The first female Pharaoh of Egypt, whose reign lasted for 20 years, Hatshepsut, was known to be as an outstanding builder, and under her rule Egypt saw economic prosperity. She is the daughter of Thutmose I and his partner Ahmose, and the half-sister of Thutmose II, whom she eventually married and had a daughter with, called, Neferure.
When their father died, Thutmose II became Egypt’s Pharaoh round 1492 BCE with Hatshepsut as his wife. Even though Thutmose II was married to Hatshepsut, he also had another lover or possible wife known as Iset (she was named after the Goddess Isis), and with whom he had a child, a boy Thutmose III. When Thutmose II died around 1479 BCE after a 15 year reign, the throne went down to his son Thutmose III, but as he was just a baby, Hatshepsut served as regent for the blossoming King.
For the first seven years, Hatshepsut was just a traditional regent, but in that seventh year she was inaugurated as King, and took on royal protocols, therefore Hatshepsut and her step-son Thutmose III ruled Egypt together, but as her stepson was still very young, Hatshepsut was the preeminent ruler.
Instead of finding new lands to conquer Hatshepsut was focused on finding and making economic alliances. The land of Punt became Egypt’s trading partner, and Egyptians kept trading with the land of Punt through many Dynasties after Hatshepsut for the same produce. Hatshepsut would trade valuable goods for aromatic resins and more, as the land of Punt was known for producing gold, ebony, ivory, blackwood, aromatic resins, wild animals and gold.
Even though Hatshepsut is a woman, her official portraits depicted her with a male figure, wearing the same traditional regalia of kilt as male Pharaohs did, the same crown or head-cloth and the same false beard. I believe part of this was also to do with Thutmose III, as after her passing he came into power and a lot of the art that honoured Hatshepsut and her rule was defaced, vandalized or changed in some form or another… as if her stepson wanted to get rid of any evidence of a female ruler breaking the line of succession. The damage done to any art that had Hatshepsut’s likeness didn’t stop there. Akhenaten, an 18th Dynasty ruler, further desecrated it, and only approved of images that depicted the sun God, Aten… the solar disk emitting rays.
Hatshepsut’s buildings are phenomenal. Aside from restoring monuments all over Egypt, she also had a fair few built herself. At Karnak temple, for example; she had two pink granite obelisks built. They are almost 30 meters high, and each one requiring around seven months worths of work and brought over from distant quarries at Aswan. Another one of her building triumphs was Djeser – Djeseru (“holiest of holy places”) at Deir El-Bahri, and this temple was built as a tribute to her father, by that I mean Amun-Ra the King of the Gods. In it, there’s also the red chapel of Hatshepsut, which I believe in her eyes it was there so once she passed people could still go there to pay their respects to her and the Gods. The red chapel housed a sacred barque, or boat where the statue of the God was placed. Hatshepsut’s temple is home to other chapels and shrines as well that are dedicated to other Egyptian Gods… Anubis, Osiris and Hathor, but also to the royal ancestors.
In the end Hatshepsut passed away in her 50s. It is said that she may have died through skin cancer, but there’s other analogies out there. Some say that the cause of her death could have been of bone cancer, and that she also suffered from diabetes and arthritis. Hatshepsut was to be entombed in the Valley of the Kings, where she had her father’s burial tomb enlarged, so that the two could lie in peace together.
Even after the many attempts of desecration to Hatshepsut’s imagery to remove any evidence showing a female ruler by Thutmose III and Akhenaten, luckily through excavations and archaeological findings, her legacy lives on. Through her buildings or even more so her temple, and Hatshepsut’s imagery, her wish was realized… the wish to be eternal just like an undying star, and that’s exactly what she has become.
If you would like to see the statue of Hatshepsut, I would highly recommend to visit the Egyptian museum in Cairo that holds that statue among many other findings dating back to about 6,000 years back into Egyptian history.
Here is the Facebook page for the museum: www.facebook.com/EgyptianMuseum09
For more in depth information on Hatshepsut, her life, achievements and rule and the life of Egyptians under it. Here’s the link to a very well written and reviewed book by Kara Cooney.