Being introduced to the culture of a fascinating society such as ancient Egypt has led me to lose several hours to random ‘goggling’ about the subject. I don’t think I could ever cover half the articles that the internet has to offer on even a specific dynasty in Cairo. While fumbling through knowledge I learned about Hatshepsut, the female Pharaoh. She was the sixth Pharaoh in the 18th dynasty. (Wilson, Smithsonian) I was intrigued and went on to learn as much as I could. Hatshepsut had a brother who had the birthright to rule but never did; she was the daughter of Tuthmosis I and Ahmes. Her father apparently ruled for about 12-14 years. This was a time after Akhenaton had ruled, so women had received more power as wives to the Pharaoh. This was a time when women could own land, have positions of power, and inherit from deceased family members. However, most experts believe she was the first women to be Pharaoh and one of few. She married a half brother Thutmose II, who ruled for fifteen years before her and then died. Hatshepsut was a 30 year old widow without a son old enough to become King, so she claimed her thrown. (Biography Channel Website) Technically, she took over as a tradition with her infant son Thutmose III as a co-ruler. She asserted her power by gaining support from followers of her Father. To make sure was respected she was always depicted in traditional King robes, and there is speculation she spread rumors that she was God-like. (Biography Channel Website). Once she deceased, her son Thutmose III succeeded her and destroyed most evidence that she was a ruler. This may be the result of a grudge, but the commonality of destroying your predecessors’ statues leads me to believe it was merely a power play.
In 1903, Howard Carter discovered her sarcophagus in the 20th tomb in the Valley of the Dead (Brown, National Geographic). There were three sarcophagi in the tomb but none contained her mummy. (Brown, National Geographic) Hope seemed lost to find this Queen, who in the grand scheme of Egypt was much more influential than Tutankhamen. Fortunately, after a mummy referred to as KV60a was discovered Zahi Hawass, head of the Egyptian Mummy Project and secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, launched a mission to solve the mystery. A tooth discovered in KV60a was scrutinized by DNA testing and gave enough information to identify KV60a as Hatshepsut! (Brown, National Geographic) Based on the mass amount of statues and shrines she had built for herself it is sad to think that she was almost forgotten. Now she is on display in the Egyptian Museums’ Royal Mummy rooms. (Brown, National Geographic) Plaques proclaim her as “The King Herself” and after thousands of years she has finally been reunited with her extended family!
“Hatshepsut.” 2013. The Biography Channel website. Feb 28 2013, 11:37 http://www.biography.com/people/hatshepsut-9331094.
Brown, Chip. “Hatshepsut.” â National Geographic Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013. .
Wilson, Elizabeth B. “Smithsonian.com.” Smithsonian Magazine. N.p., Sept. 2006. Web. 28 Feb. 2013. .