Hatshepsut ruled over ancient Egypt as the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty. Her reign lasted more than any other female King and Egyptologists consider her one of the most successful pharaohs. Here are 10 interesting facts about the Foremost of Noble Ladies.

 

#1 She married her half-brother Thutmose II

Hatshepsut was born to Egyptian king Thutmose I and his principal wife and queen, Ahmose. She had a sister who died as an infant and a brother who died before their father. Thutmose I had a secondary wife Mutnofret who bore him a son Thutmose II. After her father’s death, Hatshepsut became queen of Egypt when she married her half-brother Thutmose II. This was around 1492 BC and Hatshepsut’s age at the time was around 12.

Relief of Thutmose II in Karnak Temple
Stone block with relief of Thutmose II in Karnak Temple complex

 

#2 Hatshepsut was the longest reigning female Pharaoh

Hatshepsut and Thutmose II had a daughter named Neferure. Thutmose II also fathered a male heir Thutmose III with his secondary wife Iset. Thutmose II died around 1479 BC. As Thutmose III was still too young to rule, Hatshepsut assumed the role of a regent. Modern Egyptologists generally agree that Hatshepsut was soon the principal ruler and claimed the position of Pharaoh. Though the length of Hatshepsut’s reign is debated it is certainly more than twenty years which makes her the longest reigning female Pharaoh in ancient Egypt.

Seated Statue of Hatshepsut
Seated Statue of Hatshepsut

 

#3 But she was not the first female Pharaoh of Egypt

Although royal women enjoyed high status and considerable power in ancient Egypt, it was still uncommon for a woman to be the ruler. However Hatshepsut was not the first female Pharaoh, there were at least two more before her, most notably Sobekneferu, who was the last ruler of the Twelfth Dynasty, six dynasties prior to Hatshepsut. Still, compared to other female Pharaohs Hatshepsut’s reign was much longer and more prosperous.

Headless statue of Sobekneferu
A headless statue of Sobekneferu in the Louvre

 

#4 Hatshepsut is depicted in statues as a male with a beard

Hatshepsut has been depicted as a male Pharaoh in several statues and paintings of the time. She is shown with large muscles and false beard, a symbol of her pharaonic power. She might have dressed as a King to assert her authority and/or to assume all symbols associated with her position. Several existing statues also portray her in typically feminine attire.

Hatshepsut depicted as a male pharaoh
Hatshepsut depicted as a male pharaoh with a beard

 

#5 Egypt prospered during her reign

Karnak Tempel Obelisk
Karnak Tempel Obelisk

Egypt prospered during the reign of Hatshepsut. She established trade networks which had been disrupted when Egypt fell into disarray during the Second Intermediate Period. Her trading expedition to the land of Punt was hugely successful and brought back vast riches including ivory, ebony, gold, leopard skins and incense to Egypt. Many Egyptologists believe that her foreign policy was peaceful and trade based but recent evidence suggests that she might have also led military campaigns against Nubia and Palestine. She brought great wealth to Egypt which is evident by the amount of ambitious constructions in her reign.

#6 The famous Hatshepsut temple was constructed during her reign

Under Hatshepsut many construction projects took place and she is arguably a greater builder than all her Middle Kingdom predecessors due to the great number and magnificence of her projects. She had twin obelisks erected at the entrance of the Temple of Karnak which were the tallest at the time. One still stands and is the tallest surviving obelisk from ancient Egypt. Her greatest structure is the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahari which is considered one of the architectural wonders of ancient Egypt. It was designed and implemented by Senemut, who was an important advisor to her and it is conjectured that he might have been her lover.

Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

 

#7 Her stepson tried to erase evidence of Hatshepsut being a Pharaoh

At the end of the reign of her stepson and successor Thutmose III, statues of Hatshepsut were destroyed, her monuments were defaced and her name was scratched from the records.. It is not clear why this was done. There is no evidence that Thutmose III resented Hatshepsut as despite being the head of the army he never challenged her during her reign. His son Amenhotep II likely played a part as he later went on to usurp many accomplishments of Hatshepsut. British Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley suggests that Thutmose III did so, not out of hatred, but because he wanted to relegate her to her expected position of a regent and maintain the dynasty’s line of male succession.

 

#8 She was probably buried in the first Royal tomb of the Valley of the Kings

Construction of a tomb for Hatshepsut had begun when she was the Great Royal Wife of Thutmose II. However upon ascending the throne, preparation for a new burial started that would suit a Pharaoh. The tomb of her father, which is now referred to as KV20, was extended with a new chamber. Most probably, upon her death Hatshepsut was buried along with her father Thutmose I in KV20. Valley of the Kings is a famous valley which consists of tombs of Pharaohs and powerful nobles of ancient Egypt. KV20 is considered as the first Royal tomb in the valley.

Valley of the Kings
Panorama of the Valley of the Kings

 

#9 Her mummy was found in 2007 with the help of a tooth

In 1881 a canopic box was found which was inscribed with Hatshepsut’s name. Along with an embalmed liver and stomach, it contained a tooth. In 1903 British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the KV60 tomb inside which mummies of two women were found. One was identified as Hatshepsut’s wet nurse Sitre-In while the other remained unidentified. In 2007, Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s chief archaeologist, tested the unidentified body. It was found that the mummy had a missing tooth and the tooth from Hatshepsut’s box matched exactly with the missing upper molar of the mummy. Her mummy was probably moved from KV20 to KV60 by Thutmose III. According to Dr. Zahi Hawass, “the discovery of the Hatshepsut mummy is one of the most important finds in the history of Egypt”.

Mummy of Hatshepsut
Mummy of Hatshepsut

 

#10 She died from bone cancer

Recent evidence suggests that Hatshepsut suffered from a skin disease and applied a carcinogenic skin lotion for short term improvement. This might have resulted in her suffering from bone cancer which ultimately caused her death. She was overweight, had diabetes and rotten teeth at the time of her death. She probably died around the age of 50. Hatshepsut is considered one of Egypt’s most successful pharaohs and many call her “the first great woman in history of whom we are informed.”

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