The Egyptian Pharaoh Hatshepsut | How Did Hatshepsut become Pharaoh

During the early fifteenth century BC, Ancient Egypt began its third and final golden age after Pharaoh Ahmose the First, founder of the New Kingdom period drove out the Hyksos invaders.  

Pharaoh Hatshepsut, Ahmose’s great-granddaughter, substantially contributed to the empire’s wealth by developing trade channels and erecting one of Ancient Egypt’s most significant architectural wonders. 

Despite her gender, Hatshepsut became one of the most successful pharaohs in all of Ancient Egyptian history. Hatshepsut, whose name means “foremost of noble ladies,” was born in 1508 BC to Pharaoh Thutmose the First and Queen Ahmose.

Hatshepsut: Egypt’s Greatest Pharaoh

The beginnings of writing, organized warfare, centralised states, enormous irrigation projects in the desert, emperors, warlords, and CHARIOTS are all associated with the Bronze Age.

Statue of Hatshepsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
By This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the Image and Data Resources Open Access Policy, CC0, Link

The situation of women, particularly powerful women, is something that does not immediately come to mind. However, a woman was the most powerful person in the Bronze Age world for more than 20 years.

She was the first woman to rule the world’s wealthiest kingdom, and she did so as a full-fledged Pharaoh.

Her legacy, however, was purposely obliterated when she died. People today have trouble pronouncing her name. So, who was Hatshepsut, and why is she regarded as one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs?

So, let’s see what happens.

Hatshepsut pronunciation

How to Pronounce Hatshepsut? (CORRECTLY) Egypt’s 2d Female Pharaoh Name Pronunciation.

Hatshepsut definition

queen of Egypt of the l8th dynasty (?1512–1482 bc). She built a great mortuary temple at Deir el Bahri near Thebes.

Hatshepsut has raised the royal courts of Egypt alongside her sister and two brothers, who all died early on in their lives. After her father’s, Hatshepsut’s half-brother, Thutmose the Second, inherited the throne. As a lesser son to his father, Thutmose the Second needed a 100% royal blood queen to legitimize his claim to the throne.

Hatshepsut Achievements

How did Hatshepsut Come to Power?

Hatshepsut, then 12-years old, was the ideal candidate, so she married her 15-year-old half-brother and became the queen of Egypt. Thutmose the Second and Hatshepsut had only one child together: Neferure. He later had a boy named Thutmose the Third with a lesser wife, who became heir to the throne. 
When Hatshepsut’s husband unexpectedly died at the age of 31 in 1479 BC, his son and heir were only three-years-old, leaving Hatshepsut to act as Queen Regent to the boy-pharaoh until he was old enough to rule. Being the daughter, sister, wife and mother of pharaohs gave Hatshepsut a compelling claim to the throne.
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After seven years of acting as Queen Regent, Hatshepsut decided to leverage her influential position by declaring herself fully Pharaoh of Egypt. 

Although the strength of her bloodline was without question, her gender was a critical issue. To legitimize her work, Hatshepsut proclaimed that she was the daughter of Amun, the Egyptian god of air and that he intended for her to rule Egypt.
She explained that Amun had possessed her father’s body on the night of her conception and impregnated her mother. This was an extraordinarily risky move, but it ultimately paid off, aided by the support of high-ranking officials, including a man named Senenmut, the overseer of royal works, who is also speculated to have been Hatshepsut’s secret lover. 
In addition to her outstanding bloodline, divine right and support from the aristocracy, Hatshepsut sought to further bolster her claim through propaganda by depicting herself with a male body and a false beard in most sculptures and carvings. Although she had risen to the level of Pharaoh, it was still inconceivable for a woman to lead troops into battle, as her father and husband had done. 
Instead, Hatshepsut decided to use the empire’s military to explore new avenues of trade. She sent her forces on an expedition to the Land of Punt, a somewhat legendary kingdom at the time, where no Egyptian had ventured for over 500 years. 
Punt’s exact location remains a mystery, but it is generally believed to have been located somewhere on the southern shores of the Red Sea or the Horn of Africa. 
The venture was an overwhelming success, bringing great wealth and prosperity to the empire.
Egypt’s army returned with abundant riches, including gold, ivory, frankincense and myrrh. Hatshepsut became the first ruler to successfully transplant trees from foreign lands. This was accomplished by using baskets to protect the roots of the trees on the journey back to Egypt. 
Hatshepsut is also credited with being the first person in recorded history to grind up charred frankincense and use the resin as eyeliner. Among other trophies brought back were exotic animals, such as apes, panthers and giraffes. This remarkably fruitful expedition did wonders for the female pharaoh’s popularity and reputation. 

The vast increase in commerce provided financial support for another of Hatshepsut’s groundbreaking pursuits; architecture. Hundreds of large-scale building projects were commissioned by Hatshepsut all throughout Upper and Lower Egypt.

Among these were grand monuments erected at the Karnak Temple Complex, a popular construction site for many generations of pharaohs.
Hatshepsut built enormous twin obelisks made of pink granite at the temple’s entrance and dedicated them to the god Amun. One of these obelisks still stands, remaining the tallest surviving obelisk in Egypt, while the other has since fallen and lies broken in two. 

Il tempio di Hatshepsut.JPG
By Andrea Piroddi – <span class=”int-own-work” lang=”en”>Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Hatshepsut ordered an even larger obelisk to be constructed, but the project was abandoned after cracks began to form in the granite. Still attached to the bedrock on its bottom side, the “Unfinished Obelisk” as it’s referred to, offers a rare glimpse into Egyptian stone-working techniques, with chisel marks and ochre-coloured lines still visible today.
The uncontested jewel of Hatshepsut’s many building projects is the mortuary temple that she had built in her honors, known as Djeser-Djeseru, or ‘Holy of Holies.’ Sculptures within the mortuary temple tell the tale of the female pharaoh’s divine birth and her lucrative expeditions to the exotic Land of Punt.
The temple inspired subsequent pharaohs to build their own extravagant buildings of worship, but none ever surpassed the grandeur of Hatshepsut’s. Her step-son Thutmose the Third later ordered the eradication of Hatshepsut from historical records.
The reasons that her legacy was partially obliterated are up for debate.
Some Egyptologists believe that it was done out of resentment towards the female pharaoh. However, there is no evidence to suggest this.
 Hatshepsut did, after all, appoint Thutmose the Third as head of the empire’s army during her reign, and he made no effort to overthrow her in a military coup.

Additionally, it wasn’t until 20 years after her death that Hatshepsut’s image began to disappear from public buildings. Some archaeologists theorize that her successors were merely trying to relegate her role as ruler of Egypt. 

It was postulated that evidence of a successful female ruler might inspire other women to attempt to rule, which would upset the patriarchal system that had long featured a dominant male leader. 
The allowance of a female pharaoh might also have been regarded as an offence to Ma’at, the Ancient Egyptian goddess of balance, order, and morality. Alternatively, it may have been done in an attempt to strengthen her step-grandson Amenhotep the Second’s claim to the throne since he had no connection to Hatshepsut’s royal bloodline.

How did Hatshepsut Die?

In any case, attempts to erase her memory from history were ultimately unsuccessful. Egyptologists theorize that Hatshepsut accidentally poisoned herself by regularly applying a carcinogenic ointment to her skin. A CT scan of her mummy revealed that she suffered from bone cancer during the final years of her life and died in 1458 BC at 50, after ruling Egypt for more than 20 years.

Hatshepsut was the second pharaoh, after her father, to ever be buried in the Valley of the Kings, located on the west bank of the Nile River near the city of Thebes. 

The Valley of the Kings would eventually contain the mummies of over 60 New Kingdom pharaohs from Egypt’s eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth dynasties.
Through an impeccable bloodline and brilliant strategy, Hatshepsut successfully rose to power, despite her gender, and went on to become one of the greatest pharaohs in Ancient Egyptian history! 
Hatshepsut was rewarded for her success with a short memory.
However, time and understanding have allowed her light to shine brightly once more into the current era.

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