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  • Topic: Hatshepsut, Deir el-Bahri, Thutmose III
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  • Published : May 14, 2011
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Hatshepsut’s controversial accession as a female pharaoh in the early period of New Kingdom Egypt led to an influential reign of self-promotion. However, her motives continue to be a subject of question as to whether Hatshepsut was motivated by her predecessor’s traditions, or were the essentialities of self-promotion too lucrative. Hatshepsut improved the economic state of Egypt and made bold moves through building projects and trade expeditions all of which secured Egypt’s prosperity and Hatshepsut’s position in power. Her sovereignty can be considered an anachronism as her accession as pharaoh was contentious due to the fact she was a woman. Her acceptance may also have been amplified by self-promotion. Hatshepsut was interpreted and portrayed herself as both man and woman and often publicized her relation to Amun-Re and her father Thutmose I. Throughout her period of influence there was much controversy surrounding her relationship with Senemut, which may have lead to the eradication of her reign.

The unusual circumstances of Hatshepsut coming into power are what make her reign so remarkably fascinating. For more than 1000 years, Egypt had been only been ruled by men, until Hatshepsut. Being the daughter of the remarkable pharaoh Thutmose I and Aahames, both of royal lineage, Hatshepsut was presumably born into power. When Thutmose I died his only remaining son (to a commoner) logically assumed power. However to legitimize his position in power as pharaoh, he married his half-sister Hatshepsut. However Ray believes that “…it is likely that the King was worried about his wife’s ambitions; her name after all, meant foremost of the noble ladies.” (Ray, 1994) Ray clearly believes that Hatshepsut had substantial ambitions prior to her becoming pharaoh. Despite this fact Hatshepsut had a strong desire to rule “… in few early scenes she is shown dutifully following her partner, but this soon changes. This was to be co-regency that was far from equal.” (Ray, 1994) These vicissitudes have been depleted in conventional temple scenes from Deir el Bahri. Ray considers that “… the icon of a tradition pharaoh is necessary; she appears as a male ruler. In sculpture, on the other hand, she is shown as female but imperial, with the typical Tuthmosid face and arched profile. Her portraits were unmistakable.” (Ray, 1994) This transformation from male to female is one that makes her reign so captivating, the move shows the possible inclination of Hatshepsut’s confidence and security as a ruler. During Thutmose II and Hatshepsut’s diarchy “… little is known and arguably little is worth knowing.” (Hurley, 2008) It can be assumed that Thutmose II was threatened by his wife’s ambitions; Hatshepsut after all emphasized her political right to the throne through her father Thutmose I and relation to Amun. These claims of Hatshepsut being named heir to the throne may have proven to be propaganda to justify her accession as pharaoh when Thutmose II died. Hatshepsut may have felt that as the daughter of a pharaoh and a great royal wife she had a superior claim to the throne that Thutmose III the son of a mere concubine did not. Thutmose III befell into the position of pharaoh at the diminutive age of ten. Customary it was necessary for the former queen Hatshepsut to become regent until Thutmose III became of age. During this time Hatshepsut proclaimed herself as pharaoh, and had an extensive, efficacious reign in Egypt but unfortunately passed away on “the tenth day of the sixth month of her twenty-second year of reign.” (Lawless, 1996) (approx.: 1482 BC) Tactlessly at some point it is conspired that Thutmose III began a proscription of his aunt’s memory. It can perhaps be said that he was in awe of her, or reacted in such a manner as female sovereigns had long been attested.

Officials have long referred to Hatshepsut as “the excellent seed of a God,” (Lawless, 1996) and its no secret Hatshepsut also publicized these beliefs about herself,...
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