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Hatshepsut (/hætˈʃɛpsʊt/;[4] also Hatchepsut; Egyptian: ḥꜣt-špswt "Foremost of Noble Ladies";[5] or Hatasu[6] c. 1507–1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. She was the second historically confirmed female pharaoh, after Sobekneferu.[7] (Various other women may have also ruled as pharaohs or at least regents before Hatshepsut, as early as Neithhotep around 1,600 years prior.)

Hatshepsut came to the throne of Egypt in 1478 BC.[8] As the principal wife of Thutmose II, Hatshepsut initially ruled as regent to Thutmose III, a son of Thutmose II by another wife and the first male heir. While Thutmose III had inherited the throne at about two years old, Hatshepsut continued to rule by asserting her lineage as the daughter and only child of Thutmose I and his primary wife, Ahmose.[9][10]

Her husband Thutmose II was the son of Thutmose I and a secondary wife named Mutnofret, who carried the title 'King's daughter' and was probably a child of Ahmose I. Hatshepsut and Thutmose II had a daughter named Neferure. Thutmose II with Iset, a secondary wife, would father Thutmose III, who would succeed Hatshepsut as pharaoh.[11]


Jar bearing the cartouche of Hatshepsut. Filled in with cedar resin. Calcite, unfinished. Foundation deposit. 18th Dynasty. From Deir el-Bahari, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

Although contemporary records of her reign are documented in diverse ancient sources, Hatshepsut was thought by early modern scholars as only having served as a co-regent from about 1479 to 1458 BC, during years seven to 21 of the reign previously identified as that of Thutmose III.[12] Today Egyptologists generally agree that Hatshepsut assumed the position of pharaoh.[13][14]

Hatshepsut was described as having a reign of about 21 years by ancient authors. Josephus and Julius Africanus both quote Manetho's king list, mentioning a woman called Amessis or Amensis who has been identified (from the context) as Hatshepsut. In Josephus' work, her reign is described as lasting 21 years and nine months,[15] while Africanus stated it was 22 years. At this point in the history, records of the reign of Hatshepsut end, since the first major foreign campaign of Thutmose III was dated to his 22nd year, which also would have been Hatshepsut's 22nd year as pharaoh.[16]

Dating the beginning of her reign is more difficult, however. Her father's reign began in either 1526 or 1506 BC according to the high and low estimates of her reign, respectively.[17] 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 14 years after the coronation of Thutmose I, her father.[18] Longer reigns would put her ascension 25 years after Thutmose I's coronation.[17] Thus, Hatshepsut could have assumed power as early as 1512 BC, or, as late as 1479 BC.[citation needed]

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".[19] 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."[20] 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 not queen, of Egypt by Year 7 of her reign.[20]

Nuanced legacy[edit]

Hatshepsut's legacy is oftentimes dominated by a debate regarding the extent of whether her reign challenged or upheld the patriarchy. On one hand, Hatshepsut was an innovator. She managed to rule as regent for a son who was not her own, defying the system which had previously only allowed direct mothers to rule on behalf of their biological sons. Moreover, she used this regency to manufacture her female kingship, constructing extensive temples to celebrate her reign, thereby forcing the public to grow accustomed 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.[21] All the while, she did so while feigning a lack of ambition and cunning, thus ensuring that she would not alienate potential supporters.

However, Hatshepsut was not an innovator in other respects, and arguably was placed in power by males to further their own wealth. She gained power during a time 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 "the only woman to have ever taken power as king in ancient Egypt during a time of prosperity and expansion."[21]

Major accomplishments[edit]

Trade routes[edit]

Hatshepsut re-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. This trading expedition to Punt was during the ninth year of Hatshepsut's reign. It set out in her name with five ships, each measuring 70 feet (21 m) long, bearing several sails[dubious ] and accommodating 210 men that included sailors and 30 rowers.[citation needed] Many trade goods were bought in Punt, notably frankincense and myrrh.[citation needed]

Hatshepsut's delegation returned from Punt bearing 31 live myrrh 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 mortuary temple complex. Egyptians also returned with a number of other gifts from Punt, among which was frankincense.[22] Hatshepsut would grind the charred frankincense into kohl eyeliner. This is the first recorded use of the resin.[23]

Hatshepsut had the expedition commemorated in relief at Deir el-Bahari, which is also famous for its realistic depiction of the Queen of the Land of Punt, Queen Ati.[24] 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,[24] it's possible that she led military campaigns against Nubia and Canaan.[25]

Building projects[edit]

Copper or bronze sheet bearing the name of Hatshepsut. From a foundation deposit in "a small pit covered with a mat" found at Deir el-Bahri, Egypt. 18th Dynasty. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

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.[21] Arguably, her buildings were grander and more numerous than those 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 Senenmut. During her reign, so much statuary was produced that almost every major museum with Ancient Egyptian artifacts 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. 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.[26]

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 pet 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.[27]

Another project, Karnak's Red Chapel, or Chapelle Rouge, was intended as a barque shrine and originally may have stood between her two obelisks. It was lined with carved stones that depicted significant events in Hatshepsut's life.[citation needed]

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 still remains. Known as the Unfinished Obelisk, it provides evidence of how obelisks were quarried.[28]

Colonnaded design of Hatshepsut temple

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.[29] The Hyksos occupied Egypt and cast it into a cultural decline that persisted until a revival of her policies and innovations. This temple was altered later, and some of its inside decorations were usurped by Seti I of the Nineteenth Dynasty in an attempt to have his name replace that of Hatshepsut.[citation needed]

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-Bahri. It was designed and implemented by Senenmut 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.[citation needed]

The complex's focal point was the Djeser-Djeseru or "the Holy of Holies," a colonnaded structure of perfect harmony built nearly one thousand years before the Parthenon. 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 significant advances in architecture. Another one of her great accomplishments is the Hatshepsut needle[30] (also known as the granite obelisks).[citation needed]

Official lauding[edit]

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.[31] This may have resulted from the extensive building executed during her time as pharaoh, in comparison with many others. It afforded her many opportunities to laud herself, but it also reflected 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.[citation needed]

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 relatively high status in Ancient Egypt and enjoyed the legal right to own, inherit, or will property. A woman becoming pharaoh was rare, however; only Sobekneferu, Khentkaus I and possibly Nitocris preceded her.[32] Nefernferuaten and Twosret may have been the only women to succeed her among the indigenous rulers. In Egyptian history, there was no word for a "queen regnant" as in contemporary history, "king" being the ancient Egyptian title regardless of gender, and by the time of her reign, pharaoh had become the name for the ruler.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[31] Many existing statues alternatively show her in typically feminine attire as well as those that depict her in the royal ceremonial attire. After this period of transition ended, however, most formal depictions of Hatshepsut as pharaoh showed her in the royal attire, with all the Pharaonic regalia, and some previously feminine depictions were carved over to now be masculine.[33] 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.[21]

She also named herself Maatkare, or "Truth is the Soul of the Sun God". This name emphasized the Pharaoh Maatkare Hatshepsut’s connection to one of the many evolutions of Amun while referencing a Pharaoh's responsibility to maintain "ma’at", harmony, through respecting tradition.[34]

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 the statues of Hatshepsut at her tomb follow that tradition. The promise of resurrection after death was a tenet of the cult of Osiris.

The Hawk of the Pharaoh, Hatshepsut—Temple at Luxor

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.[citation needed] 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.[35]

Furthermore, on Khnum's potter's wheel, she is depicted as a little boy to further cement her divine right to rule.[34]

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.[36]

Death, burial, and mummification[edit]

Hatshepsut died in her 22nd regnal year as she approached what we would consider middle age given typical contemporary lifespans.[37] The precise date of Hatshepsut's death—and when Thutmose III became the next pharaoh of Egypt—is considered Year 22, II Peret day 10 of her reign, as recorded on a single stela erected at Armant[38] or 16 January 1458 BC.[39] This information validates the basic reliability of Manetho's king list records since Hatshepsut's known accession date was I Shemu day 4[40] (i.e., Hatshepsut died nine months into her 22nd year as king, as Manetho writes in his Epitome for a reign of 21 years and nine months). No contemporary mention of the cause of her death has survived.

Hatshepsut had begun 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.[41]

During the reign of Thutmose III, however, a new tomb (KV38), together with new burial equipment, was provided for Thutmose I, who then was 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 nurse, Sitre In, 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 uncertain right to 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, a wooden canopic box with an ivory knob was found that was inscribed with the name of Hatshepsut and contained a mummified liver or spleen as well as a molar tooth. There was a royal lady of the 21st dynasty of the same name, however, and for a while, it was thought possible that it could have belonged to her instead.[42]

Proposed mummy[edit]

The KV60A mummy, thought to be that of Hatshepsut

In 1903, Howard Carter had discovered tomb KV60 in the Valley of the Kings. It contained two female mummies: one identified as Hatshepsut's wetnurse and the other unidentified. In spring 2007, the unidentified body, called KV60A, was finally removed from the tomb by Dr. Zahi Hawass and brought 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.[43][44]

While the mummy and the tooth could be DNA tested to see if belonged to the same person and confirm the mummy's identity, Dr. Zahi Hawass, the Cairo Museum and some egyptologists have refused to do it as it would require destroying the tooth to retrieve the DNA.[43][44] 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.[45][3][46] It also would suggest that she had arthritis and bad teeth, which may be why the tooth was removed.[3]

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.[47]

Changing recognition[edit]

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 — a damnatio memoriae. This elimination was carried out in the most literal way possible. Her cartouches and images were chiseled off some stone walls, leaving very obvious Hatshepsut-shaped gaps in the artwork. 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-Bahri temple. Simpler methods also included covering, where new stone was added to fully cover reliefs or sacred stone work.[48]

At the Deir el-Bahari 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, 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.[49]

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. 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.[50]

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 20 years after her death.

Tyldesley hypothesis[edit]

Joyce Tyldesley hypothesized that it is possible that Thutmose III, lacking any sinister motivation, may have 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 pharaoh. Tyldesley fashions her concept as, that 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.[51] 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."[52] In such a scenario, 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.

Presuming that it was Thutmose III (rather than his co-regent son), Tyldesley also put forth a hypothesis about Thutmose suggesting that his erasures and defacement of Hatshepsut's monuments could have been a cold, but rational attempt on his 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."[53] Tyldesley conjectured that Thutmose III may have considered the possibility that the example of a successful female king in Egyptian history could demonstrate that a woman was as capable at governing Egypt as a traditional male king, which could 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" and assume the crown.[54] Dismissing relatively recent history known to Thutmose III of another woman who was king, Sobekneferu of Egypt's Middle Kingdom, she conjectured further that he might have thought that while she had enjoyed a short, approximately four-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.[2] 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.[2] If Thutmose III's intent was to forestall the possibility of a woman assuming the throne, as proposed by Tyldesley, it was a failure since Twosret and Neferneferuaten (possibly), a female co-regent or successor of Akhenaten, assumed the throne for short reigns as pharaoh later in the New Kingdom.[2]

Hatshepsut problem[edit]

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 pharaoh’s reign, 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.[21]

The erasure of Hatshepsut's name—by the men who succeeded her for whatever reason (besides misogyny)—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-Bahri temple walls (which were illustrated with two seemingly male kings) their translations made no sense. Jean-François Champollion, the French decoder of hieroglyphs, was not alone in feeling confused by the obvious conflict between words and pictures:

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...[55]

The "Hatshepsut 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.[56] In its day, the problem was controversial enough to cause academic feuds between leading Egyptologists and created perceptions about the early Thutmosid family that persisted well into the 20th century, the influence of which still can be found in more recent works. Chronology-wise, the Hatshepsut problem was largely cleared up in the late 20th century, as more information about her and her reign was uncovered.

Archaeological discoveries[edit]

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.[57]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Leprohon 2013, pp. 98.
  2. ^ a b c d Tyldesley, Hatchepsut, p. 226.
  3. ^ a b c d John Noble Wilford (27 June 2007). "Tooth May Have Solved Mummy Mystery". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 9 June 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2007. 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.
  4. ^ "Hatshepsut". Dictionary.com Unabridged (Online). n.d. Retrieved 27 July 2007.
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