HATSHEPSUT by jessica patman

Historical Context:


Egypt's located on the north east coast of Africa and borders Libya, Nubia, Sinai and the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt also has a long narrow trough 3.8km wide which cuts into desert cliffs. The capital of Egypt is Cairo.


The most important feature was the Nile. The Nile forms South Egypt through the connections of two rivers; the White Nile and Blue Nile. On each side of the Nile it was referred to as the "Black Land" which was a narrow strip of fertile land. Beyond these strips was referred to as the "Red Land" which was the unproductive desert and rocky cliffs. In Egypt there was 3 main seasons. These were: The Inundation, Emergence of the fields and drought.


Egyptians had to be self-sufficient in most natural resources. Their main crops were wheat and barley which gave them bread and bear for a staple diet. Some vegetables and fruits they had included: leeks, cucumbers, lettuce, figs, dates and grapes; This was as well as having castor and olive oil, herbs and honey. They had animals ranging from pigs and cattle to ducks and fish. They used Nile mud and straw to make mud bricks and limestone and sandstone for building.

Pyramids made from limestone and sandstone.

Social Structures:

In Egypt they had an increased number of foreigners that resided permanently which resulted in the establishment of "foreign quarters" in major cities like Memphis. A number of foreign princesses and concubines in royal harem lived in Egypt. There was also an introduction of foreign gods and establishment of priesthoods as well as the incorporation of the foreign elements into Egyptian names.

Social Pyramid

Political Structures:

There is an increased number of co-regencies for example Amenhotep III and Akhenaten. A more prominent roll was being played by Queens in government. They also had a foreign policy based on diplomacy, political marriages and negotiation alliances rather than constant campaigning.

Military Structures:

They had an increased number of foreigners in the Egyptian army. the military have a more prominent roll in the government and the prominent of military officers go to the throne.

Economic Structures:

The focus of the economy was the state building program. People got an increased wealth from trade and tribute and increased employment opportunities for artists and crafts. there was also an increased demand for foreign labour resources.

Religious Beliefs and Practices:

Osiris was the chief god prior to the Akhenaten reign. During this dynasty the rich were guaranteed after life if they lived a life that the Amun saw suitable. There were many Gods associated with the Amun Religion but the Aten had only one - the Aten. The Osiris Beliefs were abandoned and burial customs were changed. Also citizens could only pray to Aten through Akhenaten.


Background and Rise to Prominence

Hatshepsut was born in 1508. Hatshepsut reigned over Egypt as Queen for more than 20 years alongside her husband, Thutmose II. Hatshepsut was the only child born to the Egyptian King Thutmose I and his principal wife, Queen Ahmose. Her father died when she was 12. After his death Hatshepsut Married her half brother Thutmose II, who had a mother of a lesser wife. This was a common practise which was to ensure the purity of the royal bloodline. During the Reign of Thutmose II, Hatshepsut assumed the traditional role of Queen and Principal Wife. Thutmose II died after 15 years in Reign which made Hatshepsut a widow before she turned 30. Hatshepsut had only a daughter, Neferure, so the only male heir was an infant born to a Concubine named Isis.

Thutmose III was too young to take the throne unaided so Hatshepsut served as his regent. Originally, Hatshepsut did take this role traditionally, untill she claimed the role of pharaoh. Hatshepsut never 'usurped' the crown as Thutmose III was never deposed and was considered co-ruler throughout her life. However, it is clear that Hatshepsut was the principal ruler in power.

To assert her authority, Hatshepsut started having herself depicted in the traditional Kings kilt and crown, along with a fake beard and male body; and in no way was this an attempt to trick people into thinking she was male.

Hatshepsut depicted as king.

Hatshepsut Ability to recruit influential supporters helped in her successful transition from Queen to Pharaoh. Many of the men she chose had also been favoured officials of her father. Senenmunt was one of her most import advisors who had been among the Queen's servants. Senenmunt rose with her in power and there was some speculate that he was her lover as well.


Egypt Prospered under Hatshepsut's reign. Hatshepsut was interested in ensuring an economic prosperity and building and restoring monuments throughout Egypt and Nubia rather than conquering new lands like other rulers in her Dynasty.


Hatshepsut built the temple Djeser-Djeseru which means "holiest of holy places". This temple was dedicated to Amon and served as Hatshepsut's funerary cult. she also erected a pair of red granite obelisks at the temple of Amon Atkarnak. One of these still stands today.

Hatshepsut also conducted one notable trading expedition. This expedition went to the land of Punt (which could possibly be modern day Eritrea) during her ninth year of Reign. The ships returned with gold, ivory, myrrh trees, edony, incense and leopard skins which were vast riches of that time. The sense of this was immortalized on the walls of the temple.

Paintings in Hatshepsut's temple.


Ancient interpretations of Hatshepsut include:

  • Considered equal of her male predecessors.
  • Portrayed as a competent and innovative administrator.
  • Portrayed as a prolific builder and conventional warrior Pharaoh.
  • Rejected by Akhenaten because of her promotion of Amun.

Modern interpretations of Hatshepsut include:

  • Portrayed as a pacifist.
  • Criticised for being too ambitious.
  • Perceived as having used traditional institutions to increase her power.
  • Praised for winning the support of the bureaucracy and priesthood.
  • Praised for her strong character and Prosperous Reign.

After Hatshepsut's death in 1457 BC her monuments were attacked, statues dragged down and smashed and her titles and image were defaced. This resulted in Hatshepsut to vanish from the Egyptian history. Its possible that THutmose III did this to erase any example of her as a powerful woman Pharaoh, or to close the gap in the Dynasty's line of Male Pharaoh successors.

A majority of this happened during Thutmose III reign. By destroying Hatshepsut's name it cursed her with a permanent death.

As a result of Hatshepsut's name being destroyed the scholars of Ancient Egypt didn't know much about Hatshepsut's existence. Luckley this changed in 1822 when they were able to decode and read the Hieroglyphics on the walls of Deir El-Bahri.

After a new search was launched in 2005 to find more out about Hatshepsut a team of archaeologists discovered her mummy in 2007. Hatshepsut's mummy can now be seen in Cairo's Egyptian Museum.


Created with images by edenpictures - "Hatshepsut" • PublicDomainPictures - "egypt pyramid culture"

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