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Hatshepsut, Female Pharaoh of Egypt

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But, from his titles, it may be a true statement. Senmut was a lowly born man who rose to power with Hatshepsut. Some of his many titles included Overseer of the Works, Overseer of the Fields, Overseer of the Double Gold House, Overseer of the Gardens of Amon, Controller of Works, Overseer of the Administrative Office of the Mansion, Conductor of Festivals, Overseer of the Cattle of Amon, Steward of the King's Daughter Neferura, Chief of the King, Magnate of the Tens of Upper and Lower Egypt, Chief of the Mansion of the Red Crown, Privy Councillor, Chief Steward of Amon, Overseer of the Double Granary of Amon and Hereditary Prince and Count.

Hatshepsut's Mortuary Temple and Other Works
After becoming Pharaoh, Hatshepsut ordered many works, carrying on from her father. Her first were two obelisks, cut at Aswan and transported to Karnak. There is not much left of these, as most of her things were vandalised after Thuthmose III took over. She later ordered three more to be cut (one of which cracked before it was carved from the rock, so it still remains at Aswan till this day!), to celebrate her 16th year as Pharaoh.

At Karnak, she carried out many repairs to the temples, assuring herself the favours of the priests. It was a continuation of the works of her father, but her own restorations included a pylon to the temple and obelisks. Somewhat further north, she built a small temple in the rock, with more inscriptions of her reign. This is yet again a most beautiful temple.

She also ordered a tomb made for herself, while married to Thuthmose II. It was a queen's tomb in the Valley of the Kings, but it was never completed. Supposedly she and her father, Thuthmose I, were actually buried there until the priests moved the bodies elsewhere, to stop thieves from desecrating the tombs. (There was a first, small tomb that was also unfinished, built behind the Valley of the Queens, but this was abandoned when Hatshepsut married Thuthmose II and became queen.)

After the Valley of the Kings tomb was abandoned, work at the beautiful Deir el-Bahri tomb was started. This was to be her famous Mortuary Temple - Djeser Djeseru. It was built at the site of an even older temple - Mentuhotep I's mortuary temple from the 12th Dynasty. This is the place where the inscriptions of her life and achievements can be found, although they, too, were vandalised.

It was modelled on Mentuhotep I's temple, but Senmut, the architect, improved on the design, blending it in with the cliffs around the area. It is a three-terraced building with porticoes, and chapels at the top to the gods Hathor, Anubis, Ra-Horakhte and, of course, Amon-Ra.

An inscription at the temple say:

When you rest in your building where your beauties are worshiped, Amon-Ra, the Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, give Hatshepsut Ma'at-ka-Ra life, duration and happiness. For you she has made this building fine, great, pure and lasting...

It most certainly is lasting.




Her temple was filled with many beautiful scenes that prove herself as Pharaoh. There was even some reference to military activity at the temple, even though she is often portrayed as a peaceful queen. She did, in fact, have some conquest, like the rest of her seemingly war-loving family.

This refers to a campaign in Nubia. She even sent Thuthmose III out with the army, on various campaigns (many of which little is known at all!). One inscription even says that Hatshepsut herself led one of her Nubian campaigns. The inscription at Sehel island suggest that Ty, the treasurer of Lower Egypt, went into battle under Hatshepsut herself. This proves her as a warrior Pharaoh to her people, and also depicts her expedition to the Land of Punt.

The Expedition to Punt

Hatshepsut ordered a trading expedition, her ships reaching the Land of Punt (perhaps to present day Somalia), as commanded by the god Amon-Ra This was a land rich in products Egyptians desired - myrrh, frankincense, woods, sweet-smelling resin, ivory, spices, gold, ebony, ivory and aromatic trees. Even animals and fish, many of which can be identified today.

There are also reliefs of the homes and people of Punt. The huts of the people, and the native flora, resemble the huts of the Toquls (according to some) near Somalia. The fish and other animals are not natives of Egypt, leading to evidence that Hatshepsut's people had actually visited such a place. Even the people are shown - the most obvious being the ruler of Punt's wife, depicted as an obese woman. But their outfits and the fashion seem to describe the ancient peoples of Somali.

The chief and his wife, quoted on Hatshepsut's mortuary temple, say:

How have you arrived at this land unknown to the men of Egypt? Have you come down from the roads of the Heavens? Or have you navigated the sea of Ta-nuter? You must have followed the path of the sun. As for the King of Egypt, there is no road which is inaccessible to His Majesty; we live by the breath he grants to us.

On the return of the expedition, Hatshepsut held a procession to the Temple of Amon-Ra, where her inscriptions stated that the god himself, and Hathor (Lady of Punt), guided the expedition to the new lands. After the appropriate sacrifices had been made, tributes from the Land of Punt were transferred to the temple.

She recorded this on the walls of her temple at Deir el-Bahri, and many of the scenes can still be seen today. (Unfortunately many were damaged or destroyed when someone - most likely Thuthmose III - tried to erase her name and image from every monument that may have had her name.)

Though this seems a little drastic, there was obviously bitter feelings against Hatshepsut. No-one knows if she was murdered, died or retired from politics to let Thuthmose III and her second daughter rule, but she disappeared when Thuthmose III became Pharaoh in his own right. Her body has not been found, so it is difficult to prove one way or another.

Despite all the damage, the people of today still know of Egypt's first female Pharaoh - Hatshepsut.

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By Caroline Seawright

Features Main Page Hatshepsut, Female Pharaoh of Egypt