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2"he Political Approach to the Classical World 35
ists from the mainland of Phoenicia, who would come under the
aegis of the Egyptian empire.
Under Amenophis III, called 'The Magnificent', Egypt
reached the zenith of her wealth and power. The State
treasuries overflowed with the tribute of Syria, the gold of
Nubia, and the costly products of the land of Punt. The
Pharaoh himself, who as a young man had prided himself on his
prowess in the hunting field, grew stout and indolent with
middle age, and was content to leave the management of his
empire to his officials. Egypt may claim to have been the first
Power in the Near East to possess an imperial organization.
True, it was not a very elaborate one. It had no centralized
system of officials and subordinates like the Assyrian, and still
more, the Persian Empire. It was on a much smaller scale. But
it was a system which under a strong and energetic Pharaoh
worked well enough. Native governors were installed in most
of the subject cities, and Egyptian garrisons were maintained in
some. The sons of the rulers were sent to Egypt to be educated
at court with the royal princes; here they would learn Egyptian
methods and return to govern with an Egyptian outlook. A
postal service was established between the capital and the cities
of the empire; the reports and dispatches of the vassal rulers,
written not in hieroglyphic but in the Akkadian cuneiform
which was the lingua franca of the day, were filed in the Record
But disintegrating influences were already at work. Assyria
under her new ruler Ashuruballit had recovered some of her
ancient prestige; Mitanni, profiting by the lapse of hostilities,
was increasing in influence. At Hattusas, the Hittite capital,
a king had arisen who was to dominate for a time the
international stage, and build for his people an empire such
as his predecessor Murshil had perhaps once dreamed of
Shubbiluliuma came to the Hittite throne towards the end of
the long reign of Amenophis III, in about 1390 B.C., and having