The Egypt Connection






My spirit guide called me to meditation:  He said, "What about Hatshepsut?  Take a look at her hand!  and I saw a figure wave her hand in front of my face, but so fast, I couldn't see the details. 

I started to think, "I wasn't planning on including Hatshepshut!"  and before I even finished the thought, my spirit guide said, "If you aren't going to do what I give you, why do it at all?"

Need I say more?  I give you ...  HATSHEPSUT!

THE REASON HATSHEPSUT BECAME PHAROAH :  VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UolhrEVEjzw&feature=related

HATSHEPSUT - RULER OF EGYPT:  VIDEO:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlTlBh1sQRE&NR=1






Statue of Hatshepsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Statue of Hatshepsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign 1503–1482 BC,  18th Dynasty
Predecessor Thutmose II
Successor Thutmose III
Consort(s) Thutmose II
Children Neferure
Father Thutmose I
Mother Ahmose (queen)
Born c.1508 BC[2]
Died 1458 BC
Burial KV20 (re-interred in KV60[2])
Monuments Temple of Karnak, Deir el-Bahri, Speos Artemidos
Fragmentary statue of Hatshepsut, quartz diorite, c. 1498-1483 BC - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Hatshepsut (or Hatchepsut, pronounced /hætˈʃɛpsʊt/),[3] meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies,[4] (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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] 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 classical architecture, that would not be rivaled by any other culture for a thousand years.

 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, and assumed the title of Great Royal Wife. Thutmose II ruled Egypt for either three or thirteen years. She focused most of her attention on trade not warfare. Royal women also played a pivotal role in the religion of ancient Egypt. Often a queen officiated at the rites in the temples, as priestess, in a culture where religion was inexorably interwoven with the roles of the rulers. In Hatshepsut's time the royal daughter acted in such a role as the god's Wife (ḥmt nṯr), which is a sacred role usually occupied by royal women during the eighteenth Dynasty.[8]

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 as the son of Isis, a lesser wife of Thutmose II, rather than of the Great Royal Wife, Hatshepsut, as Neferure was. 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 at this time, assumed 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:

He (Thutmose II) went forth to heaven in triumph, having mingled with the gods; His son stood in his place as king of the Two Lands, having become ruler upon the throne of the one who begat him. His (Thutmose II's) sister the Divine Consort, Hatshepsut settled the affairs of the Two Lands by reason of her plans. Egypt was made to labour with bowed head for her, the excellent seed of the god (Thutmose I), which came forth from him.[9]

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

Thutmose III ruled as pharaoh for more than thirty years after the death of Hatshepsut. This relationship between Neferure and Amenemhat is debated among authors, but since Neferure is depicted in her mother's funeral temple, there are some who believe that Neferure still was alive in the first few years of the rule by Thutmose III as pharaoh, that his eldest son, Amenemhat, was her child, and that he thereby was the heir to the throne of Thutmose III until he died.[10]


Hatshepsut was given a reign of about twenty-two years by ancient authors. 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 Thutmose III was dated to his twenty-second year, which also would have been Hatshepsut's twenty-second year as pharaoh.[11] 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.[12] The length of the reigns of Thutmose I and Thutmose II, however, cannot be determined with absolute certainty. With short reigns, Hatshepsut would have ascended the throne fourteen years after the coronation of Thutmose I, her father.[13] Longer reigns would put her ascension twenty-five years after Thutmose I's coronation.[14] 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.[15] 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. '[16] 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.[16]

 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
Djeser-Djeseru is the main building of Hatshepsut's mortuary temple complex at Deir el-Bahri. Designed by Senemut, her vizier, the building is an example of perfect symmetry that predates the Parthenon, and it was the first complex built on the site she chose, which would become the Valley of the Kings

Hatshepsut established the trade networks 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-Bahri, 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,[17] there is evidence that Hatshepsut led successful military campaigns in Nubia, the Levant, and Syria 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 City's Metropolitan Museum of Art is dedicated solely to some of these pieces.

Following the tradition of most pharaohs, Hatshepsut had monuments constructed at the Temple of Karnak. She also restored the original Precinct of Mut, 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 Rouge, 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 Aswan, where it still remains. Known as The Unfinished Obelisk, it demonstrates how obelisks were quarried.[18]

The red chapel of Hatshepsut - Karnak

The Temple of Pakhet was built by Hatshepsut at Beni Hasan 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 Artemidos 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.[19] 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-Bahri. 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 Kings 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-Djeseru or "the Sublime of Sublimes", a colonnaded structure of perfect harmony nearly one thousand years before the Parthenon 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.[20] 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.

Large granite sphinx bearing the likeness of the pharaoh Hatshepsut, depicted with the traditional false beard, a symbol of her pharaonic power - Metropolitan Museum of Art

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[21] 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.[20] 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.[22] 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.

Osirian statues of Hatshepsut at her tomb, one stood at each pillar of the extensive structure, note the mummification shroud enclosing the lower body and legs as well as the crook and flail associated with Osiris - Deir el-Bahri
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.[23]

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:

Welcome my sweet daughter, my favorite, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maatkare, Hatshepsut. Thou art the Pharaoh, taking possession of the Two Lands.[24]

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:

Then his majesty said to them: "This daughter of mine, Khnumetamun Hatshepsut—may she live!—I have appointed as my successor upon my throne... she shall direct the people in every sphere of the palace; it is she indeed who shall lead you. Obey her words, unite yourselves at her command." The royal nobles, the dignitaries, and the leaders of the people heard this proclamation of the promotion of his daughter, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maatkare—may she live eternally.[25]

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,

For a general notion of Hatshepsut's appearance at a certain stage of her career, we are indebted to one of those wall inscriptions. It states that "to look upon her was more beautiful than anything; her splendor and her form were divine." Some have thought it odd that the female Pharaoh should have been so bold, fiftyish as she was. Not at all. She was merely saying how things were about thirty-five years back, before she had married Thutmose II and slugged it out with Thutmose III. "She was a maiden, beautiful and blooming", the hieroglyphics run, and we have no reason to doubt it. Surely there is no harm in telling the world how one looked in 1515 B.C.[26]

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.[27] 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 Armant[28] or January 16, 1458 BC.[29] 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.[30] (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.[2][31] It also would suggest that she had arthritis, bad teeth, and probably had diabetes.[2]


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 KV20, originally quarried for her father Thutmose I and probably the first royal tomb in the Valley of the Kings, 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.[32] 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 DB320 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.[33]

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.[34]

In March 2006, Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, claimed to have located the mummy of Hatshepsut, which was misplaced on the third floor of the Cairo Museum.[35] In June 2007, it was announced that Egyptologists believed they had identified Hatshepsut's mummy in the Valley of the Kings.[2][36][37][38] 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.[2][31][39] 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.[2][40] Egyptologists not involved in the project, however, have reserved acceptance of the findings until further testing is undertaken.[2]

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.[2]

 Changing recognition

Sphinx of Hatshepsut with unusual rounded ears and ruff that stress the lioness features of the statue, but with five toes - newel post decorations from the lower ramp of her temple complex

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-Bahri 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 became 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.[41]

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:

Here and there, in the dark recesses of a shrine or tomb where no plebeian eye could see, the queen's cartouche and figure were left intact ... which never vulgar eye would again behold, still conveyed for the king the warmth and awe of a divine presence.[42]
These two statues once resembled each other, however, the symbols of her pharaonic power: the Uraeus, Double Crown, and traditional false beard have been stripped from the left image; many images portraying Hatshepsut were destroyed or vandalized within decades of her death, possibly by Amenhotep II at the end of the reign of Thutmose III, while he was his co-regent, in order to assure his own rise to pharaoh and then, to claim many of her accomplishments as his
The image of Hatshepsut has been deliberately chipped away and removed. From the Ancient Egyptian wing of the Royal Ontario Museum
Dual stela of Hatshepsut (centre left) in the blue Khepresh crown offering wine to the deity Amun and Thutmose III behind her in the hedjet white crown, standing near Wosret - Vatican Museum

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.[43] 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."[44] 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."[45] 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.[46] 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, [47]; 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.[47] 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-Bahri 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:

Hieroglyphs showing Thutmose III on the left and Hatshepsut on the right, she having the trappings of the greater role - Red Chapel, Karnak
If I felt somewhat surprised at seeing here, as elsewhere throughout the temple, the renowned Moeris [Thutmose III], adorned with all the insignia of royalty, giving place to this Amenenthe [Hatshepsut], for whose name we may search the royal lists in vain, still more astonished was I to find upon reading the inscriptions that wherever they referred to this bearded king in the usual dress of the Pharaohs, nouns and verbs were in the feminine, as though a queen were in question. I found the same peculiarity everywhere...[48]

The 2006 discovery of a foundation deposit including nine golden cartouches bearing the names of both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III in Karnak 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.[49]

Records of her reign, documented in diverse ancient sources, failed to generate much research about this pharaoh by early modern Egyptologists and Hatshepsut went from being one of the most obscure leaders of Egypt at the beginning of the twentieth century—to one of its most famous, by the century's end. Archaeological discoveries of the early twentieth century provided information that had been missing from those records and, technical advances later in the century, enabled better identifications to make contemporary historical records more complete. In the twenty-first century, DNA analysis confirmed the identity of her remains and her genetic relationship to those of her great-grandmother.

 See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Queen Hatshepsut". Phouka. http://www.phouka.com/pharaoh/pharaoh/dynasties/dyn18/06hatshepsut.html. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wilford, John Noble (2007-06-27). "Tooth May Have Solved Mummy Mystery.". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/27/world/middleeast/27mummy.html. Retrieved 2007-06-29. "A single tooth and some DNA clues appear to have solved the mystery of the lost mummy of Hatshepsut, one of the great queens of ancient Egypt, who reigned in the 15th century B.C." 
  3. ^ "Hatshepsut". Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hatshepsut. Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  4. ^ Clayton, Peter. Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames & Hudson Ltd, 1994. p.104
  5. ^ Dodson, Aidan. Dyan, Hilton. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt Thames & Hudson, 2004. ISBN 0-500-05128-3. p.130
  6. ^ Christensen, Martin K.I. (2007-07-25). "Women in Power: BCE 4500-1000". Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership. http://www.guide2womenleaders.com/womeninpower/Womeninpower000.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-25. 
  7. ^ Shaw and Nicholson, p. 28.
  8. ^ Troy, L. 1986. Patterns of Queenship: in ancient Egyptian myth and history:97-99; Appendix B, B2/25. BOREAS 14. Uppsala: ACTA Universitatis Upsaliensis.
  9. ^ Extract from the biography of Ineni, translated by J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt; historical documents, vol. 2, Chicago: 1906, p.341
  10. ^ Shaw, op.cit., p.254 (see below: References).
  11. ^ Steindorff, George; and Seele, Keith. When Egypt Ruled the East p.53. University of Chicago, 1942
  12. ^ Grimal, Nicolas. A History of Ancient Egypt pp. 204. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988.
  13. ^ Gabolde, Luc (1987).La Chronologie du règne de Thoutmosis II, ses conséquences sur la datation des momies royales et leurs répercutions sur l'histoire du développement de la Vallée des Rois SAK 14: 61–87.
  14. ^ Grimal, Nicolas. A History of Ancient Egypt p.204. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988
  15. ^ Joyce Tyldesley, Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh, Penguin Books, 1996 hardback, p.99
  16. ^ a b Tyldesley, Hatchepsut, p.99
  17. ^ Joyce Tyldesley, Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh, Penguin Books, 1998 paperback, pp.137-144
  18. ^ The Unfinished Obelisk by Peter Tyson March 16, 1999 NOVA online adventure
  19. ^ James P. Allen, "The Speos Artemidos Inscription of Hatshepsut", Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar 16 (2002), pp.1-17, pls.1+2.
  20. ^ Back in the limelight by Nevine El-Aref, Al-Ahram Weekly.
  21. ^ Callender/Shaw p.170.
  22. ^ Eternal Egypt
  23. ^ Breasted, James Henry, Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents from the Earliest Times to the Persian Conquest, The University of Chicago Press, 1906, pp. 116-117.
  24. ^ Hatshepsut, Female Pharaoh of Egypt by Caroline Seawright.
  25. ^ Will Cuppy, The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody; Barnes & Noble Books, New York, reprint 1992.
  26. ^ Tyldesley pp. 210.
  27. ^ Joyce Tyldesley, Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt, Thames & Hudson, 2006. p.106
  28. ^ James P. Allen, 'The Military Campaign of Thutmose III' in "Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh," ed: Catherine Roehrig, The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, Yale Univ. Press, 2005. p.261 Allen writes here that the Armant stela is considered by scholars to mark the occasion of Thutmose III's sole reign since he uses the epithet "Thutmose, Ruler of Maat" twice on this document for the first time in his reign. This means he was asserting his own claim to the administration of Egypt subsequent to that of Hatshepsut who had likely died
  29. ^ Jürgen von Beckerath, Chronologie des Pharaonischen Ägypten. Mainz, Philipp von Zabern. 1997. p.189
  30. ^ a b "Tooth Clinches Identification of Egyptian Queen". Reuters. June 27, 2007. http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSL2776273020070627. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  31. ^ Dennis C. Forbes, Maatkare Hatshepset: The Female Pharaoh, KMT, Fall 2005, pp.26-42.
  32. ^ Bickerstaffe, Dylan The Discovery of Hatshepsut's 'Throne'., KMT, Spring 2002, pp. 71-77
  33. ^ Tyldesley pp. 213-214.
  34. ^ Hatshepsut Mummy Found Accessed August 20, 2006
  35. ^ "Egyptologists Think They Have Hatshepsut's Mummy.". Reuters. June 25, 2007. http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSL2589587820070625. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  36. ^ "'Find of century' for Egyptology.". BBC. 27 June 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6244516.stm. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  37. ^ "Tooth solves Hatshepsut mummy mystery". The Guardian. 2007-06-27. http://www.guardian.co.uk/egypt/story/0,,2112583,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  38. ^ "The Search for Hatshepsut and the Discovery of Her Mummy by Dr. Zahi Hawass, June 2007". http://www.guardians.net/hawass/hatshepsut/search_for_hatshepsut.htm. 
  39. ^ Chip Brown, "The King Herself," National Geographic, April 2009, p. 107.
  40. ^ Gardiner, Alan. Egypt of the Pharaohs. p. 198. Oxford University Press, 1964.
  41. ^ Redford, p. 87.
  42. ^ Tyldesley, Hatchepsut, p.206
  43. ^ Tyldesley, Hatchepsut, p.207 Tyldesley notes on page 252 that a detailed discussion of Senenmut's disappearance and a useful list of other publications on this topic is given in A.R. Schulman's 1969-1970 paper "Some Remarks on the Alleged 'Fall' of Senmut," JARCE 8, pp.29-48
  44. ^ Tyldesley, Hatchepsut, p.225
  45. ^ Tyldesley, Hatchepsut, pp.225-226
  46. ^ a b Tyldesley, Hatchepsut, p.226
  47. ^ Thèbes, 18 juin 1829, Lettres écrites d'Égypte et de Nubie en 1828 et 1829 by Champollion le Jeune, Nouvelle Edition, 1868 http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=45205
  48. ^ Mensan, Romain (Spring 2007). "Tuthmosid foundation deposits at Karnak". Egyptian Archaeology 30: 21. 


  • 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 Geographic, 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 Congress 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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Hatshepsut, Female Pharaoh of Egypt
by Caroline Seawright


Ma'at-ka-Ra Hatshepsut, Female Pharaoh of Egypt

Ma'at-ka-Ra - 'Truth/Order/Balance ("Ma'at") is the Spirit/Double ("ka") of Ra' Hatshepsut - 'Foremost of Noble Women'

Although not the only female ruler of Egypt, Ma'at-ka-Ra Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty) is one of the best known (next to Cleopatra).

She was an 18th dynasty Pharaoh, daughter of Thuthmose I and Ahmes. When her father died her half brother, Thuthmose II, ascended to the throne. He was young, apparently younger than Hatshepsut herself.

The Egyptian tradition of having the Pharaoh marry a royal woman led Thuthmose II to marry Hatshepsut. (The women in Egypt carried the royal blood, not the males. To become Pharaoh, the man had to marry a female of royal blood, often a sister, half sister or other near relative. Usually it was the eldest daughter of the previous Pharaoh.) Thuthmose II died soon after becoming Pharaoh, leaving the widow Hatshepsut, a daughter Neferura... and a son by another wife - Thuthmose III.

Due to the young age of the Pharaoh, Hatshepsut became his regent. They ruled together for a number of years until she proclaimed herself Pharaoh (perhaps when Thuthmose III was reaching manhood) - something almost unheard of, despite the higher status of women in Egypt compared to women in other cultures at the time. Women could own land, inherit from family members, and even go to court to defend her rights. But before Hatshepsut, there were queens who had ruled Egypt... but not a female Pharaoh.

She managed to rule for about twenty years, before disappearing from history... coinciding with Thuthmose III's becoming Pharaoh in his own right.

But what happened in those twenty years?

Inscriptions on the Walls of Hatshepsut's Temple

Hatshepsut, with the backing of the temple of Amun, proclaimed that she was the divine Wife of the god Amun:

    Amun took the form of the noble King Thuthmose and found the queen sleeping in her room. When the pleasant odours that proceeded from him announced his presence she woke. He gave her his heart and showed himself in his godlike splendour. When he approached the queen she wept for joy at his strength and beauty and he gave her his love...
On the walls of her temple, Hatshepsut describes how Thuthmose I made her his heir:
    Then his majesty said to them: "This daughter of mine, Khnumetamun Hatshepsut - may she live! - I have appointed as my successor upon my throne...she shall direct the people in every sphere of the palace; it is she indeed who shall lead you. Obey her words, unite yourselves at her command." The royal nobles, the dignitaries, and the leaders of the people heard this proclamation of the promotion of his daughter, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Ma'at-ka-Ra - may she live eternally!
Hatshepsut began to adopt several male attributes, after the Oracle of Amun pronounced it Amun's will that Hatshepsut should be Pharaoh. She gradually took on the new role, rather than appearing all at once as the Pharaoh. That would have been a drastic step - she was rather cautious. She dropped her titles relating to those only a woman could hold, and took on those of the Pharaoh, and slowly started the trend towards appearing like a male, wearing the shendyt kilt, nemes headdress with its uraeus, khat head cloth and false beard. She even, eventually, dropped the female ending from her name ('t') and became His Majesty, Hatshepsu.

Hatshepsut's Daughters

On becoming Pharaoh, Hatshepsut had to give up her title - not just a title, but a special job with specific duties - of "God's Wife". She granted her daughter Neferura (Thuthmose II's daughter) this title. Unfortunately Neferura died young, but Hatshepsut apparently was grooming her daughter as a prince, rather than a princess, despite the title. There is a beautiful block statue of Senmut, holding the child Neferura enfolded in his arms. Neferura is wearing the royal false beard, and the side lock of a youth.

One of Neferura's tutors was a soldier, Ahmose, who wrote:

    Hatshepsut gave me repeated honours. I raised her eldest daughter, Princess Neferura, while she was still a child at the breast.
Merira-Hatshepset, Hatshepsut's second daughter, became the wife of Thuthmose III, and married him just before or during his coronation after Thuthmose II died. Little else is known about her, other than she may have been the mother of Amenhotep II.

Senmut and Other Officials

When Neferura was still a child, Senmut was her tutor. It is unknown as to his relationship with Hatshepsut, but he was one of her strongest supporters, probably even one of her top advisers... During his time, he gained over 40 titles, including chief architect. He disappeared some time before the end of Hatshepsut's reign, and it is unknown what actually happened to him.

The backing of the priesthood of Amun was very important to raise and keep Hatshepsut in power. Hapuseneb was the High Priest of Amun, and Hatshepsut also put him in charge of her monuments at Karnak. He may have even been vizier to Hatshepsut, but she certainly gave him power.

Nehsy was one of her Chancellor, known for leading Hatshepsut's expedition to the Land of Punt.

One inscription that Senmut himself left proclaimed of himself:

    Companion greatly beloved, Keeper of the Palace, Keeper of the Heart of the King, making content the Lady of Both Lands, making all things come to pass for the Spirit of Her Majesty.
But, from his titles, it may be a true statement. Senmut was a lowly born man who rose to power with Hatshepsut. Some of his many titles included Overseer of the Works, Overseer of the Fields, Overseer of the Double Gold House, Overseer of the Gardens of Amun, Controller of Works, Overseer of the Administrative Office of the Mansion, Conductor of Festivals, Overseer of the Cattle of Amun, Steward of the King's Daughter Neferura, Chief of the King, Magnate of the Tens of Upper and Lower Egypt, Chief of the Mansion of the Red Crown, Privy Councillor, Chief Steward of Amun, Overseer of the Double Granary of Amun and Hereditary Prince and Count.

Hatshepsut's Mortuary Temple and Other Works

After becoming Pharaoh, Hatshepsut ordered many works, carrying on from her father's works. Her first were two obelisks, cut at Aswan and transported to Karnak. There is not much left of these, as most of her things were vandalised after Thuthmose III took over. She later ordered three more to be cut (one of which cracked before it was carved from the rock, so it still remains at Aswan till this day!). These were to celebrate her 16th year as Pharaoh.

At Karnak, she carried out many repairs to the temples, assuring herself the favours of the priests. It was a continuation of the works of her father, but her own restorations included a pylon to the temple and obelisks. Somewhat further north, she built a small temple in the rock, with more inscriptions of her reign. This is a most beautiful temple, again.

She also ordered a tomb (KV20) made for herself, while married to Thuthmose II. It was a queen's tomb in the Valley of the Kings, but it was never completed. Supposedly she and her father, Thuthmose I, were actually buried there until the priests moved the bodies elsewhere, to stop thieves from desecrating the tombs. (There was a first, small tomb that was also unfinished, built behind the Valley of the Queens, but this was abandoned when Hatshepsut married Thuthmose II and became queen.)

After the Valley of the Kings tomb was abandoned, work at beautiful Deir el-Bahri  was started. This was to be her famous Mortuary Temple - Djeser Djeseru. It was built at the site of an even older temple - Mentuhotep I's mortuary temple from the 11th Dynasty. This is the place where the inscriptions of her life and achievements can be found, although they, too, were vandalised.

It was modelled on Mentuhotep I's temple, but Senmut, the architect, improved on the design, blending in with the cliffs around the area. It is a three-terraced building with porticoes, with chapels to the gods at the top - one to Hathor, Anubis, Ra-Horakhte and, of course, Amun-Ra.

Inscriptions at the temple say:

    When you rest in your building where your beauties are worshiped, Amun-Ra, the Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, give Hatshepsut Ma'at-ka-Ra life, duration and happiness. For you she has made this building fine, great, pure and lasting...

It most certainly is lasting.

Her temple was filled with many beautiful scenes that prove herself as Pharaoh. There was even some reference to military activity at the temple, even though she is often portrayed as a peaceful queen. She did, in fact, have some conquest, like the rest of her seemingly war-loving family.

This refers to a campaign in Nubia. She even sent Thuthmose III out with the army, on various campaigns (many of which little is known at all!). One inscription even says that Hatshepsut herself led one of her Nubian campaigns. The inscription at Sehel island suggest that Ty, the treasurer of Lower Egypt, went into battle under Hatshepsut herself. She had to prove herself as a warrior Pharaoh to her people.

It also depicts her expedition to the Land of Punt.

The Expedition to Punt

Hatshepsut ordered a trading expedition, her ships reaching the Land of Punt (perhaps to present day Somalia), as commanded by the god Amun-Ra. This was a land rich in products Egyptians desired - myrrh, frankincense, woods, sweet-smelling resin, ivory, spices, gold, ebony, ivory and aromatic trees. Even animals and fish, many of which can be identified today.

There are also reliefs of the homes and people of Punt. The huts of the people, and the native flora, resemble the huts of the Toquls (according to some) near Somalia. The fish and other animals are not natives of Egypt, leading to evidence that Hatshepsut's people had actually visited such a place. Even the people are shown - the most obvious of the people, though, would have to be the ruler of Punt's wife - she is depicted as an obese woman. But their outfits and the fashion shown of the people seem to describe the ancient peoples of Somali.

Expeditions to The Land of Punt

During her reign there was renewed building activity at Thebes and elsewhere, culminating in her mortuary temple as probably the finest of her buildings. In the temple, reliefs tell of the transport of two enormous obelisks from the quarries at Aswan to the temple of Amun-Ra at Karnak, and trading expeditions to the land of Punt ("land of the god", a region of East Africa whose precise location today is unknown) Byblos (ancient coastal town in modern Lebanon, 40km north of Beirut) and the Sinai (peninsula situated between Egypt and the levant). The temple reliefs include detailed depictions of the expedition on its second terrace, including the sea journey and even the reception offered by the chief of Punt. This depictions shows a bearded chief, accompanied by his excessively large queen who has a pronounced curvature of the spinal column.

Images of the exotic land of Punt, from Hatshepsut's mortuary temple
Beehive shaped houses on stilts The bearded chief and his large wife

Punt was the source of many exotic products such as gold, aromatic resins, blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals such as monkeys and baboons. As a distant and foreign land, Punt acquired an air of fantasy, and as such is mentioned in some narrative tales and poems from the Middle and New kingdoms.

 The Royal Beard

Monuments of Hatshepsut frequently portray her in kingly costume and the famous royal "false beard", often referring to her as though she were male (probably in accordance with the accepted decorum of kingship). When Thutmose III reached maturity he eventually became the sole ruler, but it is unclear whether Hatshepsut simply died or had to be forcibly removed from power. 

After her death, many of her reliefs sustained damage, where attempts were made to remove her name from them. It was originally thought that Thutmose III had immediately set about removing his step-mother's name from the monuments as retribution for her seize of power, but it is now known that this did not actually happen until considerably later in his reign. Hatshepsut's name was also omitted from subsequent king lists, indicating that her reign was perhaps considered by some to have been inappropriate and contrary to tradition.

Although a tomb had been prepared for her in the Valley of the Kings (discovered by Howard Carter in 1903) there is no evidence that it was ever used for her burial. She may have been buried in an earlier tomb in the cliffs to the south of Deir el-Bahri which had been constructed before her rise to the throne.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The precise dates of the Egyptian Dynasties and of individual reigns are still the subject of much scholarly debate. Students and other individuals who use this website should therefore be aware that the dates shown for the dynasties and individual reigns throughout this site may sometimes differ to the dates that are used in other publications.



The chief and his wife, quoted on Hatshepsut's mortuary temple, say:

    How have you arrived at this land unknown to the men of Egypt? Have you come down from the roads of the Heavens? Or have you navigated the sea of Ta-nuter? You must have followed the path of the sun. As for the King of Egypt, there is no road which is inaccessible to His Majesty; we live by the breath he grants to us.
On the return of the expedition, Hatshepsut held a procession to the Temple of Amun-Ra, where her inscriptions stated that the god himself, and Hathor (Lady of Punt), guided the expedition to the new lands. After the appropriate sacrifices had been made, tributes from the Land of Punt were transferred to the temple.

She recorded this on the walls of her temple at Deir el-Bahri, and many of the scenes can still be seen today. (Unfortunately many were damaged or destroyed when someone - most likely Thuthmose III - tried to erase her name and image from every monument that may have had her name.)

Though this seems a little drastic, there was obviously bitter feelings against Hatshepsut. No-one knows if she was murdered, died or retired from politics to let Thuthmose III and her second daughter rule, but she disappeared when Thuthmose III became Pharaoh in his own right. Her body has not been found, so it is difficult to prove one way or another.

But, despite all the damage, the people of today still know of Egypt's first female Pharaoh - Hatshepsut.

Caroline Seawright is a full time worker, part time traveler, anime and manga lover and HTML programmer! She writes many articles on or about Egypt.

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Hatshepsut (1479 - 1457 BC)

Queen Hatshepsut

Queen Hatshepsut  was the first great woman in recorded history: the forerunner of such figures as Cleopatra, Catherine the Great and Elizabeth I.

Her rise to power went against all the conventions of her time. She was the first wife and Queen of Thutmose II and on his death proclaimed herself Pharaoh, denying the old king's son, her nephew, his inheritance. To support her cause she claimed the God Amun-Ra spoke, saying
"welcome my sweet daughter, my favourite, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maatkare, Hatshepsut. Thou art the King, taking possession of the Two Lands." She dressed as a king, even wearing a false beard and the Egyptian people seem to have accepted this unprecedented behaviour.

Queen Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el Bahri

She remained in power for twenty years and during this time the Egyptian economy flourished, she expanded trading relations and built magnificent temples as well as restoring many others. Eventually her nephew grew into a man and took his rightful place as pharaoh. The circumstances of this event are unknown and what became of Hatshepsut is a mystery.

(above) Queen Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el Bahri

Hatshepsut's successor became the greatest of all Pharaohs, Thutmose III, "the Napoleon of ancient Egypt." He had her name cut away from the temple walls which suggests he was not overly fond of his auntie. But the fact that she was able to contain the ambitions of this charismatic and wily fellow for so many years, hints at the qualities of her character.

Queen Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el Bahri Inside the temple
(above) Inside the temple

Parade - etching

(above) Parade' and 'The Army' are etchings made from drawings done at Deir el Bahri. 'The Army' represents a trading expedition to the Land of Punt (thought to be somewhere on the coast of Somalia) and shows Nehsi the Nubian general.



By the banks of the Nile, across the river from Thebes, a three-tiered temple was found beneath hundreds of tons of sand tens of centuries after its construction. The temple is a reflection of the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II, and was constructed alongside that eleventh-dynasty structure. However, the temple of Hatshepsut is far larger than that of Mentuhotep. The architect was Senmut, Hatshepsut's lover and a member of her court with more than 20 titles. Senmut designed the temple with rows of colonnades that reflect the vertical patterns displayed by the cliff backdrop. In this way the temple is a successful example of architectural harmony between man and nature. The temple is dedicated to Amon and Hathor, Hatshepsut's claimed parents, although there are chapels dedicated to other gods, like Anubis, the god of embalming. The canopic chest of Hatshepsut, in which were 

stored her vital organs

The sanctuary lies within the mountainside. Two ramps connect the three levels, and on either side of the lower incline were T-shaped papyrus pools. On the ground level were sphinxes and fragrant trees from Punt. The sphinxes had the heads of Hatshepsut, and she is also represented as a lion in some of the temple's reliefs. Although she has no specific enemies, she is represented clawing at adversaries and capturing "birds of evil" with a clapnet.

A lid 

from one of the canopic jars of Senmut

Furthermore, the temple's walls document Hatshepsut's divine conception, her vote of confidence given by her father, her efforts to repair damage inflicted by the Hyksos invaders, the expeditions to Punt and the erection of the colossal obelisks at the temple of Karnak. Since the construction of the complex took about twenty years, the walls were like blank pages of a book, filled in as her reign progressed. By the time the temple was finished, Hatshepsut probably had little time to enjoy it as a pharaoh. Although Senmut originally planned to be buried at the temple, Hatshepsut's tomb was destined to lie elsewhere. In the manner of her father, Tuthmose I, who realized a temple is too obvious a place to bury priceless artifacts, the tomb of Hatshepsut was constructed in secret. Ineni, the architect of the tomb and temple of Tuthmose I, prided himself that he was the only one who knew the tomb location of his master. The 100 "slaves" that built the tomb, according to Otto Neubert, were killed after the project to protect the secret. Whether this brutal technique was used in Hatshepsut's case is not known, but it is rather moot. The biggest enemy Hatshepsut had were not grave-robbers, but her own nephew, who would have no problem finding her tomb, no matter how many slaves died.

For Senmut's work, he was rewarded handsomely and was able to buy a temple for himself not far from Hatshepsut's, in which were buried his minstrel and family, and even his favorite pet apes and horses. His mother Hatnofer was buried nearby as well. Around his mother's neck was a scarab necklace, according to the prescription of the Book of the Dead. On the back of the pendant is written:

Hatnofer says: heart of my mother, heart of my mother! Heart of my present form! Don't stand up against me in the council. Don't make opposition against me before the keeper of the scales [of judgment]. You are my life force in my body, my creator who makes my limbs sound. When you go to the good place to which we travel, don't make my name smell bad to the court of the living, so that it will go well for us and for the jury and so the judge will be happy. Don't tell lies against me beside the god. See: your [own] reputation is involved.

Although vandalized by Hatshepsut's foes and buried in sand for centuries, the Senmut's masterpiece loses no splendor. It is an incredible expression of the absolute power of a pharaoh, whether woman or man.

FROM: http://www.bediz.com/hatshep/temple.html

  Part of this temple is engraved inside Al-Qurna mountain west of Luxor city. In an elevated road leading to the temple’s halls, some coloured inscriptions depicting Queen Hatshepsut’s holy birth and her marine expedition on the Land of Punt could be seen. On another part of the temple’s walls, there are some pictures for "Semnout", Queen Hatshepsut’s architect who designed and supervised the building of the great monument.

Hatshepsut named her temple "Djeser Djeseru", a hieroglyphic expression meaning, the Splendour of Splendours. After her death, Thutmosis III tried to get rid of her remains and damaged her monuments in Deir el-Bahari, leaving behind no statue intact. In 1967, the Egyptian Antiquities Organization in coordination with a group of Egyptologists and restoration experts from Italy and Poland managed to restore the temple to be later opened for visitors.



Hathor pillar on Hapshepsut temple         Hapshepsut temple doorway

Hatshepsut's Temple Commentary

"Inspired by a funerary temple of the Middle Kingdom built by King Mentuhotep (XIth dynasty), the architect of Queen Hatshepsut (XVIIIth dynasty), Senenmout, built one of the most beautiful monuments of ancient Egypt, the style of which was never repeated.

"It consists of a succession of terraces whose supporting walls are masked by long colonnades divided in the centre by monumental access ramps. On the second terrace a third portico gives entry to a peristyle courtyard leading to the sanctuary, which is cut out of the cliff. The work of Senenmout is, in the strictness of its composition, architecturally very successful and a fine example of the integration of architecture and natural site."

— John Julius Norwich. The World Atlas of Architecture. p125.






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