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Early Life and Reign

Hatshepsut is considered to be one of the most famous female king of Egypt who was bestowed with unprecedented power as a woman and was also successful in offering power to women of her time. She is the 5th ruler of the 18th dynasty. Hatshepsut was the daughter of Thutmose I and Queen Ahmose and as it was quite common in the royal houses of Egypt, she married her half-brother Thutmose II.

They had a daughter Neferu from the marriage and Thutmose II also had a son from a minor wife with the name Isis and named him Thutmose III. After the death of her husband, and his son being too young to take hold of kingly duties and responsibilities, Hatshepsut was made the regent or she was to rule the kingdom of Egypt on behalf of Thutmose III until he came of age. However, Hatshepsut took advantage of this situation where she crowned herself as the pharaoh of Egypt.

Hatshepsut was intelligent to realize that she was a woman in the position of a man and therefore, it was necessary for her to protect herself both as a ruler and as a woman. Therefore, she decided to depict herself as God Amun’s daughter who was considered to be one of the most powerful deities of the time. She also made an attempt to learn the language of the clergy and also spent time understanding rituals that were associated with God. She also danced and sang for the god at the beginning of festivities where God’s wife was believed to arouse the deity for the act of creation.

Consequently, by proclaiming herself to be the daughter of God, she tried to elevate her status to a semi-divine position. similarly, to strengthen her worth of being capable to sit on the throne, she also successfully inscribed an oracle which she said was given to her long before her birth where God Amun had prophesized that she would become a pharaoh. 

She was also successful in attainting full titles as well as insignia of the pharaoh. Hatshepsut has been depicted as a regal queen with the body of a female and also female garments. However, after several experimentations, now the statue of the queen involves a combination of a female body with that of male regalia. Most of her formal portraits depict Hatshepsut with the body of a male where she is shown to wear the traditional regalia known as the kilt, false beard as well as a headcloth.

Power and Status as a Female Ruler

Despite the masculine dress on her statues, all have a distinctly feminine air about them. For instance, the kingly titles which are written on the sides of the throne are said to have been feminized which read “the perfect goddess, lady of two lands” and “bodily daughter of Re”. Some of the traces of blue pigment have also been found in several hieroglyphs which are present on the front of the statue along with a small fragment which is located at the back of the head. This clearly shows that the pleats of her nemes-headcloth had been initially painted with blue as well as yellow pigments.

Statues that depict Hatshepsut in a feminine pose are most in the seated form with hands placed flatly on the knees. This suggests that the statue intended to receive some offering and was not placed in the public areas. The statues were, therefore, placed at the chapels on the upper part of the terrace. Two of these statues depict her completely as a woman.

In none of Egyptian history has it been mentioned as to how Hatshepsut was successful in convincing and persuading the royal members to become the king of Egypt or how was she able to take the throne. But historical facts do have proof that she had some loyal officials who were given the responsibility of looking after the key responsibilities of the government. Some of the loyal officials were Senenmut who was bestowed with the responsibility to supervise all the royal works and was also a tutor to Neferure. She made an attempt to surround herself with scholars, personal advisors, state bureaucrats, administrators of the temples, palace courtiers, and others who were all intellectuals, artists as well as profound engineers. All these individuals might have played a significant role in establishing creative works which were found to have been present during the reign of Hatshepsut.

It should be noted that history books and records clearly state that Egyptian kings always tried to defend their lands against their enemies who were present at the borders. However, the reign of Hatshepsut was completely opposite than the other Egyptian kings since she ruled peacefully because her foreign policy was not that of war, rather she believed in making her enemies her friend by trading with them that not only helped in keeping the enemies off but also helped in building new and strong relationships with them which helped in increasing the revenues of the kingdom. She reigned for 22 years and during her reign she was responsible for investing in several successful building projects than any of the pharaohs except Rameses.

Depiction in Art and Architecture

Despite the above fact, some of the scenes which has been depicted in the walls of the temple known as Dayr al-Bahri located in the Western Thebes states that initially, Hatshepsut began her rule by a military campaign in the region of Nubia which was quite successful. Some of the complete scenes of the campaign clearly show how she was successful in her trading expedition by sea to Punt, which is considered to be a trading center located on the coast of East Africa beyond the end of the Red Sea. The ships that went to Punt were said to be 70 feet long with 210 sailor each ad 30 rowers. From her trading expedition, Hatshepsut brought back gold, processes myrrh, animal skins, living myrrh trees as well as baboons to Egypt where the trees were planted in the garden of Dayr al-Bahri.

During her reign, she tried to rebuilt monuments that had been destroyed when the north part of Egypt was controlled by princes of the Asian dynasty and the south of Egypt was controlled by a dynasty of Egyptians which was located in Thebes. She was also successful in renewing trade from west of Asia to the east, far off land in the south known as Punt and at the same time, also built trade relationships with the region of the Aegean Islands that are located in the north. The rest of economic prosperity has been effectively depicted in the art of her time that has been characterized by some remarkable innovations made in sculptures as well as decorative arts.

Restoration, as well as building, are considered to be important duties of kings and an extensive building program was also undertaken by Hatshepsut. First, she focused on the temples of Thebes which belonged to her father. Similarly, at the complex of Karnak temple, she tried to remodel the hypostyle hall of her father and also went on to add barque shrines and at the same time, also established pairs of obelisks. To build the Karnak temple, she had employed expert architect Ineni who also worked for her father who designed further temples as well as monuments and was the one responsible for erecting the obelisks which were considered to be the tallest in the world during that time.

Apart from this, she also showed her building responsibility at Beni Hasan which is located in middle Egypt where a rock-cut temple was built on her orders. However, her significant achievement is considered to be the changes that were brought in Dayr al-Bahri temple that had been designed for Hatshepsut which had a series of chapels dedicated to Re, Anubis, Osiris as well as Hathor who were all royal ancestors.

Building and Restoration Projects

During the end of her reign, Hatshepsut gave Thutmose a significant role to play in state affairs, and after her death, Thutmose III ruled the land of Egypt for almost 33 years. During the end of his reign, he made an attempt to remove all the traces of the rule of Hatshepsut which was followed by bringing down all her statues, defacing all her monuments, and having her name removed from the list of official kings.

 Through these acts, he wanted to ensure that the succession would run from one king to the other without showing any kind of female interruption or power. Till 1822, Hatshepsut sunk into obscurity, until the hieroglyphic scrips were decoded by the archaeologists which allowed them to read the inscriptions at Dayr al-Bahri. Initially, the male, as well as female body, created confusion for the archaeologists, but now the succession of Thutmose is clearly understood.

It is assumed that the corpse of Hatshepsut was hidden from Thutmose III and was buried in secret so that he would not be able to desecrate the corpse. For several years it had been believed that none of her remains were left apart from some of the fragments which were found in a canopic jar. It was not before the early 1920s that the Museum of Egyptian Expedition excavated several fragments of Hatshepsut’s statue from the temple of Dayr al-Bahri located in western Thebes. The torso, however, was found in 1869 and was kept in a region called Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden.

In 2006 CE, Egyptologist with the name Zahi Hawass claimed that he had been successful in locating the mummy of Hatshepsut on the third floor of the museum of Cairo. Researchers later identified the mummy by matching a tooth that was considered to be belonging to Hatshepsut. It is during the year 1998, that the Leiden torso and the portion of the MET statue were reunited since the original statue had been destroyed in 1440 BC. 

Examination of the mummy clearly showed that Hatshepsut died during her fifties from an abscess that was followed by the removal of one of her tooth. The attempt of Thutmose III to completely erase Hatshepsut from history was not due to some personal enmity or grudge but because of his cultural understanding and the traditional role of women which were performed during his time.

Therefore, it should be noted that her legacy and efforts are an example for women who try to compete with men for the powerful position in today’s generation.

Legacy and Obscurity

References

Belal, Omar, Mahmoud Abd El-Razek Awad, Khaled shawky El-Bassiouny, and Adel Ahmed Zein El-Abdidine. "The western wall of Hatshepsut’s red chapel sanctuary at Karnak temples “Archaeological study”."

Bullivant, Ashley Ann. "How Do You Define A King? A Study of Kingship Leading Up To, During, and Immediately Following The Reign of Hatshepsut." PhD diss., State University of New York at Binghamton, 2019.

Candelas Fisac, Juan. "Choosing the Location of a ‘House for Eternity’. A Survey on the Relationship between the Rank of the Hatshepsut’s Officials and the Location of their Burials in the Theban Necropolis." (2020).

Dziedzic, Teresa. "Transporting false doors at the construction site of the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari." Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 2, no. XXVII (2018): 129-142.

Griffin, Kenneth. "Two relief fragments from the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari in the Egypt Centre, Swansea." Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 2, no. XXVII (2018): 225-236.

Griffin, Kenneth. "Two relief fragments from the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari in the Egypt Centre, Swansea." Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 2, no. XXVII (2018): 225-236.

Habermehl, Anne. "Chronology and the Gezer connection—Solomon, Thutmose III, Shishak and Hatshepsut." Journal of Creation 32 (2018): 83-90.

Holton, Stephanie. "Erasing History? Contextualizing Modern Monument Destruction through an Archaeological Lens." (2018).

Kasprzycka, Katarzyna. "Reconstruction of the bases of sandstone sphinxes from the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari." Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 2, no. XXVIII (2019): 359-387.

Kerzan, Caitlin. "Power in the hands of Queens: An analysis of Egyptian queenship through museum representation." (2020).

Kra?niewska, U., 2019. Restoration Work in the Main Sanctuary of Amun of the Temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahari. Studies in Ancient Art and Civilization, (23), pp.51-71.

Robledo, Sergio Alarcón. "The original arrangement of the Upper Courtyard of the Temple of Hatshepsut in the light of recent archaeological results." Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 2, no. XXVII (2018): 17-32.

Robledo, Sergio Alarcón. "The original arrangement of the Upper Courtyard of the Temple of Hatshepsut in the light of recent archaeological results." Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 2, no. XXVII (2018): 17-32.

Spencer, Steffan A. "Matrifocal Retentions in Ethiopian Orthodox Traditions: The Madonna as Ark & Queen Makeda as Prefiguration of Mary; with Egyptian Queen Tiye & Pharaoh Hatshepsut as reference." African Identities (2021): 1-22.

Stanton, Pauline. "Hatshepsut's obelisks at Karnak: Commemorating a sed-festival." Teaching History 54, no. 1 (2020): 21-25.

Stupko-Lubczynska, Anastasiia. "Masters and apprentices at the Chapel of Hatshepsut: towards an archaeology of ancient Egyptian reliefs." Antiquity 96, no. 385 (2022): 85-102.

White, Jessica. "Models of Female Authority in the New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period: A Case Study of Hatshepsut and Amenirdis I." (2021).

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