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Personalities In Their Time – Hatshepsut
Historical Context
● The main geographical features include the Nile, The Red and Black Sea, extensive desert areas
and surrounding oceans.
● The Nile was a resource for a lot of the area, supplying the people with food sources such as fish
and mollusks; it also supplies an easy mode of transportation.
● Egypt has periods of inundation and relinquishment, after the flooding of the Nile the surrounding
banks are covered in silt, this helpful for growing crops, as it provides nutrients.
● If there were no crops the countries economy would decline, they would have no food for locals,
and nothing to help with trade.
● The extensive desert areas help with the protection of the country as the barren desert is tough to
journey through due to the hot climate.
Overview of the Social, Political, Military and Economic Structures of the Early New Kingdom
● Political Structures - Male-dominated women were allowed a significant amount of freedom and
legal rights compared to women in other ancient societies. These rights enabled a number of
queens to gain some influence over the kingdom of Egypt as regent. During the new kingdom,
under Thutmose III, ancient Egypt became the world’s strongest and wealthiest nation. Thutmose
III reestablished Egyptian control over Kush and surrounding Nubia that were important sources for
slaves, copper, gold, ivory and ebony.
● Social Structures - According to Laura Kuster Ancient Egyptian society was basically divided into
four classes. The upper class included the government officials, nobles, and priests. The middle
class included the scribes, skilled craftsmen, trades people, teachers, artists, and soldiers. The
peasants mostly farmers, labourers, and servants made up the lower class, which was the largest
class. Lastly, the slaves made up the bottom class.
● Military Structures - At the beginning of the 18th dynasty, Egypt developed a permanent army that
used horse drawn chariots, bows and arrows which was introduced by the Hyksos’ invasion.
● Economic Structures - Egyptian women were allowed to own property, hold official positions and to
inherit money from their parents or late husbands. Egyptians had to extend the trade outside of
Egypt; this forced them to take such expeditions like the one to Punt where they would gain goods.
Overview of Religious Beliefs and Practices of the Early New Kingdom Period
● Pharaoh has the status of a god, and so received both a cult during their life and their after death.
● They maintained divinity because of specific kingship rituals, the coronation was clearly the most
important where the Pharaoh was transformed into a god by means of his union with the royal soul.
● Ancient Egypt was a very polytheistic society and hosted approximately 700 gods and goddesses.
● Their religion was strongly influenced by tradition; Egyptians did not question the beliefs which had
been handed down to them as they did not like changes.
● One of the very strong traditions was that of Divine Kingship. Divine Kingship is the belief that the
Pharaoh was not only the King but also a god.
● Due to their beliefs, the Pharaoh held an immense amount of power.
● The cult which grew most prominently in the New Kingdom was the Amen-Re cult.
● Egyptians believed that the body was the link to a spiritual existence in the afterlife, and so
practiced mummification in order to preserve their body for the afterlife.
Background and Rise to Prominence
Family Background
● Hatshepsut was the daughter of Thutmose I and Queen Ahmose. When the Pharaoh died
(Thutmose the first) she married her stepbrother Thutmose II and was known as The King’s Great
Wife (Queen Consort).
● Hatshepsut had one daughter with Thutmose II, Neferure.
● Some archaeologists believed that Thutmose II died of a skin disease two years after they wed. He
left behind only one son, a young Thutmose III to succeed him.
● The next in line was her nephew Thutmose III. He was still just a child when they "married" and
they ruled together in a co-regency.
● Hatshepsut’s first title was Crown Princess because she would marry the next Pharaoh, Thutmose
II. She then became The King’s Great Wife (Queen Consort) while simultaneously taking the great
religious role of being God’s Wife of Amen.
● After the death of Hatshepsut’s husband Thutmose II, Hatshepsut was to become Co-Regent, so
she was the Senior Pharaoh.
Thutmose I
Thutmose II
Thutmose III
Claim to the Throne and Succession
● Hatshepsut justified her actions to succeed the throne through emphasising her filial relationship
with Amen (Divine conception and birth), rewriting her past by Thutmose I selecting her as his heir,
associating herself with her father and ignoring the reign with her husband Thutmose II.
● Tyldesley suggested that it was a “gradual evolution” and that the “political manoeuvre…might not
have been apparent to anyone but her contemporaries.”
● Her assumption of power is somewhere before the seventh year and possibly as early as the
second year of Thutmose III’s reign; this theory is supported by Hayes and Redford.
● Hatshepsut probably felt the need to become Pharaoh before Thutmose III reached an age where
he could rule alone.
● There is no evidence to suggest that Thutmose III made any attempt to challenge her authority.
● Hatshepsut was crowned with full pharaonic powers and with that she adopted the full male regalia
and titulary of a Pharaoh, she was known as the Female Horus.
● Hatshepsut is both referred to in feminine and masculine forms. When the scribes wrote about
militaristic maters they tended to use the masculine form.
● Gardiner comments that it was a “wholly new departure for a female to pose and dress as a man.”
● The kingship was represented by a male in full regalia, so they would be wearing the royal
shendyet kilt, ceremonial false beard, the nemes headdress and various royal crowns.
Only in such a guise could the Pharaoh be shown communicating with the gods and of course
there was no exception for Hatshepsut.
Tefnin suggests that Hatshepsut experimented with a new image suitable for a female Pharaoh. As
there are a number of statues which were found in Deir El-Bahri that show Hatshepsut with
feminine characteristics but still wearing the full male regalia.
There is a limestone statue of her as king wearing male regalia, but without the artificial beard. She
also appears to be slim, graceful and has breasts.
Tyldesley suggested that this new image maybe be an “asexual mixture of both female and male
There is also another statue of her made from red granite where she is shown in full female regalia
but a feminine titulary was inscribed on the ureus. At the back of the statue there is an image of
Taweret who was the goddess of childbirth.
● Propaganda was used to justify her position as Pharaoh through her divine conception by the god
Amen and she rewrote her history so that she was seen as the legitimate successor of her father,
Thutmose I. These are depicted on the walls of her mortuary temple in Deir El-Bahri.
● Wherever she could she emphasised her relationship with both her heavenly and earthly fathers
and recorded the things that she had done for them.
● Divine conception and birth: Hatshepsut claimed a theogamous birth by her father Amen-Re
● Amen prophesised the birth of Hatshepsut at a council of the gods. Amen then took the guise of
Thutmose I and Queen Ahmose recognised that it was the smell of a god as “…all his odours were
from Punt” which linked her to her expedition to Punt.
● Amen holds the ankh to Ahmose’s nose and mouth so that she can breathe in the divine essence
and conceive the god’s child.
● He then told her to name the child Hatshepsut and that she will “exercise the excellent kingship in
this whole land.”
● Amen instructed Khnum the creator of flesh to make the baby and its ka his potter’s wheel.
● Queen Ahmose is then led off by Khnum and Heket to give birth. The newborn child was seen as
the symbols of life, power and protection and presented to her ‘father’ Amen.
The coronation relief: is where Hatshepsut claimed that she was chosen by Amen and her father
Thutmose I as his only legitimate successor and crowned by him to share a co-regency.
The first scene shows the child Hatshepsut being purified where Amen shows her to all the gods
and when she grew and became more godlike.
She then accompanied her father on a journey to attend all the shrines in Egypt where all the gods
welcomed her as the future Pharaoh. She is then crowned by Atom and then Amen.
The next inscription is her alleged coronation by Thutmose I where he says that “…she is my
successor”. Breasted and Gardiner believe that this is purely propaganda as it ignores Thutmose II
and prior to her regency she was only referred to as the King’s Great Wife.
She continued her propaganda through the erection of two obelisks at Karnak where she furthered
her claim to the right of the throne by emphasising her relationship with Amen and Thutmose I.
Political and Religious Roles of the King and Queen in the New Kingdom Period
● Egyptian kings were thought to be divine, incarnations of the god Horus.
● Pyramids and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes were built to ensure the survival of
the king's influence after his death.
● The pharaoh would be given a name at birth consisting of a god’s name, nebty name, throne name
and a birth name.
The main role of a Pharaoh was to govern the country by: directing battles, ensuring the countries
economic stability and changing the religion of the country to suit their propaganda.
‘Gods Wife of Amen’, suggests that while Hatshepsut was still only regent she “used titles modeled
on those used by kings”
Support Structure/Bureaucracy
● Hatshepsut would not have been able to govern the land without the support of a number of loyal
officials from the civil, religious and military bureaucracy.
● Thutiy was the treasurer and the overseer of the double gold and silver houses.
● Nehsy was the chancellor who led the expedition to Punt.
● Inebni was the Viceroy of Kush.
● Useramen was vizier from year 5 onwards.
Key Personalities
● Senenmut was her closest advisor who was regarded as being responsible for Hatshepsut’s
success. He was first Neferure’s steward and tutor.
● Senenmut was probably a highly competent administrator and financial manager. So he controlled
the estate of Amen, the royal household and the Pharaoh’s estate.
● He was also the controller of works where he was able to organise and supervise the construction
of many of Hatshepsut’s buildings.
● He was also the overseer of the storehouse of Amen where he was closely associated with the
great trading expedition to Punt. He would have collected and stored the products which were
brought back from Punt and dedicated them to Amen.
● Thutmose III was Hatshepsut’s stepson and nephew, they shared a co-regency. Even though
Hatshepsut was the senior Pharaoh she showed Thutmose III the respect he deserved.
● Later in Hatshepsut’s reign he appears to have taken a more prominent role in public affairs.
● He was also given leadership of the armies and led the campaigns in Nubia and possibly Gaza.
● Thutmose III did not challenge the authority of Hatshepsut.
● Neferure is Hatshepsut’s eldest daughter and some scholars had suggested that Hatshepsut was
planning for Neferure to succeed her as Pharaoh.
● Redford supports this view because there are several statues of Neferure depicted as a crown
princess wearing the artificial beard and through her title ‘Lady of the Two Lands’.
● When Hatshepsut became Pharaoh she gave Neferure the title of God’s Wife of Amen. She may
have played the part of consort in participating in religious rituals.
● Hapusoneb was the High Priest of the Amen-Re priesthood and was her most influential supporter.
● It is believed that he may have been appointed as her vizier; this would give him control of the civil
● This powerful official combined both secular and sacred authority.
Building Program
● Hatshepsut’s building policy involved restoring the monuments such as temples, chapels and
sanctuaries which had been damaged and neglected because of the domination of the Hyksos.
● The details of some specific temple rebuilding were given such as the restoration of the temple of
Hathor and another god whose name has been lost.
● Breasted states that “she made them as her monuments for her father, Amen.”
● Breasted believed that in doing so Hatshepsut “re-established regular worship at these cult
Hatshepsut also constructed many monuments such as Djeser-djeseru, which was her mortuary
temple in Deir El-Bahri.
The temple was built not only for the purpose of carrying out daily offerings to Hatshepsut after her
death, but as a dedication to the god Amen, a mortuary temple for her father Thutmose I and as a
place of worship for many other deities.
Inscriptions and reliefs on the walls of her temple justify her claims to the throne and advertise her
major achievements.
Buildings which Hatshepsut had constructed in Karnak included repairing the Middle Kingdom
temple, adding a great pylon, erecting four obelisks and constructing a red granite sanctuary for the
barque of Amen known as the Red Chapel.
Hatshepsut erected four giant red granite obelisks to Amen. On one of her obelisks Hatshepsut
states: "I was sitting in the palace and I remembered the One who created me; my heart directed
me to make for him two obelisks of electrum...”
The obelisk inscriptions focus on three major themes: Hatshepsut’s right to the throne, the
glorification of Amen and her relationship with her father Thutmose I.
Hatshepsut inscribed on the entrance of Speos Artemidos in Beni Hasan, denouncing the ‘Asiatics
of Avaris’ (the Hyksos) who had invaded Egypt.
In the lengthy text the Queen describes the chaos of the Hyksos rule and praises the benefits of
her own reign and her restoration of the damage they caused.
Originally Hatshepsut’s tomb was being constructed in the Valley of the Queens, however when
she usurped the role of Pharaoh she began to build her tomb in the Valley of the Kings, Thebes.
Hatshepsut’s building program not only expressed her devotion to the gods but also reflected the
general prosperity of her reign.
Tyldesley proposes that Hatshepsut’s massive stone buildings “served as a constant reminder that
there was a powerful pharaoh on the throne”
Economic Policies
● Although the expedition to Punt was regarded by Hatshepsut as one of her greatest achievements,
the evidence reveals that she promoted trade in other areas as well.
● Hatshepsut considered this expedition so significant that it was recorded in detail on the walls of
her mortuary temple.
● Hatshepsut claimed that in sending this expedition to Punt she was responding to an instruction
which was given by Amen in the form of an oracle.
● Through this expedition Hatshepsut had hoped to further her honour to Amen and maintain the
support of his priesthood as well as open up peaceful trade in this area.
● From Punt they brought back incense resins, fragrant woods, ebony, live animals, animal skin,
ivory and precious metals such as gold.
● It was believed that there were five ships which contained wine, beer, cloth and gifts to exchange
when they arrived in Punt.
● The items offered by the Egyptians seem to be of markedly lower value than the goods which were
presented by the Puntites.
● However, in the inscription the goods offered by the Puntites are not described as items of trade
but rather as tribute to Hatshepsut. The Egyptian items are referred to as offering for the goddess
Hathor who was the lady of Punt.
● This propaganda may have intended to associate this expedition with a successful military
campaign, which usually resulted in the defeated leaders paying tribute to the victors.
● Hatshepsut is depicted offering the products to Amen with words saying that she had done
everything he had commanded her to do.
The inscriptions continue with a speech by Amen praising Hatshepsut and promising success for
future expeditions.
Her trading expeditions included : Byblos for timber, Sinai for turquoise and to the mysterious land
of Punt for incense
Military Policies
● Gardiner and Wilson believed that during Hatshepsut’s reign there were no militaristic campaigns.
● This was based on the fact that there was a lack of monumental relief’s of Hatshepsut in a
militaristic character and that because she was a woman she lacked aggressiveness and was
incapable of leading an army.
● Many of Hatshepsut’s monuments had been destroyed after her death and there may have been
some evidence of military campaigns.
● A number of fragmentary evidence has been found which provide proof of at least four military
operations during her reign.
● The chief source of evidence for a campaign in Nubia is a graffito written by Tiy. It suggested that
Hatshepsut led the campaign by herself and he was an eye witness of this.
● Writings which were inscribed in her mortuary temple also referred to a campaign in Kush.
● Close to the inscription is the statue of Hatshepsut depicted as a sphinx with an inscription of the
enemies names under he feet, symbolic of her defeat and trampling on the enemies.
● According to Redford he suggests that there was a campaign in Nubia possibly conducted by
Hatshepsut herself, an early “mopping up” operation in Palestine and Syria, a campaign led by
Thutmose III in Gaza and a campaign against Nubia led by Thutmose III.
Religious Policies
● Hatshepsut held the influential title of God’s Wife of Amen.
● It is believed that Senenmut and Hapusoneb (High Priest of Amen) helped her to assume the titles
and powers of a Pharaoh.
● Hatshepsut gave Hapusoneb many titles which allowed him to control all phases of Amen cult.
● Hatshepsut was deeply devoted to Amen-Re as he justified her position to become Pharaoh so she
praised him at every chance she had.
● Amen-Re became the pre-eminent god of Egypt and Hatshepsut had attributed all her success to
● She constantly reinforced that Amen gave her direction and she did everything that he commanded
her to do, including the expedition to Punt.
● The Red Chapel is also a useful piece of evidence in explaining Hatshepsut’s devotion to Amen-Re
and was also built at Karnak.
● It is one of the main monuments built in honour of the god and it houses his barque.
● This was yet another form of propaganda which emphasised her relationship and devotion to her
heavenly father Amen-Re.
● It is in the coronation reliefs that Hatshepsut claims Amen-Re to be her father through an oracle.
● She is then crowned by the gods Atum and then Amen-Re. Amen-Re is presenting Hatshepsut to
the council of gods, so it appears as though Hatshepsut was predestined to become Pharaoh.
● Hatshepsut emphasised the Opet festival and even created the Beautiful Feast of the Valley, as
they were celebrations that were offered and praised to the god Amen.
● By glorifying Amen at every opportunity Hatshepsut contributed to the priesthood’s great prestige
and influence.
Relationship with Thutmose III
There has been a great deal of speculation about the relationship between Hatshepsut and her
stepson/nephew, Thutmose III.
Thutmose III was still a young child, when his father died, so there was little choice but for his
Stepmother and Aunt Hatshepsut to act as his regent.
Even though Hatshepsut was the senior Pharaoh, the surviving inscriptions indicate that she gave
Thutmose III the respect that he entitled.
They shared monuments and stelae together, although throughout most of her reign, her name and
image was always placed before his.
In a relief on a building inscription in Western Thebes, Hatshepsut and Thutmose III are shown
worshipping Amen-Re together. He is standing behind Hatshepsut and there is no mention of him
in the inscription.
Evidence suggests that Thutmose III spent much of Hatshepsut's rule in a military position.
Later in Hatshepsut’s reign, he appears to have taken a more prominent role in public affairs.
If Thutmose posed a threat to Hatshepsut’s security it is unlikely that he would have been given
leadership of the army.
It appears as though Thutmose did not challenge Hatshepsut’s authority.
However Steindorff and Seele find it highly unlikely that “the energetic and young Thutmose III
watched from the sidelines” and are convinced that “a collision was inevitable”.
Defacement of Her Monuments
Hatshepsut died in year 22 of the co-regency.
● When she grew old, it is thought that Thutmose III assumed power and began to remove her name
and memory from monuments. (Damnatio memoriae)
● There is no evidence to suggest that Hatshepsut was either murdered or deposed by Thutmose III.
● Wilson believes that Hatshepsut’s death came to an “unnatural end” and suggests that Thutmose
III may have been the reason as he supposedly defaced her monuments after her death.
● However Nims believes that “…twenty years or more is too long to hold such a grudge before
carrying out destructive measures.”
● Hatshepsut’s titles and images were erased from the walls of the temples and replaced with those
of Thutmose I, Thutmose II and Thutmose III. Her name was absent from all later lists of kings.
● It is thought that Thutmose III did not hate Hatshepsut but his actions were politically motivated.
● His own legitimacy needed to be demonstrated and therefore his links with grandfather Thutmose I
had to be emphasised.
● If Hatshepsut’s monuments could be seen then his own accomplishments would most likely be
● Interestingly, the destruction of her monuments was of a selective nature as many inscriptions
have been left partially or wholly left intact.
● Redford believes that Thutmose had not wished to totally eradicate Hatshepsut’s name knowing
that if he did her spirit would perish forever and she would be condemned to what the Egyptians
called the “second death”.
● In a pit at Deir el-Bahri, dozens of her statues were found smashed and dumped, other fragments
were scattered all over the sea.
● In the Temple of Karnak Hatshepsut’s giant obelisks in the Temple of Karnak were enclosed
behind a wall to prevent them from being seen.
● Robins said that “…all traces of the unnatural female king should be erased, since they did not
conform with ma’at”
Hatshepsut to restored Egypt as it was left damaged after the expulsion of the Hyksos, as she no
longer wanted to extend the borders and create an empire.
The expedition to punt was one of her major achievements as it was said that no other Pharaoh
had been to the land as it was seen as a majestic place.
She repaired temples, chapels and sanctuaries; she also constructed her mortuary temple in DeirEl-Bahri, the Red Chapel, obelisks and pylons at Karnak. Hatshepsut constructed these building as
monuments to Amen-Re, it is said she did not sleep until his temple had been built.
● To understand Hatshepsut’s legacy it is necessary to consider her achievements.
● Her achievements included the extensive building program, trading expeditions and some military
● Hatshepsut secured the prosperity of Egypt, she increased the wealth and power of Egypt, she
contributed to the prestige of the Amen priesthood and the priests of Amen had great power as the
wealth of the temple increased.
● Hatshepsut was one of the most powerful Pharaohs in New Kingdom Egypt.
● Egypt was left with a prosperous, vibrant culture and economy
● Trade routes opened and new roads built, especially with countries in the Near East and Aegean
● Strengthened Amen religion and priesthood
● Revival of religious festivals e.g. Valley Festival, Festival of Opet
● War campaigns had increased Egypt’s influence – garrisons built in other countries
● Monuments she left – temples were erected in every major centre in Egypt
● Overcame gender problems as ruler
● Egyptilisation – Hatshepsut brought children of chieftains and educated them
● She ruled the country after disruption and chaos of Hyksos – she brought stability
● The expedition to Punt increased the level of wealth, ideas, luxury items
● Bad influence was that she gave Amen priesthood too much power
New Evidence
Hatshepsut's remains were long considered lost, but in June 2007 a mummy from Tomb KV60 was
publicly identified as her remains by Zahi Hawass.
Evidence supporting this identification includes the results of a DNA comparison with the mummy
of Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut's grandmother.
Further evidence includes the possession of a broken tooth previously found inside a small wooden
box inscribed with Hatshepsut's name and cartouche
Zahi Hawass's team's CAT scan revealed that this tooth exactly matches this mummy's jaw.
Modern CT scans of that mummy believed to be Hatshepsut suggest she was about fifty years old
when she died from a ruptured abscess after removal of a tooth.
There are signs in her mummy of metastatic bone cancer, as well as possible liver cancer and
The position of the left hand on the mummy’s chest is a traditional sign of royalty in ancient Egypt.