(c 1515 BC - 1482 BC)

Egyptain Queen

The Life of Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut was one of the few female pharaohs in Ancient Egypt and the earliest queen known by name in history. Her reign was the longest of the female pharaohs and her funerary temple still stands and is one of the major sites to be seen in Egypt.

Both of her parents were royalty: Tuthmose I and Aahmes. She was the only daughter with two brothers who died young leaving her in the unique position to become queen on the death of her father. A female pharaoh in Egypt was unprecedented. When Tuthmose I died, Tuthmose II, the pharaoh's son by another woman, became pharaoh. Hatshepsut held the real power behind the scenes.

Tuthmose II died after a few years from a skin disease. Hatshepsut was his half sister and had also become his wife. They had no children - her daughter Nefrure was the daughter of her lover - his son (Tuthmose III) was also with a lover and was too young to reign. Hatshepsut was allowed to reign in his place as Queen Mother. Charismatic and beautiful as well as the favourite daughter of a very popular pharaoh she was able to take control as pharaoh.

She ruled for 21 years from 1503 BC until her death in 1482 BC. Hatshepsut left behind more monuments and works of art than any future Egyptian queen including the Hollywood-sponsored (and therefore more famous) Cleopatra.

As a woman she faced problems being accepted but she was politically very astute, cleverly using propaganda and having images of herself dressed in male clothes (including a beard). She managed to quell rebellions from her own people as well as her nephew as he grew up. There were no wars during most of her reign but expeditions were sent as far as modern day Somalia for trade. Frankincense trees were brought to Egypt in the first recorded case of foreign plants being grown. Many statues, temples, public buildings and obelisks were built during her reign.

As part of the propaganda she had a poem written about her that implied that she had been chosen for the thrown by her fasther. the poem survives on her temple.

When I was six my father Thutmose the First lifted me up to sit beside him on his throne of Amen.
He said, Flower of Egypt, you will be a ruler.
He took me with him on his royal barge down the Nile to Memphis, to Sakkara, to Giza, to see my kingdom.
He said to the farmers and nobles crowding the water steps:

This is my goddess daughter Hatshepsut who will be crowned with the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt when she becomes a woman.
I knew that Amen-Re, Lord of Thebes, King of Karnak, took my father's form and came down to my mother, Ahmose, as she slept in the beauty of her palace.
She woke at the fragrance of the god and rejoiced at the sight of his beauty, and he went into her and his love came into her body.

And my mother said
How wonderful to see you face to face, your dew is in all my limbs.

And Amen, Lord of the Two Lands, said to her, Khnumit-Amon-Hatshepsut is the name of the daughter I have planted in your body.
She shall be king in this whole land. My soul is hers, my crown is hers.

After her death, many of her monuments were vandalised by her successors.

The Temple of Hatshepsut
The Funerary Temple of Hatshepsut

All images external copyright. Temple of Hatshepsut © KryssTal 1986, 2006

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Inventions from the period that includes ancient Egypt.

Words from the ancient Egyptian language are still used in English today.

External Hatshepsut Links

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A brief biography of the female pharaoh.