When the women’s liberation movement began, inspired by the civil rights movement, and conducted primarily by women of European descent, it is doubtful they knew anything about Queen Hatshepsut, the first woman pharaoh. Her rise to power went against all odds. She challenged 4000 years of male rule, and became the first woman ruler in recorded world history. She was certainly the first woman pharaoh of Kemet (Egypt) at the time.
After the death of her father, Tuthmosis I, Hatshepsut became queen to Tuthmosis II, her half-brother. After he died, power passed to her stepson, Tuthmosis III, while he was a small boy. She became co-regent until she assumed full power and made herself pharaoh. It was a constant struggle going up against an infrastructure that believed only a male could become pharaoh.
A famous ancient inscription gave some legitimacy to her ruler ship. “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.’”
She wore men’s clothes and the false beard to indicate her not just being a queen, but king and pharaoh.
Hatshepsut reigned longer than any other woman of an indigenous Kemetic dynasty. Manetho, Kemetic historian, states she reigned for 21 years and 9 months. During this time the Egyptian economy flourished; she expanded trading relations and built magnificent temples, and restored several others. Eventually, her nephew grew into a man and took his rightful place as pharaoh.
The circumstances of this event are unknown and what became of Hatshepsut is a mystery.
The masterpiece of her building projects was her mortuary temple complex at Deir el-Bahri. It was designed and implemented by Senemut on the West Bank of the Nile, near the entrance to the Valley of the Kings. The focal point was the “Djeser-Djeseru”, a colonnaded structure sitting atop a series of terraces. Built into a cliff face that rises sharply above it, Djeser-Djeseru and the other buildings of the Deir el-Bahri complex go deep into the mountainside, and are considered among the greatest structures in the Kemetic world.
She conducted one of the great expeditions of ancient times. “Queen Hatshepsut ruled Egypt from ca. 1503 to 1480 B.C. In contrast to the warlike temper of her dynasty, she devoted herself to administration and the encouragement of commerce. In the summer of 1493 B.C., she sent a fleet of five ships with thirty rowers each from Kosseir, on the Red Sea, to the Land of Punt, near present-day Somalia. It was primarily a trading expedition, for Punt, or God’s Land, produced myrrh, frankincense, and fragrant ointments that the Egyptians used for religious purposes and cosmetics.” (Sayed Z. El-Sayed. “Queen Hatshepsut’s expedition to the Land of Punt: The first oceanographic cruise?”)
Although many Egyptologists have claimed that her foreign policy was mainly peaceful, there is evidence that Hatshepsut led successful military campaigns in Nubia, the Levant, and Syria early in her career.
After her death, many of her reliefs sustained damage, where attempts were made to remove her name from them. It was originally thought that Thutmose III had immediately set about removing his stepmother’s name from the monuments as retribution for her seizing power. It is now known that this did not actually happen until considerably later in his reign. Hatshepsut’s name was also omitted from subsequent king lists, indicating that her reign was perhaps considered by some to have been inappropriate and contrary to tradition.
Dr. Kwaku website: www.drkwaku.com
DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of Our Weekly.