Hatshepsut Hatshepsut was one the greatest rulers of Ancient Egypt but her rise to power didn’t come without . As daughter of Thutmose I a great Ancient pharaoh and Ahmose his famous wife, Hatshepsut had a passion for power and the family blood to fulfil her dream. With Successful military campaigns, peaceful country and a thriving economy, Hatshepsut had all the components of a great Pharaoh but this did not come easy.
How did the first woman pharaoh rule for over 2 decades? What made her such a successful ruler and how did a woman come to power in a male driven society?
Hatshepsut was a unique personality which gained her power amongst the Egyptian people. Born in the 18th dynasty to Thutmose I and Ahmose, Hatshepsut had power and authority in her blood to rule a great and influential nation. Hatshepsut acquired this authority from the rule of her father which left great expectations for her since birth. Hatshepsut was sister to Princess Neterukheb and her two brothers Wadjmose and Amennose who had both died at a young age leaving Hatshepsut as heir the Dynasty. This didn’t last long as she was married off to her half brother Thutmose II at a young adolescent age.
As a child, Hatshepsut was taught how to read and write hieroglyphics by the royal scribe. Hatshepsut questioned her requirement to be educated as it hadn’t occurred to her that one day she may become pharaoh. Throughout Hatshepsut’s rise to power she obtained various titles to her name. Hatshepsut inherited the title “God’s wife of Amon” from Queen Tetisheri which was then passed down to Hatshepsut’s Daughter, Neferure. But it is clear that her greatest title she ever acquired was not only Queen of Egypt but King of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Hatshepsut gained this position after the death of her Pharaoh husband Thutmose II whom which they shared the same father Thutmose I. Thutmose II only reined for about 3 years before an unknown illness took his life. This left his son to a minor wife Thutmose III the heir to the throne at a very young age. Thutmose III was too young to rein so Hatshepsut took the title or regent with the young soon to be pharaoh. She then crowned herself co-regent and finally declared herself pharaoh of Egypt. During her reign Hatshepsut had a number of people which helped her gain the power in which she held.
Senenmut was a close associate of Queen Hatshepsut during and before her reign. Senenmut first entered the royal court under the reign of Thutmose II which led him to an influential associate when Hatshepsut announced herself as pharaoh. Senenmut had a close relationship with not only king Hatshepsut but also with her daughter Neferure. There were scandals of an affair between Hatshepsut and Senenmut which were recorded in graffiti by the workmen building the temple. Their close relationship resulted in Senenmut supervising the erection of Hatshepsut’s main monuments at Deir el-Bahri and Karnak.
Although Senenmut played a significant role in the royal court, towards the end of Hatshepsut’s reign Senenmut disappears from view. There are many theories to explain the disappearance or death of Senenmut. These include that Senenmut decided to leave Hatshepsut and join with Thutmose III after the death of Hatshepsut’s daughter Neferure. Speculation remains high with Senenmut’s two tombs empty and unused by the royal associate. Imagery and monuments of Senenmut were attacked or desecrated soon after his disappearance leaving the question was it Hatshepsut or Thutmose III.
Hatshepsut may have attempted to remove him from history as he was seeking to join Thutmose III, or did Thutmose III remove Senenmut with the expectation that Hatshepsut would soon fall. As Hatshepsut was one of peace and prosperity she had ample time to build and restore important monuments to the people. Hatshepsut repaired many temples and chapels including the Temple of the Lady Cusae and the Temple of Thoth. Many of her buildings were built for Amun-Re as he was her claimed father and Hatshepsut wanted to re-establish her connection with Amun-Re.
But it is clear that her main achievements came from the new monuments at Deir el-Bahri and Karnak. The Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahri is one of Hatshepsut’s most recognised building projects. With its main dedication to the God Amun it also has parts dedicated to the God Anubis and Goddess Hathor. Located west of the great capital Thebes and designed and supervised by the royal associate Senenmut, Hatshepsut had created a master piece. Hatshepsut was particular about where the building was going to be placed but after numerous strategic calculations, Hatshepsut decided on Deir el-Bahri.
It was positioned on the axis of the great temple at Karnak and in the sacred valley to the principal feminine goddess whom was connected with the funeral world. The most astonishing feature is that the temple stood in a straight line from the tomb which the Queen had proclaimed hers and had it excavated in the Valley of Kings. The temple consists of two ramps which lead to three layered terraces with the magnificent cliffs and the Valley of Kings as a background. The three layered terraces reach 30m in height or 97 feet.
Each of the Terraces is precisely constructed by a double colonnade of square piers and all the terraces are connected by long ramps. Hatshepsut still contained the classical Theban appearance with courts, a chapel, sun court and a sanctuary. On both sides of the entrance are pillars which depict images of Hathor as the capitals. Under the roof line is in image of Wadjet who is the Goddess of Lower Egypt, Papyrus and the Protector of the Pharaoh. She is displayed as a two sided solar symbol and bordered by two long serpents.
Hatshepsut often depicted herself as a male pharaoh by wearing false beards and the traditional male regalia of previous Egyptian Kings. She would often wear a Khat head cloth and false beard to show her power and to persuade the public that she was capable of performing a male role. She would wear a Shendyt kilt as depicted in many statues in the temple. Often Portrayed as a male it did not mean that she denied her female gender. Depicting herself as a male authority was a show to foreign rulers to respect her as a male and to gain acceptance among the Egyptian population.
The temple at Deir el-Bahri includes an image that depicts Hatshepsut as a male pharaoh which shows her giving offerings to Horus the ancient sky god. Once stood statues and ornaments throughout the temple but they have since been stolen or destroyed by other pharaoh’s or robbers. It previously housed two statues of Osiris, an avenue lined by sphinxes and the many statues and sculptures of Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut led many expeditions but one of the most famous is the expedition to Punt. Hatshepsut took pride in announcing the departure of 5 Phoenician style ships to Punt which is now modern day Somalia.
It was the first time in 500 years that the voyage had been embarked on. Punt was “God’s Land” as its terraced land was theoretically represented by the lands of gods. It is suggested that a French scholar Auguste Mariette believed that Hatshepsut’s Temple Deir el-Bahri represented the land of gods by being constructed in terraces like designs. The scenes of the expedition to Punt were carved on the walls at Deir el-Bahri on the Middle Colonnade opposite the Divine Birth Scenes representing and indicating the importance of the Expedition.
The Expedition to Punt was most likely for trade with inner Africa rather than conquest of the rival civilisation. The trip was made to please her god Amun and fulfil his wishes of have a Myrrh tree in the garden of Amun. Amun had indicated that he would like to walk among them so Hatshepsut obeyed. Hatshepsut did not go on the voyage to Punt but she sent her official Nehesi and a selection of Egyptian soldiers. Sending the soldiers indicated that Hatshepsut had an army. The cargo of the ships included gold, ebony, elephant tusks, monkeys, baboons, panther skins, greyhounds and many trees.
The cargo also included slaves and their young dependable family. When the fleet landed on the shores of Thebes, Hatshepsut and an elongated line of people marched the fleet. Hatshepsut was never far off making yet another dedication to Amun and she dedicated the best of the traded produce to Amun. The incense trees were planted in the open area of the central pathway at Deir el-Bahri. A stump of the tree is still able to be seen today. Hatshepsut was such a successful Pharaoh as she continued to re-establish a strong link with the god Amun which reassured the people that she was fit to be pharaoh.
Hatshepsut created a thriving economy which created stability for the Egyptian people. Hatshepsut had many followers which made her rule so successful, for example Senenmut who supported throughout her reign till the unexplained disappearance shortly before she fell to Thutmose III. When Hatshepsut lost her throne and Thutmose III became Pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt, Thutmose III attempted to remove every written and visual piece of evidence to suggest that she was never pharaoh. In lists of the 18th dynasty pharaohs, Hatshepsut was often left off the list and her face hacked and cut out of art works depicting her as a pharaoh.
Sculptures of Hatshepsut were removed and replaced with other Pharaoh statues and her name hacked out of carved writings. Thutmose III did everything in his power to remove her from history and yet she still is one of the most known Pharaohs of Egypt. Her accomplishments were triumphant making her a successful and respected Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. Discussion-the availability of sources was ample as Hatshepsut is such a well known Pharaoh as she wasn’t just Queen she was King who ruled for over 2 decades. Different sites have different information for example one site will say that she ruled for 18 years and another will say 22 years.
For the essay I had to take an opinion and use it in the essay as it was my piece of writing. Interpretations of images at various temples are different and you have to combine them to gain a complete understanding of the image.
- NNDB tracking the entire world http://www. nndb. com/people/265/000162776/ Date accessed 6/5/2011
- Hatshepsut http://www. king-tut. org. uk/egyptian-pharaohs/hatshepsut. htm Date accessed 6/5/2011 -Hatshepsut – J. G. A. H. L. K. http://www. richeast. org/htwm/Hat/hat. html Date accessed 6/5/2011
- Hatshepsut – Caroline Seawright http://www. thekeep. rg/~kunoichi/kunoichi/themestream/hatshepsut. html Date accessed 7/5/2011
- Senenmut http://ib205. tripod. com/senenmut_2. html Date accessed 7/5/2011
- Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut http://www. bluffton. edu/~sullivanm/egypt/deirelbahri/deirelbahri. html Date accessed 9/5/2011
- Midland Travel Tours http://www. comeseeegypt. com/hatsut. htm Date accessed 13/5/2010
- Hatshepsut first great woman in history http://www. all-about-egypt. com/hatshepsut. html Date accessed 13/5/2011
- Voyage to Punt http://www. camdenh. schools. nsw. edu. au/pages/Faculties/History/ancient/Hatshepsut/Voyage%20to%20Punt. html Date accessed 19/5/2011