Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hatshepsut, Great Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt

Hatshepsut was the fifth Pharaoh of the eighteenth Egyptian dynasty. Born in 1508 BCE, she was daughter to Thutmose I, and wife to Thutmose II. It is said by Egyptologists that her reign was longer than any other woman in Egypt, lasting for twenty two years, and that she was quite successful. She was said to have been favored over her two brothers, and when they both died, it became possible for her to ascend the throne upon the death of her father. Although Thutmose I already had his stepson, Thutmose II in line to marry Hatshepsut and become Pharaoh. Hatshepsut became Queen alongside her Pharaoh husband/stepbrother, but it is widely thought amongst scholars that she ruled things behind the scenes.

After her husbands death, she became the king, the Pharaoh. Her title was no more the "Kings Wife" but "Gods Wife of Amun". She was depicted as a pharaoh with the false beard and Pharaohs crown It is said that she portrayed herself as a man to be viewed and respected as king, knowing her stepson, and successor, Thutmose III would eventually become king himself. Even in stone carvings, she is depicted as king.

Although a woman ruling as Pharaoh wasn't that common, there are women Pharaohs who preceded Hatshepsut. Such as Merneith who reigned in the first dynasty, Queen Sobekneferu of the twelfth dynasty and Ahhotep I who is said to have been a warrior queen, among many others. Although Hatshepsut had not been the only woman Pharaoh, it is said that she was more prosperous in her reign and created a very peaceful era. She brought great wealth to Egypt by regaining trade relationships with other countries, which enabled her to start great building projects of temples and palaces.

She made preparations for sailing to the Land of Punt, which is thought to be an area of present day Somalia, to trade goods. Her crew came back with many goods, most notably myrrh resin and actual myrrh trees. It is said that her foreign policies were mainly peaceful and that she was a great politician, but it is also said that she led military campaigns in Syria and Nubia successfully so, early in her reign.

Hatshepsut is well known for her magnificent building projects throughout Upper and Lower Egypt. She had monuments constructed at the Temple of Karnak, she restored the precinct of Mut, an ancient Egyptian Mother Goddess, within the temple complex at Karnak, and she is also said to have had twin obelisks erected at the temple that were reputably the tallest obelisks known at that time. There was also the Red Chapel which was originally a shrine that had carvings and depictions in stone of Hatshepsut's life. She is also said to have commissioned many statues of herself and her lineage. It seems as though Hatshepsut wanted to be remembered in history for her great accomplishments, and to this day, she is.

Hatshepsut held great sovereignty over her land and people, and she used her royal lineage and favor of her father to her advantage. She also claimed to have divine lineage from the God Amun. The myth is that Amun appeared to Hatshepsut's mother, Aahames, in the form of her husband Thutmose I. He made love to her in God like splendor, and there the story of the divine and powerful Hatshepsut began.

Eventually, Thutmose III was coming of age to take the throne and was angered by his stepmothers power and the love her people had for her, the first Queen turned King Pharaoh. Hatshepsut died nine months into her twenty second year of reign as Pharaoh in the year 1458 BCE, she was fifty at the time of her death. Her cause of death is somewhat unknown but it is speculated that she may have had bone cancer. After her death she was thought to have been buried in a tomb she created for her father. Although Thutmose III built another tomb and had Thumose I removed from his original place of burial into a new tomb. Hatshepsut's body was also moved but the location is somewhat unknown. In her original tomb evidence of her and her reign have been found such as a canopic jar filled with her liver, a lioness throne and a signet ring inscribed with her name.

After her death, Thutmose III had monuments and inscriptions of Hatshepsut's reign destroyed. All the great splendor she had created was demolished as well as any mention of her name or that she was considered a King. It seems Thutmose III wanted to erase the memory of this great Pharaoh, although her legend has never died.

I hope you all enjoyed learning about the Queen who became King Pharaoh, Hatshepsut!

Photo courtesy of Annoyz View

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