Hatshepsut - one of the few female pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

1 February 1477 BCE, Hatshepsut was inaugurated as one of the few female pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.

“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...“ ( Jean-François Champollion)

An indurated limestone sculpture showing Hatshepsut 
in posture and clothing of a pharaoh but with a distinct female form and facial features. 

Thutmose II was a bit of a disappointment in comparison with his vigorous forefathers of the 18th Dynasty. They had driven the Hyksos out of Egypt, warred in the Near East and the Sudan, furthered intense building activities, innovations and trade and remade the Two Kingdoms into a major power. Thutmose II’s reign on the other hand was uneventful. If his half sister and wife Hatshepsut gnashed her teeth over his inadequacies was not handed down, however, when she took over the guardianship for Thutmose II’s underaged son and heir, fathered on a concubine, the Great Royal Wife demonstrated what she could do over the next two decades. Rather not on the battlefield, but in ambitious construction projects all along the river, most notably her monumental mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri near the entrance of the 18th Dynasty’s new burial grounds, the Valley of the Kings, and by furthering trade. Her best-known feat in this regard is the first trade mission to the Land of Punt, probably somewhere around the Horn of Africa, since centuries, commemorated on the walls of her temple.

Hatshepsut's expedition to the Land of Punt

For seven years, Hatshepsut reigned along the lines of a dowager queen until she assumed the title of pharaoh along with her nephew Thutmose III. She was not the first female ruler in Egypt’s long history, however, nobody had found it necessary to shape a female delineation of rulership, not even framing the simple word “queen”, and neither did Hatshepsut. She took all the titles of her male predecessors except “Strong Bull”, along with all the attributes including the false beard and getting depicted as a male. And ruled. Very successfully. There is only one military campaign recorded, led by her nephew Thutmose who was obviously content to be a soldier until his co-ruler died, probably at the age of 50. There were rumours that he had murdered his pharaonic aunt, combined with an alleged damnatio memoriae of Hatshepsut but both accusations are very probably untrue. The eradication of her name from monuments took place much later, maybe they were ordered by his son and successor Amenhotep II when Hatshepsut already was a legend. Thutmose III himself, whether he had her murdered or not, benefitted from the prosperity his predecessor and co-ruler had generated in twenty years. Shortly after her death, he became one of the most successful military leaders and conquerors in the history of Egypt.

Hatshepsut's mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri (image found on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatshepsut#/media/File:Il_tempio_di_Hatshepsut.JPG)

The image of Hatshepsut above was found as

“Hatshepsut 1“ von Postdlf aus w. Lizenziert unter CC BY-SA 3.0 über Wikimedia Commons -http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hatshepsut_1.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Hatshepsut_1.jpg

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