Monday, April 22, 2013

QUEEN Hatshepsut: She was a Pharaoh


( Hatshepsut Collection at the Metropolitan Museum ) Click Here 
Born in the 15th century BC, Hatshepsut, daughter of Tuthmose I and Aahmes, both of royal lineages, 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. To have a female pharaoh was unprecedented and probably most definitely unheard of as well. When Tuthmose I passed away, his son by the commoner Moutnofrit, Tuthmose II, technically ascended the throne. For the few years of his reign, however, Hatshepsut seems to have held the reins. From markings on his mummy, archaeologists believe Tuthmose II had a skin disease, and he died after ruling only three or four years. 

Hatshepsut, his half sister and wife, had produced no offspring with him (her daughter Nefrure was most likely the daughter of her lover Senmut), although he had sired a son through the commoner Isis. This son, Tuthmose III, was in line for the throne, but due to his age Hatshepsut was allowed to reign as queen dowager.
Deir-el-Bahri Temple 

Hatshepsut, as a female, had many obstacles to overcome. There was always a threat of revolt, especially as her bitter nephew came of age. Using propaganda and keen political skills, she deftly jumped each hurdle she faced. To quell the fears of her people, she became a "king" in all statuary and relief during her reign. She even dressed in the traditional garb of male rulers: the shendyt kilt, the nemes headdress with its uraeus and khat headcloth, and the false beard. 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. With these inscriptions are included incised representations of the journey, including humorous images of the Puntites and their queen, at whom the Egyptians no doubt looked while restraining a giggle; the queen has folds of fat hanging over her knees and elbows, her back is crooked and she has an aquiline nose. To the short, thin Egyptian she was probably quite a sight. 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.

This propaganda worked well to cement Hatshepsut's position. But as Tuthmose III grew, her sovereignty grew tenuous. He not only resented his lack of authority,after his death, however, his sarcophagus was completely destroyed. The hard stone that had been carved for his funerary coffin was found in over 1,200 pieces. His mummy was never found. 

Hatshepsut's mummy was likewise stolen and her tomb destroyed. Only one of the canopic jars was found, the one containing her liver. After her death, it is presumed that Tuthmose III ordered the systematic erasure of her name from any monument she had built, including her temple at Deir-el-Bahri. Since most of the images of her were actually males, it was convenient to simply change the name "Hatshepsut" to "Tuthmose" I, II or III wherever there was a caption. Senmut's name was also removed. Whether Tuthmose killed Hatshepsut is questionable but likely. Since he paid little respect to her in death, it is quite possible he paid even less in life.


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