Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. She was the second historically-confirmed female pharaoh, the first being Sobekneferu.
Hatshepsut came to the throne of Egypt in 1478 BC. Her rise to power was noteworthy as it required her to utilize her bloodline, education, and an understanding of religion. Her bloodline was impeccable as she was the daughter, sister, and wife of a king. Her understanding of religion allowed her to establish herself as the God's Wife of Amun. Officially, she ruled jointly with Thutmose III, who had ascended to the throne the previous year as a child of about two years old. Hatshepsut was the chief wife of Thutmose II, Thutmose III's father. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty. According to Egyptologist James Henry Breasted, she is also known as "the first great woman in history of whom we are informed."
Hatshepsut was the daughter and only child of Thutmose I and his primary wife, Ahmose. Her husband Thutmose II was the son of Thutmose I and a secondary wife named Mutnofret, who carried the title King's daughter and was probably a child of Ahmose I. Hatshepsut and Thutmose II had a daughter named Neferure. After having their daughter, Hatshepsut could not bear any more children. Thutmose II with Iset, a secondary wife, would father Thutmose III, who would succeed Hatshepsut as pharaoh.
ReignAlthough contemporary records of her reign are documented in diverse ancient sources, Hatshepsut was thought by early modern scholars as only having served as a co-regent from about 1479 to 1458 BC, during years seven to twenty-one of the reign previously identified as that of Thutmose III. Today Egyptologists generally agree that Hatshepsut assumed the position of pharaoh.
Hatshepsut was described as having a reign of about 21 years by ancient authors. Josephus and Julius Africanus both quote Manetho's king list, mentioning a woman called Amessis or Amensis who has been identified as Hatshepsut. In Josephus' work, her reign is described as lasting 21 years and nine months, while Africanus stated it was twenty-two years. At this point in the histories, records of the reign of Hatshepsut end, since the first major foreign campaign of Thutmose III was dated to his 22nd year, which also would have been Hatshepsut's 22nd year as pharaoh.
Dating the beginning of her reign is more difficult, however. Her father's reign began in either 1526 or 1506 BC according to the high and low estimates of her reign, respectively. The length of the reigns of Thutmose I and Thutmose II, however, cannot be determined with absolute certainty. With short reigns, Hatshepsut would have ascended the throne 14 years after the coronation of Thutmose I, her father. Longer reigns would put her ascension 25 years after Thutmose I's coronation. Thus, Hatshepsut could have assumed power as early as 1512 BC, or, as late as 1479 BC.
The earliest attestation of Hatshepsut as pharaoh occurs in the tomb of Ramose and Hatnofer, where a collection of grave goods contained a single pottery jar or amphora from the tomb's chamber—which was stamped with the date "Year 7". Another jar from the same tomb—which was discovered in situ by a 1935–36 Metropolitan Museum of Art expedition on a hillside near Thebes — was stamped with the seal of the "God's Wife Hatshepsut" while two jars bore the seal of "The Good Goddess Maatkare." The dating of the amphorae, "sealed into the burial chamber by the debris from Senenmut's own tomb," is undisputed, which means that Hatshepsut was acknowledged as king, and not queen, of Egypt by Year 7 of her reign.
Trade routes, claimed to have been brought from Punt by Hatshepsut's expedition, which is depicted on the temple walls
Hatshepsut re-established the trade networks that had been disrupted during the Hyksos occupation of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, thereby building the wealth of the Eighteenth Dynasty. She oversaw the preparations and funding for a mission to the Land of Punt. This trading expedition to Punt was roughly during the ninth year of Hatshepsut's reign. It set out in her name with five ships, each measuring 70 feet long, bearing several sails and accommodating 210 men that included sailors and 30 rowers. Many trade goods were bought in Punt, notably frankincense and myrrh.
Hatshepsut's delegation returned from Punt bearing 31 live myrrh trees, the roots of which were carefully kept in baskets for the duration of the voyage. This was the first recorded attempt to transplant foreign trees. It is reported that Hatshepsut had these trees planted in the courts of her mortuary temple complex. Egyptians also returned with a number of other gifts from Punt, among which was frankincense. Hatshepsut would grind the charred frankincense into kohl eyeliner. This is the first recorded use of the resin.
Hatshepsut had the expedition commemorated in relief at Deir el-Bahari, which is also famous for its realistic depiction of the Queen of the Land of Punt, Queen Ati. The Puntite Queen is portrayed as relatively tall and her physique was generously proportioned, with large breasts and rolls of fat on her body. Due to the fat deposits on her buttocks, it has sometimes been argued that she may have had steatopygia. However, according to the pathologist Marc Armand Ruffer, the main characteristic of a steatopygous woman is a disproportion in size between the buttocks and thighs, which was not the case with Ati. She instead appears to have been generally obese, a condition that was exaggerated by excessive lordosis or curvature of the lower spine. Hatshepsut also sent raiding expeditions to Byblos and the Sinai Peninsula shortly after the Punt expedition. Very little is known about these expeditions. Although many Egyptologists have claimed that her foreign policy was mainly peaceful, it is possible that she led military campaigns against Nubia and Canaan.
Building projects. Designed by Senemut, her vizier, the building is an example of perfect symmetry that predates the Parthenon, and it was the first complex built on the site she chose, which would become the Valley of the Kings
Hatshepsut was one of the most prolific builders in ancient Egypt, commissioning hundreds of construction projects throughout both Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Arguably, her buildings were grander and more numerous than those of any of her Middle Kingdom predecessors'. Later pharaohs attempted to claim some of her projects as theirs.
She employed the great architect Ineni, who also had worked for her father, her husband, and for the royal steward Senemut. During her reign, so much statuary was produced that almost every major museum with Ancient Egyptian artifacts in the world has Hatshepsut statuary among their collections; for instance, the Hatshepsut Room in New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art is dedicated solely to some of these pieces.
Following the tradition of most pharaohs, Hatshepsut had monuments constructed at the Temple of Karnak. She also restored the original Precinct of Mut, the ancient great goddess of Egypt, at Karnak that had been ravaged by the foreign rulers during the Hyksos occupation. It later was ravaged by other pharaohs, who took one part after another to use in their own pet projects. The precinct awaits restoration. She had twin obelisks, at the time the tallest in the world, erected at the entrance to the temple. One still stands, as the tallest surviving ancient obelisk on Earth; the other has broken in two and toppled. The official in charge of those obelisks was the high steward Amenhotep.
Another project, Karnak's Red Chapel, or Chapelle Rouge, was intended as a barque shrine and originally may have stood between her two obelisks. It was lined with carved stones that depicted significant events in Hatshepsut's life.
Later, she ordered the construction of two more obelisks to celebrate her 16th year as pharaoh; one of the obelisks broke during construction and a third was therefore constructed to replace it. The broken obelisk was left at its quarrying site in Aswan, where it still remains. Known as the Unfinished Obelisk, it provides evidence of how obelisks were quarried.
The Temple of Pakhet was built by Hatshepsut at Beni Hasan in the Minya Governorate south of Al Minya. The name, Pakhet, was a synthesis that occurred by combining Bast and Sekhmet, who were similar lioness war goddesses, in an area that bordered the north and south division of their cults. The cavernous underground temple, cut into the rock cliffs on the eastern side of the Nile, was admired and called the Speos Artemidos by the Greeks during their occupation of Egypt, known as the Ptolemaic Dynasty. They saw the goddess as akin to their hunter goddess, Artemis. The temple is thought to have been built alongside much more ancient ones that have not survived. This temple has an architrave with a long dedicatory text bearing Hatshepsut's famous denunciation of the Hyksos that has been translated by James P. Allen. The Hyksos occupied Egypt and cast it into a cultural decline that persisted until a revival brought about by her policies and innovations. This temple was altered later and some of its inside decorations were usurped by Seti I of the Nineteenth Dynasty, in an attempt to have his name replace that of Hatshepsut.
Following the tradition of many pharaohs, the masterpiece of Hatshepsut's building projects was a mortuary temple. She built hers in a complex at Deir el-Bahri. It was designed and implemented by Senenmut at a site on the West Bank of the Nile River near the entrance to what now is called the Valley of the Kings because of all the pharaohs who later chose to associate their complexes with the grandeur of hers. Her buildings were the first grand ones planned for that location.
The focal point of the complex was the Djeser-Djeseru or "the Sublime of Sublimes", a colonnaded structure of perfect harmony built nearly one thousand years before the Parthenon. Djeser-Djeseru sits atop a series of terraces that once were graced with lush gardens. Djeser-Djeseru is built into a cliff face that rises sharply above it. Djeser-Djeseru and the other buildings of Hatshepsut's Deir el-Bahri complex are considered to be significant advances in architecture. Another one of her great accomplishments is the Hatshepsut needle.