January 16, 2008

January 16 | Hatshepsut

c. 1508 BCE — January 16, 1458 BCE: Age 50 (approx.)

Hatshepsut was unusual: she was a woman, but ruled as a man: she was pharaoh in ancient Egypt. She was a successful ruler, too, remaining in power nearly 22 years until her death, longer than any other female ruler (there were only a handful in several thousand years) until Cleopatra. Although her reign was the beginning of a long, peaceful period in Egypt, she was successful in warfare when necessary. Her most important accomplishment was to re-establish the trade routes disrupted by previous conflicts, creating an ongoing source of wealth for Egypt.

She had one sister and a couple of younger half-brothers, but according to the official records of her reign her father, Thutmose I, named her as his direct heir. She married her half-brother, Thutmose II, and they ruled together until he died a few years after his father. He in turn left one son (Thutmose III) by a lesser wife, but because the boy was still too young Hatshepsut simply assumed the male ruling role and their daughter, Neferure, assumed the role of queen. During this time Thutmose III gradually grew into the role of pharaoh, and assumed the role of absolute monarch when Hatshepsut died.

Hatshepsut's mummy was believed lost until recently. A molar engraved with her name had been found in a cache of royal mummies in the late 1800s, and in June 2007 was found to fit perfectly into the socket of an unidentified female mummy on the third floor of the Cairo museum. CAT scans of the mummy revealed that she died of a blood infection while she was in her 50s, and that she had arthritis, bad teeth, and probably diabetes as well.

Toward the end of her nephew's reign, attempts were made to remove her from certain historical records, leaving Hatshepsut-shaped blanks on public walls. Nobody knows why. For a long time it was assumed that Thutmose III resented his aunt, but the truth is probably more complex than that, as many of her images on private walls (e.g., inside his own tomb) are left intact. The most common assumption today is that it enhanced his own reputation to be able to claim royal succession directly from his father; conversely, that the unconventional presence of a female king in the public records was a dangerous and inconvenient precedent. It is unlikely we will ever know for sure.

Sources: Wikipedia


daap said...

Too bad we might never find out why she was removed from most of the archives.

sapphire said...

It's really obvious- Hatshepsut was PURPOSLY ditorted in hitory- by loss of relable evidence- because she was a threat to patriarchal rule in Egypt. I notice Cleopatra also has a blurred past in regard to death- coincidence?