The Discoveryof Hatshepsut: the Woman who was Pharaoh

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the Female Pharaoh
Queen Hatshepsut
Pharaoh Hatshepsut

The remains of Hatshepsut, the great female pharaoh of Egypt, have been found.

Came forth the king of the gods, Amun-Re, from his temple, saying: "Welcome, my sweet daughter, my favorite, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maatkare, Hatshepsut. Thou art the king, taking possession of the Two Lands" - inscription

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Traditionally, Egyptian rulers were men, but Hatshepsut managed to obtain the power of Pharaoh even though she was a woman, through her intelligence and determination. She was the daughter of Tuthmose I and Queen Ahmose Nefertari. She was married to her brother Tuthmose II and they had a daughter Neferuri. Tuthmose III (also called Tuthmosis), the son of Tuthmose II by another woman, was married to Neferuri to solidify his claim as heir to the throne (the male was obliged to marry a woman of royal blood, since women carried the royal lineage). He was young (age 2-10)when his father died and Hatshepsut became regent. She was declared pharaoh and took the name Maatkare. She ruled jointly with Tuthmose III (1473-1458) and successfully prevented him from taking sole power until her death.

On the walls of her temple she had carved scenes that told the story of how the god Amun took on the appearance of her father to mate with her mother on the day she was conceived. This helped solidify her position. She was portrayed as a male in these scenes, dressing in the traditional garb of male rulers: the shendyt kilt, the nemes headdress with its uraeus and khat headcloth, and the false beard.

She initiated many building projects, more than any previous Middle Kingdom pharaohs, including the complex at Deir el-Bahri . The focal point was the "Djeser-Djeseru" or the sublime of sublimes, a colonnaded structure sitting atop a series of terraces lined with gardens. Built into a cliff face that rises sharply above it, Djeser-Djeseru and the other buildings of the Deir el-Bahri complex are considered to be among the great buildings of the ancient world.

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After her death Tuthmose III ordered that her name and image be removed from public display. His attempt to erase the memory of her rule was remarkably successful. Her existence was unknow to early modern scholars until sufficient evidence was accumulated by the 1960s to identify the female pharaoh and uncover something of her story.

Mummy of Queen Hatshepsut
Mummy of Queen Hatshepsut

In June 2007, the Discovery Channel and Dr. Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, announced a "positive identification" of a mummy as Hatshepsut's, and a documentary, Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen.

DNA and CT scans were used to attempt the identification. The DNA evidence is inclusive at present. However a canopic box was found with Hatshepsut's name on it with 4 female mummies. Inside was a molar tooth which was matched to one of the female mummies who has now been identified as Hatshepsut. The remains were from the Royal Mummy Caches, a series of secret tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The High Priests of Amun during the 21st and 22nd Dynasties hid the bodies of many of the kings and queens of the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties. This was done to protect the remains from tomb robbers.

Hatshepsut's Temple Complex at Deir el-Bahri

Ancient Egypt

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