Statue of Hatshepsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

By Amy-Jane Humphries

Hatshepsut was the eldest daughter of Pharoah Thutmose I and his principal wife, Ahmose. Sometime around or prior to her father’s death, she wed her half-brother, Thutmose II. The pair ascended the throne sometime in the 1490s BCE. They had one child; a daughter called Neferure.

Hatshepsut’s reign as consort came to an end with Thutmose II’s death around 1479 BCE. It is unclear why he died. It is even unclear when exactly he did so, and how long his reign was as a result. He left behind their daughter and his young son born to Iset, Thutmose III.

As a result of Thutmose III’s youth, Hatshepsut was named regent. The pair appeared together on monuments as equals despite Hatshepsut taking on the title of Pharoah. However, there is no doubt that it was Hatshepsut who was truly in charge of Egypt.

Hatshepsut subverted the gender norms of Egyptian monarchy. Pharaohs were kings and, in becoming one, she was not a queen regnant as we would understand it but a king. Thus, she was often depicted by artists as a man which maintained pictorial continuity of rule.

Under Hatshepsut’s rule, Egypt experienced a “cultural renaissance.” Hers was a mostly peaceful and prosperous reign where trade flourished and artistic innovations “laid the groundwork for the ‘golden age’ of the New Kingdom that was to follow.” Hatshepsut was also a great builder.

Statue of Hatshepsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

One of the monuments that survives is her mortuary temple in Deir el-Bahri, which lays near The Valley of the Kings. It is an enormous complex that boasted a huge number of statues that depicted Hatshepsut. Many of these would be destroyed in Thutmose III’s reign.

Hatshepsut died in the 22nd year of her reign as Pharoah. No cause of death was recorded. It is also not known where exactly she was buried. It is thought she was interred in the same tomb as her father, but it is believed that she was moved, along with Thutmose I, during the next reign.

This tomb was later excavated by Howard Carter. Where she ended up is unclear and it is uncertain whether her mummy has been found. Her legacy speaks for her, though. Hatshepsut was a very successful ruler who steadied her kingdom and laid the foundations for a prosperous future.

Recommended Reading

Catharine H. Roehrig, Renée Dreyfus, and Cathleen A. Keller, Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharoah (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006).

Kara Cooney, The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt (London: Oneworld Publishing, 2014).

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