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Hatshepsut was the Queen of Peace and Economic Prosperity of Ancient Egypt

Updated on February 27, 2019
Emmy ali profile image

Eman is living in Egypt. She loves to write about the history of Egypt as well as many other topics.

Queen Hatshepsut

A stone statue of Hatshepsut.
A stone statue of Hatshepsut. | Source

“... My heart turns to and fro, / In thinking what will the people say, / They who shall see my monument in after years, / And shall speak of what I have done.”

— Queen Hatshepsut, "Speech of the Queen" (c. 1450 BCE), in Margaret Busby, ed., Daughters of Africa.

Introduction

Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (1479-1458 BC) in ancient Egypt. She was able to ascend from Princess to Queen to Pharaoh. Her ascension to the throne, despite the ideals of the time.

Egyptologists regarded her as one of the most successful Pharaohs, male or female at the time and had a longer period as a ruler than any other woman of the original Egyptian dynasty.

Hatshepsut re-established international trade relations that brought great wealth to Egypt. This wealth enabled Hatshepsut to start building projects that raised the level of ancient Egyptian architecture to a record level.

Queen Hatshepsut has been in power for 21 years. Her reign characterized by peace and economic prosperity.

The meaning of Hatshepsut is the Foremost of Noble Ladies.

Timeline of the 18th Dynasty

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Birth, Family, and Marriage

Hatshepsut was born in 1507 BC, the eldest daughter of King Thutmose I, the third ruler of the 18th Dynasty and Queen Ahmose. Hatshepsut had a sister, Princess Neterukheb, and two brothers who both died young. King Ahmose I, who liberated Egypt from the Hyksos, is the great-grandfather of Hatshepsut and the founder of the 18th dynasty.

When Hatshepsut was nearly 12 years old she married her half-brother Thutmose II, the son of Tuthmose I, and bore him a single daughter; Princess Neferure but Hatshepsut's husband Tuthmose II had a son, Thutmose III born to a secondary wife called Isis.

Hatshepsut and Thutmose III

Hieroglyphs showing Thutmose III on the left and Hatshepsut on the right, she having the trappings of the greater role — Red Chapel, Karnak.
Hieroglyphs showing Thutmose III on the left and Hatshepsut on the right, she having the trappings of the greater role — Red Chapel, Karnak. | Source

The Rise of Hatshepsut to Power

After her father's death, Hatshepsut became Queen of Egypt when she married her half-brother Thutmose II who ruled Egypt from (1493 BC-1479 BC). After the death of Tuthmosis II, the throne went to Thutmose III, the step-son of Hatshepsut. He was a kid and Hatshepsut was acting as regent for him but less than seven years later, Hatshepsut assumed the title of Pharaoh and became the ruler of Egypt with Thutmose III.

Trade Routs between ancient Egypt and Punt (Somalia) Land

Map of the supposed location of Punt and trade routes from Egypt to Punt via rivers, wadis, and by sea.
Map of the supposed location of Punt and trade routes from Egypt to Punt via rivers, wadis, and by sea. | Source

Main Achievements

  • Hatshepsut reopened quarries and mines, especially copper mines in the Sinai Peninsula, which suspended during the occupation of the Hyksos of Egypt.
  • Also, she activated trade with neighboring countries of Egypt, where trade was in bad condition, especially during the reign of King Thutmose II.
  • Queen Hatshepsut re-used a channel was linking the Nile to the Red Sea to enable her to expand trade.
  • She took care of the Egyptian commercial fleet and established large ships for internal transport as well as trade exchange missions.
  • Punt land Mission: Hatshepsut sent a commercial mission aboard large vessels laden with gifts and Egyptian goods such as papyrus and linen to Punt land (Somalia), then reloaded with large quantities of predators, timber, incense, ebony, ivory, leather, and precious stones. Queen Hatshepsut photographed the news of this mission on the walls of the Deir el-Bahari temple on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor.
  • Byblos mission: Also, she sent a commercial mission to Byblos (Lebanon) to bring the woods.

Relief of Cattle and Trees from the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

Part of the relief from the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut; Deir al-Bahri. This section shows part of the trading trip to the land of Punt.
Part of the relief from the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut; Deir al-Bahri. This section shows part of the trading trip to the land of Punt.

Part of tree in front of the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

A tree in front of the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, claimed to have been brought from Punt by Hatshepsut's expedition, which is depicted on the temple walls.
A tree in front of the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, claimed to have been brought from Punt by Hatshepsut's expedition, which is depicted on the temple walls. | Source

Obelisk of Hatshepsut

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  • Hatshepsut ordered the construction of two large granite obelisks weighing about 35 tons each, the tallest in the world at that time, held at the entrance to the temple of Karnak. One still stands, as the longest ancient obelisk on Earth. The other has broken in two and collapsed.
  • Chapelle Rouge (The Red Chaple) of Hatshepsut was originally built as a bark shrine. It was lined with carved stones that depicted important events in the life of Hatshepsut.
  • Later she ordered the construction of two other obelisks to celebrate her 16th year as a pharaoh. One of the obelisks broke during the construction, and accordingly a third was built to replace it. The broken obelisk was left at the quarry site in Aswan, known as the unfinished obelisk. Amenhotep (high steward) was responsible for setting up these two obelisks.
  • Pakhet Temple, It is an underground shrine built by Hatshepsut at Beni Hasan in Minya Governorate. Greeks admired this temple and called the Speos Artemidos during the Ptolemaic occupation of ancient Egypt. This temple contains architrave with a long, detailed text bearing Hatshepsut's denunciation of the Hyksos, translated by James B. Allen. Also, Hatshepsut has restored many temples in this area that were damaged by the Hyksos invaders.

Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

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  • Mortuary temple (Djeser Djeseru) of Queen Hatshepsut is one of the most dramatic places in the world. Designed by the architect of the Queen, Senenmut, he placed it at a site on the West Bank of the Nile River near the entrance of the Valley of the Kings. This funerary temple is very similar to the ancient classical Greek architecture, but Hatshepsut's temple was built about 1.000 years earlier. The mortuary temple consists of three floors. The first floor contains pictures of bird hunting and the transfer of obelisks from Aswan to the temple. The second is decorated with drawings depicting the famous commercial trip to Punt land. The third floor is the courtyard of ceremonies. It took about 15 years to build and complete this temple.

Hatshepsut used huge stones that were brought from Aswan granite quarries to build temples.

Queen (Pharaoh) Hatshepsut

Fragment, limestone raised relief of Queen  Hatshepsut from her mortuary temple.
Fragment, limestone raised relief of Queen Hatshepsut from her mortuary temple.

The Difference between Hatshepsut and Other Female Rulers of Ancient Egypt

It was unusual for a woman to rule Egypt, but it happened a few times. Hatshepsut was preceded by Merneith of the first dynasty, was buried with the full honor of Pharaoh and probably ruled in her right. Nimaathap of the third dynasty may be the widow of Khasekhamoy, she acted as regent of her son, Djoser, and may have prevailed as a pharaoh in her own right. Queen Supkinifro of the twelfth dynasty assumed official power as ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt three centuries before Hatshepsut. Ahhotep I, who was praised as a warrior queen, may have been a trustee between the reigns of her sons, Kamus and Ahmus I, at the end of the seventeenth dynasty and the beginning of the eighteenth dynasty.

The most prominent example of another woman became a ruler was Cleopatra VII, during the Ptolemaic occupation of Egypt. She was the last pharaoh as well as the last ruler of Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt. Both Hatshepsut and Cleopatra focused on Egypt's trade expansion, ruled for a long period but each had her own style. For example, Hatshepsut took off women's clothes, dressed in men's clothes, tied a gold beard to her chin and tried to hide the fact that she was a woman. On the other hand, Cleopatra brilliantly dressed as a woman in all styles at the time and enjoyed the benefits of being a queen. Cleopatra relied on men for help during her reign, unlike Hatshepsut.

In general, when comparing Hatshepsut with other female pharaohs, Hatshepsut's reign was longer, more prosperous, and more peaceful.

Hatshepsut tried to hide that she was a woman, dressed in men clothes and spread among people that she was the daughter of Amun to convince them that she could rule because most of the people were opposed to the rule of women in ancient Egypt.

Block Statue of Senenmut and Neferure

Seated Senenmut holding the princess Neferure in his arms, on display at the British Museum.
Seated Senenmut holding the princess Neferure in his arms, on display at the British Museum. | Source

Some Mysteries around Hatshepsut

This Queen left many mysteries and perhaps the most exciting mystery is Senenmut, the architect who built her mortuary temple at Deir al-Bahari. Also, he was responsible for the care of her only daughter and maybe he was in love with his queen to dig a tunnel between her tomb and his tomb. Some historians hinted at the existence of a secret love that had brought together Senenmut and Hatshepsut after the death of her husband and others say it was mutual respect.

Did Queen Hatshepsut take advantage of her regent over King Thutmose III and jumped to the throne of Egypt declaring herself Pharaoh? Perhaps she did because she considered herself the rightful heir to the throne after King Thutmose I. Or did she faint about the loss of the Throne of Thutmose III, declaring herself Pharaoh with his participation??!! Anyway, she managed to be the ruler of Egypt. She ruled in a strong and peaceful manner.

The end of Queen Hatshepsut is one of the mysteries of the Queen's history. Not long ago, no one knew how her life ended, and why some of her pictures and names were erased. In 2007, the mummy of Hatshepsut was identified and the cause of her death was discovered. As for the attempt to erase her monuments, some historians attributed the subversive acts that have occurred towards some of her monuments to Thutmose III and his son Amenhotep II. On the other hand, some archeologists said that the reason for the cracking of some of the monuments of Hatshepsut and the scrape of some of her names and pictures is the impact of climate changes throughout the ages. Evidence of this is the presence of Hatshepsut's monuments as well as the frescoes that reflect her works.

Hatshepsut's Tomb (KV20)

Isometric, plan and elevation images of KV20- taken from a 3d model.
Isometric, plan and elevation images of KV20- taken from a 3d model. | Source

Death and Burial

Hatshepsut died in 1457 BC during the 22nd year of her reign, as written in a painting found in Armant.

The ancient Egyptian historian Manetho estimated her reign as 21 years and nine months. Hatshepsut's tomb is located in the Valley of the Kings and is symbolized by KV20.

KV20 was probably the first royal tomb to be built in the valley. This tomb was the original burial place of Tuthmosis I, who was subsequently relocated in KV38. KV20 was expanded by Hatshepsut to accommodate her with her father.

KV20 is located in the eastern section of the valley near the KV19, KV43 and KV60 tombs. Its plan is unusual, consists of a series of five curved and one descending corridors, two of which end in rooms. These corridors bend from east to south-west in a clockwise direction. At the bottom of this descending corridor is a group of rooms connected by another corridor. The burial chamber is a three-column room with three small side rooms at its northern end. The tomb is 210 meters long.

The objects found in the KV20 were from the burial chamber and the corridor leading to it. The artifacts included stone vases with the names of Ahmose-Nefertari, Tuthmosis I, and Hatshepsut. Two quartzite coffins were engraved for Tuthmose I and Hatshepsut (as Pharaoh), and the Canopic Box of Hatshepsut (as Pharaoh). Also, limestone blocks bearing funerary text were found as well as several parts of the usual funerary furnishings.

Sarcophagus of Queen Hatshepsut, Recut for her Father, Thutmose I (box)

Sarcophagus originally intended for Hatshepsut, reinscribed for her father, Thutmose I. Made of painted quartzite, from the Valley of the Kings, Thebes. 18th dynasty, reign of Hatshepsut, circa 1473-1458 B.C. Now residing in the Museum of Fine Arts,
Sarcophagus originally intended for Hatshepsut, reinscribed for her father, Thutmose I. Made of painted quartzite, from the Valley of the Kings, Thebes. 18th dynasty, reign of Hatshepsut, circa 1473-1458 B.C. Now residing in the Museum of Fine Arts, | Source

The Mummy of Hatshepsut

Source

Mummy of Hatshepsut

In 1881 AD a wooden canopic box decorated with an ivory handle carved in the name of Hatshepsut was found containing a liver, a part of the intestines, as well as a molar tooth in the Royal Mummy Cache at DB320.

Around 1903, the British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of KV60 in the Valley of the Kings that contained two female mummies, one of them was defined as wet-nurse of Hatshepsut, and the other unknown. The tomb was re-explored in 1906 by the English Egyptologist Edward Ayrton who removed the mummy of Hatshepsut's wet-nurse, to the Egyptian museum and left the unknown woman's mummy alone.

In 2007, Dr. Zahi Hawass transferred the unknown mummy from the tomb and brought it to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for testing. This mummy was missing a molar tooth, and the space in the jaw matched exactly the existing molar of Hatshepsut, which was found in the DB320 "canopic box".

After examining the mummy, Queen Hatshepsut was about 50 years old when she died, was sick with diabetes, arthritis and possibly died of bone cancer. Some scientists attributed her sick with bone cancer to a skin lotion found in the queen's possession containing benzo(a)pyrene, a hazardous aromatic hydrocarbon consisting of several carbon rings. Benzo(a)pyrene is considered one of the most dangerous carcinogenic substances. For example, this substance is present in cigarettes and causes lung cancer. There are many who have talked about the hypothesis of Hatshepsut's death as a result of the use of this lotion.

"If you imagine that the queen has a chronic skin disease and that she has found a short-term improvement of the ointment, she may have put herself at great risk over the years."

— Helmut Wiedenfeld of the University of Bonn pharmaceutical institute.

Hatshepsut - National Geographic

Source

Comments

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    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      3 months ago from Egypt

      Thanks, Linda. The life of Queen Hatshepsut is impressive as are the ancient Egyptians who left behind many of the mysteries that many can not yet explain.

    • lindacee profile image

      Linda Chechar 

      3 months ago from Arizona

      What an interesting look into the life of Queen Hatshepsut. Her obelisk and temple are quite impressive. The history of ancient Egyptians is fascinating. I went to the touring Tutankhamun exhibition back in the early 1980s. It was amazing.

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      5 months ago from Egypt

      Thanks, Alexander James, for reading the article and comment.

    • Guckenberger profile image

      Alexander James Guckenberger 

      5 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      I love ancient Egypt. :)

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      7 months ago from Egypt

      Thank you very much, Rachelle, for this kind comment and you are very welcome. In fact, Hatshepsut is interesting and impressive as well. I am really very glad you loved the article:)

    • Rachelle Williams profile image

      Rachelle Williams 

      7 months ago from Tempe, AZ

      Now, THIS is a article! I LOVED it! I first learned about Hatshepsut way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and I was in 7th grade... I was always captivated by her story, and I hadn't thought about her in a long while, until your article came along. You've done a great job here, and I thoroughly enjoyed in.

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      9 months ago from Egypt

      Thank you very much, Kyokusiima. I'm really glad because you found the article helpful.

    • kyokusiima diana profile image

      Kyokusiima Diana 

      9 months ago from Kampala-Uganda

      I have learnt so much. Thanks for sharing

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      9 months ago from Egypt

      Thank you very much, Dr. Holland and you are very welcome.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      She is one of the few rulers of Egypt I know anything about. I am woefully ignorant about your country, so thank you for adding to my education.

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      9 months ago from Egypt

      Thank you very much, Mary. I fully agree with you that Hatshepsut was an impressive ruler. Especially as she was a woman who was able to reach the throne in the time of the Pharaohs who did not accept the rule of women. Also, perhaps because she is a woman, she was very interested in peace and economic growth away from wars. I am really very glad that I have renewed your remembrances about your visit to the Valley of the Kings.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      9 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      We visited the Valley of the Kings and that was one memorable trip. We learned so much from our guide about Hatshepsut and she was a very impressive ruler. Thank you for refreshing my memory.

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      9 months ago from Egypt

      Thank you very much, Liz and I appreciate your visit.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      9 months ago from UK

      This is a very detailed and well-researched article.

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