similar to boxing, although they also kicked) and ritual games with bulls: athletes jumped on the animals and, after a somersault, they landed on their feet. The bull had great religious importance in this culture. The part of the Greek legend about the Labyrinth, which King Minos had built to contain the Minotaur, seems to date back to this time. Private houses had up to five floors with internal stairs. Paintings of everyday scenes are preserved, in which men play a certain board game while the housewife weaves wool, there are hunting scenes, others of men accompanied by cats and dogs, etc. The Cretans had a powerful and wrathful chief god, but there was also a Mother goddess who could be prayed to placate her child. The king was a descendant of this god and, in fact, it was this god who told him at all times what he should do, so that to oppose a royal order was to oppose the divine will. All this is what emerges from the many paintings of the time. Nothing can be concluded from the written testimonies, since the Cretan language is not known. The writing of the earlier period (the one that ended in 1700) was pictographic, but now a new one in the form of irregular wavy lines was used (scriptLinear A ).

The Cretan culture spread through the Cyclades islands and the Peloponnese, whose main cities at that time were Mycenae, Tiryns and Argos. Other cities that would later acquire importance were Sparta and Corinth and, already outside the Peloponnese, Athens and Thebes.


In 1595 the Hittite king Mursil I took Babylon. However, he was unable to control the city, as the Cassites seized the opportunity, descended definitively from the Zagros Mountains and imposed their dominance over what had been the Babylonian Empire. Once again, the region went through a long period of decline as the invading barbarians slowly assimilated Mesopotamian culture and the Babylonian version of Sumerian religion. In 1590 Mursil I was assassinated by his brother-in-law and his successor, Hantil I.

On the other hand, the civilized cities had learned from the Hyksos the warlike use of the horse, with which it ceased to be an advantage for the nomadic peoples. The Theban kings of Upper Egypt had horses and used them to fight the invaders. The last king of the 17th dynasty was Kamosis, who reduced Hyksos rule to the vicinity of his capital. In 1570 he was succeeded by his brother De él Ahmés (who, for some strange reason, the Egyptians cataloged as the first king of an 18th dynasty). Ahmés fought a decisive battle in the Delta, in which he defeated Apophis III,the last hyksos king The Hyksos army fled to Palestine, but Ahmés followed and defeated it again. Undoubtedly the Hyksos were no longer the rough warriors of old, but had assimilated Egyptian luxuries and grown weaker. From here they disappear from history: most of them remained in the territory among the Phoenicians, Canaanites, Amorites, etc., but without any identity that united them.

With his victories, Ahmés managed to impose his authority on a New Egyptian Empire. It seems that the tensions between the king and the nobility were left behind. Now Egypt had chariots and horses, as well as a new national pride. The king was no longer only a priest and a god, but also a great general. His authority was indisputable. A sample of the new reverence reserved for him is that the Egyptians no longer referred to him as "the king", but with the more pompous circumlocution of "the great house" or "the palace", a word that has derived in the Pharaoh expression . Although anachronistically all Egyptian kings are called pharaohs, the truth is that this title arose with the New Kingdom.

In 1560, the Hittite king Hantil I was murdered along with his son and grandchildren by his son-in-law and successor Zidanta I, who years earlier had been his accomplice in the plot against Mursil I. Hittite laws did not clearly establish the succession formula for the king, so the conspiracies were more and more frequent. A few years after ascending the throne, Zidanta I was assassinated by his son Ammuna. The dynastic disorders, together with a severe drought, plunged the kingdom into a deep crisis.

In 1545 Pharaoh Ahmés was succeeded by his son Amenhotep I, who retook Nubia, Sinai, and all of Canaan as far as Phoenicia, as in Middle Kingdom times. To the west, Libyan herdsmen had been making frequent raids into Egyptian territory since Hyksos times. The new pharaoh put an end to this situation by occupying a good stretch of the Libyan desert.

In 1525, after the death of Amenhotep I, Thutmosis I took the throne, extending Egyptian control over the Nile to the fourth cataract, far beyond any previous age. In Canaan he reached the city of Karkemish, in the heart of Syria, on the banks of the Euphrates. The Egyptian soldiers were fascinated by the abundant rain: "a Nile that falls from the sky." The Euphrates itself was also a cause for surprise, since the Egyptians used the same expression to refer to the North as to say "upstream". Thus the Euphrates was a river which, "flowing north, flows south."

The city of Thebes now enjoyed more prestige than ever. Thutmosis I built great temples, and each of the subsequent kings tried to surpass the previous ones. The construction of pyramids was permanently abandoned (they had all been looted by tomb robbers). Instead of him, Thutmosis I chose to hide his mausoleum behind a complex network of tunnels carved into the rock of a hill near Thebes. During the last years of his reign he ruled alongside his son and successor, Thutmose II .

Meanwhile, around 1500, the Hurrians, who had plagued Mesopotamia for three centuries, finally organized themselves into a state known as Mitanni, which occupied a good part of what had been the now-decaying Assyrian Empire. Assur retained its independence, but was a tributary of the new kingdom. Mitanni also wrested a large part of their domains from the Hittites, while they remained under weak monarchies that disputed power. King Telibinu tried to establish a clear law of succession, but was unable to prevent the Hittite kingdom from succumbing to the Hurrians of Mitanni.

In what is now Guatemala, the first agricultural communities were being formed.

In 1490 Pharaoh Tutmosis II died. Following an Egyptian custom, he had married his sister Hatshepsut (probably the proud Egyptian kings considered no woman worthy of them unless she was from his own family). It was she who actually ruled the Empire since the death of Tutmosis I. On her part, Tutmosis II had had a son with a concubine, Tutmosis III,to whom the throne theoretically corresponded, but he was a minor and his aunt and stepmother remained as regent. Hatshepsut is the first known female ruler in history. In the monuments she built she depicts herself in masculine clothing, without breasts, and with a false beard. Under her, he set aside military expansion and, in her place, she encouraged trade, mining, and industry. At that time, the construction of obelisks was fashionable.giants: thin stone columns so tall that it is still unclear how they managed to erect them without breaking them. Originally they were erected in honor of the god Ra, in the days of the Old Kingdom, but then they were not particularly high: about three and a half meters. In the Middle Kingdom, obelisks over 20 meters high were built, Thutmosis I built one of 24 meters and Hatshepsut reached 30 meters.

Hatshepsut died in 1469, when Thutmose III was about twenty-five years old. Undoubtedly, he must have lived oppressed by his stepmother, because after his death he ordered his name to be removed from all the monuments in which it appeared, replacing it with his or his father's or his grandfather's. He even left his tomb incomplete, which is the greatest revenge he could take, according to the Egyptian mentality.

Hatshepsut's pacifist period had increased the Canaanite cities. The new pharaoh had been a puppet of his stepmother, so the Canaanites must have thought that he would be a weak monarch and that the time was right to throw off the Egyptian yoke. The kingdom of Mitanni fomented the rebellion, which was led by the city of Cadesh, perhaps the last remnant of the Hyksos Empire.

However, the new monarch turned out to be a good general. In 1468 he faced a Canaanite army at Megiddo, a strategic enclave for the defense of Cadesh. Thutmosis III took advantage of the fact that the bulk of the army was elsewhere (since he took a different route than his enemies had conjectured) and thus achieved a first victory. He left part of his army besieging the city and kept advancing. At seven months Megiddo fell into Egyptian power. Year after year, Thutmosis III resumed his campaigns in Canaan, until in 1462 he came to Cadesh itself and destroyed it. Then she crossed the Euphrates and entered Mitanni, for Cadesh would not have held out for so long without her help. However she did not dare to permanently occupy such a remote region. For a century, Egypt's dominance over Canaan was unchallenged.

Meanwhile, Crete's dominance over the Mediterranean was declining in favor of the Mycenaean civilization. Around 1450 , signs of destruction can be seen in many Cretan cities, and even periods of Greek occupation. 

In 1438 Tuthmosis III died and was succeeded by his son Amenhotep II, who continued his father's policy of expansion and suppressed two uprisings in Asia.

Around 1430 the Hittite kingdom finally found stable rule under King Tudhaliyas I, who scored some victories over Mitanni.

Amenhotep II reigned until 1412, when he was succeeded by his son Thutmosis IV. He promoted a policy of peace with Mitanni, and even took one of his princesses as his wife (something completely unusual until then). With Thutmosis IV, a god who until then had only played a secondary role in the Egyptian pantheon, the god Aten, began to gain importance.It is probable that the queen influenced this. The Hittite religion was much simpler than the Egyptian, so perhaps it was easier for the queen to identify her beliefs with the cult of a modest god like Aten as opposed to the sophisticated cult of Amun-Ra. In any case, the truth is that Tutmosis IV paid him an ostensible tribute.

Around 1400 the Hittite king Tudhaliyas I died, who was succeeded by his son-in-law Arnuanda I.

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