The Egyptian (1954)




Director:     Michael Curtiz

Starring:     Jean Simmons (Merit), Victor Mature (Horemheb), Gene Tierney (Baketamon, Pharoah's sister), Michael Wilding (Akhnaton, the Pharoah), Bella Darvi (Nefer), Peter Ustinov (Kaptah), Edmund Purdom (Sinuhe, the Egyptian), Judith Evelyn (Taia, Queen Mother), Henry Daniell (Mekere, High Priest), John Carradine (grave robber), Carl Benton Reid (Senmut, father of Sinuhe), Tommy Rettig (Thoth, son of Merit), Anitra Stevens (Queen Nefertiti).


The story of Sinuhe in Akhenaten's reign.

Sinuhe was a poor orphan who became a physician.  He had such a good reputation that he was appointed to serve the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV.  As a member of the royal court, he inevitably becomes involved in some of the political intrigue of the court.  He is approached to join a plot to kill the Pharaoh.  Will the physician be able to survive the coming political upheaval with his honor in tact?



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

"I, Sinuhe the Egyptian, write this:  In my place of exile on the shores of the Red Sea there is no more desolate spot on earth.  Soon the jackals and the vultures will make a poor meal of what is left of me.  No monument will mark by resting place. I will leave only this, the story of my life.  I have lived fully and deeply.  I have tasted passion, crime and even murder.  It is for you to judge me.  You must weight the good against the evil; the passion against the tenderness; the crime against the charity; the pleasure against the pain.  I began life as I am ending it, alone.  I rode alone on the bosom of the Nile in a boat of reeds, daubed with pitch and tied with fowler's knots.  Thus the City of Thebes was accustomed to dispose of its unwanted children." 

Flashback.  A man fetches the baby out of the river. 

As a young boy he lived in a poor area because his father chose to be a physician to the poor.  He served as his father's assistant in the health treatments.  When he was older he was trained at the School of Life, where the Egyptian elites were trained.  He stayed there for ten years.  And for those ten years he kept on asking the question:  Why?  His classmate Horemheb tells him to be careful of questioning the priests of the school. 

Sinuhe attends a celebration party with his classmates where he gets very drunk from too much wine.  Horemheb gives him still more wine and is criticized by the serving woman, the young and pretty Merit, for endangering the young man's life.  Horemheb just laughs that idea off.  Sinuhe gets up and then quickly collapses on the floor.  Horemheb throws water over him to wake him up.  Merit tells Horemheb to take the physician home.   

Thebes.  The Queen of Cities.  Thebes of the Hundred Gates.  Capital of the world.   Sinuhe sets up his office on the waterfront far away from his father's house and office.  Since he's so young and just starting out, he goes to look for people who need medical attention on the streets of Thebes.  A man with an eye patch named Kaptah sees the doctor and decides he wants to be the physician's assistant.  Sinuhe says he can't afford an assistant and, if he could afford one, he wouldn't choose a street beggar. 

Merit sees the doctor walking along the streets.  Kaptah follows Sinuhe, who he calls Master.  Kaptah sees an accident happen.  Slaves are pushing a huge stone down the street when a man has his legs and feet crushed.  Kaptah yells for the physician to come quickly for now's the time to make his reputation.  While the physician goes to work, Kaptah sings his master's praises on how great a doctor Sinuhe is.  When the doctor yells for some water, Merit is there to provide him with some.  Unfortunately, the patient has died.   Merit tells Sinuhe that no one could have saved the man from such severe injuries.  Sinuhe wonders why save a man just to return him to work as a slave?  Merit observes that the good physician is still asking why?   She then walks away.

Kaptah warns Master about a woman like that for she has the look of a woman who wants to marry the physician.  As narrator Sinuhe says her name was Merit and she had loved him for all her life, but he didn't realize that until it was too late. 

The news is spread that the Pharaoh is dead. 

The physician dines with his friend Horemheb, who is very upset because he lost the opportunity of a job as a palace guard because of his birth.  Horemheb is a bit drunk and starts talking about going lion hunting.  Merit urges the physician not to go with his friend, but Horemheb says that the doctor is under his personal protection.  So off the two men go. 

Horemheb drives the two man chariot like a wild man rushing over the arid land and kicking up lots of sand clouds.  They come to an area where there are lots of lions.  One lion jumps off a ledge over the heads of the charioteers.  Horemheb shoots two arrows at the beast, but with no success.  The lion runs from the men, but they soon start chasing the animal.  The lion is chased in the direction of a man who is on his knees praying.  Horemheb is desperate to shoot the lion before it reaches the man, but suddenly the strong man is thrown out of the chariot.  He now has only seconds to get a shot off.  He does and the arrow hits the beast in the neck and it collapses just a few feet from the praying man.  Horemheb rushes over to him and asks him why didn't he run from the lion?    The man in prayer tells him to be quiet because the god is coming.  The two friends watch as the man collapses.  Horemheb asks what's wrong with the man ant the physician says he has the "religious" disease. 

At this time a royal procession sees what is going on and they arrest the two "criminals" and slap them in chains.  As narrator, Sinuhe says that they were held for two days without knowing what they were arrested for.  They were taken to the royal palace.  Everyone has to kneel down as the new Pharaoh  and Queen Nefertiti come in.  The new Pharaoh is the man who the two friends saved from the lion and from the man swallowing his own tongue.  

The Pharaoh realizes the two men saved him and he appoints Sinuhe the court physician.  The doctor says he can't because he made a vow to serve the poor.  He also says that his biological parents must have been poor too because they placed him as a baby in a reed boat and set it adrift on the Nile River.  The Pharaoh's mother perks up her ears about this.  Pharaoh says he may serve the poor, but when any member of the royal family is in medical trouble, he wants the physician to come immediately to the palace.  Sinuhe agrees.  He then says that Horemheb saved the Pharaoh's life by slaying the lion.  Pharaoh gives Horemheb a gold bracelet from his left wrist and asks what does he desire?  To be appointed as an officer to the palace guard.  Wish granted.  

A lady in waiting says that the Princess wants to see the two friends.  The two men go with her. 

As they get closer to the Princess' quarters, the lady in waiting tells Horemheb to wait for them.  The Princess tells the physician that her mother wishes a word with him.  The Pharaoh's mother asks if Sinuhe ever tried to find his biological parents?  Sinuhe says he was happy with this adoptive parents.  He says he was set adrift the year that the new Pharaoh was born.  The mother says she knows that she is dying and wants to know how long she has to live.  She has the doctor examine her.  He notices that she has weaved a net using fowler's knots.  She says that she came from a line of bird catchers. 

The gods favored her with her husband, but they played with her by giving her a son who is too soft and a daughter that is as hard as a man.  She now asks for his diagnosis.  He hesitates and the Princess tells him to tell her the truth.  So he says if she wants to live a longer life she should give up the consumption of so much beer.  Mother doesn't like that advise and tells him to leave. 

The boys go out to celebrate their appointments.  They go to the house of a woman from Babylon where there are plenty of wine, women and song.  Sinuhe, however, does not intermix with the women as Horemheb does.  This draws the attention of the Babylonian hostess.  When everyone else leaves except Sinuhe she goes over to ask him about his not mingling with the other guests.  He says that his very name means alone.  She says she doesn't like being alone and has parties every night.  He says he should go because he has no expensive gifts to bring her.  She replies that she has never asked a man for anything, but now she asks him to stay.   He admits to her that he finds her beautiful beyond all dreams. 

She tells him to go, but after all her guests are gone, she wants him to return.  She is intrigued by his being a virgin at his age.  The pretty woman warns him that she is like a cat who plays with its captive until it is nearly dead and then only kills its prey.  He had better leave now and not return or he may regret it for all his life.  Before he leaves her asks her for her name.  Men have given her the name meaning "beautiful":  Nefer.  She leaves.  Sinuhe stands there repeating her name three times. 

Kaptah tells Merit that his master has been bewitched by this woman Nefer.  He is neglecting his job as a physician because of her.   This upsets Merit and she ends up chasing Kaptah out of the joint. 

At night Sinuhe visits Nefer.  She tells him he has to go away because she is entertaining a Syrian merchant tonight.   Sinuhe replies:  "If he touches you, I'll kill him."  She tells him he is being very foolish.  She says women like her can't afford to give into their weaknesses or they will end up with nothing.  She came to Egypt and she cannot go back to Babylon.  He gives her his necklace given to him by the Pharaoh.  She reiterates that she is an evil woman and that she warned him about her.  And again she tells him to go away. 

The Princess as hard as a man defeats Horemheb at archery.  She then tells him that she wishes to speak to him in private.  The Princess tells him that Horemheb must demonstrate to Sinuhe that Nefer is worthless.  "By letting him find out that she's betrayed him with his best friend." 

Soon Horemheb is making love to Nefer.  Sinuhe comes to visit her at night, but the guards will not let him in.  He sees Horemheb's whip on a nearby table and realizes that he can't get into see Nefer because his best friend is with her.  He starts screaming to Nefer to let him in.  She can hear his shouted demands.  She tells Horemheb that it's best that he leave now, but the man tells her that he doesn't care if this bothers his friend.  She figures that Horemheb is using her to make Sinuhe jealous and angry.  She tells him to leave.  Horemheb has no intention of leaving.

Sinuhe enters the mansion through a side entrance and he attacks Horemheb.  Horemheb calls his friend a fool and says he just wanted to show Sinuhe just how unfaithful and worthless this Babylon whore is.  He did this because of their friendship.  Sinuhe tells his one-time friend not to call him friend ever again.  So, Horemheb tells his friend:  "Very well, you'll deserve everything you get from her."   Horemheb leaves and now Nefer tells Sinuhe to leave also.  He tells her that he has brought the deed to his house and his precious instruments, but again she just tells him to get out. 

He puts his presents in her treasure chest.  And now she asks him to present to her his parent's fancy burial tomb. He says he can't rob his parents of their immortality.  She says if he does this for her, she will show him "the finer perfection of love".  He grabs her and then pushes her very hard away from himself.  He leaves. 

Sinuhe goes to his house and tears down the doctor's sign.  He goes inside and finds Merit waiting there for him.  He tells her to go away because the man she once knew here no longer exists.  She says she wants to help him.  Men like the doctor who are too shy to approach a good woman who can teach them how properly to love, fall easy victim to the bad women waiting to use and abuse them.  Sinuhe tells Merit that if she wants to help him, she can put her signature on the transfer of his parents' tomb over to Nefer.   Merit refuses to sign and says she feels pity for the good doctor.  She now leaves the house. 

Sinuhe comes again to Nefer, but this time he brings the ownership papers to the tomb of his parents.  He puts the papers in the treasure chest.  And now he goes to see Nefer.  And now she tells her servant to show the physician to the door and never again let him enter her house.  She adds:  "Sooner or later even a cat tires of its game."    Sinuhe grabs the deceiver and starts strangling her.  He pushes her head under the water of a water garden bed.  The guards save her in time to prevent her drowning.  Now they beat up the physician.  Then they throw him out onto the street. 

Sinuhe runs to the house of his parents.  They have taken their own lives by drinking poison.  Sinuhe is distraught over their deaths.  He takes their bodies to the House of Death and asks the man in charge if they can preserve the two bodies so they may have immortality forever.  The man wants to be paid for his services and Sinuhe has no money.  To pay for the services he works for 90 days among the dead of the House of Death. 

After the 90 days Sinuhe goes out into the desert lands.  He carries with him on a donkey the bodies of his parents.  He starts digging a grave for them in the Valley of the Kings.  A grave robber grabs Sinuhe's shovel from him and says he will bash the man's head in if he doesn't tell him what he is doing out here.   He comes to sympathize with Sinuhe's plight and decides to help him dig the graves for his parents.  When they finish with the burials, a henchmen howls out a warning that a stranger is coming.  The men hide. 

The stranger turns out to be Merit.  She tells Sinuhe that Kaptah told her what had happened.  He tells her to leave, but first she says he must eat the bread and drink the wine she has brought for him.  So he eats and drinks.

Sinuhe spouts his philosophy of defeatism, cynicism and hopelessness about the nature of human beings.  He then says he will take Merit back to Thebes.  Merit tells him he can't go back because he was not around when the Pharaoh's daughter got sick and died.  The Pharaoh has sentenced Sinuhe to death by execution. 

She tells him to stop being so defeatist.  Merit asks him if he really thinks that all women are like Nefer?  "Can't you believe in a love that asks for nothing?"  The couple embrace each other. 

Kaptah arranges passenge on a ship heading away from Thebes.  Sinuhe says to Merit that this is goodbye forever.  She tells him that she loves him and they embrace again.  She asks that he always remember her.

Sinuhe and Kaptah travel to the ends of the earth.  They have to cheat and steal in order to survive.  But with time his sorrows softened and he started again to work as a doctor.  His reputation started preceding him and it was easier for him to work in the new and strange places.  Everywhere they went they saw injustice and misery.  He started working for the rich and powerful. 

He comes to a place where they are plotting an attack on Egypt.  He talks to the chief commander of the army and says he must undergo a skull operation like those performed by his father long ago.   The man will only have one chance in five to survive.  Of course, if the commander doesn't survive, his men will kill Sinuhe.  But if Sinuhe saves the commander and makes him better, then he will take as his reward the commander's sword. 

Preparing for the operation, Kaptah asks Sinuhe why did he only ask for something as insignificant as a sword?  Sinuhe says that the sword is made of a new material (iron), which the nations of the Middle East will want to have.  And Horemeheb commands the Egyptian army now.  Kaptah realizes Sinuhe still has a soft for Egypt and his friend Horemheb. 

When they get back to Egypt they find the country deep in civil strife.  The two new arrivals are almost immediately arrested.  The men asked to be taken to see the Egyptian commander and their wish is granted.  Horemheb is shocked to see the two men back in Egypt.  He reminds them that they were told never to set foot back in Egypt.  Sinuhe says he came back to help Egypt.  He asks for his sword and it is presented to him.  He now asks Horemheb to attack him with his sword.  As Horemheb slashes at the iron sword, the  bronze blade breaks in two pieces.  Horemheb demands to know where he got his new weapon.   He got it when he was among the Hittites. 

Horemheb takes Sinuhe to see the Pharaoh.  He tells the Pharaoh that Sinuhe asks the Pharaoh to pardon him and Horemheb also urges that Pharaoh pardon the man.  The Pharaoh does not need to be convinced.  He asks Sinuhe to pardon him for unjustly demanding that life of Sinuhe. 

Horemheb now asks the Pharaoh to let him produce these iron swords in large amounts and let him lead the Egyptians to strike at the Hittites first.  The Pharaoh is not keen on the idea, but Queen Nefertiti says Horemheb is right.  Nevertheless, the Pharaoh remains non-committal.  He says he will write to the Hittites to ask for a clarification on their policies toward Egypt. 

Sinuhe doubles his income as physician to the wealthy of Egypt.  One day Nefer comes to see Sinuhe.  He looks her over and concludes that he can save her life, but not her beauty.  He tells her to come back tomorrow and he will start her cure.  She cannot pay him, so he tells her there will be no fee for his services.  She leaves.  He tells Kaptah that he had waited for ten years to get vengeance on Nefer, but now he can only feel pity for her.  He concludes that he has been searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places and must make adjustments. 

The doctor and Kaptah walk in the streets where once Sinuhe lived with his parents.  A little boy is being chased and bullied and the doctor saves him.  The boy runs to his mother who turns out to be none other than Merit.  They are shocked to see each other again.  She invites Sinuhe to her house, which turns out to be the house of Sinuhe's parents.  She says the house was cheap, so she bought it.  She also says that the boy who calls her his mother is really an orphan that she adopted and she asks the two men not to tell the boy anything different. 

Inside the house the doctor sees that Merit still has his old doctor's box.  He is touched by her keeping his old tools. 

Merit cries over her situation and says that Sinuhe unlike her is rich and famous.  She has nothing compared to him.   Sinuhe responds that he has nothing.  "I am the poorest of men because I have wasted my life.  Everything I ever touched, I destroyed: my birthright, my parents, your life, too, Merit.  But you have given me something."  It may be too late for them to live for themselves, but it's not too late for them to live for their son.  The two people embrace each other once again.

The Hittites have invaded Syria, but the Pharaoh still has not given Horemheb permission to fight.  Sinuhe goes to see the Pharaoh and urges him to let Horemheb go up against the Hittites.  The Pharaoh says he will not give the order to kill men.  He says his god has abandoned him.  He wants the physician to help him shorten his life, but Sinuhe says that it's the physician's duty to prolong life, not to shorten it.  He says there's nothing he can do for Pharaoh because he does not cure people who have the illness not of the body but of the mind. 

The clergy and Horemheb wait to speak to Sinuhe.  They say that they are ready to overthrow the Pharaoh, if Sinuhe does not help the Pharaoh leave this life.  Sinuhe wants to know who will become the new Pharaoh?  That would be Horemheb.  Sinuhe does not like this plan.  But nor does he like the plan to help the Pharaoh to die.  He says he will not help them dispose of the Pharaoh and leaves. 

Sinuhe goes to see Pharaoh's sister.  She says that the Pharaoh must die and Sinuhe should have agreed to their plan.  She says that Horemheb is supposed to wed her tonight and the old gods will be reinstated and the one god will be done away with.  She doesn't want to marry Horemheb.  Instead she wants Sinuhe to kill the Pharaoh and then Horemheb.   She then wants to share the throne with Sinuhe.  The doctor asks why would the people of Egypt accept a doctor as their Pharaoh?  The queen mother says because Sinuhe is their Pharoah.  He is her half-brother.  One of the old Pahraoh's wives had a baby boy with the Pharaoh.  It was her mother who set Sinuhe adrift in a reed boat. 

Sinuhe can't seem to believe what he's hearing.  So his half-sister demands that he go with her to the Valley of the Gods to see their father's tomb. 

They go to their father's tomb.  She shows him how much his face resembles the face mask of the old Pharaoh.  Sinuhe asks to be left alone in the tomb so he can consider what he is to do.  His half-sister leaves. 

When Sinuhe comes back out of the tomb he tells his half-sister that he believes her.  She now tells Sinuhe that he can take over if he only has the courage to act against Horemheb and the clergy.  She wants him to pretend that he is now on the side of Horemheb and the clergy. 

There is smoke in the distance and half-sister tells her brother that Horemheb has already began his war.  Sinuhe knows Horemheb has attacked the neighborhood where Merit and their boy reside.  He and half-sister rush off to intervene in the massacre.  Sinuhe rushes and finds his son and Kaptah.  The boy says he got separated from his mother.  Sinuhe gives some money to Kaptah and tells him to go down to the docks and buy a boat.  He will find Merit and they will come down to the docks and join them. 

Kaptah and Thoth start running toward the docks.  Kaptah throws the symbol of the one god on the ground as he runs.  The guards see this and they stop the two refugees.  They threaten to kill Kaptah so he has to bribe the soldiers with the money given to him by Sinuhe.  Once the guards have the money they let Kaptah and Thoth go.  They make it down to a boat, but only those with money can board.  So Kaptah takes out a ruby hidden behind his eye patch and gets on board by giving the ruby to the man taking on passengers. 

Merit continues her search for Thoth.  She comes upon a group of worshippers and goes among them.  The soldiers arrive and start shooting arrows into the worshippers.  Sinuhe comes in from behind the archers.  He calls out for Merit.  She stands up and is hit by an arrow.  He rushes over to her and holds her in his arms.  She dies.  Horemheb arrives and apologizes for the loss of Merit.  Sinuhe pretends that it is all the fault of the crazy Pharaoh.  He tells Horemheb that he will meet the commander at the palace tomorrow morning.

At the palace Sinuhe prepares a poison for the drinks.  He and Horemheb will have a toast to the Pharaoh and the Pharaoh will die from his poisoned drink.  Horemheb goes to check on the Pharaoh.  Half-sister comes in to check on Sinuhe and is happy to see that he has prepared the poisoned drinks for the Pharaoh and Horemheb.  She is shocked when the doctor pours the poison into all three drinks.  He says he will drink the wine, but will soon afterwards consume the antidote too.  He drinks down part of the antidote before Horemheb returns. 

Horemheb returns and now the two men go to the Pharaoh to have a toast with him.  The Pharaoh drinks, but the other two men do not.   He asks Sinuhe if he has drunken death and Sinuhe tells him yes.  The Pharaoh now makes a long speech before he succumbs to the poison. Horemheb starts to celebrate his victory by drinking the wine, but Sinuhe tells him not to drink the wine.  Horemheb is furious that Sinuhe would even dare to try to kill his old friend.  Sinuhe tells him to go get married to Pharaoh sister's Baketamon.

Sinuhe is brought forward to the new Pharaoh.  He is charged with saying traitorous remarks about the new Pharaoh.  Sinuhe admits that he made negative comments about the new Pharaoh.  He says that Horemheb will triumph only to then watch his own downfall.  Sinuhe gives a long speech.  Horemheb passes sentence on Sinuhe:  exile for life. 

Back to the present.  Old man Sinuhe says:  "I have spent my life in seeking knowledge and this is all I know.  I have written this for you my son, wherever you are, and for your children and your children's children.  It's a poor legacy, but it's all I have."  He leans his head against the house wall and dies. 

 "These things happened thirteen centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ."


Good story.  The first part is a tragedy.  A distinguished doctor is brought down by his own selfish sexual obsession.  He reaches the heights, but is brought down low by his own hubris, by his own self-centeredness in his obsession.  The man goes into a partly self-imposed exile.  And yet the man redeems himself and rises up out of his own ashes to return to the old heights he had previously reached.  At the top again he faces another crisis, but this time he does not suffer from hubris and retains his dignity throughout the rest of his life. 

The story covers Akhenaten  or Amenhotep IV who was the first monotheist in recorded history. 

Quite a few big stars in the film.  There were several important actresses, including Jean Simmons (as Merit), Gene Tierney (as Baketamon, Pharoah's sister) and Bella Darvi (as Nefer).  Among the actors were:  Peter Ustinov (asKaptah), Edmund Purdom (Sinuhe, the Egyptian),  John Carradine (grave robber), Carl Benton Reid (as Senmut, father of Sinuhe) and Tommy Rettig (as the boy Thoth, son of Merit).

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 



Historical Background:


Egypt's Golden Empire (The New Kingdom) (1526-1080 B.C.)


1560  --  Egypt was occupied and divided and on the verge of extinction.  In the north the Hyksos ruled, while to the South were the warlike Nubians.  The Hyksos invasion was the first time Egypt was completely invaded.  The invaders stayed for some 150 years.  The Egyptian capital at Thebes and the Egyptian royal line were in bad shape.  They were caught between two super powers of the time.  Northern Egypt and the pyramids belonged to others. 

1550-1295  --  Egypt's 18th Dynasty.

The King of Thebes wanted Egyptian power back.  He had two sons: Kamos and Akmos.  The father rebelled and was brutally slaughtered.  Examination of his skull revealed many axe marks.  Kamos wanted to destroy the two enemy powers, but he had to be careful given the weakened Egyptian position. 

He did not have to wait long.  The spies of Kamos were able to intercept Hyksos messenger on a secret mission.  They carried a letter to Nubia that suggested that Nubia join with Hyksos and divide what was left of Egypt between them.

Kamos started to prepare for war.  He suddenly became a freedom fighter.  At age 20 Kamos went north (while young brother Akmos could only watch).  His forces came across a fortified town, which Kamos took in a battle.  The victory made Kamos very happy.  He then headed tyo Avaris, the capital of Hyksos.  But Kamos died on the verge of kicking the Hyksos out of old Egypt. 

At age 10, Akmos now had to step up.  But he was more cautious than his brother.  After ten years of preparation, he set off to war.  Akmos was successful.  He fought a decisive battle for Egypt and was victorious.  He was now pharaoh of a united Egypt.  At home, he was able to get rid of taxes.

1526  --  the beginning of the New Kingdom of Egypt.  Akmos made sure to thank the god Amen-Ray ("The Hidden One") for his victories.  Given Akmos's many successes, he himself was worshiped as a god.  

Akmos wanted more gold and so he invaded Nubia and crushed them. 

After 25 years on the throne, Akmos had pushed Egypt's borders farther than ever before: to the Sinai Desert and deep into Nubia in he south.  Thebes, the religious capital, now flourished. 

Pharaoh Hatchetputh was key to the expansion of Thebes.  The raised a great many obelisks, which rose to a height of 30 meters, that became the symbol of Egypt.

In 1903, a British archaeologist discovered that the Pharaoh was a woman.  She was co-regent for awhile with her son Tukmosas, but soon had herself declared Pharaoh.  Hatchetputh had to fight against a good deal of resistance to her rule.  Much of this resistance came from the army led by her step-son.  So she sent the army on a trading expedition to Poont.  The expedition set her apart as the Pharaoh who reached out beyond Egypt itself. 

After 22 years on the throne, she died.     

Following her death, the step son Tutmosus asserted himself and became Pharaoh.  Once in power, he decided to obliterate any trace of the female Pharaoh. Her beautiful temple was defaced and all evidence of her destroyed.  Furthermore, her name was excluded from the list of kings.  

A coalition of Middle Eastern princes moved south to take Megiddo in the Levant.  In responding to the challenge, Tutmosus decided to not only counter the threat but to build an empire.  With four great divisions of 20,000 men, the Pharaoh headed north up the Mediterranean coast. In accounts of the adventure, the word Israel was recorded for the first time as a place conquered by the young Pharaoh. 

1456  --  the Pharaoh stood on Carmel Ridge.  The Great fortress of Megiddo lay ahead of him.  There were three approaches to the fortress.  The Pharaoh, against the wishes of his advisors, took the most dangerous but shorter passage.  Not expecting the Pharaoh's choice of roadway, the enemy was forced back to their fortress.  It was a complete route, but on the verge of victory, the Pharaoh's troops stopped soldiering to plunder.  This gave the enemy time to re-organize. 

The Pharaoh had to settle on a siege.  After seven months of siege, facing starvation, Megiddo finally surrendered.  Pharaoh returned in trilumph to Thebes along with such plunder as 892 chariots and about 2,000 cattle.  The booty made Thebes rich.

By the end of his reign, Egypt controlled Nubia north to Syria, an area which included the Syrian and Lebanese coasts and parts of Israel and Palestine.

1390  --  young Pharaoh Amenhotep ruled in a time of peace, known as the Golden Age.  Pharaoh Amenhotep was the richest ruler in the known world.  His son was Pharaoh Amenhotep IV.

The times were a-changing.  Babylonia, Assyria and Mittani had emerged as powers.  Egypt faced new dangers.  But, instead of using war as the main instrument of foreign policy, the Pharaoh used diplomacy.  And he was good at diplomacy.  Ambassadors from places such as Minoan Crete and Babylon flocked to Egypt, while others paid tribute.   

The priests of the God Aman-Rei were becoming more powerful than ever before.  As a counter measure, Amenhotep changed gods, now being loyal to only Ah-ten, the visible sun. 

1352  --  at age 39, Amenhotep III died. 

1352-1336  --  Akhenaten  or Amenhotep IV introduced a brief period of monotheism (Atenism), based on the worship of the then minor Sun God.  It seems he pushed monotheism because the priests of the god Amen had become more wealthy and powerful than the Pharaoh himself.  Amenhotep was the first monotheist in recorded history. 

The Pharaoh moved the capital to the north to a then desolate place.  Everything was suddenly moved to the new capital Amarna.  Tens of thousands made the move. 

His chief wife was Nefertiti (meaning "a beautiful woman has come").  She played a prominent role in the reign of her husband.  Together they had six girls.  He had a concubine named Kiya. 

1340  --  in the 12th year of his reign, Egypt just started to fall apart.  Nefertiti simply disappears.  No one knows why for sure, but it seems that the Pharaoh started to persecute the followers of the other gods.  Intolerance was now the name of the game.  (This made Amenhotep the first religious oppressor in history.) He had armies of men chisel away any mention of the other gods.  The Pharaoh lost touch with the outside world and crisis loomed for the Egyptian empire. 

1338  --  in the 14th year of his reign, four of his daughters and Kiya died of the plague. 

1336  --  Amenhotep IV died.  After 20 years of life, the new capital of Amarna was abandoned and crumbled to dust. 

The new king was then only nine years of age, the son of Amenhotep by a minor wife.  His name soon changed to Tutenkamen. 



The PBS series on DVD, Empires: Egypt.


This movie, should not be confused with the tale of Sinuhe, who lived during the 12th Dynasty:

1991-1962 B.C.  --  Amenemhet I  first pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty, who ruled Egypt for 30 years.

King Amenemhet I appointed his son Sesostris I as coregent in the 20th year of his reign. 

When Amenemhet I was killed, other royal sons plotted to stop Sesostris from becoming pharaoh.

Sinuhe, an administrator, was with Sesostris.  When he heard of a possible plot, he became very worried and fearful.  Sinuhe became convinced that both Sesostris and he himself would not survive the impending trouble. 

Sinuhe fled Egypt to western Asia (to an area called Upper Retjenu).  The ruler Amunenshi took him in and even had him marry his eldest daughter.  In addition, he placed Sinuhe at the head of a tribe.

Sinuhe did very well in his new home, living a long and prosperous life. Toward the end of his career, Sesostris, who had survived the plot against him, invited Sinuhe to return to Egypt.

Sinuhe returned to Egypt and was accepted back into the royal court.



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