Hatshepsut The QUEEN who MUST become KING

Graphical features
The Nile Valley is separated into two parts, the river basin or the flat alluvial (or black
land soil), and the Red Land or desert land. The river basin of the Nile is in sharp
contrast to the rest of the land of Egypt and was rich with wild life and waterfowl,
depending on the waxing and wanning cycles of the Nile. In contrast, the red desert is
a flat dry area, which was devoid of most life and water, regardless of any seasonal
cycle. Annual flooding of the Nile deposited nutrients rich silt on the land. The annual
flooding allowed for abundant harvests three times a year. If the annual flooding
didn’t occur this would have disastrous effects on Egyptian economy, as they relied
heavily on the agriculture. There was grazing land available once the waters receded.
Egyptians were able to easily grow tree crops and vegetable gardens in the lower part
of the Nile Valley, while at higher elevations, usually near levees; the Nile Valley was
sparsely planted. They cultivated barley, emmer wheat, beans, chickpeas, flax and
other types of vegetables this shows the diet of the Ancient Egyptians and the food
that they could have traded with other countries.
Topographical features
The Climate was semi tropical climate, which meant it was hot, dry and arid. They
had a large agriculture surplus and papyrus grew wild. It was subject to floods, which
meant that valuable nutrients were made available. It had Valleys and some
mountains. A variety of oasis scattered through the deserts. Many Egyptians lived
close to the Nile, so they would have a water source, during the Middle Kingdom
Egyptians moved their capital to Thebes.
The Nile was a very valuable resource as it allowed for the growth of grains, fruit and
vegetables. Ancient Egyptians produced jewelry, vessels, statues, weapons and tools
with the minerals they discovered. Many different minerals could be found throughout
Egypt, such as, natron, basalt, limestone, alabaster, carnellian, gold, granite,
malachite, copper, amethyst, feldspar, tin, jasper, quartzite and iron. This shows
historians the available sources that the Egyptians had such as gold, which shows that
they would have used this in jewelry (evidence of this is shown is artifacts recovered
from that period, such as on Tutankhamen’s tomb) and shows the resources that
weren’t available in Egypt and what they could import from other countries,
demonstrating to historians that Egyptians had trade relations with other countries.
Trade brought not only valuable resources to Egypt, however, also boosted the
economy, supplying Egypt with a flourishing economy.
Political structures
The Pharaoh had the overriding power and was the supreme ruler of the country as
well as the highest-level spiritual leader representing humankind’s link to the gods.
Ancient Egypt had a highly organized government that was run by the scribal class
(these were the people that knew how to read and write and also had knowledge of the
specific position they were to inherit, such knowledge in agriculture). The viziers,
who were councilors of the state, exercised power. The government managed the
economy, the administration of both religious (temples) and non-religious (secular) as
well as many types of disputes and legal issues. At the head of each division there was
a high official under who was middle level and low-level officials, each department
ultimately answered the king. Men predominantly ruled ancient Egypt; however,
women rulers were powerful and were able to maintain stability and order. The
succeeding Pharaoh married the eldest daughter pervious Pharaoh- strengthening the
claim to the throne as it is believed that the women in Egypt carried the royal blood,
not the males; however, this was not always the case as the previous Pharaoh may
have not had a daughter. In that case the closest female relative would marry the
succeeding Pharaoh. Egyptian females held rights that other ancient societies did not
allow, such as, the right to divorce and to own property, however the political and
social structure didn’t allow women to rule as Pharaohs. Hatshepsut’s usurpation of
Thuthmose III could happen only by emphasizing her political right to rule because of
her blood line (she was the royal daughter of the king and his royal wife, which,
according to Egyptian belief, Hatshepsut was ‘fully’ royal).
Social Structures
Ancient Egyptians valued family life and they were considered to be the basic social
structure in Ancient Egypt. Egypt was male dominated; however, women had a
significant amount of freedom and legal rights. Women were allowed to own
property, to hold official positions and to inherit from their parents or late husband. A
woman was entitled to take her case to court and defend her legal rights. They also
possessed the right to move about in public. Egyptian wives and mothers were highly
respected and they faced same penalties as men. Majority of the lower classes were
farmers and the whole family shared in the work. Villages in Egypt were comprised
of groups of families. Ancient Egypt’s social classes comprised of a hierarchy, which
had the Pharaoh at the top. The Caste System is shown below.
Military Structures
According to Mark Millmore, Ancient Egypt had a permanent army and was the only
place for people to step out of the caste system and achieve importance. The king was
the commander in chief of Egypt’s army and navy and he decided when and how the
country’s borders were protected or expanded. They had policies for safeguarding
frontiers through large-scale raiding expeditions was also developed. They had naval
and land battles, which had several divisions of troops, which comprised of infantry
arches and cavalry, which participated in battles. It consisted of different levels of
officers and administrators for the different units of soldiers and sailors. This suggests
that a hierarchy existed within the ranks. At certain times the Egyptians hired
mercenaries or warriors who were recruited for pay, from outside the borders of
Egypt. During this time their technology was advancing as they developed horse
drawn chariots.
Economic structures
The government managed the economy. It was largely based on agriculture, which
meant the economy would only thrive in times of plenty as the farmers depended on
The Nile for agriculture. No monetary system (people used bartering) existed;
however, there had a tax system, which consumed a large share of the total
production. Much of the land was under the control of the throne, but private
ownership existed. Egypt traded resources with other countries as shown in
Hatshepsut’s expedition to Punt. During trading expedition Egyptians were able to
obtain resources that had an economic value and boosted their economy by trading
Relationship to the king to Amun
Amun was the King of the gods and maker of men, which meant he held court.
Egyptians believed that Amun was the “father” of the pharaoh and the king would
derive his power from Amun. The king supported the temples and worshipped Amun.
It was believed that Amun could take the form of the king to impregnate the queen
with the next successor. Evidence suggests that the cult of Amun grew so powerful
that its priest actually ruled Egypt. Hatshepsut used propaganda in her claim to throne.
In which she used her relationship with Amun to ascend the throne. It is shown on
their Mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri that Hatshesput convinced the public that she
was the true daughter of Amun. The inscriptions stated that while her mother Ahmose
sleep Amun came into her room and impregnated her with a child that Amun
prophesized would be a great king of Upper of Lower Egypt.
Overview of religious beliefs and practices of early New Kingdom period
David Bediz believed that religion permeated life in Ancient Egypt. Ancient
Egyptians worshipped many gods and goddesses. Amun Ra was King of the gods and
many mythological stories were created about the gods and goddesses. Statues and
other images were made of the gods and they believed occasionally the gods resided
in the statues. They had areas devoted to rituals and festivals, as well as sections for
burials. A ritual may include: recitation of sacred text and all sorts of attention paid to
the statue, such as, cleansing, dressing feeding and anointing them. Mummification
was a process performed by an embalmer who would carefully remove the internal
organs. Subjected the body to different ointments and resins, dried it out with salts
and wrapped it with linen. Amulets or charms were often interspersed among the
layers of linen, as they were seen as good luck, and other amulets might be placed in
the coffin along with the mummy. Magical texts were sometimes written on the
wrappings themselves and they could also be written on papyri or inscribed on the
walls of the coffin or on the tomb. These texts served as protection in the afterlife and
as a guide for the deceased on the way to. Egyptians believed that one of the most
important things was to live a just and moral life. Details about Egyptian’s religious
beliefs are documented in hieroglyphics on numerous buildings such as Hatshepsut’s
Temple at Karnak. Hatshepsut was a strong believer in Amun and the gods, she gave
a larger amount of kudos to the priesthood, which further strengthened the
priesthood’s influence over the Egyptians and gave Hatshesput further support from
the priesthood.
Family background
Hatshepsut was the eldest daughter of the Pharaoh, Thuthmose I and Queen Ahmose.
Her father was the third ruler of the 18th Dynasty (which was the beginning of the
New Kingdom). He was a successful general in the army and married the old
Pharaoh’s sister, as Amenhotep was childless. She had two older brothers, Wadjmose
and Amonmose, who both died young and a sister, Neterukheb. Her grandmother was
Ahmose-Nefertari, who she inherited the title of “God’s wife of Amun” from.
Hatshepsut also had a half brother, Thuthmose II, who later became her husband.
Evidence suggested that Hatshepsut had two daughters- Neferura (Thuthmose II’s
daughter) and Merira-Hatshepuet (unknown).
The royal families are inscribed on Hatshesput’s Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahri,
monuments and burial sites.
Inscriptions made at Deir el-Bahri
Hatshepsut’s claim to the throne and succession
Hatshepsut used a number of strategies to legitimize her role as Pharaoh. In her
temple at Deir el-Bahri, near Luxor in the Valley of the Kings, the birth and
coronation of the queen is described in paintings and works of art. From this primary
source, experts have been able to conclude that in order to make her leadership
legitimate she used propaganda which included: claiming that the god Amun had
visited her mother while she sleep and impregnated her, thus making her a divine
child, gaining the support from the priesthood of Amun, due to her supposed divinity.
Support from the priesthood would have been important to further legitimate her
claim; she also dressed and made statues of herself with male attire and attributes. It
can be argued that this behavior was another instrument used by the Queen in her
pursuit for respect.
Changes in her royal image
Historians such as, Mark Millmore and David Bediz have suggested that in order for
Hatshepsut to keep and claim the throne as it being rightfully hers, she dressed and
made statues of herself with male attire and attributes. According to French scholar
Tefrin early statues and monuments of Hatshepsut show her in male attire, however,
feminine in appearance. As she became in power for longer the representations of her
became more masculine. The male attire wore by Hatshepsut may have only been
used as there was no female alternative. Tjia Cook suggested that Hatshepsut might
have been preparing for the continuance of a matriarchal rule, proclaiming her
daughter, Neferure, as her successor; however, there is no evidence to support this.
Tefrin studied five statues of Hatshepsut and concluded that the increasing size of her
statues may have been due to an uncertainty if the Egyptian peoples reaction at the
beginning of her reign. As her reign progressed reaction was positive, therefore
statues of her as the “king” were made larger. Caroline Seawright suggested that
Hatshepsut might have always had a fear of revolt, especially as Thuthmose III came
into manhood. This may be another possibility as to why she took on all the aspects of
a male ruler.
Relationship with Thuthmose III
When Thuthmose II died Thuthmose III was still quite young, so Hatshepsut was
appointed his regent and later they set up co regency. Study of new evidence has led
many historians, such as, Mark Millmore, to believe that authority was divided
equally during the co regency. Hatshepsut always depicted her nephew/step son, as
her co-ruler on inscriptions made at Deir el-Bahri, which suggests that he was not
displaced or disregarded by Hatshepsut and her officials. It appears that she originally
intended for Thuthmose III to rule and secure his right to the throne by marrying
Hatshepsut’s daughter, Neferure. They joint ruled until 1473 for approximately
6years. Then she declared herself Pharaoh. Thuthmose III did not originate from the
royal bloodline like Hatshepsut and his grandfather.
Roles of the king in Egyptian life
Egyptian kings were thought to be divine incarnations of the god Horus, which, is
depicted at Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahri. Pyramids were built to
ensure the survival of the king’s influence after his death. They received both a
religious following during and after their lives. During their reign they maintained
their divinity as a result of specific kingship rituals and they also possessed the royal
ka. The Egyptians believed the kings to be the intermediary between mankind and the
divine responsible for maintaining a divine order.
Role of queens in Dynasty XVII and early Dynasty XVIII
Pharaoh’s usually chose their queens from their own family, as they weren’t allowed
to marry a ‘mortal’. In the New Kingdom the queen became more powerful and
prominent. They were able to gain titles that carried jobs and responsibilities; this was
an attempt to enhance the power and prestige of the monarchy. Important queens,
such as Hatshepsut made the monarchy more ‘visible’. According to researcher Shojo
Okomoto of the most important roles for the queen was to provide many children. In
an age with such a short life expectancy, it paid to have as many sons as possible to
serve as spares. They also had to ensure the smooth running of the palace, give silent
support to her husband, be a passive, however, visible, complement to the king and if
necessary act as regent if her husband the king died before his son was old enough to
rule on his own.
Hatshepsut’s titles
Hatshepsut, an 18th Dynasty Pharaoh, had many titles of varying degrees of
importance. These included:
 “God’s wife to Amun” this provided her with her own source of money and a
degree of independence. Hatshepsut used this title to get authority prior to her
claim to the throne. This title also shows her religious links to the gods.
 “King’s Great Wife” this title differentiated between the ‘main’queen and the
lesser wives of the king. It meant that she was the most important wife of the
 When she became king she adopted the titles Horus powerful of Kas, Two
ladies flourishing of years, female Horus of fine gold, Divine of Diaclems,
King of Upper and Lower Egypt (Shows she was the King of the two
countries) all these titles were adopted by the King once they became a
Pharaoh. Hatshesput adopting these demonstrates her power and political and
religious significance.
 She also changed her name to Khenemet-Amun-Hatshepsu, which meant she
who embraces Amun, the foremost of women. Dropping the “t” was a
tradition that the succeeding Pharaoh would adopt once they became king.
The Egyptians held marriage as a sacred bond as this is made clear in the many
statues and writings that depict men and women in a relationship where both
depended upon each other. The common practice was for the pharaoh to marry his
favourite son to his eldest daughter. Brother and sister marriages and even father
daughter marriages were accepted in the royal families of ancient Egypt. It is thought
that Hatshepsut was about age fifteen when her father dies. She then was married to
Thuthmose II, however he died early into his reign. Thuthmose had one daughter with
his royal wife Hatshepsut, her name was Neferure, and she also had one other child a
son, Thuthmose III, by his concubine Aset.
Relationship with daughter, Neferure
Evidence suggests that Hatshepsut must have had a close relationship with Neferure
as she is depicted as the most prominent princess in Ancient Egyptian history. She is
shown on many monuments such as ones found at Senenmut’s burial site as shown
below and her name is etched on many scarabs. Hatshepsut also granted her daughter
the title “God’s wife” which Hatshepsut previously held. Although it seems as
through Neferure may have been used as a porn in the political struggle of Hatshepsut
and Thuthmose III. If Neferure married Thuthmose III she would legitimize his right
to the throne, however, until this would happen Hatshepsut could use her as a bribe to
keep her power.
Images of Senenmut - the majority with Neferure
Expedition to Punt
Trading missions to Punt date from at least the 5th Dynasty and in Hatshepsut’s 8th
year of Pharaoh she ordered a trading expedition to Punt. Punt was rich in products
the Egyptians desired, such as, myrrh, frankincense, woods, sweet smelling resin,
ivory, spices, gold, ebony, however, they also brought back exotic animals and plants
that had no apparent economic value. Hatshepsut sent Senenment; a number of
historians such as Tija Cook suggested that he was one of her most trusted advisors,
with a fleet of five ships that included thirty rowers each. They departed Quserio, in
the Red sea for what was primarily a trading mission. On the return of the expedition,
Hatshepsut held a procession to the temple of Amun-Ra, where her inscriptions stated
that the god himself and Hathor (Lady of Punt) guided the expedition to Punt.
Military campaigns
Hatshepsut conquered no new territory. She kept hold of the Egyptian borders that she
inherited and led the usual military show campaigns that each monarch had to
perform in order to hang on the southern border. From Tefnin’s research he proved
that Hatshepsut led two of the 5fivecampaigns during her reign Author Joyce
Tyldessly describes her military policy as “active defence” rather than “deliberate
offence”. She also had modest military campaigns in Nubia. The most famous of her
expeditions was her trip to Punt, which is shown at her Mortuary Temple at Deir elBahri. Tyldessly, and Mertz believe the evidence show Hatshepsut as having
“military adventurism” in Punt, since the army was always in attendance should the
trading not go as planned.
Building program
When Hatshepsut ascended the throne, her building program was more abundant then
previous rulers, Helen Strudwick quotes “Hatshepsut wanted to stamp her position as
king and show her great loyalty to Amun (the great god of Thebes)”. Hatshepsut built
magnificent temples as well as restoring many others. Senenmut was her chief advisor
and the architect for many of her buildings. Her most famous buildings include the
temple at Deir el-Bahri in Thebes and her Temple in Karnak. The temple at Deir elBahri served as a statement of Hatshepsut’s reign, as they were a permanent reminder
of the outstanding building program that Hatshepsut undertook. Deir el-Bahri was
built after she declared herself Pharaoh, she built it as a mortuary temple to ensure
royal continuity in the afterlife and cement her claim to the throne. On some of the
alabaster unguent (lotion) jars found was the inscription: “She made as her monument
to her father, Amun… may she live like Re forever.” She also restored and dedicated
her Temple at Karnak to Amun-Ra. Many inscriptions made during Hatshesput’s
reign justify her claim to the throne are shown throughout the Temple at Karnak.
Deir el-Bahri
Apart of the Temple at Karnak
Relationship with the Amun priesthood, officials and nobles
Religion played an important role in Hatshepsut’s ascension the throne. The
priesthood of Amun had significant political power and was crucial to Hatshepsut’s
justification to the throne. Hatshepsut’s use of the god Amun Ra was critical to her
justification to sole ruler and claim to the throne. Historian Pamela Bradley stated that
there was a divine document used by all the Pharaohs to show that they had the right
to rule. This is shown on Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple at Deir-el-Bahri. She also
used Amun Ra to justify her usurpation of the Egyptian throne over Thuthmose III.
Hatshepsut needed the priesthood and officials support to ascend the throne; this may
be one reason why she gave Amun and priesthood so much kudos, once she became
king. Tija cook suggested that one reason as to why the priesthood of Amun and the
officials gave their full support to Hatshesput was due to the fact that she claimed to
be the true daughter of Amun-Ra. The birth myth of Hatshepsut states that Amun Ra
was her father, and he impregnated her mother queen Ahmose. Amun Ra prophesied
that the child would be a great king of the lands, according to Hatshepsut. Alan
Gardiner emphasizes that Hatshepsut could not have ruled without the aid of strong
male advisers: “It is not to be imagined, however, that even a woman of the most
virile character could have attained such a pinnacle of power without male support.”
Inscriptions made at Karnak during Hatshepsut’s reign
Relationship with Senenmut
Senemut was a lowly born man who rose to power with Hatshepsut. He was
considered one of her strongest supporters and one of her most trusted advisors. He
was best known as her chief architect of her temples. Hatshepsut also sent him on the
expedition to Punt. During, his time, he gained 80 offices and titles. He proclaimed
himself as “companion greatly loved, keeper of the palace, keeper of the heart of the
king and making all things come to pass for the spirit of her majesty”. Historians such
as David Silverman have suggested that Senenmut was Hatsheptsut’s lover and they
had a child together named Meria-Hatshespet, however, there is no evidence to
support this claim.
Relationship with Thutmose II
Thutmose II was Hatsheput’s half brother/cousin and later became her husband. It
was customary for the succeeding Pharaoh to marry the pervious Pharaoh’s favourite
daughter; this was done, as Egyptians believed that the females carried the royal
blood. Therefore Thuthmose II and Hatshepsut were married to legitimize his rule.
Evidence also suggests that they had a daughter together named Neferure. A number
of historians such as Mark Millimore have hypothesized that Hatshepsut may have
been the power behind the throne as during Thuthmose II’s reign he was quite ill.
Attempts to suppress or erase her from history
Hatshepsut ruled for around twenty years, before disappearing from history. Her
disappearance coincided with Thuthmose III becoming Pharaoh in his own right.
After her death, many of her monuments and temples, such as, Deir el-Bahri were
damaged or destroyed. Replacing the names on older monuments with the new
Pharaoh’s name was a common practice of Egyptian Pharaohs; however, in some
cases it was an act of damnation memoriae (To damn the memory of a person). The
belief among many historians such as Barbara Mertz is that Thutmose III was
responsible, he is quoted as saying “We are not satisfied with a tame and bloodless
ending for the haughty spirit of Hatshepsut. I am personally, if illogically, am
convinced that Thutmose did away with Hatshepsut. It is highly probable that he did
away with her mummy: no trace of it has ever been found”. Historians such as
Charles Nims and Peter Dorman have examined and studied the marking and
concluded that a number of the markings were done 42 years after Thuthmose III’s
reign. There is a number of reason that researchers such as David Bediz as to
Thutmose III’s motivation for removing her name from her monuments, these
include: bitterness from being denied the throne for so long or that he wanted all
traces that a female King ruled erased. Ironically the wall that was built around her
obelisks at Karnak, to keep people from discovering that Hatshepsut ruled, actually
persevered her name for the future. Historian DB Redford stated, “Thutmose was
motivated not so much by genuine hatred but by political necessity. His own
legitimacy stood in need of demonstration”. This theory is a more believable
explanation as some of the monuments were not defaced and leads historians to
believe that Thutmose III may done this for political necessity, as there is no evidence
of hatred between the two during Hatshesput’s reign. The theory that Thuthmose III
obliterated her name and images out of hatred is not very plausible as why would he
have done this twenty years after her death? Pamela Bradley stresses that the images
defaced are selective, none of her queen images touched, which infers that there was
more of a problem with Hatshepsut as Pharaoh rather her actual personality.
Modern and ancient interpretation of Hatshepsut
Ancient interpretations- During Hatshepsut’s reign she was considered to be equal of
her male predecessors. She is portrayed in many monuments and temples such as her
Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahri, as a prolific builder, conventional warrior pharaoh
and also as a devout supporter of Amun and the Amun-Ra priesthood.
Modern interpretations- Historians J.A Wilson and Alan Gardiner portray her as a
pacifist due to her emphasise on building programmes rather than military campaigns.
Wilson and Gardiner also criticised her for being too ambitious and that Hatshepsut
owed her success to her male supporters. Whilst Tyldesley praised her for her strong
character and prosperous reign. Tyldesley also admired Hatshepsut for winning the
support of the bureaucracy and priesthood.
Primary source- Hatshepsut with
false beard.
Secondary source- Hatshepsut without
false beard.
Books and worksheets:
Hennesey, Dianne “Studies in Ancient Egypt” published by South Melbourne
Nelson 1993
Bradley, Pamela “Ancient Egypt: Reconstructing the Past”, (Cambridge
University Press, Melbourne, 1999
Silverman, David. “Ancient Egypt.” Published by Oxford University Press,
New York. 1997.
Erman, Adolph. “Life in Ancient Egypt.” Published by Benjamin Blom Inc.,
New York. 1984
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 People of Ancient Egypt accessed on 1 November
 Traveler Hat
005.htm and site by Ivan Lam accessed on 1 November
 Ancient Egyptian marriage
http://www.aldokkan.com/society/marriage.htm and site by Aldokkan, accessed
on 3 December.
 Kinship & Marriage
accessed on 20 November
Site by James C. Thompson, B.A., M.Ed. and accessed on 16 November
 Encyclopaedia: Hatshepsut of Egypt
Site by NationMaster.com 2003 and accessed on 30 October
 Civilization.ca - Egyptian civilization - Geography
http://www.civilization.ca/civil/egypt/egcgeo1e.html site by Canadian Museum of
Civilization Corporation and accessed on November 1
 Life in Ancient Egypt Life in Ancient Egypt
http://www.carnegiemuseums.org/cmnh/doe/index.html site by Carnegie Museum of
Natural History accessed on November 5
 18th Dynasty
accessed on November 12
 The Birth Myth of Hatshepsut http://www.maatkare.com/myth.html
accessed on November 12
 History of the Egyptian Religion, part IV New Kingdom Related Articles
http://realmagick.com/articles/38/438-related.html site by Lux Scientiae accessed on
November 5
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