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The Battle of Megiddo

Well, since Shiri is edging inexorably closer to publication I thought I’d stick up a few posts on some of the historic events that inspired it. Where better to start than a great big battle??

Have you ever heard of Armageddon? It’s some biblical fairytale right? …. Wrong! It turns out that Armageddon is a real place. Armageddon means ‘The Hill of Megiddo’ and it’s the site of the first recorded battle in history. This battle was so big and so bloody that now over 3,000 years later if somebody bursts in your front door shouting, “OMFG! It’s like Armageddon out there!” You can be excused for having a trouser accident.

Armageddon - yeah, its really not a good thing

 The Opponents:

1. The Egyptians – Leader: Pharaoh Tuthmosis III

Tuthmosis was basically the Mike Tyson of Pharaohs. In fact he was such an out and out badass that people took to calling him ‘Tuthmosis the Great’. Not too many people get to introduce themselves as ‘The Great’ so you know this guy was not somebody you wanted to mess with.

Tuthmosis spent most of his reign beating the snot out of Egypt’s enemies. He ruled the ‘Two Lands’ for over 50 years so you can imagine how many people were left with bloody noses by the time Old Tuthmosis was done.

Tuthmosis III doing some good old fashioned smiting


2. The city states of Palestine – Leader: The King of Kadesh

The King of Kadesh must not have been the smartest guy on the planet, because for some reason he thought it would be a great idea to go pick a fight with Tuthmosis. In fairness though, the guy did have literally a hundred different ‘kings’ and all their armies to back him up so I guess he thought that might even the odds.

He was wrong.

This unnamed king led a coalition of rebellious Egyptian vassal states that aimed to put an end to the Egyptian domination of Palestine. It’s believed that the empire of Mitanni to the east also joined the coalition and sent a force to support the rebels. The rebels assembled at the great fortress of Megiddo and waited for Pharaoh to come to them.

 

The Battle

The annals of Karnack tell the story …

While camped at the small village of Yehem/Yaham, Tuthmosis was faced with three possible routes to Megiddo.

The first two routes were long, winding and well travelled. The third route, was harsh and difficult, it cut straight through the mountains directly to Megiddo. Against the advice of his generals whos’ crapness Tuthmosis is at pains to discuss at great length, the Pharaoh elected to take the dangerous third route. ‘The Pass of Aruna.’

The result was the King of Kadesh awoke a day or two later to see the entire Egyptian army arrayed before him. It’s not clear if he managed to organise his forces in time to mount any sort of coherant defense. What is clear is that even if he did, the rebels were no match for Tuthmosis.

The entire rebel line collapsed under the weight of the attack, their King had to be hauled over the walls of Megiddo with makeshift ropes to avoid certain death.

Armageddon

The hill of Megiddo

The Aftermath

After the battle, Tuthmosis was content to wait the remaining defenders out. The siege lastest seven months but the result was inevitable. The rebels capitulated and Megiddo fell. The Kings of each city that rebelled were each forced to hand over a favoured son to their conquerors. The records of Karnack record the masses of prisioners, horses, chariots etc etc that were hauled back to Egypt as a result of Tuthmosis victory.

What happened to these prisioners? Did they die? Were they executed? Were they reduced to slavery? Well … Shiri is their story. Or to be specific, the story of one of them.

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