Jan 18


 Queen Hatshepsut ruled in the eighteenth dynasty. Hatshepsut was the first queen of Egypt to refer to herself unconditionally as a Pharaoh. Although she was a female Pharaoh to rule Egypt, she was not the first nor would she be the last. She ruled in a time when women were allowed to own property and to hold official positions. They where given rights to inherit from deceased family members and were allowed to present their cases in court. Women of this period had more freedom than in other ancient cultures such as Greece where they were expected to stay home.
Artist's Impression of Hatsheput 

Born in the 15th century BC, Queen Hatshepsut, daughter of Tuthmose I and Aahmes, both of royal lineage, was the favorite of their three children. When her two brothers died, she was in the unique position to gain the throne upon the death of her father.
After the death of her father she became the wife of Thutmose II, her half-brother ( it was customary in royal families, for the oldest daughter of the pharaoh to marry her brother). He died young and Hatshepsut displayed great influence over his successor. Thutmose III succeeded to the throne while still a boy.
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.

Depiction of Punt Expedition 


The Punt Expedition


Although there were no wars during her reign, she proved her sovereignty by ordering expeditions to the land of Punt, in present-day Somalia, in search of the ivory, animals, spices, gold and aromatic trees that Egyptians coveted. These expeditions are well documented in the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the walls of her temple.

On the return of the expedition, Hatshepsut held a procession to the Temple of Amen-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 (see below), 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.)

Her Temple

Hatshepsut, in a final bid to be recognized as a legitimate queen, constructed a fabulous temple in the Valley of the Kings, of all places, by a tall plateau at Deir-el-Bahri, across the Nile from Thebes.
The Temple of Hatsheput 
The mortuary temple of Hatshepsut was built by the Great Steward of Amun, Sennemut, a commoner who became the queen's trusted advisor and possible lover. It was a radical change from other 18th dynasty structures. The ramp lies directly opposite the main entrance to the temple of Amun at Karnak and has three terraces. This mortuary temple has longed been admired for its beauty nestled at the foot of the great white cliffs.


Her Death

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 positively identified, so it is difficult to prove one way or another. There are a mummies that are a good candidates to be the pharaoh herself, though. An elder woman found in the cache of Amenhotep II; the second female mummy found in the tomb of Hatshepsut's nurse, Sitra-In; and a female mummy found in a cache of mummies along with Hatshepsut's canopic chest containing the remains of her liver.

Unfortunately when Thutmose III finally became Pharaoh in his own right, he endeavoured to erase any mention of Hatshepsut herself, destroying much of the relief work depicting various events, which Hatshepsut deemed worthy of being recorded.

Wherever possible the Queen's face was scratched off and her cartouches were changed to his. But, despite all the damage, the people of today still know of Egypt's first female Pharaoh - Hatshepsut.

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