Monday, April 15, 2013

The First Heb-sed of Thutmose III

Early in the Egyptology game, James Breasted, in his paper on the obelisks of Thutmose III, stated that a Year 30 heb sed or jubilee could be inferred on the basis of the mention of one in Year 33 of that king. Indeed, three "Hb" glyphs are seen, but three was a number of plurality, just like the three strokes under the sign for "millions".  However, considerably later Donald Redford wrote, “But the 30th anniversary of Thutmose's accession would have found him in Asia on his 6th Campaign!”   Still, we have no way of knowing if Thutmose actually was present at all of his foreign campaigns, even if he said he was. After all, he did have generals like his famous one, Dehuty, mentioned in the story called “The Taking of Joppa”. 
The London obelisk of the king states it was erected [with a companion one, now in New York City] on the occasion of the pharaoh having celebrated his third [according to Breasted, although Budge claimed to have seen the number 4, instead] jubilee. Even though a year date for the erection of these obelisks is not visible, it has been taken for granted that Thutmose III celebrated heb seds in years 30-33 from that text. And yet the only actual mention of a jubilee during those three years comes from the inscription of Sennefer at el-Bershe, now lost but included in Sethe's Urkunden IV, below:

It said, “Year 33, fourth month of the season of Shomu, day 12, the beginning of  millions of jubilees, very many, [inscribed?] by Thoth, himself, in his writing upon the noble Ished-tree, etc.” Since Menkheperre's accession date had been in the first month of Shomu, it means that the celebration took place three more months after the one in which the year count had changed to “33”. In my book, “Manetho Demystified”, I take the position that, after his 4th year on the throne [although there is still the isolated reference to Year 5] Thutmose III lost his own year count because Hatshepsut usurped the kingship in his Year 4 and called it her Year 7. This is because, in order to make herself the legitimate ruler after the death of her father,Thutmose I, she appropriated the 3 years of her late husband, Thutmose II, and the 4 of the boy whose guardian Hatshepsut was supposed to be. This may be a controversial stance, but it makes sense in the light of the queen's legitimizing texts. At any rate, a grown-up Thutmose, even as sole king, was forced to adopt the false count promoted by his aunt. It was too late to revert to the old one, even though the pharaoh had gained 3 years that never existed within his own time as king or coregent. The bureaucracy, with all its dated documents, demanded the false count continue until the end of his life, but there was nothing to prevent Thutmose III from celebrating his 30-year heb sed in Year 33—the year that he had REALLY been on the throne for three decades. And, if there had already been three other sed-fests, why would the el-Bershe inscription state that the many wished-for jubilees began in Year 33?

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