On the death of the great pharaoh Thutmose I, since his two sons were dead, the favorite daughter Hatshepsut was in a position to succeed the throne of her father.
The heir designated, however, was Thutmose II, son of a minor bride, Mutnefret., Therefore of royal blood only by his father.
Hatshepsut, as the daughter of Thutmose I and the “Great Royal Bride” Ahmes was the direct descendant, the one in whose veins ran the blood of the great pharaohs who had liberated Egypt from the Hyksos, also was also the “Divine Bride of Amon”.
A girl of beautiful presence, adventurous, since her youth she had followed her father in his travels, especially in the Delta, where Thutmose I presented her like a queen.
Intelligent, skillful, with probably exceptional administrative capacities and a marked political sense, Hatshepsut harbored ambitions in her that led her to aim very high.
But he had to give up his pride and content himself with marrying his half brother Thutmose II to strengthen his right to reign.
Having become the “Great Royal Bride” of a weak and sick ruler, by virtue of the great personality that characterized her, she knew how to surround herself with numerous and powerful supporters who supported her, among whom stood out Hapuseneb but above all Senenmut, who perhaps was also something more than a simple supporter.
At the death of Thutmose II, heir to the throne was Thutmose III, who, however, was also the son of a secondary wife of Thutmose II, Iset.
Now also Thutmose III, like his father, had to marry a princess of royal blood to acquire the full right to the throne. But Thutmose III was only three years old, so his aunt and stepmother Hatshepsut took over as regent. His, however, as demonstrated by the facts, was not a simple regency, now he could give vent to his ambitions. Hatshepsut intended to be the one to reign.
He continually postponed the marriage between the young pharaoh and his only daughter Neferura, a marriage that would have legitimized Thtumosi III to sit on the throne. From the beginning of the regency, Hatshepsut worked in the shadows to prepare himself to implement his plans with the unconditional support of his two most trusted supporters, Senenmut and Hapuseneb, to whom he had not skimped on honors and prestigious positions. Hapuseneb named Grand Vizier and High Priest of Amon, played the most important role in the “conspiracy” of the queen by spreading propaganda aimed at showing that Thutmosis I, before dying, had named Hatshepsut as his heir for which she was in the full right to ascend to the throne.
I wrote “conspiracy” in quotation marks as it is necessary to clarify this point, that of Hatshepsut was not a conspiracy in the exact term of the word, the queen simply covered the role, which moreover pertained to him and to which she was called, of regent of Thutmose III given his young age.
He ruled, for a short period of time as regent then, thanks to such propaganda, Hatshepsut nominated himself as co-regent with Thutmose III, reserving for himself all the real prerogatives including the titles. On the real duration of the coregency, there are divergences about the interpretation of the available sources, some scholars argue that it lasted only two years while others maintain that seven years passed from the death of Thutmose II when Hatshepsut decided to ascend the throne.
He himself proclaimed himself pharaoh, “pharaoh” to the male, as he intended thereby to establish that she was now a pharaoh in the true sense of the word. To emphasize this he decided to take on the characteristics of a man like the other pharaohs.
But the thing will not be immediate, at first, while maintaining the feminine attributes, it will claim to be “the pharaoh”, no longer coregent. Subsequently appears in male costume, uses the royal protocol, changes its names and titles, suppressing the feminine ending, and wearing the double crown with a false beard.
Certainly, it was not the first woman to reign over the Two Lands, in the long Egyptian history, it had already happened other times but always in favor of the king’s mother and never for such a long time, twenty-two years. According to many Egyptologists, Hatshepsut was one of the best pharaohs in Egyptian history. For the Egyptologist, James Henry Breasted was certainly “The first great woman in the history of which we have news”. On a wall of his chapel, the official Ineni recounts: <<… .. (Thutmosis II) went out into the sky and joined the gods.
The son (Thutmosis III) rose in his place to King of the Two Countries. He ruled on the throne of the one who had generated him …….. The “Bride of God”, Hatshepsut, directed the affairs of the country according to his will.
Egypt accepted her authority and the Valley submitted to her, perfect divine expression coming from the god …… She was the cable that pulls the north, the southern mooring pillar, the perfect helmsman, the sovereign. …… his plans pacify the Two Lands when she speaks …….. >>.
Note a curious fact that for most Egyptologists remains a mystery.
The Thutmosis that we will know later will be a decidedly active pharaoh, one of the greatest pharaohs of Egyptian history, a prudent administrator, he was an acclaimed athlete, writer, historian, architect and botanist, (see Botanical Garden of Thutmose III), a military chief with a great personality, witness the numerous military campaigns a little everywhere but especially in the Near East where it intervened, according to some documents 14 times, (maybe 18). The mystery I mentioned above is highlighted by Franco Cimmino, in his book “Dictionary of Pharaonic dynasties”:
<< For historians it is a real headache that a charismatic and extraordinary personality like ThutmosisIII, has endured so much a situation for so long anomalous that subtracted the legitimate management of the kingdom >>.
Almost certainly the explanation lies in the fact that Hatsepshut, as “Divine Spouse of Amon”, enjoyed the support of the powerful Theban clergy of Amon, who had become the principal god of the state, against whom Thutmosis III did not intend to oppose.
The female pharaoh
Hatshepsut was a beautiful woman, despite the Egyptian sculptural rule being that of representing the pharaoh always young, with her the sculptors went beyond creating a symbolic image divinely beautiful and eternally young. A beautiful woman, with a slight feline smile, an ideal Hatshepsut whose femininity shines through the stone she embodies, not her human, but her immortal ka that defeats aging and death.
All this can be sensed by observing the head of a magnificent sphinx that represents it, and which is now exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where you can appreciate the delicate and volitional features of its face.
The long hair that still adorns his mummy creates, despite the injury of death, the charm of radiant femininity in a scene of the most moving. It is worth mentioning a popular legend that binds to the Bible where one would like to identify Hatshepsut with Bithia, the Egyptian princess who gathered Moses from the waters of the Nile, for Egyptologists, there is no such testimony, something also shared by Bible scholars.
Thanks to its excellent orders, the Two Lands knew an era of peace. For his part, Thutmosis III devoted himself mainly to military matters, preparing the ground for the major operations that he would carry out later.
Expedition to the land of Punt
In the ninth year of his reign, Hatshepsut ordered an expedition to the land of Punt, known for its incense, rubber, myrrh and amber trees, gold, lapis lazuli, ivory, and precious wood.
The details of the funeral temple of Deir el-Bahari are known for this feat. The inscriptions tell us that it was the god Amon himself who urged Hatshepsut to undertake the enterprise:
<< …….. Said by Amon, Lord of the thrones of the Two Lands: “Come, come in peace, my daughter, the beautiful, that you are in my heart, Pharaoh Maatkare .……. I will give you Punt, all of it …….. I will guide (your soldiers) on land and by sea, on the mysterious shores that lead to incense ports, the sacred land of the divine land, my home of delights …….. will take as much incense as they want …….. and all the good things of that land up to to fully satisfy their hearts ……… >>.
Between sailors and soldiers, the expedition had about 210 people, embarked on five ships of the “70-foot length”, The sculpture in the temple represents all the departing ships and is accompanied by a description:
<< ……. The departure of the soldiers of the Lord of the Two Lands who will cross the Great Sea on the Right Way to the Land of the Gods ……… Amon commanded that the wonderful products of the Land of Punt be brought to him …… … he loves Queen Hatshepsut …….. >>.
Among these stands out also a relief where the queen of the country of Punt is represented as surely grotesque, appearing exaggeratedly corpulent.
Hatshepsut undertook at least six military campaigns during his reign, first against the Nubians, who, thinking that the presence of a woman on the throne was a sign of weakness, attacked the fortresses of the outposts to test their reaction, certainly not knowing Hatshepsut whose reaction did nothe waited.
He reacted harshly by going to the border and directing the counterattack. In the temple of Deir el-Bahari the enterprise is thus commemorated: << ……. a massacre was made between them, the number of the dead being unknown, ……. they were cut off their hands. …… then all the foreign countries spoke with anger in their hearts …….. she destroyed the South Country, all the countries are under her sandals ……. how it was was made by his father the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Akheperkara, (Thutmosis I) …….. >>.
The second minor campaign was directed against tribes of Syro-Palestinian Bedouins. The third and fourth campaign, which was also attended by ThutmosisIII, then little more than twenty, was still directed against the Nubians. The fifth, this time led by the young Thutmosis III, always took place in Nubia but against the country of Mau, probably combined with the Nubians.
It is mentioned that during this expedition a rhino hunt was held. The last campaign took place when Hatshepsut was already in old age and almost certainly, to organize it was the same Thutmosis III, now fully entered in the role of warrior-king. Thutmosis III marched towards Palestine and stormed the city of Gaza, which had recently rebelled. Hatshepsut was also one of the most active pharaohs in the construction of buildings and monuments both in the Upper and Lower Egypt, just think that his constructions are more numerous than all those made by the pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom.
As usual, several of its buildings were usurped by pharaohs who later reigned. During his reign, so many statues were produced that today there is practically no museum in the world of Egyptian antiquities that do not possess at least one statue of Hatshepsut. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York a special room has been set up, the “Hatshepsut Room” where only relics of the sovereign are kept.
As a tradition of every pharaoh of ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut also promoted considerable building activity. In Nubia, he built a temple in Buhen dedicated to Horus whose columns are fluted like the Doric ones.
He intervened massively in the Karnak Templar Complex where he had the Mut Fence restored, which still presented the devastation suffered by the Hyksos. To exalt its creator Amon, the sovereign ordered that two grandiose twin obelisks be erected in the courtyard after the fourth pillar of the temple of Karnak, already foreseeing the amazement of those who would see them, one is still in its place with its 30 meters for a weighing 200 tons, the other was destroyed by breaking into several parts.
He still ordered the construction of two other obelisks, one of which broke under construction and was abandoned in the quarry, today it is famous as “Unfinished Obelisk of Aswan” and is visited by many tourists.
In Beni Hasan, near Minya, he built a temple to the goddess Pakhet, syncretic form of Bastet and Sekhmet, a rock temple carved into the rock on the eastern bank of the Nile, during the Ptolemaic period it was called by the Greeks “Speos Artemidos”, (Cave of Artemis), raised in honor of the goddess lioness Pakhet for the Greek Artemis goddess of the hunt.
Some decorations of the temple were removed and reused by Seti I. Perhaps inserted between the first two obelisks, he had the “Red Chapel” built for the sacred boat surrounded by various chapels. Made of red quartzite, in the upper part, and black diorite in the lower part.
Perhaps it was completed by Thutmose III but was later demolished and many blocks were reused in other buildings. In 1997 the blocks were recovered and the chapel was rebuilt, today it is located in the Karnak open-air museum.
But the most evocative construction that has handed down to us is his funerary temple in Deir el-Bahari. Set in the center of a rocky amphitheater, the temple was built on a design by Senenmut, the royal architect, who drew inspiration from the ancient funerary temple of Mentuhotep II built nearby.
I would not go further in the description of the temple of Hatshepsut because, as Christian Jacq writes:
<< It would be necessary a whole book talk about the temple, to describe its architecture, to walk through its rooms, to translate its texts, to expose its scenes in detail. This world of stone, in which a place of honor is reserved for the goddess of joy and love, Hathor, is an immortal hymn to beauty >>, so I reserve the right to describe it in a subsequent article.
When he was still the “Great Royal Bride” of Thutmose II, Hatshepsut had a tomb prepared for himself in the Wadi Sikket Taqa el-Zaide, just west of the Valley of the Kings.
It was a rock tomb carved into a perpendicular rock wall, to height of about 70 m. from the ground and over 40 meters from the top of the wall, in a fissure in the rock, the tomb could only be reached by descending from above. Howard Carter discovered it in 1916 and called it WD A.
Carter himself tells us how the discovery took place: << It was midnight when we arrived at the place and the guide pointed me to a rope that dangled in the void along the face of the cliff.
We listened and we heard the thieves who were working right then … when I reached the bottom there were a couple of moments of tension. I gave them the alternative of dislodging by means of my rope or staying where they were without any rope and those, the antiphon understood, fled. >>.
After the descent by means of the rope, there is the entrance, from here a staircase leads to a slightly sloping corridor 10 meters long after a right-angle turn leads to an antechamber from which another corridor of about 5 meters branches off. which leads into the burial chamber where a new, not very long, unfinished corridor starts.
Inside, Carter discovered a sarcophagus in yellow quartzite on which is engraved a dedication: “The hereditary princess, great of favors and grace, Lady of all lands, daughter of the king, sister of the king, the Great Bride and Lady of the Two Terre Hatshepsut ”.
Inside were also found some jars as well as several stone slabs on which it was customary to engrave texts taken from the Amduat. Perhaps, following his ascension to the throne, Hatshepsut believed that the size of this tomb did not suit a pharaoh for which it was necessary to build a new, much more majestic funerary complex.
The tomb WD A was therefore abandoned and forgotten. Instead of building a new one, Hatshepsut had that of his father Thutmose I, the KV20 in the Valley of the Kings, renewed and modified (perhaps the oldest in the whole Valley), to which he added a new sepulchral chamber to house his mummy.
But even the reign of the “man” queen at some point came to an end. As it ended however it is not known with certainty, some raise a hypothesis, refused by the most, according to which it was the same Thutmose III who, tired of waiting, had it suppressed. We reject this hypothesis which does not seem to be part of the sovereign’s nature, we prefer to think that the great Hatshepsut died naturally.
On a stele found at Ermonti, it is reported that the death of Hatshepsut and the ascent to the throne of Thutmose III took place on the “22nd year of the reign of the queen, the month of Peret, on the 10th day”.
At his death, it seems that Hatshepsut was heard and buried right next to her father in the KV20.
At his death, it seems that Hatshepsut was heard and buried right next to his father in the Valley of the Kings in the KV20 tomb. Honored and revered in life, Hatshepsut, the pharaoh woman, died. Embalmed and enclosed in its sarcophagus, now the most difficult part awaits it before reaching the coveted Iaru Fields. His goal is the Duat in the << ……. Land of the mountain gods ……. >>.
You can enter the << ……. Great House of the Two ……. the House of Fire …….. >>, after waiting << …… .a night of several years …….. >> during which it will become a divine entity and will finally be able to rise << …….. to the eastern side of the sky …… .. >>.
Hatshepsut is the character of Egyptian history that the more I love, I hope it has truly become a star. Here on earth, there remains his body that must be the object of respect and veneration so that he can continue to live happily for eternity. But will it be so? Will the greatness and fame that accompanied her during her life continue even after her death? After a while, Thutmose III had a new tomb built with a new funeral kit, the KV38 where he moved the mummy of Thutmose I.
And what happened to the queen? Hatshepsut’s mummy may have been moved to the KV60 tomb where his nurse Siter lay. Nothing was handed down to us in this regard, so the pharaoh woman, who had reigned over Egypt 3500 years ago during the XVIII dynasty, was destined to fall into oblivion, the subject of the damnation of memory that would have precluded her access to the duat? Maybe not.
In 1903 Howard Carter, who was excavating in the Valley of the Kings, discovered a tomb, which he called KV60, where he found the mummies of two women, one was immediately identified with the nurse of Hatshepsut, Siter while the others remained unknown.
That body, with its clear real posture, wrapped in linen bandages and sprinkled with perfumed resins, came from the KV20 in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, and was subsequently buried in the nearby KV60 but had nothing to reveal its identity.
Profaned and deprived of bandages, the mummy presented the figure of a woman about 50 years old, 1.60 meters tall, with auburn hair that showed baldness in the front part of the skull, obese and with bad teeth. In the famous cachette of Deir el-Bahari where the mummies of numerous Egyptian rulers were found, a casket for ivory canopic jars was found containing a mummified liver and a molar tooth with a broken root, the name “was engraved on the casket. Since in the cachette there was the mummy of a woman of noble origins of the XXI dynasty, whose name was Hatshepsut, at first it was believed that the casket belonged to him. Hatshepsut’s body remained unobtainable. Finally in 2007, Zahi Hawass, the head of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, with a team of researchers, after carrying out a series of research to ascertain the causes of the death of Tutankhamun, the pharaoh-child, turned his attention to the search for the mummy of Hatshepsut.
The team dedicated itself to examining four mummies without a certain identity, found in the Valley of the Kings, which, according to various scholars, could be attributed to the queen. Two of these were located next to the mummies of Tutmosi I and Thutmose II, another, that of Siter, Hatshepsut’s nurse had been taken to the Cairo Museum in the past and forgotten there.
The last one still lay in the KV60 tomb where some years earlier the American researcher Elisabeth Thomas, after having examined it, asserted that it was indeed Hatshepsut. Numerous analyses were carried out on this mummy including X-rays and DNA testing. From the examination of the bad dentition, we noticed the lack of a molar tooth whose broken root was still in the jaw of the mummy.
It was therefore thought that the tooth found in the cachette of Deir el-Bahari, the tooth, a molar with only one part of the perfectly preserved root, compared to the mummy’s jaw, matched perfectly with the missing part of the teeth. That tooth, magically preserved in the canopic jar, which could only belong to a mummy, allowed us to immediately reveal who the real Hatshepsut was.
You can still raise doubts, personally I want to believe that this is really the pharaoh woman. From the numerous examinations carried out on the corpse, it was possible to state that the death of the queen would be attributed to a bone tumor caused by the excessive use of a carcinogenic ointment. According to Helmut Wiedenfeld of the Pharmaceutical Institute of the University of Bonn:
<< Many clues speak in favor of this hypothesis. If one imagines that the queen suffered from a chronic skin disease and found short-term relief in the ointment, she would thus be exposed to a great risk over the years. >>. The entire survey was taken up by director Brando Quilici whose documentary was made by Discovery Channel. Now one wonders why such an important queen has been subjected to a sort of damnation of memory.
Many have written that the proponent is Thutmose III, who would have hated his aunt to the point of erasing his memory. Nothing, however, proves that he hated his aunt and moreover, as commander of the army, a position of trust assigned to him by Hatshepsut, he would have had every possible opportunity to carry out a coup d’état.
Add, in defense of Thutmose III, that if it is the damnation of memory it is then why the temple of Deir el-Bahari, the most sacred symbol of Hatshepsut, was not destroyed, which was a sort of diary of the queen’s life.
It should also be noted that, in addition to the breaking of some statues, the elimination of his figure and cartouches was accomplished in the most “literal” way possible, leaving the context intact, its shape or the shapes of the hieroglyphics remained well recognizable, demonstration of the fact that nobody ever wanted a real damnation of memory.
Doubts have been advanced on the figure of Amenophis II, son of Thutmose III, considered by some to be the true promoter of the cancellation of Hatshepsut. The Egyptologist Franco Cimmino defines it as follows: << ……. He had neither the cultural interests nor the diplomacy nor the great political vision of the father; impetuous, choleric and contemptuous …… >>.
The Canadian Egyptologist Donald Redford noted:
<< Here and there, in the deepest recesses of the sanctuaries or the tomb, where no plebeian eye could have seen, the images and inscriptions of the queen were left intact ……. .no vulgar eye would look at them again, so as to maintain the warmth and fear of a divine presence >>
By: Piero Cargnino
Sources and bibliography:
Christian Jacq, “Egypt of the Great Pharaohs”, Oscar Mondadori, 1999
Cimmino Franco, “Dictionary of Pharaonic dynasties”, Bompiani, Milan 2003
Alessandro Roccat, “The Theban area, Quaderni di Egittologia”, Rome, Aracne, 2005
Christian Jacq, “The Valley of the Kings”, (translation by Elena Dal Pra), Milan, Mondadori, 1998
Sergio Donadoni, “The great discoveries of archeology”, Geographical Institute De Agostini, 1993
Maurizio Damiano, “Encyclopedic dictionary of ancient Egypt and of the Nubian civilizations”, Mondadori 1996)