Sunday, 11 July 2010

Ruling queens of ancient Egypt (2) - Hatshepsut.

Father: Thutmose I
Mother: Ahmose
Consort: Thutmose II (half brother)
Children: Neferu
Horus name: Wesretkau (Mighty of Kas)
Nebty name: Wadjrenput (She of the two ladies, Flourishing of years)
Golden Horus name: Netjeretkhau (Devine of appearance)
Throne name: Maatkare (Truth [Ma’at] is the soul [Ka] of Re)
Birth name: Khanumt-Amun Hatshepsut (Foremost of noble ladies)
Burial place: Originally KV20

Queen Hatshepsut lived from 1500 till 1458 BC and by ruling over ancient Egypt for 21 years (1479 – 1458 BC) she is the ruling queen with the longest reign in Egypt’s history.
She was the daughter of Thutmose I and Ahmose. Hatshepsut married her half-brother Thutmose II who became king of Egypt when his father died (1492 BC). Thutmose II was a son of Thutmose I and his minor wife lady Mutnofret. Since three of his older brothers died prematurely and Thutmose II was only a lesser son he had to marry his fully royal half sister to secure his claim of the throne and to secure his kingship.
Because of the similarities in domestic and foreign policies that were pursued under her reign Hatshepsut is believed to be the real power behind the throne during the (short) time Thutmose II ruled over Egypt. Hatshepsut only gave birth to a daughter named Neferu.
When Thutmose II died Thutmose III, son of Thutmose II and his lesser wife Iset (named after goddess Isis), was still an infant and too young to rule over Egypt so Hatshepsut acted as regent on his behalf. But how did Hatshepsut become queen of Egypt?
Never claiming to have ruled with or for her husband Thutmose II, Hatshepsut used her bloodline and fabricated a co-regency with her father Thutmose I to legitimize her accession to the throne. Even before Hatshepsut had taken on the throne name Maatkare there was an inscription left at Aswan by the royal steward Senemut, naming her as “king’s daughter, king’s sister, god’s wife, great royal wife Hatshepsut”. There are also scenes and texts at Deir el-Bahri of her claim that Thutmose I proclaimed her as heir even before his death.
It was not uncommon for women to hold official positions and own property during the times of Hatshepsut’s reign but still Hatshepsut did take several actions to make her accession to the throne even more acceptable for instance for the priests that had much power back then.
She dressed up in male clothing and is known to even wear an false beard. She did not hesitate to declare herself near godlike, telling stories about the gods talking to her while she was still in her mother’s womb. Hatshepsut even made up a story about the god Amon-Ra visiting her pregnant mother while she was at Deir el-Bahri in the Valley of the Kings.
Furthermore, Hatshepsut wanted to be called king and be addressed as “his” majesty. She also wanted to rule as a king refusing to be outdone by previous kings.
Egypt did not go to battle during Hatshepsut’s rule, only minor skirmishes occurred on the borders of Egypt. But she expanded the trade routes, renewed trading with Punt and she initiated and encouraged free trading with other countries. Besides that Hatshepsut believed Egypt should withdraw from the outside world and stay clear of the political unrest that was upsetting the middle east that time. The priests of Amon shared Hatshepsut’s ideas making it more easy for her to stay in power. With the support of the priesthood it was possible for Hatshepsut to have a peaceful and prosperous reign.

Like many other rulers of ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut was a great builder that has left us many monuments. Ineni who also worked for her father, brother and the royal steward Senemut was her architect. Statuary that have been created during Hatshepsut’s reign can be found in museums all over the world. Not only did Hatshepsut construct monuments at the temple of Karnak, she also restored the Precinct of Mut at Karnak.
Hatshepsut also had a masterpiece when it comes to building projects: her own mortuary temple build in a complex at Deir el-Bahri. It was designed by Senemut and the first complex to be build on the location that later would be known as the Valley of the Kings.

Hatshepsut’s reign came to a sudden end, according to Manetho Hatshepsut dies the 9th month of the 22nd year as queen but the cause of her death is still unknown. She could have died a natural death but some think it is also possible Thutmose III poisoned her to gain power. Computer tomography recently performed on what is thought to be her mummy, indicates that while being in her mid-fifties she died of a blood infection. If we are correct in thinking this mummy belongs to Hatshepsut, then she also suffered from arthritis, had bad teeth and on top of that possibly had diabetes.