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Queen Hatshepsut
1473 - 1458 BC
18th Dynasty

orn to Tuthmose I and Queen Ahmose, the princess Hatshepsut was one of two daughters, the other being Neferubity. Although sons were born to this marriage none of them survived childhood. Hatshepsut was married to her half-brother, Tuthmose II, by whom she had two daughters, Neferu-Ra, who died young, and Hatshepset, who became the wife of Tuthmose III. She was probably several years older than the young king and would have married him either before or during his coronation.

After only a short reign Tuthmose II died and Tuthmose III, his son by a secondary wife, became pharaoh. For a while Hatshepsut ruled as Regent for the very young king but at some stage had herself crowned and adopted the full titles of a pharaoh. To support her right to the throne Hatshepsut claimed to be a divine child, the daughter of Ahmose and the god Amun. Her success was no doubt helped by support from the priests in her court.

Over a period of time she assumed not only the titles of the pharaoh but also adopted a style of dress suited to a male. She wore the ceremonial clothing of a male pharaoh and the false beard, symbol of pharaoh as a god. On one occasion at least she also led the army into a battle against Nubia to the south. She had taken the ultimate step of a successful pharaoh and become the god's warrior chief.

The temple at Deir el Bahri had been started during the time of Tuthmose II as a mortuary for the king and his wife. It now became a temple for Hatshepsut and the decorations recorded her life and achievements. It has been described as 'the finest building in Egypt' and 'one of the great buildings of the world'.

Colonnaded temple shrines rising in terraces
to the cliffs of Deir el Bahri

Hatshepsut reigned in Egypt for over 20 years and during that time the country continued to prosper. Under her direction architects and masons erected huge numbers of buildings. She also proved to be an excellent stateswoman, shown by the fact that she did not have to fight many wars.

All of these achievements reveal that the reign of Hatshepsut was a remarkable one, made even more significant by the fact that she was a woman.


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