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Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut: A Female Pharoah in Egypt

Updated on September 16, 2016
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Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past. Without it, we as a country are destined to repeat the past.

This depiction is found within the mortuary of Hatshepsut.
This depiction is found within the mortuary of Hatshepsut. | Source

Biography of Hatshepsut

Queen Hatshepsut was one of a few female Pharaohs that ever ruled in ancient Egypt. Of the female Pharaohs, her reign is one of the most well-known, second to Cleopatra and the longest. In her honor, her temple still stands today. This artifact gives archaeologists a vast array of knowledge.

Hatshepsut was born in the fifteenth century BC. She had two brothers and a half-brother who were in line to become Pharaoh. Her full brothers died very young, which put her half-brother in line for the throne. His name was Tuthmose II, named after their father. A female Pharaoh was unheard of during these times, which is why she was initially overlooked to become queen. She eventually became ruler due to a lot of different factors.

Prior to her reign, she led the country while her half-brother and husband Tuthmose II were still alive (yes, she was married to her half-brother.) Although he was still considered king during this time, he was too ill to act the part. He ruled for three to four years before his death.

Technically, Tuthmose II had a son with a woman named Isis. They named him Tuthmose III. Tuthmose III should have been the next in line to become King, but because he was too young, Hatshepsut acted as King. This caused tension between the two, later in life.

Hatshepsut was a strong, well-respected leader, and reigned for twenty-one years until her death in 1458 BC. During her reign, more artwork and statues were constructed than with any other queen. To gain respect and to maintain her position even after Tuthmose III became of age, Pharaoh Hatshepsut actually dressed in kingly attire, down to a false beard. She is often referred to as King Hatshepsut, due to the way she presented herself. One reason for the respect is that she claimed that she descended from the god, Amon, which was found on many inscriptions throughout her temple. Since no one wanted to tick off the gods, they listened to her.

The Pharaoh Hatshepsut's Name In Hieroglyphics

This scarab has the name of Pharaoh Hatshepsut, along with an epithet that discusses her relationship with the god Amun. Due to Amun being a god, his name is written much larger than the female pharaoh's.
This scarab has the name of Pharaoh Hatshepsut, along with an epithet that discusses her relationship with the god Amun. Due to Amun being a god, his name is written much larger than the female pharaoh's. | Source

Temple of Hatshepsut

More than ten centuries ago, the temple of Hatshepsut, also known as the temple of Deir El-Bahri, was built across the river from Thebes near the banks of the Nile. For centuries, the three-tiered temple was covered in sand, hidden from onlookers, until it was uncovered in 1881.

The temple was originally built by her lover Senmut. Senmut was a member of her court and had more than twenty titles, one included architect. He constructed the Temple of Deer El-Bahri with three levels that were connected by two ramps. The construction itself took about twenty years, which gave her little time to enjoy it, as she only reigned twenty one years. He designed the walls, so they would be like a blank canvas ready to be filled with hieroglyphics to tell the story of her reign, which were slowly filled throughout. On the ground level was a sphinx. The sphinx had a head of Hatshepsut, but the body of a lion.

Due to Senmut's hard work and possibly his relationship with the queen, she rewarded him so greatly that he was able to afford to build a temple not far from the Egyptian Queen's temple. He was buried there, along with his family and minstrel. He also had some of his favorite pets, which were apes and horses, buried there as well.

When Senmut constructed the temple, he designed it to be Pharaoh Hatshepsut's burial place. She felt this was too obvious of a place to be buried, so she decided to her burial would be somewhere more obscure.

Sphinx with the Likeness of Pharaoh Hatshepsut

This sphinx is believed to have been built during the reign of Pharaoh Hatshepsut. It is also believed to be of her likeness as well.
This sphinx is believed to have been built during the reign of Pharaoh Hatshepsut. It is also believed to be of her likeness as well. | Source

Queen Hatshepsut's Tomb

Another architect that worked on the temple and her tomb was Ineni. He was very secretive about it and prided himself on the fact that he was the only one who knew where Queen Hatshepsut's tomb really lied. He was so determined to keep it a secret, it is rumored that once the tomb was finished, he actually killed all one hundred slaves that worked on the construction.

Even if he truly did kill all the men, it did not do any good. Queen Hatshepsut's tomb was still found by the one person who most resented her - her nephew Tuthmose III. Not only did she take his rightful spot as King, but may have also treated him poorly due to her jealousy that Tuthmose II fathered him with another woman.

After her death, much of the tomb was stolen and destroyed. Her mummy was believed to be missing and the only things that was left was a liver and a broken tooth. After she died, it is believed that Tuthmose III requested her name be erased from all artifacts, even on her temple at Deir-El-Bahri. This was quite easy since most of the depictions of her were male and could easily be changed to Tuthmose III. Some wonder if Tuthmose III actually killed Hatshepsut; this is unknown. The likelihood is great due to his strong dislike of her.

Statue of Hatshepsut

Here is a statue of Hatshepsut. Most depictions of Hatshepsut show her as a male, since she wanted to be viewed as king.
Here is a statue of Hatshepsut. Most depictions of Hatshepsut show her as a male, since she wanted to be viewed as king. | Source

The Mummy of Hatshepsut

It is unknown, even today, whether the mummy of Hatshepsut was destroyed or not. In 1903, Howard Carter, an archaeologist, uncovered a sarcophagus with Hatshepsut's liver inside, but no mummy nearby. After further investigations, two mummies were uncovered in another corridor. One was in a coffin; the other was on the floor. They believed due to inscriptions on the tomb that the mummy was actually her nurse.

Then in 1989, Donald Ryan, another archaeologist, decided to explore where the mummy was last left. He felt this person must have been important, since the mummy was in a royal pose. Plus the mummification process was outstanding, as if they took extra care when mummifying. Donald Ryan built a coffin for this mummy, and it was left there until 2007.

In 2007, Zahi Hawass, decided to round up all the mummies that were found during the same time period as the two found in the corridor off of her tomb. He wanted all of them to have CT scans. One thing Hawass had discovered during the 1881 exploration was that a broken tooth was found with what is believed to be Hatshepsut's liver. The most amazing discovery was that the CT scans showed that the tooth belonged to the coffin-less mummy found on the floor many years earlier.

In 2009, they did DNA testing on the mummy, and discovered that the mummy shared 70 percent of DNA with the royal family around that time. Although no one knows for sure, it is possible that Hatshepsut's Mummy was uncovered and sits in the Cairo Museum.

No one will ever know if the coffinless mummy is that of the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut's or not. No one will ever know if Tuthmose III killed his step-mom/aunt. There are a lot of mysteries surrounding the female Pharaoh, which only makes her story that much more intriguing.

Hatshepsut's Temple

A markerthebes, egypt -
Thebes, Al Mesallah Gharb WA Sharif Basha, Qesm Al Attarin, Alexandria, Egypt
get directions

Thebes, Egypt is where Hatshepsut's Temple is located.

Do you believe the coffinless mummy is truly Queen Hatshepsut's body?

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List of Sources

  • http://www.bediz.com/hatshep/index.html
  • http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2007/06/27/egyptqueen_arc_02.html?category=archaeology

© 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz

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    • angela_michelle profile image
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      Angela Michelle Schultz 4 years ago from United States

      It truly is amazing. Especially since they did not have the tools we have today. I do know they would have entire villages dedicated to working on one tomb.

    • dmop profile image

      dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      Such an interesting story with such a rich history. I am still baffled as to how the ancient Egyptians accomplished the building of such great structures. Great job writing this voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • angela_michelle profile image
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      Angela Michelle Schultz 4 years ago from United States

      It really was, wasn't it. LOL!

    • denisemai profile image

      Denise Mai 4 years ago from Idaho

      Married to her half brother who then went and had a child with another woman? This is like a modern day soap opera. Well done! I enjoyed reading this. :)

    • angela_michelle profile image
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      Angela Michelle Schultz 4 years ago from United States

      Thank you for the great compliment. Part of it is that I found this absolutely fascinating!

    • profile image

      Hubert Williams 4 years ago

      Great story and well told. I love it when people write it in a captivating and understandable fashion.

    • angela_michelle profile image
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      Angela Michelle Schultz 4 years ago from United States

      Thank you so much. Yes she was ahead of our times. :)

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 4 years ago

      Angela, This was such an interesting read. Thanks for enlightening me on Hatshepsut. She seems to have been a woman, bolder and much ahead of the times in which she lived. Thanks for making History readable. Have a great day.

    • angela_michelle profile image
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      Angela Michelle Schultz 4 years ago from United States

      Thank you so much! I absolutely love anything that has to do with Ancient Egypt. I found her story especially interesting. I guess I like the whole idea of a woman in power. LOL

    • ytsenoh profile image

      Cathy 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Angela, excellent and informative read. I think Egyptian history is very fascinating. You can see a lot of Egyptian history regarding mummies occasionally on the planet earth satellite channel. You provided so much interesting information. Thank you. Thumbs up.

    • angela_michelle profile image
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      Angela Michelle Schultz 4 years ago from United States

      I wondered if they were able to compare the dna of the tooth and the dna of the liver to see if it is the same? I'm not sure how all that stuff works, but it seems plausible to me. They are quite certain the liver is Hatshepsut's, but they aren't sure about the tooth. If they knew it was from the same, they'd be more certain about Hatshepsut's mummy?

    • SkeetyD profile image

      SkeetyD 4 years ago from Barbados

      I love Egyptian history and I find Hatshepsut's story intriguing. Mr. Hawass' work on trying to uncover the truth about the mummies in commendable. It's amazing how they go about finding DNA that is not corrupt after thousand of years

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