In the reliefs and the statues of her, Hatshepsut is depicted as a man, to comply with the traditional concept of the ruler being male. She is sometimes shown as an army commander, though it is doubtful that any campaigns were waged during her reign. She did, however, organize expeditions abroad, including a voyage to the African country of Punt (present-day Somalia). Reliefs in her funerary temple show pictures of the trip—the wife of a local king, houses built on stilts, and the returning ships laden with the spoils of the trip, including incense, myrrh, and exotic objects.
After Hatshepsut’s death in 1458 BCE, Thutmose III became the sole
Monarch. Perhaps angry at the way his stepmother had kept him in the background, he had her name and image obliterated from a number of prominent monuments.
During Hatshepsut’s reign, the whole of the Near East had been in turmoil. The migrations that had brought the Hyksos to Egypt had also fostered the development of new kingdoms in northern Mesopotamia, particularly those of the Mitanni. The stability of Egyptian rule was threatened by these new kingdoms and by powerful Syrian princes. Thutmose launched a series of campaigns to protect his Asian lands, successfully consolidating his position in the Levant and Syria. His expeditions are portrayed on the temple walls at Karnak.
When Thutmose was unable to subdue the Mitanni, however, he formed an alliance with them. This alliance was later reinforced by marriage through several generations; Thutmose and his successors, Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV, and Amenhotep III, all took Mitanni princesses as brides.
Both Amenhotep II (ruled 14271401 BCE) and Thutmose IV (ruled 1401-1391 BCE) maintained the empire by using diplomatic and military means. They succeeded in maintaining a balance of power with their neighbors, but two new kingdoms were on the rise—those of the Assyrians and the Hittites.