Discuss Hatshepsut’s Reign as Pharaoh

Hatshepsut was a pharaoh who ruled ancient Egypt during the 18th dynasty. Her rule lasted 21 years and 9 months which dates about 1479 – 1458 BC. Hatshepsut’s reign has intrigued historians; this essay will cover the co-regency with Thutmose III, her rise to the throne, the building program, the expedition to Punt, the controversy surrounding the mystery of her death and her image. Hatshepsut became co-regent with Thutmose III after the death of her husband Thutmose II. The reason that she became co-regent with Thutmose was because of his age at the time of his father’s death as he was about 9 or 10 years old. At the beginning of the regency Hatshepsut made sure that she didn’t overstep the boundaries of her authority; some evidence for this is that she was pictured on monuments standing behind Thutmose III, also her titles didn’t change from when Thutmose II was still alive as she was still being referred to as Kings Daughter, Gods wife of Amun and Kings great wife. It is believed that Hatshepsut spent the most of the regency gaining the support of the Nobles; as she would not have been able to enjoy an independent rule without their support. It is believed that Hatshepsut assumed to the throne some point between the second and seventh year of the regency. As pharaoh Hatshepsut embarked on a dynamic building program which consisted of repairing structures that had damaged and building new structures. Some of the buildings that were constructed were the Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahri, Obelisks and Pylon which are both at Karnak, the Barque Sanctuary at Luxor and many more. Hatshepsut also repaired many monuments which were damaged during the Hyksos kings, two of these were the Temple of Hathor at Cusae and the temple of Thoth which is at Hermopolis. As a result of these constructions many thousands of jobs were created. During year 9 of Hatshepsut ordered the expedition to punt. Hatshepsut claimed that the expedition was being sent as a response to a request from Amun who commanded her to send the expedition, however historians believe that it was either Senenmut or Hapusoneb who suggested the expedition. The purpose of the expedition was to bring back many goods some of these were listed relief’s in her Mortuary temple these were incense resins and fragrant woods which would have both been used for religious ceremonies, mummification, medical supplies, fumigating houses and making perfume oils another good was ebony which would have been used for shrines and tomb furniture and many items were listed. The entire expedition was recorded in detail at Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple right next to her birth details and her coronation reliefs. The expedition was a complete success. The success resulted in ancient Egypt having more goods with demand being met; this would have increased the wealth of ancient Egypt, this would have given Egypt another destination for further expeditions. During her reign she was depicted on monuments wearing the traditional male regalia. Historians believe Hatshepsut did this because she wanted distinguish the difference between her role as co-regent as to her role as pharaoh to her subjects.

She would have wanted the same respect as any other male pharaoh would have received. There has been much speculation as to the state of her relationship with Thutmose III; as to whether they despised each other or not. There is no physical evidence to suggest that while Hatshepsut was alive that Thutmose III ever tried to take the throne for himself. As well as this Hatshepsut never withheld Thutmose III name from the hieroglyphics as she always gave him the respect that he deserved. Thutmose III had led armies during Hatshepsut’s reign. It is believed that if Hatshepsut felt that Thutmose III was a threat she would have deprived him from this experience. Although Thutmose III personal thoughts about the regency will never be known there are two views the first one states that Thutmose III resented his stepmother and wanted the throne for himself; however Hatshepsut already had the full support of the nobles meaning that there was nothing that he could so about it, the second one states that Thutmose III was happy to let his stepmother rule and then enjoy and independent rule for himself after her death. Sometime after Hatshepsut’s death Thutmose III ordered the destruction of her monuments; the destruction included erasing her name, titles and, her statues were shattered and scattered into the ocean. The motivation for his actions has caused much debate between historians. Some historians have theorized claiming that his actions were motivated by pure hatred and despise for Hatshepsut, however these theories have no evidence to back them up; the work by C Nims ‘The date of the Dishonoring of Hatshepsut’ contradicts this theory when he points out that there are archeological features at Karnack which prove that the destruction occurred late in his reign. The destruction is believed to have occurred at approximately year 42 of his reign; that is over 2 decades after her death, it’s unlikely that Thutmose III would wait 20 years to destroy her monuments out of anger; another piece of evidence that disproves the theory is that the destruction was selective as a figure with both Hatshepsut and Thutmose wasn’t destroyed and images of her ka were unharmed. Another theory is that the motivation for his actions was because he didn’t want her achievements to overshadow his own; he mightn’t have wanted comparison to be drawn between himself and Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut’s reign came to an end when she died. The cause of her death lead to much speculation since there was no mummy discovered for many years. Historians had suggested that Thutmose III had murdered her and destroyed her mummy even though there was no evidence that Thutmose III even resented her during the regency. All speculation came to an end when her mummy was finally identified. Her mummy was found Cairo Museum where is had been for many years, however it hadn’t been identified. The cause of her death was discovered to be an infection which was caused after she had a molar removed. Although this was the cause of her death she wouldn’t have survived much longer as scientists found evidence of bone cancer, liver cancer and diabetes. Hatshepsut’s reign was filled with many accomplishments and debate, attaining the throne for herself, her building program and her expedition to punt, the continuing debate concerning the state of her relationship with her step-son, and the cause of her death.


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