fifth king of the eighteenth dynasty, New Kingdom. The daughter of Thutmose I and Queen Ahmose, Hatshepsut married her half brother, the future Thutmose II and produced one child, Neferure. After the premature death of Thutmose II, his son from a union with another woman, Isis, was crowned as Thutmose III, who possibly married Neferure to gain legitimacy. Since Thutmose III and Neferure were both children at Thutmose II's death, the king's “Great Wife” Hatshepsut ruled Egypt as regent. From two to seven years later, she assumed full power and crowned herself “king,” using all royal titles. To vindicate her claim to the throne, the priests made use of a story of divine birth: the god Amun visited Queen Ahmose in the guise of her husband and begot Hatshepsut. She acted as king and frequently posed and dressed as a man. Though Hatshepsut counted the beginning of her reign from the coronation of Thutmose III, his role as ruler was downplayed. She appeared in written sources for the last time in the twentieth year of Thutmose III's reign, the same year in which he was represented with her as an equal for the first time. Previously, she always took precedence over her stepson, leaving no doubt concerning her role as senior pharaoh.
Hatshepsut sent military expeditions to Nubia and Syria-Palestine, yet her reign is better remembered for the high quality of its architecture and art. She was devoted to building temples and presented herself as the restorer of what “had been dismembered.” Her building program affected Thebes, provincial towns, and localities outside Egyptian territory, such as Buhen in Nubia and the Wadi Mughara in the Sinai. Her most important edifices are located in central Karnak where she erected two groups of chambers and the sanctuary now called the Red Chapel, in ancient times known as the Palace of Maat, which referred to the concept of truth and justice basic to Egyptian religion. The Red Chapel represented a real architectural achievement; it was constructed of regularly shaped quartzite blocks with exact vertical and horizontal joints. The block's size corresponded to the scenes carved on them. Hatshepsut transformed the existing hall between the fourth and fifth pylons by placing two obelisks there. A second pair of obelisks was erected in eastern Karnak. She built the eighth pylon and the bark-shrines on the processional avenue from Karnak to Luxor, which ran through it. The best-known building completed during Hatshepsut's reign is her mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri, bearing a series of wall reliefs representing the most important achievements of her reign: the expedition to Punt undertaken in Year 9 under the treasurer Nehesi that depicts the return with exotic goods, and the quarrying, transport, and erection of a pair of obelisks in Year 16. In Medinet Habu, she built a small temple for Amun; while on the island of Elephantine she founded two temples for local gods.
Many of the temples built in the provinces under the rule of Hatshepsut disappeared completely in antiquity and are known only from textual references. Yet the few structures that remain show that her architects were exceptionally creative. For example, the Speos Artemidos in the vicinity of Beni Hasan was the first rock-cut temple in Egypt. The temple at Deir el-Bahri, though not original in general layout, was a harmonious and imposing creation.
Hatshepsut built two tombs during her reign. The first, left unfinished, was prepared when she was still Thutmose I's “Great Wife.” The second tomb—the longest and deepest in Egypt—was probably first begun in the Valley of the Kings for Thutmose I (tomb 20 in the Valley of the Kings). Two quartzite sarcophagi were found there; both were made for Hatshepsut, although one was altered for Thutmose I.
The many splendid tombs in the Theban necropolis that date to Hatshepsut's reign preserve records of many of her high officials. The most influential was the steward of Amun Senenmut. He was responsible for building the most important monuments of the queen. Senenmut, the treasurer Nehesi, and the administrator of the royal estate Amenhotep, were in disfavor with Hatshepsut circa Year 16 of the reign; the reason for this is not clear.
After Hatshepsut's death, Thutmose III, already a grown man, continued her building program. He enlarged and decorated many of her monuments, though he replaced some with his own buildings. After Year 42 of his reign, for unknown reasons, the name of Hatshepsut was erased from all monuments and her memory obliterated: her statues were smashed, her representations in wall reliefs were destroyed, and screen walls were built around her obelisks between the fourth and fifth pylons in Karnak. The names of three Thutmoside kings replaced Hatshepsut's. In the later king lists the queen was omitted, and only long and painstaking Egyptological research revealed her existence and accomplishments.
See also QUEENS.
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