Queen Hatshepsut

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Hatshepsut was a queen of Egypt and became one of the first recorded female rulers when she adopted the full titles of a pharaoh. Hatshepsut was the eldest daughter of the pharaoh, Thutmose I and Queen Ahmose, the Royal Wife. Thutmose I was the successor of the childless pharaoh, Amenhotep I. Thutmose I was a successful general in the army and married the previous pharaoh's sister Ahmose. Hatshepsut was born around 1502 BC. Her two eldest brothers died in accidents before their father's death, so she was married to her younger half brother Thutmose II, a son of a secondary wife name Mutnofret.

In Ancient Egypt it was the custom for a male to be the pharaoh and often a pharaoh was married to his sister or a half-sister. This practice is referred to as the "Heiress Theory" by modern scholars. This theory states that a male no matter his station in life or bloodline must marry a daughter of the old pharaoh to succeed to the throne. The common practice was for the pharaoh to marry his favorite son to his eldest daughter. Brother sister marriages and even father daughter marriages were accepted in ancient Egypt. It is thought Hatshepsut was about fifteen years old when her father died. Thutmose II ruled about three years before he "went up to heaven and was united with the gods". Thutmose II had one daughter with his royal wife Hatshepsut, her name was Neferure, he also had one other child a son, Thutmose III, by his concubine Aset. Thutmose III was about three years old when his father died around 1479 BC. Hatshepsut took over the control of the government on behalf of her young nephew as Queen Regent, she continued to use the title of "God's Wife", however, within a few years Hatshepsut was crowned a pharaoh and she adopted the full five great names and her name was placed in a cartouche. On her coronation Hatshepsut became Horus Powerful of Kas, Two Ladies Flourishing of Years, Female Horus of Fine Gold, Divine of Diadems, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maatkare, Daughter of Ra , Khenmet-Amen Hatshepsut. She wore the full pharaonic attire for male rulers, including the false beard. Many reliefs and statues of Hatshepsut as a male have survived but a few statues depicting her as female were discovered and these are displayed at Metropolitan Museum in New York City. It is believed that Hatshepsut became pharaoh no later than seven years into the reign of Thutmose III. first_courtyard_of_hatshepsut_temple

This is an unusual event not so much because Hatshepsut was female, because females ascended the throne in times of dynastic trouble (no royal male heir) but because Egypt already had a pharaoh Thutmose III. We can only imagine what events were taking place in the royal court that caused Hatshepsut to make such a bold move. During her father's and husband's reigns Hatshepsut referred to herself by the following traditional titles: "God's Wife of Amun," "King's Daughter" and "Royal Wife". She preferred to use the title "God's Wife of Amun" a powerful priestly title she inherited from her grandmother. When Hatshepsut became pharaoh she had to give up her office of "God's Wife", she passed this title to her daughter, Neferure. Hatshepsut then linked the office with those of the crown and the temple of Amun. Neferure prominence is greater than any other Egyptian princess and many of the Royal Wives, she is depicted on monuments and her name is etched on more scarabs than any other royal daughter. Many feel that Hatshepsut took over the government in a hostile move. I don't believe this was the case because Hatshepsut was only able to gain rulership by full support of the priest and government officials. Ancient Egypt allowed two pharaohs to rule at the same time, it was used to allow an orderly transfer from power of the old pharaoh to the new, the normal succession would be father to son.

between_columns_of_highest_level_of_hatshepsut_temple

The co-rule ended with the death of the older pharaoh. Hatshepsut always depicted her nephew, Thutmose III , as her co-ruler on monuments, so he was not displaced or disregarded by Hatshepsut and her officials. Study of new evidence has led many Egyptologist to believe that authority was divided, Hatshepsut took care of the commercial and administrative matters and Thutmose III handled military affairs. Some evidence suggest that Hatshepsut accompanied her nephew on one of his military campaign. It appears that to further her claim to the throne she proclaims her true father to be the Sun God Amun-Ra, who she said impregnated her mother, Queen Ahmose, this being so, she is a true daughter of Amun-Ra. All pharaohs were considered Amun-Ra's sons and manifestations of the god on earth, but Hatshepsut's Birth Myth made her a full daughter of Amun-Ra. According to the account left on her temple walls Amun-Ra spoke through an oracle requesting her to rule Egypt. Hatshepsut made an important contribution to the kingship by expanded the cult of Amun both politically and economically. She bolstered the Opet Festival of Amun and tied it to the renewal of kingship. The priest of Amun depended on the royal cult for survival. The number of male and female priest of Amun increased during her reign. Hatshepsut's reign was peaceful and her subjects called her "Good Queen Hatshepsut." She concentrated more on commerce and building than warfare and conquest. She expanded commerce with the usual countries of Asia, Nubia and Libya, and she sent trade expeditions to Punt, a country to the south of Egypt near the Red Sea. She had this event record on her mortuary temple.

Hatshepsut restored many buildings that were damaged by the invading Hyksos kings. She renovated the temple of Ipet-Issut which means in Egyptian "the most select of places", and is now known as present day Karnak. Hatshepsut erected two large granite obelisks at Ipet-Issut. The obelisks were impressive and historians described them as 108 cubits and covered in gold foil and when the sun hit them all Egypt was filled with their rays. Also within the temple of Ipet-Issut Hatshepsut had a "Red Chapel" constructed from red quartzite which was to house the holy barge of Amun. She also restored a temple to Hathor in middle Egypt and honored the goddess Sekhmet with a temple in Beni Hasan. Her most famous building is the mortuary temple she had constructed for herself and her father at present day Deir al-Bahari. Nestled against the cliffs of Western Thebes it is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The Ancient Egyptians called it "Djeser-djeseru" which means "sacred of sacreds". The temple is made of rock and is approached by an avenue of sphinxes 31 meters wide (121 feet) which at one time led up to a massive gateway that has been destroyed. The temple has three terraces which are linked by ramps and divided by columns. The temple walls are decorated with scenes of Hatshepsut's accomplishments as pharaoh. She recorded the expedition to Punt, the quarrying and transporting her great obeliskes, and her divine birth. There were colossal Osiride statues of Hatshepsut found on the upper verandah most have been destroyed in antiquity. There is a rock-cut shrine to Amun that house the god during the annual "Beautiful Feast of the Valley".

statues_of_hatshepsut_at_hatshepsut_temple

There is a shrine to Hathor located in the southern part of the temple and one for the god, Anubis, located at the northern end. Hatshepsut also included a chapel to her parents that was located in the solar court found on the upper terrace. Hatshepsut said she built her temple as a garden to her father,the god Amun, and its gardens contained exotic trees from Punt. It took fifteen years to build and a man named Senenmut is credited as its architect. Hatshepsut died around 1452 BC. The cause of her death remains a mystery. Many scholars speculate Thutmose III had her murdered, others believe, as she aged and Thutmose III grew older her support group dwindled and she left office without a coup, others feel she died of natural causes and the natural succession of her co-ruler then took place. Her successor Thutmose III tried to remove her name from all her monuments and official records some twenty years after her death. Records that listed Hatshepsut with her traditional titles "God's Wife of Amun," "King's Daughter" and "Royal Wife" were not attacked. There is much speculation why Thutmose III allowed the removal of Hatshepsut's name. Theories range from he view her as a wicked stepmother to a dynasty struggle between the Ahmose and Thutmose families. Early scholars felt he did this out of revenge because she did not leave the throne when he became age. Other historians think it was done to hide the fact a female ruled Egypt as pharaoh. One possible theory is Thutmose III was protecting the accesion of his son.

Even though Hatshepsut had no lineal relatives that survived her it is possible that there were collateral family members and since the desecration of her memory came about shortly after Thutmose's III son Amenhotep II started his co-rule, his motive may have simply been to assure a smooth transition to sole rule for his son. It's possible that it is a combination of all these views, the priest and government officials may have been afraid that Hatshepsut's rule would cause change in the system they used for so long and Thutmose III seeing a possible political threat to his son's throne gave his blessings. These are all just theories and the real "why" will probably always be a mystery. As a Royal wife Hatshepsut's tomb was under construction in the "Valley of Queens", but when she was crowned pharaoh construction on that tomb was halted and a second tomb was build in the "Valley of Kings," an honor reserved for pharaohs, but some scholars believe she was never entered there, others report she was but the tomb was ransacked after her burial. The tomb was to house both the mummies of Hatshepsut and her father Thutmose I. During the Twenty-first Dynasty Egypt's economy was on a decline and there was wide spread looting by thieves of the royal burials.

The priest went into the royal tombs under the pretext of saving the royal mummies from the looters by removing all the valuable from the mummies and tombs. Many royal mummies were rewrapped and relocated to the more well hidden tombs at this time. The mummy of Thutmose I was found in the Deir el Bahari cache with several other relatives of Hatshepsut but to date her mummy has never been identified. It is possible she was one of the unknown female mummies found in the cache with her father. In recent years two female mummies were found together in a tomb identified as KV60. One mummy who's wrappings identify her as Sitra-In nursemaid of Hatshepsut, the other mummy was an unidentified female mummy one whose arms rested in the 18th dynasty's position of a ruling queen. This mummy was found with a mask which originally contain jewels and the chin sported an indentation for the false beard. A false beard would have been only used for a pharaoh not a queen. Many scholars think that this mummy could be that of Hatshepsut however, there is not enough evidence to prove or disprove this theory. The mummy is described as elderly, five feet tall, with hennaed hair and nails and had arthritis in her left knee. The mummy of Sitra-In was taken to the Cairo Museum and the unidentified one left in a coffin inside KV60. Some of Hatshepsut's funerary goods have turned up in tombs belonging to others so we do know Thutmose III gave his aunt an honorable burial. It is not known what happened to Hatshepsut's daughter Neferure, it is believed she was married to Thutmose III and died when she was about twelve to fourteen years old. Hatshepsut disappeared shortly after her daughter's death. Although her name is left out of the Abydos "Kings List" from the 19th-dynasty, an Egyptian priest historian Manetho from the Ptolemaic era reported Hatshepsut's reign lasted "twenty-one years and nine months." Thutmose III began his sole rule of Egypt at about age twenty-two and went on to become one of the greatest pharaohs of Egypt and historians call him the "Great Napoleon of Egypt" because of his foreign conquests.

 

 

 

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