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Hatshepsut Ma’at-ka-Ra (Reign: 1479 - 1458 B.C.)

Updated: Jan 17

The Forgotten Pharaoh

Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the Pharonic (18th) Dynasty of Kemet. Kemet or km.t is the ancient name of Egypt meaning "black lands". Hatshepsut was the first woman to rule Kemet with full power of the position of pharaoh. She took the name Hatshepsut which means ‘Foremost of Noble Women’ althought she used the masculine form "sut" at the end of her name. Ma’at stood for balance and order and ka-Ra meaning embodying the spirit of Ra.

Hatshepsut was the daughter of King Thutmose I and Queen Ahmose. After the death of her father Thutmose I, Hatshepsut married her half-brother Thutmose II and became queen of Kemet - they were both about the age of 12. Thutmose II reigned for 15 years before dying at a very early age of an unknown disease. When Thutmose II died his son Thutmose III was next in line to succeed as the King but he was still an infant so Hatshepsut stepped in as regent for her stepson. Hatshepsut and her husband King Thutmose II never had a male heir which is why Thutmose III, who was the son of one of his consorts became successor. Hatshepsut would later go on to assume the title and full powers of a pharaoh, becoming co-ruler of Kemet with her step-son Thutmose III in 1473 B.C.

Hatshepsut's era as pharoah was marked by peace and prosperity, the improvement of military strength, the securing of borders and the strengthening and development of diplomatic and trade relations with Kemet's neighboring countries. She also oversaw ambitious projects such as the building of the funerary Temple of Deir el-Bahri, located in western Thebes, where she would be buried. Deir el-Bahri, known as Djeser-Djeseru meaning holiest of holy places, is still one of the architectural wonders of ancient Egypt.

Noteably, Hatshepsut had two obelisks cut in Aswan from granite and then transported to Karnak Temple. One of the obelisks of Hatshepsut still stands today, it is the oldest and second biggest of all ancient obelisks. The obelisk is cut from one single piece of pink granite and stands at a height of almost 98 feet and weighs 343 tons. It is located in the Temple of Amon, in Karnak. It was once topped with a gold covered pyramid which would shine brightly when the sun hit it, creating a beacon of light. Written nearby the feet of the obelisk, by Hatshepsut herself, is the story of its construction which claim it took less than 7 months to cut and then move both by boat from Aswan to Karnak. An incredible feat!!

Hatshepsut's rule was controversial and considered to be outside of religious legitimacy, as the king in power had to be a male representative of Horus. Because of this she often depicted herself as a male in many images and sculptures and she wore a false beard and a traditional Kings regalia, kilt and crown or headpiece. Further asserting her position as King.

Hatshepsut's reign would last over 20 years, making her the longest ruling woman pharaoh. She died in 1458 B.C. from a tooth extraction which became abcessed. She would have been in her mid forties. After her death, Thutmose III ruled Kemet for another 33 years. Twenty years after Hatshepsut's death, traces of her reign were removed. Her statues were torn down, her monuments were defaced, and her name was removed from the official king list. It is unclear if this was the doing of her step son or someone else. Because of this Hatshepsut remained largely unknown to scholars until the 19th century when they were finally able to decode the heiroglyphs at Deir el-Bahri.

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