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Fragmentary statue of Hatshepsut, quartz diorite, c.
1498-1483 BC - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Hatshepsut (or Hatchepsut, ), meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies, (1508 BC - 1458 BC) was the second pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty.

Although poor records of her reign are documented in diverse ancient sources, Hatshepsut was described by early modern scholars as only having served as a co-regent from about 1479 to 1458 B.C., during years seven to twenty-one of the reign previously identified as that of Thutmose III.Dodson, Aidan. Dyan, Hilton. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt Thames & Hudson, 2004. ISBN 0-500-05128-3. p.130 Today it is generally recognized that Hatshepsut assumed the position of pharaoh and the length of her reign usually is given as twenty-two years, since she was assigned a reign of twenty-one years and nine months by the third-century B.C. historian, Manetho, who had access to many records that now are lost. Her death is known to have occurred in 1458 B.C., which implies that she became pharaoh circa 1479 B.C.

Comparison with other female rulers

Although it was uncommon for Egypt to be ruled by a woman, the situation was not unprecedented. As a regent Hatshepsut was preceded by Merneith of the first dynasty, who was buried with the full honors of a pharaoh and may have ruled in her own right. Nimaethap of the third dynasty may have been the dowager of Khasekhemwy, but certainly acted as regent for her son, Djoser, and may have reigned as pharaoh in her own right. Queen Sobekneferu of the Twelfth Dynasty is known to have assumed formal power as ruler of "Upper and Lower Egypt" three centuries earlier than Hatshepsut. Ahhotep I, lauded as a warrior queen, may have been a regent between the reigns of two of her sons, Kamose and Ahmose I, at the end of the seventeenth dynasty and the beginning of Hatshepsut's own eighteenth dynasty. Amenhotep I, also preceding Hatshepsut in the eighteenth dynasty, probably came to power while a young child and his mother, Ahmose-Nefertari, is thought to have been a regent for him. Other women whose possible reigns as pharaohs are under study include Akhenaten's possible female co-regent/successor (usually identified as either Nefertiti or Meritaten) and Twosret. Among the later, non-indigenous Egyptian dynasties, the most notable example of another woman who became pharaoh was Cleopatra VII, the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.

In comparison with other female pharaohs, Hatshepsut's reign was long and prosperous. She was successful in warfare early in her reign, but generally is considered to be a pharaoh who inaugurated a long peaceful era. She re-established trading relationships lost during a foreign occupation and brought great wealth to Egypt. That wealth enabled Hatshepsut to initiate building projects that raised the calibre of Ancient Egyptian architecture to a standard, comparable to

Family and early life

Queen Aahmes, Pharaoh Thutmose I, and daughter Neferure, the mother, father, and elder sister of Hatshepsut (note her youthful sidelock)
Hatshepsut was the elder daughter of Thutmose I and Queen Aahmes, the first king and queen of the Thutmoside clan of the eighteenth dynasty. Thutmose I and Ahmose are known to have had only one other child, a daughter, Akhbetneferu (Neferubity), who died as a youth. Thutmose I also had a lover named Munofret, and produced several half-brothers to Hatshepsut: Wadjmose, Amenose, Thutmose II, and possibly Ramose, through that secondary union. Both Wadjmose and Amenose were prepared to succeed their father, but neither lived beyond adolescence.

Upon the death of her father in 1493 B.C., Hatshepsut married her half-brother, Thutmose II, who ruled Egypt for thirteen years. As his consort she assumed the title of Great Royal Wife. Royal women played a pivotal role in the religion of ancient Egypt, where religion was inexorably interwoven with the roles of the rulers, and in Hatshepsut's time she officiated as a priestess with the title of god's Wife (ḥmt nṯr), a sacred role occupied by royal women during the eighteenth Dynasty.

Hatshepsut had one daughter with Thutmose ll, Neferure. Some scholars hold that Hatshepsut and Thutmose II groomed Neferure as the heir apparent, commissioning official portraits of their daughter wearing the false beard of royalty and the sidelock of youth as seen in remaining sculptures, reliefs, and drawings. There are many images of her with her nurse and tutors in museums.

When Thutmose II died, he left behind only one son, a young Thutmose III to succeed him. The latter was born to Isis, a lesser wife of Thutmose II. Due to the relative youth of Thutmose III, he was not eligible to assume the expected tasks of a pharaoh. Instead, Hatshepsut became the regent of Egypt, assuming the responsibilities of state, and was recognized by the leadership in the temple. At this time, her daughter, Neferure, took over the roles Hatshepsut had played as queen in official and religious ceremonies. This political arrangement is detailed in the tomb autobiography of Ineni, a high official at court:

Thus, while Thutmose III was designated as a co-regent of Egypt, the royal court recognised Hatshepsut as pharaoh until she died. It is believed by some that Neferure predeceased her mother, as representations of her disappear prior to the end of Hatshepsut's

Thutmose III ruled as pharaoh for more than thirty years after the death of Hatshepsut. The relationship between Neferure and Amenemhat (Thutmose III's son) is debated among authors, but since Neferure is depicted in her mother's funeral temple, there are those who believe that Neferure still was alive in the first few years of the rule by Thutmose III, and that Amenemhat was her child, and therefor the heir to the throne of Thutmose III until he died. He also might have murdered Queen Hatshepsut!

Rule

Hatshepsut was given a reign of about twenty-two years by ancient authors but to be exact twenty-one years and nine months . Josephus writes that she reigned for twenty-one years and nine months, while Africanus states her reign lasted twenty-two years, both of whom were quoting Manetho. At this point in the histories, records of the reign of Hatshepsut end, since the first major foreign campaign of Tuthmosis III was dated to his twenty-second year, which also would have been Hatshepsut's twenty-second year as pharaoh. Dating the beginning of her reign is more difficult, however. Her father's reign began in either 1506 or 1526 BC according to the low and high chronologies, respectively. The length of the reigns of Tuthmosis I and Tuthmosis II, however, cannot be determined with absolute certainty. With short reigns, Hatshepsut would have ascended the throne fourteen years after the coronation of Tuthmosis I, her father. Longer reigns would put her ascension twenty-five years after Tuthmosis I's coronation. Thus, Hatshepsut could have assumed power as early as 1512 BC, or, as late as 1479 BC.

The earliest attestation of Hatshepsut as pharaoh occurs in the tomb of Senenmut's parents where a collection of grave goods contained a single pottery jar or amphorae from the tomb's chamber—which was stamped with the date Year 7. Another jar from the same tomb—which was discovered in situ by a 1935-1936 Metropolitan Museum of Art expedition on a hillside near Thebes—was stamped with the seal of the 'God's Wife Hatshepsut' while two jars bore the seal of ' The Good Goddess Maatkare. ' The dating of the amphorae, "sealed into the [tomb's] burial chamber by the debris from Senenmut's own tomb," is undisputed which means that Hatshepsut was acknowledged as the king of Egypt by Year 7 of her reign.She Wanted to rule like a male, not wanting to be outdone by the previous male pharaohs. She demanded to be called king, and HIS majesty.

Major accomplishments

Trade with other countries was re-established; here trees transported by ship from Punt are shown being moved ashore for planting in Egypt - relief from Hatshepsut mortuary temple
Hatshepsut established the trade network that had been disrupted during the Hyksos occupation of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, thereby building the wealth of the eighteenth dynasty.

She oversaw the preparations and funding for a mission to the Land of Punt. The expedition set out in her name with five ships, each measuring 70 feet (21 m) long bearing several sails and accommodating 210 men that included sailors and 30 rowers. Many trade goods were bought in Punt, notably myrrh.

Most notably, however, the Egyptians returned from the voyage bearing thirty-one live frankincense trees, the roots of which were carefully kept in baskets for the duration of the voyage. This was the first recorded attempt to transplant foreign trees. It is reported that Hatshepsut had these trees planted in the courts of her Deir el Bahri mortuary temple complex. Egyptians also returned with living Puntites (people of Punt). This trading expedition to Punt was roughly during Hatshepsut's nineteenth year of reign.

She had the expedition commemorated in relief at Deir el-Bahrimarker, which also is famous for its realistic depiction of the Queen of the Land of Punt, Queen Iti, who appears to have had a genetic trait called steatopygia. Hatshepsut also sent raiding expeditions to Byblos and Sinai shortly after the Punt expedition. Very little is known about these expeditions. Although many Egyptologists have claimed that her foreign policy was mainly peaceful, there is evidence that Hatshepsut led successful military campaigns in Nubia, the Levant, and Syriamarker early in her career.

Building projects

Hatshepsut was one of the most prolific builders in ancient Egypt, commissioning hundreds of construction projects throughout both Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, that were grander and more numerous than those of any of her Middle Kingdom predecessors. Later pharaohs attempted to claim some of her projects as theirs.

She employed the great architect Ineni, who also had worked for her father, her husband, and for the royal steward Senemut. During her reign, so much statuary was produced that almost every major museum in the world has Hatshepsut statuary among their collections; for instance, the Hatshepsut Room in New York Citymarker's Metropolitan Museum of Artmarker is dedicated solely to some of these pieces.

Following the tradition of most pharaohs, Hatshepsut had monuments constructed at the Temple of Karnakmarker. She also restored the original Precinct of Mutmarker, the ancient great goddess of Egypt, at Karnak that had been ravaged by the foreign rulers during the Hyksos occupation. She had twin obelisks, at the time the tallest in the world, erected at the entrance to the temple. One still stands, as the tallest surviving ancient obelisk on Earth; the other has broken in two and toppled.

Another project, Karnak's Red Chapel, or Chapelle Rougemarker, was intended as a barque shrine and originally, may have stood between her two obelisks. She later ordered the construction of two more obelisks to celebrate her sixteenth year as pharaoh; one of the obelisks broke during construction, and thus, a third was constructed to replace it. The broken obelisk was left at its quarrying site in Aswanmarker, where it still remains. Known as The Unfinished Obeliskmarker, it demonstrates how obelisks were quarried.
The red chapel of Hatshepsut - Karnak


The Temple of Pakhet was built by Hatshepsut at Beni Hasanmarker in the Minya Governorate south of Al Minya. The name, Pakhet was a synthesis that occurred by combining Bast and Sekhmet, who were similar lioness war goddesses, in an area that bordered the north and south division of their cults. The cavernous underground temple, cut into the rock cliffs on the eastern side of the Nile, was admired and called the Speos Artemidosmarker by the Greeks during their occupation of Egypt, known as the Ptolemaic Dynasty. They saw the goddess as a parallel to their hunter goddess Artemis. The temple is thought to have been built alongside much more ancient ones that have not survived. This temple has an architrave with a long dedicatory text bearing Hatshepsut's famous denunciation of the Hyksos that has been translated by James P. Allen. They had occupied Egypt and cast it into a cultural decline that persisted until a revival brought about by her policies and innovations. This temple was altered later and some of its inside decorations were usurped by Seti I, in the nineteenth dynasty, attempting to have his name replace that of Hatshepsut.

Following the tradition of many pharaohs, the masterpiece of Hatshepsut's building projects was her mortuary temple. She built hers in a complex at Deir el-Bahrimarker. It was designed and implemented by Senemut at a site on the West Bank of the Nile River near the entrance to what now is called the Valley of the Kingsmarker because of all the pharaohs who later chose to associate their complexes with the grandeur of hers. Her buildings were the first grand ones planned for that location. The focal point was the Djeser-Djeserumarker or "the Sublime of Sublimes", a colonnaded structure of perfect harmony nearly one thousand years before the Parthenonmarker was built. Djeser-Djeseru sits atop a series of terraces that once were graced with lush gardens. Djeser-Djeseru is built into a cliff face that rises sharply above it. Djeser-Djeseru and the other buildings of Hatshepsut's Deir el-Bahri complex are considered to be significant advances in architecture. Another one of her great accomplishments is the Hatshepsut needle (also known as the granite obelisks).

Official lauding

Hyperbole is common, virtually, to all royal inscriptions of Egyptian history. While all ancient leaders used it to laud their achievements, Hatshepsut has been called the most accomplished pharaoh at promoting her accomplishments. This may have resulted from the extensive building executed during her time as pharaoh, in comparison to many others. It afforded her with many opportunities to laud herself, but it also reflects the wealth that her policies and administration brought to Egypt, enabling her to finance such projects. Aggrandizement of their achievements was traditional when pharaohs built temples and their tombs.

Women had a high status in ancient Egypt and enjoyed the legal right to own, inherit, or will property. A woman becoming pharaoh was rare, however, only Khentkaues, Sobekneferu, and possibly Nitocris preceded her in known records as ruling solely in their own name. The latter's existence is disputed and is likely a mis-translation of a male king. Twosret, a female king and the last pharaoh of the nineteenth dynasty, may have been the only woman to succeed her among the indigenous rulers. In Egyptian history, there was no word for a "queen regnant" and by the time of her reign, pharaoh had become the name for the ruler. Hatshepsut is not unique, however, in taking the title of king. Sobekneferu, ruling six dynasties prior to Hatshepsut, also did so when she ruled Egypt. Hatshepsut had been well trained in her duties as the daughter of the pharaoh. During her father's reign she held the powerful office of God's Wife. She had taken a strong role as queen to her husband and was well experienced in the administration of her kingdom by the time she became pharaoh. There is no indication of challenges to her leadership and, until her death, her co-regent remained in a secondary role, quite amicably heading her powerful army—which would have given him the power necessary to overthrow a usurper of his rightful place, if that had been the case.

Hatshepsut assumed all of the regalia and symbols of the pharaonic office in official representations: the Khat head cloth, topped with the uraeus, the traditional false beard, and shendyt kilt. Many existing statues alternatively show her in typically feminine attire as well as those that depict her in the royal ceremonial attire. Statues portraying Sobekneferu also combine elements of traditional male and female iconography and, by tradition, may have served as inspiration for these works commissioned by Hatshepsut. After this period of transition ended, however, most formal depictions of Hatshepsut as pharaoh showed her in the royal attire, with all of the pharaonic regalia.

At her mortuary temple, in Osirian statues that regaled the transportation of the pharaoh to the world of the dead, the symbols of the pharaoh as Osiris were the reason for the attire and they were much more important to be displayed traditionally, her breasts are obscured behind her crossed arms holding the regal staffs of the two kingdoms she ruled. This became a pointed concern among writers who sought reasons for the generic style of the shrouded statues and led to misinterpretations. Understanding of the religious symbolism was required to interpret the statues correctly. Interpretations by these early scholars varied and often, were baseless conjectures of their own contemporary values. The possible reasons for her breasts not being emphasized in the most formal statues, were debated among some early Egyptologists, who failed to take into account the fact that many women and goddesses portrayed in ancient Egyptian art often lack delineation of breasts, and that the physical aspect of the gender of pharaohs was never stressed the art. With few exceptions, subjects were idealized.
The Hawk of the Pharaoh, Hatshepsut - Temple at Luxor
Modern scholars, however, have theorized that by assuming the typical symbols of pharaonic power, Hatshepsut was asserting her claim to be the sovereign rather than a "King's Great Wife" or queen consort. The gender of pharaohs was never stressed in official depictions; even the men were depicted with the highly-stylized false beard associated with their position in the society.

Moreover, the Osirian statues of Hatshepsut—as with other pharaohs—depict the dead pharaoh as Osiris, with the body and regalia of that deity. All of the statues of Hatshepsut at her tomb follow that tradition. The promise of resurrection after death was a tenet of the cult of Osiris. Since many statues of Hatshepsut depicted in this fashion have been put on display in museums and those images have been widely published, viewers who lack an understanding of the religious significance of these depictions have been misled.

Most of the official statues commissioned of Hatshepsut show her less symbolically and more naturally, as a woman in typical dresses of the nobility of her day. Notably, even after assuming the formal regalia, Hatshepsut still described herself as a beautiful woman, often as the most beautiful of women, and although she assumed almost all of her father's titles, she declined to take the title "The Strong Bull" (the full title being, The Strong Bull of his Mother), which tied the pharaoh to the goddesses Isis, the throne, and Hathor, (the cow who gave birth to and protected the pharaohs)—by being her son sitting on her throne—an unnecessary title for her, since Hatshepsut became allied with the goddesses, herself, which no male pharaoh could. Rather than the strong bull, Hatshepsut, having served as a very successful warrior during the early portion of her reign as pharaoh, associated herself with the lioness image of Sekhmet, the major war deity in the Egyptian pantheon.

Religious concepts were tied into all of these symbols and titles. By the time of Hatshepsut's reign, the merger of some aspects of these two goddesses provided that they would both have given birth to, and were the protectors of, the pharaohs. They became interchangeable at times. Hatshepsut also traced her lineage to Mut, a primal mother goddess of the Egyptian pantheon, which gave her another ancestor who was a deity as well as her father and grandfathers, pharaohs who would have become deified upon death.

While Hatshepsut was depicted in official art wearing regalia of a pharaoh, such as the false beard that male pharaohs also wore, it is most unlikely that she ever wore such ceremonial decorations, just as it is unlikely that the male pharaohs did. Statues such as those at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, depicting her seated wearing a tight-fitting dress and the nemes crown, are thought to be a more accurate representation of how she would have presented herself at court.

As a notable exception, only one male pharaoh abandoned the rigid symbolic depiction that had become the style of the most official artwork representing the ruler, Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (later Akhenaten) of the same eighteenth dynasty, whose wife, Nefertiti, also may have ruled in her own right following the death of her husband.

One of the most famous examples of the legends about Hatshepsut is a myth about her birth. In this myth, Amun goes to Ahmose in the form of Thutmose I and awakens her with pleasant odors. At this point Amun places the ankh, a symbol of life, to Ahmose's nose, and Hatshepsut is conceived by Ahmose. Khnum, the god who forms the bodies of human children, is then instructed to create a body and ka, or corporal presence/life force, for Hatshepsut. Heket, the goddess of life and fertility, and Khnum then lead Ahmose along to a lioness bed where she gives birth to Hatshepsut. Reliefs depicting each step in these events are at Karnak and in her mortuary temple.

The Oracle of Amun proclaimed that it was the will of Amun that Hatshepsut be pharaoh, further strengthening her position. She reiterated Amun's support by having these proclamations by the god Amun carved on her monuments:

Hatshepsut claimed that she was her father's intended heir and that he made her the heir apparent of Egypt. Almost all scholars today view this as historical revisionism, or prolepsis, on Hatshepsut's part since it was Thutmose II—a son of Thutmose I by Mutnofret—who was her father's heir. Moreover, Thutmose I could not have foreseen that his daughter Hatshepsut would outlive his son within his own lifetime. Thutmose II soon married Hatshepsut and the latter became both his senior royal wife and the most powerful woman at court. Biographer Evelyn Wells, however, accepts Hatshepsut's claim that she was her father's intended successor. Once she became pharaoh herself, Hatshepsut supported her assertion that she was her father's designated successor with inscriptions on the walls of her mortuary temple:

American humorist Will Cuppy wrote an essay on Hatshepsut which was published after his death in the book The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody. Regarding one of her wall inscriptions, he wrote,

Death, burial and mummy

Hatshepsut died as she was approaching, what we would consider middle age given typical contemporary lifespans, in her twenty-second regnal year. The precise date of Hatshepsut's death—and the time when Thutmose III became pharaoh of Egypt—is considered to be Year 22, II Peret day 10 of their joint rule, as recorded on a single stela erected at Armantmarker or January 16, 1458 BC. This information validates the basic reliability of Manetho's kinglist records since Thutmose III and Hatshepsut's known accession date was I Shemu day 4. (ie: Hatshepsut died 9 months into her 22nd year as Manetho writes in his Epitome for a reign of 21 years and 9 months) No mention of the cause of her death has survived. If the recent identification of her mummy (see below) is correct, however, computed tomography would indicate that she died of blood infection while she was in her fifties. It also would suggest that she had arthritis, bad teeth, and probably had diabetes.

Burial

Hatshepsut had begun construction of a tomb when she was the Great Royal Wife of Thutmose II, but the scale of this was not suitable for a pharaoh, so when she ascended the throne, preparation for another burial started. For this KV20marker, originally quarried for her father Thutmose I and probably the first royal tomb in the Valley of the Kingsmarker, was extended with a new burial chamber. Hatshepsut also refurbished the burial of her father and prepared for a double internment of both Thutmose I and herself within KV20. It is therefore likely that when she died (no later than the twenty-second year of her reign), she was interred in this tomb along with her father. However, during the reign of Thutmose III, a new tomb (KV38) together with new burial equipment was provided for Thutmose I, who was therefore removed from his original tomb and re-interred elsewhere. At the same time Hatshepsut's mummy might have been moved into the tomb of her wet nurse, Sitre-Re, in KV60. It is possible that Amenhotep II, son to Thutmose III by a secondary wife, was the one motivating these actions in an attempt to assure his own succession. Besides what was recovered from KV20 during Howard Carter's clearance of the tomb in 1903, other funerary furniture belonging to Hatshepsut has been found elsewhere, including a lioness "throne" (bedstead is a better description), a senet game board with carved lioness-headed, red-jasper game pieces bearing her pharaonic title, a signet ring, and a partial shabti figurine bearing her name. In the Royal Mummy Cache at DB320marker an ivory canopic coffer was found that was inscribed with the name of Hatshepsut and contained a mummified liver or spleen and a tooth. However, there was a royal lady of the twenty-first dynasty of the same name, and this could belong to her instead.Bickerstaffe, Dylan The Discovery of Hatshepsut's 'Throne'., KMT, Spring 2002, pp. 71-77

Identification of mummy

For a long time the canopic remains found in DB320 was believed to be all that remained of Hatshepsut's mummy. An unidentified female mummy—found with Hatshepsut's wet nurse, Sitre In, one of whose arms was posed in the traditional burial style of pharaohs—led to the theory that this unidentified mummy in KV60 might be Hatshepsut.

In March 2006, Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of Egyptmarker's Supreme Council of Antiquities, claimed to have located the mummy of Hatshepsut, which was misplaced on the third floor of the Cairo Museum. In June 2007, it was announced that Egyptologists believed they had identified Hatshepsut's mummy in the Valley of the Kingsmarker. Conclusive evidence includes the possession of a molar with one root that fit the mummy's jaw; the row of teeth in the jaw had a missing tooth which had had only one root as well. This molar was found inside a small wooden box inscribed with Hatshepsut's name and cartouche; the CT scan by Hawass' revealed that this tooth had been removed from the mummy's mouth: it fit exactly into the corresponding empty socket in the mummy's jawbone. Further evidence supporting this identification includes the results of a DNA comparison with the mummy of Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut's great-grandmother and the matriarch of the eighteenth dynasty. Egyptologists not involved in the project, however, have reserved acceptance of the findings until further testing is undertaken.

The CT scans of the mummy believed to be Hatshepsut suggest she was about fifty years old when she died from a ruptured abscess after removal of a tooth. Although this was the cause, it is quite possible she would not have lived much longer; there are signs in her mummy of metastatic bone cancer, as well as possible liver cancer and diabetes mellitus.

Changing recognition

Toward the end of the reign of Thutmose III and into the reign of his son, an attempt was made to remove Hatshepsut from certain historical and pharaonic records. This elimination was carried out in the most literal way possible. Her cartouches and images were chiselled off some stone walls, leaving very obvious Hatshepsut-shaped gaps in the artwork.

At the Deir el-Bahrimarker temple, Hatshepsut's numerous statues were torn down and in many cases, smashed or disfigured before being buried in a pit. At Karnak, there even was an attempt to wall up her obelisks. While it is clear that much of this rewriting of Hatshepsut's history occurred only during the close of Thutmose III's reign, it is not clear why it happened, other than the typical pattern of self-promotion that existed among the pharaohs and their administrators, or perhaps saving money by not building new monuments for the burial of Thutmose III and instead, using the grand structures built by Hatshepsut.

Amenhotep II, who beme a co-regent of Thutmose III before his death, however, would have had a motive because his position in the royal lineage was not so strong to assure his elevation to pharaoh. He is suspected by some as being the defacer during the end of the reign of a very old pharaoh. He is documented, further, as having usurped many of Hatshepsut's accomplishments during his own reign. His reign is marked with attempts to break the royal lineage as well, not recording the names of his queens and eliminating the powerful titles and official roles of royal women such as, God's Wife of Amun.

For many years, presuming that it was Thutmouse III acting out of resentment once he became pharaoh, early modern Egyptologists presumed that the erasures were similar to the Roman damnatio memoriae. This appeared to make sense when thinking that Thutmose might have been an unwilling co-regent for years. This assessment of the situation probably is too simplistic, however. It is highly unlikely that the determined and focused Thutmose—not only Egypt's most successful general, but an acclaimed athlete, author, historian, botanist, and architect—would have brooded for two decades of his own reign before attempting to avenge himself on his stepmother and aunt. According to renowned Egyptologist Donald Redford:

The erasures were sporadic and haphazard, with only the more visible and accessible images of Hatshepsut being removed; had it been more complete, we would not now have so many images of Hatshepsut. Thutmose III may have died before these changes were finished and it may be that he never intended a total obliteration of her memory. In fact, we have no evidence to support the assumption that Thutmose hated or resented Hatshepsut during her lifetime. Had that been true, as head of the army, in a position given to him by Hatshepsut (who was clearly not worried about her co-regent's loyalty), he surely could have led a successful coup, but he made no attempt to challenge her authority during her reign and, her accomplishments and images remained featured on all of the public buildings she built for twenty years after her death.

Writers such as Joyce Tyldesley hypothesized that it is possible that Thutmose III, lacking any sinister motivation, decided toward the end of his life, to relegate Hatshepsut to her expected place as the regent—which was the traditional role of powerful women in Egypt's court as the example of Queen Ahhotep attests—rather than king. By eliminating the more obvious traces of Hatshepsut's monuments as pharaoh and reducing her status to that of his co-regent, Thutmose III could claim that the royal succession ran directly from Thutmose II to Thutmose III without any interference from his aunt.

The deliberate erasures or mutilations of the numerous public celebrations of her accomplishments, but not the rarely seen ones, would be all that was necessary to obscure Hatshepsut's accomplishments. Moreover, by the latter half of Thutmose III's reign, the more prominent high officials who had served Hatshepsut would have died, thereby eliminating the powerful religious and bureaucratic resistance to a change in direction in a highly stratified culture. Hatshepsut's highest official and closest supporter, Senenmut seems either to have retired abruptly or died around Years 16 and 20 of Hatshepsut's reign and, was never interred in either of his carefully prepared tombs. According to Tyldesley, the enigma of Senenmut's sudden disappearance "teased Egyptologists for decades" given the lack of solid archaeological or textual evidence" and permitted "the vivid imagination of Senenmut-scholars to run wild" resulting in a variety of strongly held solutions "some of which would do credit to any fictional murder/mystery plot." Newer court officials, appointed by Thutmose III, also would have had an interest in promoting the many achievements of their master in order to assure the continued success of their own families.

Tyldesley also put forth a hypothesis about Hatshepsut suggesting that Thutmose III's erasures and defacement of Hatshepsut's monuments were a cold but rational attempt on Thutmose's part to extinguish the memory of an "unconventional female king whose reign might possibly be interpreted by future generations as a grave offence against Ma'at, and whose unorthodox coregency" could "cast serious doubt upon the legitimacy of his own right to rule. Hatshepsut's crime need not be anything more than the fact that she was a woman." He asserted that Thutmose III may have considered the possibility that the example of a successful female king in Egyptian history could set a dangerous precedent since it demonstrated that a woman was as capable at governing Egypt as a traditional male king. This event could, theoretically, persuade "future generations of potentially strong female kings" to not "remain content with their traditional lot as wife, sister and eventual mother of a king" instead and assume the crown. While Queen Sobekneferu of Egypt's Middle Kingdom had enjoyed a short c.4 year reign, she ruled "at the very end of a fading [12th dynasty] Dynasty, and from the very start of her reign the odds had been stacked against her. She was, therefore, acceptable to conservative Egyptians as a patriotic 'Warrior Queen' who had failed" to rejuvenate Egypt's fortunes—a result which underlined what Tyldesley described as the traditional Egyptian view that a woman was incapable of holding the throne in her own right,; hence, few Egyptians would desire to repeat the experiment of a female monarch.

In contrast, Hatshepsut's glorious reign was a completely different case: she demonstrated that women were as capable as men of ruling the two lands since she successfully presided over a prosperous Egypt for more than two decades. If Thutmose III's intent here was to forestall the possibility of a woman assuming the throne, he failed since Twosret and Neferneferuaten (possibly), a female co-regent or successor of Akhenaten, assumed the throne during the New Kingdom after his reign. Unlike Hatshepsut, however, these later rulers enjoyed only brief and short-lived reigns.

The erasure of Hatshepsut's name, whatever the reason or the person ordering it, almost caused her to disappear from Egypt's archaeological and written records. When nineteenth-century Egyptologists started to interpret the texts on the Deir el-Bahrimarker temple walls (which were illustrated with two seemingly male kings) their translations made no sense. Jean-Francois Champollion, the French decoder of hieroglyphs, was not alone in feeling confused by the obvious conflict between words and pictures:



The 2006 discovery of a foundation deposit including nine golden cartouches bearing the names of both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III in Karnakmarker may shed additional light on the eventual attempt by Thutmose III and his son Amenhotep II to erase Hatshepsut from the historical record and the correct nature of their relationships and her role as pharaoh.

See also



Notes

References

  • Donald B. Redford, History and Chronology of the 18th dynasty of Egypt: Seven studies, Toronto: University Press, 1967
  • Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press, 2000, 512 pages, ISBN 0-19-280293-3
  • Chip Brown, "The King Herself," National Geographicmarker, April 2009, pp. 88–111.
  • Gae Callender The Middle Kingdom Renaissance (Chapter 7)
  • Joyce Tyldesley, Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh, Penguin Books, 1998, paperback, 270 pages, ISBN 0-14-024464-6
  • Evelyn Wells, Hatshepsut, Double Day, 1969, hardback, 211 pages, Library of Congressmarker catalog card # 69-10980
  • Harbin, Michael, The Promise and the Blessing, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Press, 2005
  • Fakhry, Ahmed, A new speos from the reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III at Beni-Hasan, In: Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte, Issue 39 (1939), S. 709 – 723
  • Gardiner, Alan Henderson, Davies’s copy of the great Speos Artemidos inscription, In: Journal of Egyptian Archaeology Issue 32 (1946), S. 43 – 56
  • Fairman, H. W.; Grdseloff, B., Texts of Hatshepsut and Sethos I inside Speos Artemidos, In: Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Issue 33 (1947), S. 12 – 33


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