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Autor: anton 01 January 2011
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If someone were to ask me to name a famous female figure of ancient Egypt, some of the names that would come to mind would be Queen Nefertiti and Queen Cleopatra, legends of ancient Egypt civilization. The name Hatshepsut would not have been among those names I'd mention. Who was Hatshepsut and why did she merit as much recognition as the aforementioned names. What was so significant about Hatshepsut that earned her a place in ancient Egypt's Hall of Fame?
Hatshepsut, whose name meant Foremost of Noble Ladies, was one of the most remarkable women of her time. She is regarded as one of the greatest female rulers, male or female. For more than twenty years she was the ruler of one of the greatest nation in the ancient world. Although there were other female rulers of Egypt prior to and preceding Hapshepsut's rule, she distinguished herself from the others by taking on the position and title of Pharaoh, a position that was exclusively for males. Hatshepsut even went a step further and adopted the full identity of a pharaoh by dressing in the customary clothing of a male: wearing shendyt kilt, nemes headdress with its uraeus and khat head cloth, and the traditional false beard. In a society that was male dominated, Hatshepsut showed how unique she was by successfully ruling Egypt for over twenty years. Hatshepsut challenged all conventions of the rigid customs of Egypt where no female was granted the right to rule as a "Pharaoh". She succeeded in engraving her name as the first female Pharaoh in recorded history, not only to
create of her time in power a thriving one, but also to pave the way for other leading female figures such as; Cleopatra, and Queen Elizabeth to profoundly shape civilizations, following in her footsteps (http://www.safariegypt.com/Information/important_topics/queen_hatshepsut/info_queen_hatshepsut2.htm). Under Hatshepsut leadership Egypt prospered. Egypt's economy thrived; she opened up new trade routes for Egypt with other nations; she restored many of Egypt's temples that were in disrepair; and she erected new temples and monuments.
Hatshepsut was the daughter of royal parents. Her father was Tuthmose I, Pharaoh of Egypt and third ruler of the 18th Dynasty and her mother was Queen Ahmose. When her father died, her half-brother Tuthmose II became ruler. To secure his position as Pharaoh, Tuthmose II married Hatshepsut, his half sister. It was the custom among Egyptian royalty for the eldest daughter to marry her brother to keep the blood lines intact. Charles Witcombe states:
"The right to the Egyptian throne was traced through the female line. A
man, no matter what his status, be he the eldest son of the previous
pharaoh or a commoner, became a pharaoh through his relationship to
the queen. The position of becoming Pharaoh was valid only through
marriage to the pharaoh's sister or his half-sister
While Thutmose was alive,Hapshepsut and Thutmose ruled Egypt together.
Being the daughter of a King, raised in court, taught by the scribes of her father,
and watching her father govern, Hatshepsut was groomed to lead. Hatshepsut was well-suited to rule along side her husband. It is believed by some that Hatshepsut and Thutmose II union together brought forth no children. Hatshepsut had a daughter but it had been speculated that her daughter Nefrure was sired by her lover Senmut and not her husband. When Thutmose II died, his son, Thutmose III, by a minor wife inherited the throne. Because he was too young to assume the responsibility to rule, Hatshepsut was appointed regent and ruled in his place until such time that he was able to rule. While in the position of Regent, Hatshepsut seized full power and crowned herself king.
To validate her claim to the throne and reinforce her right to rule, Hatshepsut claimed to be descended from the god Amun, who was the creator of life. Hatshepsut alleges that the god Amun visited her mother, Queen Ahmose, while she was sleeping and places an ankh, the symbol for life, under the Queen's nose and impregnated her with Hatshepsut. Carved on her mortuary at Deir el Bahri were the words "welcome my sweet daughter, my favorites, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maatkare, Hatshepsut. Thou art the Pharaoh, taking possession of the Two Lands (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatshepsut)."
Hatshepsut assertion of a divine relationship with the god Amun gave her the legitimacy she needed to rule as Pharaoh. This strategy by Hatshepsut was a clever move on her part because Egyptian culture was steeped deeply in belief of the gods. Egyptians did not question the beliefs which had been handed down to them. By establishing a connection with the god Ra, it solidified her claim to the
throne and showed that the gods favored her to rule Egypt.
There has been much controversy surrounding Hatshepsut rise to power.
There is conjecture among some historians that Hatshepsut schemed her way to rulership, manipulating those around her. She is described by some as "ambitious" and "ruthless". William C. Hayes states that Hatshepsut was "the vilest type of usurper (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/ hatshepsut.html?page=1)." Others felt that she was more interested in the welfare of her country and assumed the role of leader for the good of the country and to protect the kingship for her stepson.
For whatever reason that Hatshepsut made herself ruler of Egypt, she distinguished herself as an intelligent and capable leader of one of the greatest civilization in the world. Hapshepsut achieved what other female rulers hadn't, ruled a country successfully for over a decade. During her 22 years of rule, Hatshepsut brought Egypt great success and recognition for herself which brought about her name being engraved in ancient Egypt's Hall of Fame. She set about improving Egypt's economy. She established trade relations with other countries. Her expedition to Punt is viewed as one of her greatest achievement.
The expedition brought back goods such as ivory, ebony, exotic animals, precious metals, and myrrh and frankincense which were used as plants to make incense for religious ceremonies, which was an important part of the Egyptian culture. The expedition opened up new trade routes for Egypt to other countries and improved Egypt's economic success. Hatshepsut also had trade expedition
to Byblos for timber and Sinai for turquoise.
Hapshepsut's rule was also noted for her monumental building projects. She was committed to building temples dedicated to the Egyptian gods, as a way of proving her devotion to them. She also presented herself as the restorer of what "had been dismembered". Her greatest architectural achievement was her mortuary temple complex at Deir El-Bahri which was carved into a cliff on the west bank of the Nile River. Hatshepsut's temple called Djeser-Djeseru, which meant Sublime of Sublimes, was considered to be one of the "incomparable monuments of ancient Egypt" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deir_el-Bahri) and among the greatest building in the ancient world. It was a structure of perfect symmentry built more than a thousands years before the Parthenon Included in her temple were illustratations of her divine birth and her expedition to the land of Punt. Hatshepsut also built monuments at the Temple of Karnak. Included among her many monuments that she was instrumental in building or restoring was the twin obelisks that was erected at the temple entrance. At the time the obelisks were considered the tallest in the world. Other building projects that Hatshepsut was noted for were the restoration of the Precinct of Mut, the cliff temple to Pakhet at Beni Hassan, the barque sanctuary at Luxor, and the Temple of Hathor at Cusae to name a few. Among the many rulers of of the New Kingdom, there were known more productive in constructing buildings in ancient Egypt than Hatshepsut.
Hatshepsut reign was marked by political stability and economic prosperity.
Compared to the reign of other pharaoh, Hatshepsut's reign was extensive and successful and showed what an impressive ruler she was.
Hatshepsut ruled lasted over a decade. After her death, her stepson, Thutmose III became the sole ruler of Egypt. No one knows when Hatshepsut died or whether she was forced from the throne by Thutmose III. After Thutmose became ruler most of Hatshepsut monuments were destroyed or defaced and her name and image was erased from all the public monuments that she was responsible for constructing. As a result, all knowledge of Hatshepsut reign and who she was almost disappeared from Egypt's archaeological and written record.
For more then three thousand years it was as if she never existed.
In 1903 British archeologist Howard Carter was working in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings. As he were excavating, he came across a tomb that honored the name of a pharaoh named Hatshepsut. Was it not for an Egyptologist who had interpreted some texts on the temple wall of Deir El-Bahri, all knowledge of Hatshepsut would be lost.
Deir El-Bahri. (2007). Retrieved November 18, 2007 from
Egypt Information on Ancient Egypt. (2006). Retrieved November 18, 2007 from
Hapshepsut. 2007). Retrieved November 18, 2007 from
Wilson, Elizabeth B. (September, 2006). The Queen Who Would Be King.
Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved November 18, 2007 from
Witcombe, Christopher, LCE. (2000). Women in Egypt: Menkaure and His
Queen. Retrieved October 18, 2007, from
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