National Geographic : 1941 Oct
Egyptian Chariots at Armageddon T HUT-MOSE III's first act, upon finding himself sole ruler of Egypt, was the attempt to erase every trace and destroy completely the memory of Hat-shepsfit. Her in scriptions, wherever visible, were covered over or mutilated, her statues were smashed to pieces, and her name was stricken from the roll of the Egyptian royal family. Having vented the accumulated rage of twenty years on the monuments of his detested co-regent, the young king immediately put into operation his plans for the re-conquest of the Egyptian empire. He directed his first blow at Syria, where the local dynasts, profiting by the two decades of Hat-shepsuit's womanly rule, were in full revolt. On the 15th of May, 1478 B. c., the Egyptian army, descending from the heights of Carmel, fell upon the Syrian allies in the plain of Esdraelon, driving them back into the strategically important and heavily fortified city of Megiddo, which was promptly invested and soon forced to surrender. Thut-mose III's arrogant disdain for military strategy in this and in most of his other battles was more than compensated for by the efficiency of the Egyptian war chariot as a fighting machine. Of strong, but very light construc tion, these vehicles were capable of attaining great speed instantly. They could bemaneuvered with theutmost ease, and, thanks to theirlong axles and large, springy wheels, were usable over almost any type ofterrain. Unarmored and partaking ofnone ofthequalities of the modern "tank," the chariot was intended solely to provide a movable platformfrom which thecrack Egyptian archer could pour a murderous rain ofarrows upon aless mobile enemy force. More often than not inthe early New Kingdom each warrior managed his own chariot, asshown inourplate. Later, however, we find thechariot crews consisting oftwo men, a charioteer and a fighter. During the ensuing eighteen years Thut-mose IIIled no less than sixteen expeditions into Asia, setting outinthe spring of each year and returning inthefall, flushed with new conquests and laden with plunder and tribute. When, in the 43rd year of his reign,the now aging monarch turned his face from the north andconcentrated hisalways vigorous attention on his Nubian provinces and onmatters athome, he had reduced hither Asiatoabject servility and given the eastern Mediterraneanworld abeating that itdid not forget for centuries to come.