Queen Hatshepsut (1505-1485 B.C.) (Clarke 1984) was the fifth ruler of the eighteenth Egyptian dynasty. She is famously known as the “female king of Egypt”. Although she was not the first female ruler in history as Cleopatra and Nefertiti are said to have preceded her (Lewis n.d.), yet her reign is known for progress and development. She is famous for being the “first warrior Queen” in Africa’s history. Queen Hatshepsut was the first woman who attained the title of “Pharaoh” and ruled as a woman in the early years of her reign but later changed her attire to a man.
Hatshepsut was the eldest child of the eighteenth dynasty’s pharaoh ruler, Thutmose I (1504-1492 B.C.E.), and his wife, Ahmose. She married Thutmose II (1482-1497 B.C.E.) (Smith 2008). She only had one daughter, Neferture. The throne was inherited after the death of Thutmosis II by Thutmosis III, his son from a woman of non-royal origin, Isis. When Thutmosis III was handed over the throne, he was still very young, and Hatshepsut became regent for her stepson and nephew. She reigned as an independent ruler during this time, and later when Thutmosis III became of age to hold his office as ruler Hatshepsut did not step down but co-ruled with her stepson.
Hatshepsut claimed all of the power for herself, and co-ruling was the very opposite of her wishes. She had already witnessed the power and influence over the entire Empire, where people worshipped her and unquestionably obeyed her. But Egypt’s dynasty structure allowed only a man to be the ruler, and this requirement was the main hurdle of Hatshepsut. In Egypt, the king or ruler was believed to be the link between the people and gods. Kings’ primary responsibility was to appease the gods who would, in turn, give Egypt flourishing and blessing bounties. All this process of pleasing Gods and prospering for Egypt was a balance called “ma’at.” A king could only accomplish this ma’at, and it was assumed that Egypt would be lost in the absence of a king (Eric H. Cline 2005). Being a female has been the most significant hurdle to attain maximum strength. She dressed in pharaoh’s robes, which were manly, a king-specific beard, a ceremonial wig, to gain full power over the throne, and proclaimed herself to be the pharaoh of Egypt. For years she plotted the whole thing and wrote a tale of her divine birth and acceptance of Gods for her kingship to be recognized by the people as true monarch. She said she was one of the God’s daughters, “Amun.” She also ordered men to portray the entire story in beautiful drawings, typical of that period. To make her tale thoroughly believable, She made the artists add the text’s supposed to be from the God Amun himself, “this daughter of mine … I’ve named successor on my throne … it’s she that will direct you. Obeying her terms, and uniting in her orders “(Eric H. Cline 2005).
The 22 years reign of queen Hatshepsut is considered to be peaceful and prosperous for Egypt. She did not indulge the kingdom in wars; rather, she focussed on increasing and strengthening trade for her country. Foreigners were not encouraged in her domain, and decisive actions against chaos and war were taken. She fixed her attention on more profitable aspects of trade and development. Her main focus was on restoring ancient temples and buildings as well as erecting new ones. She ordered extensive building programs that included constructing the most famous temples that still exist and capture true wonder and awe of the tourists. Her reign is recorded in history as a period of growth, development, progress, and prosperity. She ruled Egypt by maintaining peace and order while putting her effort into extending her trade boundaries with the neighboring countries. Her period is marked in history as most fruitful for Egypt in all its pressing and following years.
After becoming the female king, Hatshepsut started to appoint individuals of her own choice and whom she had complete faith and trust, to critical designations and positions. Senenmut is one of these selected and most trusted individuals whose name is mentioned frequently. Some historians claim a sort of relationship between him and Hatshepsut. He was an architect who was then made a significant and trusted advisor and official by the queen (Lewis n.d.). The most notable among all the developmental works of Queen hatshepsut’s reign is the temple that was solely made for herself. This temple is famously known as “Der el-Bahri” or Queen Hatshepsut’s temple. It is located in western Thebes, living “in the cliffs on the east side of the Valley of the Tombs of the Kings, in the ridge which divides the plain of the Nile from Valley of the Tombs” (Murray 1977). It overlooks the river and vast Theban plains. It is mainly open to the sunshine and fresh air, and the enclosed parts are those of shrines and colonnades primarily constructed of limestone. The walls are filled with illustrious forms and figures depicting her life history, the supposedly divine birth, and contributions to Egypt’s development and flourishes. Throughout these artistic illustrations, Hatshepsut is shown in male attire with a beard. The most detailed story illustrated by the artists is the trading adventure to the unknown valley of Punt. It offers excellent detail her contribution to expanding Egypt’s trade relations and increasing Egypt’s wealth through theses progressive steps. These illustrations show “five ships” carrying men, including “soldiers, officials, and rowers” landing eventually to an unknown village situated in the forests. The animals drawn include leopards, rhinoceros, and giraffes showing that the town is somewhere in Africa, and the season is shown to be that of spring. The people of the village welcome the Egyptians and take them in the deeps of Punt where they all work and gather “ebony and incense” which the Egyptians bring back to their country. Hatshepsut is shown as accepting all these things in the name of God and Egypt. A small figure believed to be that of Thatmos III, in the background, is shown as offering the incense to the God Amun.
Hatshepsut died a little, suddenly leaving many mysteries behind as to the cause of her death. Some historians believe that she was killed by Thomas III, while others think that she died of natural illness. Recent research has come to the surface, claiming that the “skin lotion” used by Hatshepsut ultimately caused her death. The little flask, found with Hatshepsut’s mummy, is said to be containing “palm and nutmeg oil” along with some tar residue, which caused bone-cancer. She is also said to be suffering from diabetes and arthritis. The CT scan used to identify her body also revealed that she died at around the age of 50 (History.com 2011).
Thomas III gained complete rule after Hatshepsut’s death, which awaited the king’s desired objective. He ruled from 1458 to 1425 B.C.E. (Smith 2008). Before this period, he was trained thoroughly by the army, and by the time he gained the throne of Egypt, he was fully trained and equipped with military capabilities. Towards the end of Thomas III’s reign, an attempt was made to destroy everything related to Hatshepsut. Some historians believe that this attempt was an order by Thotmus III himself. Her statues were damaged, ruined, and shattered to pieces. A lot of figures that are discovered have broken arms or missing details or are otherwise disfigured. Initially, this act was interpreted as an act of punishment and revenge. Still, later on, when the whole picture was put together, the destruction was only caused where Hatshepsut’s name was meant to be removed from the king’s linage. The act was to remove her name from the history, and the kingship should only be recorded as to have been transferred from Tothmus I to Thotmus II and ultimately To Thomas III.
Queen Hatshepsut’s reign was full of growth and prosperity, followed by the era of military campaigns and war fought by Thomas III. The progress made the queen was ultimately diminished by the chaos of war, and after the king’s death, Egypt lost its splendor all together for a long time. Hatshepsut is still known in the history to be one of the most influential ruler believing in its country’s prosperity and progress through the means of trade and development, instead of aiming to increase the surface area of her country by imposing by declaring war on her neighbors or to prove her strength attacking other weaker nations. Queen Hatshepsut’s ideology is the answer to our modern world’s destruction, action, and chaos. She believed in maintaining peace and rendering her people’s abilities in more progressive acts of trade, art, and development.