|Reign||c. 1479 – 1458 BC|
|Born||c. 1507 BC|
|Died||1458 BC (aged 50)|
|Burial||KV20 (possibly re-interred in KV60)|
|Monuments||Temple of Karnak, Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Speos Artemidos Chapelle Rouge|
Hatshepsut[a] (c. 1507–1458 BC) was the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Thutmose II and the fifth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, ruling first as regent, then as queen regnant from c. 1479 BC until c. 1458 BC (Low Chronology). She was Egypt's second certain queen regnant, the first being Sobekneferu/Nefrusobek in the Twelfth Dynasty.
Hatshepsut was the daughter of Thutmose I and Great Royal Wife, Ahmose. Upon the death of her husband and half-brother Thutmose II, she had initially ruled as regent to her stepson,Thutmose III, who inherited the throne at the age of two. Several years into her regency, Hatshepsut assumed the position of pharaoh and adopted the full royal titulary, making her a co-ruler alongside Thutmose III. In order to establish herself in the Egyptian patriarchy, she took on traditionally male roles and was depicted as a male pharaoh, with physically masculine traits and traditionally male garb. Hatshepsut's reign was a period of great prosperity and general peace. One of the most prolific builders in Ancient Egypt, she oversaw large-scale construction projects such as the Karnak Temple Complex, the Red Chapel, the Speos Artemidos and most famously, the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari.
Hatshepsut died probably in Year 22 of Thutmose III. Towards the end of the reign of Thutmose III and into the reign of his son Amenhotep II, an attempt was made to remove her from official accounts of Egyptian historiography. Her statues were destroyed, her monuments were defaced, and many of her achievements were ascribed to other pharaohs. Many modern historians attribute this to ritual and religious reasons, rather than personal hostility as previously thought.
Hatshepsut was born in 1507 BCE, and is believed to have been the daughter of Thutmose I and his great royal wife, Ahmose. After her father's death, Hatshepsut was then married to Thutmose II, her half-brother, when she was fourteen or fifteen years old. They were around the same age when they married. 
Upon the death of Thutmose II, the underage Thutmose III became the pharaoh of Egypt. Hatshepsut was thought of by early modern scholars to have only served as regent alongside him. However, modern scholars agree that, while Hatshepsut initially served as regent for young Thutmose III from his accession in c. 1479 BC, she eventually assumed the position of pharaoh alongside him, by Year 7 of his reign, c. 1472 BC; becoming queen regnant, Hatshepsut shared Thutmose III's existing regnal count, effectively back-dating her accession as pharaoh to Year 1, when she had been merely regent. Although queens Sobekneferu and possibly Nitocris may have previously assumed the role of pharaoh, Hatshepsut was the only female ruler to do so in a time of prosperity, and arguably had more powers than her female predecessors.
Retrospectively, Hatshepsut was described as having a reign of about 21-22 years by ancient authors, which included both her regency and her reign as queen regnant. Josephus and Julius Africanus follow the earlier testimony of Manetho (Third Century BC), mentioning a queen regnant called Amessis or Amensis, specified by Josephus to have been the sister of her predecessor. This woman was later identified by historians as Hatshepsut. In Josephus' text, her reign is described as lasting 21 years and 9 months, while Africanus stated it was 22 years, apparently rounding up. The latest attestation of Hatshepsut in contemporary records comes from Year 20 of the regnal count of Thutmose III, and she is no longer mentioned in Year 22, when he undertook his first major foreign campaign. This is compatible with the 21 years 9 months recorded by Manetho and Josephus, which would place the end of Hatshepsut's reign in Year 22 of Thutmose III.
Dating the beginning of her reign is more difficult. Her father's reign began in either 1526 or 1506 BC according to the high and low estimates of her reign. The length of the reigns of Thutmose I and Thutmose II, however, cannot be determined with certainty. With short reigns, Hatshepsut would have ascended the throne 14 years after the coronation of Thutmose I, her father. Longer reigns would put her accession 25 years after Thutmose I's coronation.
The earliest attestation of Hatshepsut as pharaoh occurs in the tomb of Ramose and Hatnofer, where a collection of grave goods contained a single pottery jar or amphora from the tomb's chamber—which was stamped with the date "Year 7". Another jar from the same tomb—which was discovered in situ by a 1935–36 Metropolitan Museum of Art expedition on a hillside near Thebes—was stamped with the seal of the "God's Wife Hatshepsut" while two jars bore the seal of "The Good Goddess Maatkare." The dating of the amphorae, "sealed into the [tomb's] burial chamber by the debris from Senenmut's own tomb", is undisputed, which means that Hatshepsut was acknowledged as pharaoh, and no longer merely regent, of Egypt by Year 7 of her reign. She was certainly pharaoh by Year 9, the date of the Punt expedition, c. 1471 BC; her last dated attestation as pharaoh is Year 20, c. 1460 BC, and she no longer appears in Year 22 c. 1458.
Hatshepsut re-established a number of trade networks that had been disrupted during the Hyksos occupation of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. She oversaw the preparations and funding for a mission to the Land of Punt.
Hatshepsut's delegation returned from Punt bearing 31 live myrrh trees and other luxuries such as frankincense. Hatshepsut would grind the charred frankincense into kohl eyeliner. This is the first recorded use of the resin.
Hatshepsut had the expedition commemorated in relief at Deir el-Bahari, which is also famous for its realistic depiction of Queen Ati of the Land of Punt. Hatshepsut also sent raiding expeditions to Byblos and the Sinai Peninsula shortly after the Punt expedition. Very little is known about these expeditions. Although many Egyptologists have claimed that her foreign policy was mainly peaceful, it is possible that she led military campaigns against Nubia and Canaan.
Hatshepsut was one of the most prolific builders in Ancient Egypt, commissioning hundreds of construction projects throughout both Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Many of these building projects were temples to build her religious base and legitimacy beyond her position as God's Wife of Amun. At these temples, she performed religious rituals that had hitherto been reserved for kings, corroborating the evidence that Hatshepsut assumed traditionally male roles as pharaoh. She employed the great architect Ineni, who also had worked for her father, her husband, and for the royal steward Senenmut. The extant artifacts of the statuary provide archaeological evidence of Hatshepsut's portrayals of herself as a male pharaoh, with physically masculine traits and traditionally male Ancient Egyptian garb, such as a false beard and ram's horns. These images are seen as symbolic, and not evidence of cross-dressing or androgyny.
Following the tradition of most pharaohs, Hatshepsut had monuments constructed at the Temple of Karnak. She also restored the original Precinct of Mut, the great ancient goddess of Egypt, at Karnak that had been ravaged by the foreign rulers during the Hyksos occupation. It later was ravaged by other pharaohs, who took one part after another to use in their own projects. The precinct awaits restoration. She had twin obelisks erected at the entrance to the temple which at the time of building were the tallest in the world. Only one remains upright, which is the second-tallest ancient obelisk still standing, the other having toppled and broken in two. The official in charge of those obelisks was the high steward Amenhotep. Another project, Karnak's Red Chapel, or Chapelle Rouge, was built as a barque shrine.
Later, she ordered the construction of two more obelisks to celebrate her 16th year as pharaoh; one of the obelisks broke during construction, and a third was therefore constructed to replace it. The broken obelisk was left at its quarrying site in Aswan, where it remains. Known as the Unfinished Obelisk, it provides evidence of how obelisks were quarried.
Hatshepsut built the Temple of Pakhet 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 akin 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 James P. Allen has translated. This temple was altered later, and some of its insides were altered by Seti I of the Nineteenth Dynasty in an attempt to have his name replace that of Hatshepsut.
Following the tradition of many pharaohs, the masterpiece of Hatshepsut's building projects was a mortuary temple. She built hers in a complex at Deir el-Bahari. The identity of the architect behind the project remains unclear. It is possible that Senenmut, the Overseer of Works, or Hapuseneb, the High Priest, were responsible. It is also likely that Hatshepsut provided input to the project. Located opposite the city of Luxor, it is considered to be a masterpiece of ancient architecture. The complex's focal point was the Djeser-Djeseru or "the Holy of Holies".
Hyperbole is common to virtually 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.
Hatshepsut assumed all 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. Hatshepsut was ambiguous and androgynous in many of her statues and monuments. She would create a masculine version of herself to establish herself in the Egyptian patriarchy.
Osirian statues of Hatshepsut—as with other pharaohs—depict the dead pharaoh as Osiris, with the body and regalia of that deity.
To further lay her claim to the throne, priests told a story of divine birth. In this myth, Amun goes to Ahmose in the form of Thutmose I. 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 place 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.
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.
Death, burial, and mummification
Hatshepsut's last dated attestation as pharaoh is Year 20, III Peret, Day 2, c. 22 May 1459 BC, but the reign length of 21 years and 9 months in Manetho and Josephus indicates that she ceased to reign in Year 22, c. 1458 BC. The precise date of the beginning of Thutmose III's reign as sole ruler of Egypt—and presumably of Hatshepsut's death—is considered to be Year 22, II Peret, Day 10, recorded on a single stela erected at Armant, corresponding to 16 January 1458 BC. This information validates the basic reliability of Manetho's king list records since Hatshepsut's known accession date was I Shemu, Day 4.
Hatshepsut began constructing a tomb when she was the Great Royal Wife of Thutmose II. Still, 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 her father's burial and prepared for a double interment of both Thutmose I and her within KV20. Therefore, it is likely that when she died (no later than the 22nd year of her reign), she was interred in this tomb along with her father.
However, during Thutmose III's reign, a new tomb (KV38), was constructed along with fresh burial equipment for Thutmose I. Thus, Thutmose I was relocated from his original tomb and reburied elsewhere. There is a possibility that at the same time, Hatshepsut's mummy was moved into the tomb of her nurse, Sitre In, in KV60. These actions could have been motivated by Amenhotep II, Thutmose III's son from a secondary wife, in an effort to secure his own uncertain claim to the throne.
Besides what was recovered from KV20 during Egyptologist Howard Carter's clearance of the tomb in 1903, other funerary furniture belonging to Hatshepsut has been found elsewhere, including a lioness throne or bedstead, 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, a wooden canopic box featuring an ivory knob was found, bearing the name of Hatshepsut and containing a mummified liver or spleen, along with a molar tooth. There was also a royal lady with the same name from the 21st dynasty, leading to initial speculation that the artifacts may have belonged to her instead.
In 1903, Howard Carter had discovered tomb KV60 in the Valley of the Kings. It contained two female mummies: one identified as Hatshepsut's wet nurse and the other unidentified. In spring 2007, the unidentified body, called KV60A, was finally removed from the tomb by Dr. Zahi Hawass and taken to Cairo's Egyptian Museum for testing. This mummy was missing a tooth, and the space in the jaw perfectly matched Hatshepsut's existing molar, found in the DB320 "canopic box". Based on this, Hawass concluded that the KV60A mummy is very likely Hatshepsut.
While the mummy and the tooth could be DNA tested to see if it belonged to the same person and confirm the mummy's identity, Hawass, the Cairo Museum and some Egyptologists have refused to do it as it would require destroying the tooth to retrieve the DNA. Her death has since been attributed to a benzopyrene carcinogenic skin lotion found in possession of the Pharaoh, which led to her having bone cancer. Other members of the queen's family are thought to have suffered from inflammatory skin diseases that tend to be genetic. Assuming that the mummy is that of Hatshepsut, it is likely that she inadvertently poisoned herself while trying to soothe her itchy, irritated skin. It also would suggest that she had arthritis and bad teeth, which may be why the tooth was removed.
However, in 2011, the tooth was identified as the molar from a lower jaw, whereas the mummy from KV60 was missing a molar from its upper jaw, thus casting doubt on the supposed identification.
Exclusion from the historical record
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. Her cartouches and images were chiselled off stone walls. Erasure methods ranged from full destruction of any instance of her name or image to replacement, inserting Thutmose I or II where Hatshepsut once stood. There were also instances of smoothing, patchwork jobs that covered Hatshepsut's cartouche; examples of this can be seen on the walls of the Deir el-Bahari temple. Simpler methods also included covering, where new stone was added to fully cover reliefs or sacred stone work.
At the Deir el-Bahari temple, Hatshepsut's many statues were torn down and in many cases, smashed or disfigured before being buried in a pit. At Karnak, an attempt was made to wall up her monuments. 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 as a manifestation of the typical pattern of self-promotion that existed among the pharaohs and their administrators, or perhaps to save money by not building new monuments for the burial of Thutmose III, and instead using the grand structures built by Hatshepsut.
Amenhotep II, the son of Thutmose III, who became a co-regent toward the end of his father's reign, is suspected by some as being the defacer during the end of the reign of a very old pharaoh. He would have had a motive because his position in the royal lineage was not so strong as to assure his elevation to pharaoh. He is documented, further, as having usurped many of Hatshepsut's accomplishments during his own reign. His reign is marked with attempts to break the royal lineage as well, not recording the names of his queens and eliminating the powerful titles and official roles of royal women, such as God's Wife of Amun.
For many years, presuming that it was Thutmose III acting out of resentment once he became pharaoh, early modern Egyptologists presumed that the erasures were similar to the Roman damnatio memoriae. Egyptologist Donald Redford says that this was not borne out of hatred but was a political necessity to assert his own beliefs. Redford added:
But did Thutmose remember her? 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.
Hatshepsut is, according to Egyptologist James Henry Breasted, "the first great woman in history of whom we are informed." In some ways, Hatshepsut's reign was seen as going against the patriarchal system of her time. She managed to rule as regent for a son who was not her own, going against the system which had previously only allowed mothers to rule on behalf of their biological sons. She used this regency to create her female kingship, constructing extensive temples to celebrate her reign, which meant that the public became used to seeing a woman in such a powerful role. This ensured that when the oracle declared her king, the Egyptian public readily accepted her status.
However, as with other female heads of state in ancient Egypt, this was only done through the use of male symbols of kingship; hence the description of Hatshepsut and others as female kings rather than queens. Hatshepsut was arguably placed in power by men to further their own wealth. She gained power when Egypt had recently amassed extensive wealth, implying that she was placed in power by Egyptian elites due to her record as successful in various domains—as High Priestess or as a placeholder serving for her father Thutmose I in Thebes while he was away on military campaigns. This record of success made such elites confident that she could handle Egyptian wealth and trade, capitalizing on Egypt's moment of prosperity. Indeed, historian Kara Cooney describes Hatshepsut as "arguably, the only woman to have ever taken power as king in ancient Egypt during a time of prosperity and expansion."
Historian Joyce Tyldesley stated that Thutmose III may have ordered public monuments to Hatshepsut and her achievements to be altered or destroyed in order to place her in a lower position of co-regent, meaning he could claim that royal succession ran directly from Thutmose II to Thutmose III without any interference from his aunt. This was supported by Thutmose III's officials, and as Hatshepsut's officials either died or were no longer in the public eye, there was little opposition to this.[b] Tyldesley, along with historians Peter Dorman and Gay Robins, say that the erasure and defacement of Hatshepsut's monuments may have been an attempt to extinguish the memory of female kingship (including its successes, as opposed to the female pharaoh Sobekneferu, who failed to rejuvenate Egypt's fortunes and was therefore more acceptable to the conservative establishment as a tragic figure) and re-legitimise his right to rule.
The "Hatshepsut Problem" is a direct link to gender normatives in regards to ancient Egyptian social structures. Although she did hold Queen status, her reign, especially after, was disregarded and even erased. Her reign could be considered more successful than some pharaohs' reigns, for example with expanding borders, which can be seen as a threat to traditional gender roles. This raises questions about the conflict between power and traditional gender roles, and to what extent modernism and conservatism overlap.
The erasure of Hatshepsut's name—by the men who succeeded her for whatever reason—almost caused her to disappear from Egypt's archaeological and written records. When 19th-century Egyptologists started to interpret the texts on the Deir el-Bahari temple walls (which were illustrated with two seemingly male kings) their translations made no sense. Jean-François Champollion, the French decoder of hieroglyphs, said:
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...
This problem was a major issue in late 19th-century and early 20th-century Egyptology, centering on confusion and disagreement on the order of succession of early 18th Dynasty pharaohs. The dilemma takes its name from confusion over the chronology of the rule of Queen Hatshepsut and Thutmose I, II, and III.
- //; also Hatchepsout; Egyptian: ḥꜣt-špswt "Foremost of Noble Ladies"; or archaically Hatasu
- Tyldesley (1996) notes on p. 252 that a detailed discussion of the disappearance of Senenmut – Hatshepsut's highest official and closest supporter who retired abruptly or died around Years 16 and 20 of Hatshepsut's reign – and a useful list of other publications on this topic is given in A. R. Schulman's 1969–70 paper "Some Remarks on the Alleged 'Fall' of Senmut," JARCE 8, pp. 29–48.
- Leprohon 2013, pp. 98.
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