Relief Depicting Running Soldiers, early Dynasty 18; joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III (1479-1458 B.C.), Painted limestone; H. 12-1/4" W. 16-3/8", Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Photo: © Jürgen Liepe.
Hieroglyphs showing Thutmose III on the left and Hatshepsut on the right, she having the trappings of the greater role.
Mummy of Hatshepsut, identified June 27, 2007, more than a century after its discovery.
A CT scan shows a missing molar in the skull of a female mummy — the larger of two mummies found in a simple tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings.On June 27, 2007 Egyptian authorities announced that the tooth had been found in a box of embalmed organs that once belonged to the female king Hatshepsut, identifying the "obese" mummy as the long-lost ruler. Photograph courtesy Discovery Channel.
Detail of the Red Chapel, Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, and restoration work.
Hatshepsut's mortuary temple complex at Deir el-Bahri. Designed by Senemut, her vizier, it was the first complex built on the site she chose, which would become the Valley of the Kings.
Queen Ahmose, Pharaoh Thutmose I, and daughter Neferubity, the mother, father, and sister of Hatshepsut.
Relief of Thutmose I, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Thutmose I, ca. 1504–1492 B.C., Egyptian, Color facsimile by Nina deGaris Davies (1925), Rogers Fund, 1930 (30.4.137).
Amun-Re and Hetshepsut in "the Red Chapel," a large two-room barque shrine constructed at the centre of the Great Temple of Amun at Karnak during the reign of the mid-18th Dynasty Hatshepsut.
Hatshepsut, Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, c. 1473-1458 B.C. Indurated limestone sculpture at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
Osiride head of en:Hatshepsut, Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, c. 1503-1482 B.C., found at en:Deir el-Bahri, Thebes. Painted limestone sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, en:New York City.
Osiride head of Hatshepsut, 18th dynasty of Egypt, c. 1503-1482 B.C., found at en:Deir el-Bahri, Thebes. Painted limestone sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
Hatsehpsut mortuary temple complex in the Valley of the Kings.
Osirian statues of Hatshepsut at her tomb, one stood at each pillar of the extensive structure, note the mummification shroud enclosing the lower body and legs as well as the crook and flail associated with Osiris.
Hatshepsut, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Hatshepsut, ca. 1473-1458 B.C., Egyptian; From Deir el-Bahri, western Thebes, Indurated limestone; H. 195 cm, Rogers Fund, 1929.
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Two magnificent statues of Hatshepsut — a woman who ruled ancient Egypt as a pharaoh — are on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in advance of the re-opening of the Museum’s Hatshepsut Gallery. It was announced recently in Cairo that Hatshepsut’s mummy — long thought to be lost — has been identified.
A colossal sphinx of the female pharaoh is displayed in the Great Hall, the formal entrance to the Museum, near the galleries where Egyptian art is displayed. Carved from granite and measuring more than eleven feet in length, the sculpture was reconstructed from excavated fragments. Its monumental size suggests the grand scale of the works commissioned by Hatshepsut for her temple. At the end of July, the work will be moved to the Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing, where a life-size granite statue showing Hatshepsut as female king is already on view. (The Temple of Dendur, an actual Egyptian cult temple from ca. 15 B.C., is one of the Museum’s most popular destinations.) The sculpture shows a seated young woman, dressed in the sleeveless sheath and jewelry that were typical attire for women, wearing the headcloth and uraeus (sacred cobra) of a king.
Hatshepsut is arguably the first important female head of state known to history. She ruled Egypt for two decades (ca. 1479-1458 B.C.) during Egypt’s 18th Dynasty and her achievements were comparable to those of England’s Elizabeth I.
In the 1920s and early 1930s, the Metropolitan Museum’s excavation team was largely responsible for the discovery, excavation, and reconstruction of the statuary that once decorated Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri in western Thebes. As a result, many works related to Hatshepsut entered the Museum’s collection. More than 20 images of Hatshepsut were allotted to the Museum by the Egyptian government in the division of finds. Many of the works were featured in the 2005-2006 landmark exhibition •Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh•, organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and will return to view this fall following renovation of the Hatshepsut Gallery.
Hatshepsut (also read as Hatchepsut and meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies) was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful female pharaohs of Egypt, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous dynasty.
Hatshepsut is believed to have served as a co-regent from about 1479 to 1458 BC (or Years Seven to Twenty-one of Thutmose III). Her reign as pharaoh is usually given as twenty-two years. The date of her death is known to have occured in either 1458 or 1457 BC; hence, she must have become pharaoh some time in or just after 1479 BC shortly after becoming co-regent with the adolescent new ruler of Egypt: Thutmose III. She is regarded as one of the earliest known queens regnant in Ancient Egyptian historical records (after Merneith of the First Dynasty) and the second woman known to have formally assumed power as "King of Upper and Lower Egypt" after Queen Sobekneferu of the Twelfth Dynasty.
Hatshepsut's remains were long considered lost, but in June 2007, a mummy from KV60 was publicly identified as her remains by Zahi Hawass, the chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. Evidence supporting this identification includes the results of a DNA comparison with the mummy of Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut's grandmother. Further conclusive evidence includes the possession of a single tooth previously found inside a small wooden box inscribed with Hatshepsut's name and cartouche - Zahi Hawass's team's CAT scan revealed that this tooth exactly matches and is the missing tooth from this mummy's jaw. Modern CT scans of the mummy believed to be Hatshepsut suggest she was about 50 when she died of some combination of metastatic bone cancer, diabetes, and liver cancer. Egyptologists not involved in the project, however, have reserved acceptance of the findings until further testing is undertaken.
Hatshepsut was the eldest daughter of Thutmose I and Queen Ahmose, the first king and queen of the Thutmosid clan of the Eighteenth Dynasty.Thutmose I and Ahmose are known to have had only one other child, a daughter, Akhbetneferu (Neferubity), who died in infancy. Thutmose I also married Mutnofret, possibly a daughter of Ahmose I, and produced several half-brothers to Hatshepsut: Wadjmose, Amenose, Thutmose II, and possibly Ramose, through that secondary union. Both Wadjmose and Amenose were prepared to succeed their father, but neither lived beyond adolescence. In childhood, Hatshepsut is believed to have been favored by the Temple of Karnak over her two half-brothers by her father, a view promoted by her own propaganda. Hatshepsut apparently had a close relationship with both of her parents, and later produced official propaganda in which her father Thutmose I named her as his direct heir. Official depictions of Hatshepsut show her dressed in the regalia of a pharaoh, including the traditional false beard of pharaohs to indicate that she ruled Egypt in her own right.
Upon the death of her father in 1493 BC, Hatshepsut married her half-brother, Thutmose II, and she assumed the title of Great Royal Wife. Thutmose II ruled Egypt for either 3 or 13 years, during which time it traditionally has been believed that Hatshepsut exerted a strong influence over her husband.
Thutmose II had one daughter with Hatshepsut: Neferure. Hatshepsut may have groomed Neferure as her heir apparent, commissioning official portraits of her daughter wearing the false beard of royalty and the sidelock of youth. Some scholars think this is evidence that Hatshepsut was grooming Neferure for the throne; others speculate that she merely was planning for someone who could assume her own role, and to prepared Neferure to be a pharaoh, if necessary. Whatever her intentions were, they came to nothing as Neferure did outlive her mother.
When Thutmose II died, he left behind only one son, a young Thutmose III, for a successor. Due to Thutmose III's relative youth and the fact that he was born as the son of a lesser wife of Thutmose II rather than that of the Great Royal Wife, Hatshepsut, the new king was unable to assume the throne immediately. Instead, Hatshepsut became the defacto ruler of Egypt at this time and assumed the responsibilities of state. This political arrangement is detailed in the tomb autobiography of Ineni, a high official at court: “He [Thutmosis II] went forth to heaven in triumph, having mingled with the gods; His son stood in his place as king of the Two Lands, having become ruler upon the throne of the one who begat him. His (ie. Thutmose II's) sister the Divine Consort, Hatchepsut settled the affairs of the Two Lands by reason of her plans. Egypt was made to labour with bowed head for her, the excellent seed of the god, which came forth from him.”
Hatshepsut is given a reign of about 22 years by ancient authors. Josephus writes that she reigned for 21 years and nine months while Africanus states her reign lasted 22 years, both of whom were quoting Manetho. At this point in the histories, records of the reign of Hatshepsut end since Thutmose III's first major foreign campaign was dated to his 22nd year, which also would have been Hatshepsut's 22nd year. Dating the beginning of her reign is more difficult, however. Her father's reign began in either 1506 or 1526 BC according to the low and high chronologies, respectively. However, the length of the reigns of Thutmose I and Thutmose II cannot be determined with absolute certainty. With short reigns, Hatshepsut would have ascended the throne 14 years after the coronation of Thutmose I. Longer reigns would put her ascension 25 years after Thutmose I's coronation. Thus, Hatshepsut could have assumed power as early as 1512 BC or as late as 1479. Older chronologies dated her reign from 1504 to about 1482. Modern chronologists, however, tend to agree that Hatshepsut reigned from 1479 to 1458 BC, but there is no definitive proof.
Upon Thutmose II's death, the throne passed to Thutmose III, and Hatshepsut — as the child's aunt and stepmother — was selected to be interregnum regent until he came of age. At first, it appears that Hatshepsut was patterning herself after the powerful female regents of Egypt's then-recent history, but as Thutmose III approached maturity it became apparent that she had only one model in mind: Sobekneferu, the last monarch of the Twelfth Dynasty, who ruled in her own right. Hatshepsut took one step further than Sobekneferu, however, by being crowned pharaoh around 1473 BC, taking the throne name Maatkare, meaning "Truth in the soul of the sun god Re. The date of her formal assumption as king is not known but this event must have occurred by her Seventh Year due to the discovery of the intact tomb of Senenmut's parents — Ramose and Hartnofer — which contained various grave goods including several pottery jars, one of which was dated to 'Year Seven' and bore the seal the "God's Wife Hatchepsut" and two of which were stamped with the royal seal of "The Good Goddess Maatkare." Hence, by Year Seven of her regency, Hatshepsut was formally recognised to be a pharaoh of Egypt. After she ascended the throne, her name changed from the feminine Hatshepsut to the more masculine Hatshepsu.
Hatshepsut surrounded herself with strong and loyal advisors, many of whom are still known today: Hapuseneb, the High Priest of Amun, and her closest advisor, the royal steward Senenmut. Because of the close nature of Hatshepsut and Senemut's relationship, some Egyptologists have theorized that they might have been lovers. Among the evidence they offer to support this claim is the fact that Hatshepsut allowed Senenmut to place his name and image behind one of the main doors in Djeser-Djeseru, which was a rare and unusual sharing of credit, and because Senenmut had two tombs constructed near Hatshepsut's tomb this was, however, a standard privilege for close advisors, and the presence of graffiti in an unfinished tomb, used as a rest house by the workers of her mortuary temple, depicting a male and a intersexed person in pharaonic regalia engaging in an explicit sexual act. Although the assertion that Hatshepsut and Senenmut might have been lovers is well known, it is highly contested among Egyptologists; all that is agreed upon is that her steward had ready access to the pharoah's ear. It might explain Senenmut's rapid rise in fortune at court and Senenmut's unprecedented priveleges including the placing of his non-royal tomb within the confines of Hatshepsut's temple at Deir El-Bahri. However, it is difficult to accept that an intelligent woman such as Hatshepsut was being manipulated by Senenmut and it may simply be that she was rewarding her servant for his great loyalty to her.
As Hatshepsut reestablished the trade networks that had been disrupted during the Hyksos occupation of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, which built the wealth of the Eighteenth Dynasty that has become so famous since the discovery of the burial of Tutankhamun began to be analysed. She oversaw the preparations and funding for a mission to the Land of Punt. The expedition set out in her name with five ships, each measuring 70 feet (21 m) long bearing several sails and accommodating 210 men that included sailors and 30 rowers. Many goods were bought in Punt, notably myrrh, which is said to have been Hatshepsut's favorite fragrance. Most notably, however, the Egyptians returned from the voyage bearing 31 live frankincense trees, the roots of which were carefully kept in baskets for the duration of the voyage. This was the first recorded attempt to transplant foreign trees. It is reported that Hatshepsut had the trees planted in the courts of her Deir el Bahari mortuary temple. She had the expedition commemorated in relief at Deir el-Bahri, which also is famous for its unflattering depiction of the Queen of the Land of Punt.
Although many Egyptologists have claimed that her foreign policy was mainly peaceful, there is evidence that Hatshepsut led successful military campaigns in Nubia, the Levant, and Syria early in her career.
Hatshepsut was one of the most prolific builder pharaohs of ancient Egypt, commissioning hundreds of construction projects throughout both Upper and Lower Egypt that were grander and more numerous than those of any of her Middle Kingdom predecessors.
She employed two great architects: Ineni, who also had worked for her husband and father and for the royal steward Senemut. During her reign so much statuary was produced that almost every major museum in the world has Hatshepsut statuary among their collections; for instance, the Hatshepsut Room in New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art is dedicated solely to these pieces. Following the tradition of most pharaohs, Hatshepsut had monuments constructed at the Temple of Karnak. She had twin obelisks, at the time the tallest in the world, erected at the entrance to the temple. One still stands, as the tallest surviving ancient obelisk on Earth; the other has since broken in two and toppled. Karnak's Red Chapel, or Chapelle Rouge, was intended as a barque shrine and may have stood between the two obelisks originally. She later ordered the construction of two more obelisks to celebrate her sixteenth year as pharaoh; one of the obelisks broke during construction, and thus a third was constructed to replace it. The broken obelisk was left at its quarrying site in Aswan, where it still remains, demonstrating just how obelisks were quarried.
In the fashion of the pharaohs, the masterpiece of Hatshepsut's building projects was her mortuary temple complex at Deir el-Bahri. It was designed and implemented by Senemut on a site on the West Bank of the Nile River near the entrance to the Valley of the Kings. The focal point was the Djeser-Djeseru or "the Sublime of Sublimes", a colonnaded structure of perfect harmony nearly one thousand years before the Parthenon was built. Djeser-Djeseru sits atop a series of terraces that were once graced with gardens. Djeser-Djeseru is built into a cliff face that rises sharply above it. Djeser-Djeseru and the other buildings of the Deir el-Bahri complex are considered to be among the great buildings of the ancient world.
While all ancient leaders used propaganda to legitimize their rule, Hatshepsut is known as the most accomplished pharaoh using it. Much of her propaganda had religious overtones supported by the priests at the Temple of Karnak.
During the dawn of human history in ancient Egypt, women had a higher status than in many other recorded cultures of the later ancient world, including the court-protected right to own or inherit property. Having a woman named as pharaoh was rare, however, only Khentkaues, Sobeknefru, and possibly Nitocris preceded her as ruling in their own name. The latter's existence is highly disputed. In contrast to later history, at that point in Egyptian history pharaoh was a title for a male ruler and there was no word for a Queen regnant, only one for Queen consort. Hatshepsut is unique in that she was the first woman to take the title of King regnant or King.
Hatshepsut slowly assumed all of the regalia and symbols of the Pharaonic office in official representations: the Khat head cloth, topped with an uraeus, the traditional false beard, and shendyt kilt. Many existing statues show her in both a feminine and masculine ceremonial dress. Statues portraying Sobekneferu also combine elements of traditional male and female iconography and may have served as inspiration for these works commissioned by Hatshepsut. After this period of transition ended, however, all formal depictions of Hatshepsut as pharaoh showed her in the royal attire, which was masculine, with all of the pharaonic regalia and with her breasts obscured. The reasons for this are a topic of great debate in Egyptology. Early interpretations by scholars were that her motivation for wearing men's clothing was a personal choice. Modern scholars, however, have opted for an alternative theory: that by assuming the typical symbols of pharaonic power, Hatshepsut was asserting her claim to be the regnant and, given the absence of a spouse, not a "King's Great Wife" or Queen consort. Notably, even after assuming the formal regalia, Hatshepsut still described herself as a beautiful woman, often as the most beautiful of women, and although she assumed almost all of her father's titles, she declined to take the title "The Strong Bull."
While the queen-pharaoh was depicted in official art wearing regalia of a pharaoh, such as the false beard that males also wore, it is most unlikely that she ever wore such ceremonial decorations. Statues such as those at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, depicting her seated wearing a tight-fitting dress and the nemes crown, are thought to be a more accurate representation of how she would have presented herself at court.
One of the most famous examples of her official propaganda is a myth about her birth. In this myth, Amun goes to Ahmose in the form of Thutmose I and awakens her with pleasant odors. At this point Amun places the ankh, a symbol of life, to Ahmose's nose, and Hatshepsut is conceived. Khnum, the god who forms the bodies of human children, is then instructed to create a body and ka, or corporal presence/life force, for Hatshepsut. Khnum and Heket, the goddess of life and fertility, lead Ahmose along to a lion bed where she gives birth to Hatshepsut.
The Oracle of Amun proclaimed that it was the will of Amun that Hatshepsut be Pharaoh, further strengthening her position. She publicized Amun's support by having endorsements by the god Amun carved on her monuments: “Welcome my sweet daughter, my favorite, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maatkare, Hatshepsut. Thou art the Pharaoh, taking possession of the Two Lands.”
Hatshepsut claimed that she was her father's intended heir and that he made her the heir apparent of Egypt. Most scholars see this as revisionism on Hatshepsut's part, but one of her best-known biographers, Evelyn Wells, takes her at her word. Using the tradition of propaganda among the pharoahs, she supported her claim on the walls of her mortuary temple: “Then his majesty said to them: "This daughter of mine, Khnumetamun Hatshepsut — may she live! — I have appointed as my successor upon my throne... she shall direct the people in every sphere of the palace; it is she indeed who shall lead you. Obey her words, unite yourselves at her command." The royal nobles, the dignitaries, and the leaders of the people heard this proclamation of the promotion of his daughter, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maatkare—may she live eternally.”
Hatshepsut died as she was approaching, or just entering middle age, in her twenty-second regnal year; no record of her cause of death has survived. If the recent identification of her mummy in KV60 is correct, CT scans would indicate that she died of metastatic bone cancer while in her 50s; it also would suggest that she was overweight, had bad teeth, and probably had diabetes.
For a long time, her mummy was believed to be missing from the Deir el-Bahri Cache. An unidentified female mummy — found with Hatshepsut's wet nurse, In-Sitre, one of whose arms was posed in the traditional burial style of pharaohs — has led to the theory that the unidentified mummy in KV60 might be Hatshepsut. Don Ryan working with Pacific Lutheran University and The Evergreen State College reopened KV60 in 1989, which had been resealed after it was discovered at the turn of the century. The tomb had been damaged, but the mummies remained in site.
In March 2006, Zahi Hawass claimed to have located the mummy of Hatshepsut, which was mislaid on the third floor of the Cairo Museum. In June 2007, it was announced that Egyptologists believed they had identified Hatshepsut's mummy in the Valley of the Kings; this discovery is considered to be the "most important find in the Valley of the Kings since the discovery of King Tutankhamun". Decisive evidence was a molar found in a wooden box that was inscribed with Hatshepsut's name, found in 1881 among a cache of royal mummies hidden away for safekeeping in a near-by temple. The tooth has been conclusively proven to have been removed from the mummy's mouth, fitting exactly an empty socket in the mummy's jawbone.
Hatshepsut had begun construction of a tomb when she was the Great Royal Wife of Thutmose II, but the scale of this was not suitable when she became pharaoh, so a second tomb was built. This was KV20, which was possibly the first tomb to be constructed in the Valley of the Kings. The original intention seems to have been to hew a long tunnel that would lead underneath her mortuary temple, but the quality of the limestone bedrock was poor and her architect must have realized that this goal would not be possible. As a result, a large burial chamber was created instead. At some point, it was decided to dis-inter her father, Thutmose I, from his original tomb in KV38 and place his mummy in a new chamber below hers. Her original red-quartzite sarcophagus was altered to accommodate her father instead, and a new one was made for her. It is likely that when she died (no later than the twenty-second year of her reign), she was interred in this tomb along with her father.
The tomb was opened in antiquity, the first time during the reign of Hatshepsut's successor, Thutmose III, who re-interred his grandfather, Thutmose I, in his original tomb, and may have moved Hatshepsut's mummy into the tomb of her wet nurse, In-Sitre, in KV60. Although her tomb had been largely cleared (save for both sarcophagi still present when the tomb was fully cleared by Howard Carter in 1903) some grave furnishings have been identified as belonging to Hatshepsut, including a "throne" (bedstead is a better description), a senet game board with carved lion-headed, red-jasper game pieces bearing her pharaonic title, a signet ring, and a partial ushabti figurine bearing her name. In the Royal Mummy Cache at DB320 an ivory canopic coffer was found that was inscribed with the name of Hatshepsut and contained a mummified liver. However, there was a lady of the Twenty-first dynasty of the same name, and this could belong to her instead.
Toward the end of the reign of Thutmose III, an attempt was made to remove Hatshepsut from historical and pharaonic records. This elimination was carried out in the most literal way possible. Her cartouches and images were chiselled off the stone walls — leaving very obvious Hatshepsut-shaped gaps in the artwork — and she was excluded from the official history that was rewritten without any form of co-regency during the period from Thutmose II to Thutmose III. At the Deir el-Bahri temple, Hatshepsut's numerous statues were torn down and in many cases, smashed or disfigured before being buried in a pit. At Karnak there was even an attempt to wall up her obelisks. While it is clear that much of this rewriting of history occurred only during the latter part of Thutmose III's reign, it is not clear why it happened.
For many years, Egyptologists assumed that it was a damnatio memoriae, the deliberate erasure of a person's name, image, and memory, which would cause them to die a second, terrible and permanent death in the afterlife. This appeared to make sense when thinking that Thutmose might have been an unwilling co-regent for years. This assessment of the situation is probably too simplistic, however. It is highly unlikely that the determined and focused Thutmose — not only Egypt's most successful general, but an acclaimed athlete, author, historian, botanist, and architect — would have brooded for two decades before attempting to avenge himself on his stepmother. According to renowned Egyptologist Donald Redford: “ Here and there, in the dark recesses of a shrine or tomb where no plebeian eye could see, the queen's cartouche and figure were left intact ... which never vulgar eye would again behold, still conveyed for the king the warmth and awe of a divine presence.”
Erasures were sporadic and haphazard, with only the more visible and accessible images of Hatshepsut removed; if any more complete, we would have fewer images of Hatshepsut. Thutmose III may have died before his changes were finished or he never intended a total obliteration of her memory. We have no evidence to support the assumption that Thutmose hated or resented Hatshepsut during her lifetime. Had that been true, as head of the army, in a position given to him by Hatshepsut, who was clearly not worried about her co-regent's loyalty, he surely could have led a successful coup. It may be that Thutmose III, lacking any sinister motivation, was, toward the end of his life, engaged in his own personal propaganda, giving Hatshepsut a place as queen regent rather than king. By eliminating obvious traces of Hatshepsut as pharaoh and reduced to female co-regent, Thutmose III could claim her achievements as his.
A more recent theory posits that Thutmose III's erasures was actually a cold, rational attempt to erase the memory of an "unconventional female king whose reign might possibly be interpreted by future generations as a grave offense against maat, and whose unorthodox coregency might well cast serious doubt upon the legitimacy of his own right to rule. Hatshepsut's crime need not be nothing more than the fact that she was a woman." In addition, Thutmose III may have considered the possibility that such a succesful female king in Egyptian history might set a dangerous precedent that might show that a woman was as capable at governing Egypt as a traditional male king and persuade "future generations of potentially strong female kings" to not "remain content with their traditional lot as wife, sister and eventual mother of a king" instead. The erasure of Hatshepsut's name, whatever the reason, caused her to disappear from Egypt's archaeological and written records. This theory, inconsistently, failed to consider the previous women who ruled as pharaohs. And, when 19th-century Egyptologists started to interpret the texts on the Deir el-Bahri temple walls (which were illustrated with two apparently male kings) their translations made no sense. Jean-Francois Champollion, the French decoder of hieroglyphs, was not alone in feeling confused by the obvious conflict between words and pictures: “If I felt somewhat surprised at seeing here, as elsewhere throughout the temple, the renowned Moeris [Thutmose III], adorned with all the insignia of royalty, giving place to this Amenenthe [Hatshepsut], for whose name we may search the royal lists in vain, still more astonished was I to find upon reading the inscriptions that wherever they referred to this bearded king in the usual dress of the Pharaohs, nouns and verbs were in the feminine, as though a queen were in question. I found the same peculiarity everywhere... ” These two statues once resembled each other, however, the symbols of her pharaonic power: the Uraeus, Double Crown, and traditional false beard have been stripped from the left image. Many images portraying Hatshepsut as pharaoh were destroyed or vandalized within decades of her death.
The 2006 discovery of a foundation deposit including nine golden cartouches bearing the names of both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III in Karnak may shed additional light on the eventual attempt by Thutmose III to erase Hatshepsut from the historical record and the correct nature of their relationship and her role as pharoah.
Hatshepsut went from being one of the most obscure leaders of Egypt at the beginning of the 20th century to one of its most famous, by century's end. Discoveries of the early 20th century provided information that had been missing from historical records and technical advances later in the century enabled better identifications. As the Feminist movement matured, prominent women from antiquity were sought out and their achievements publicized more. Biographies such as Hatshepsut by Evelyn Wells romanticized her as beautiful and pacifistic — "the first great woman in History." This was a contrast to the 19th-century interpretations of her as a wickedly usurping the throne from Thutmose III.
The novel Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, maintains the wicked stepmother view by casting Hatshepsut as the story's villainess. The plot revolves around the efforts of the slave girl Mara and various nobles to overthrow Hatshepsut and install the "rightful" heir, Thutmose III, as Pharaoh. They blame Hatshepsut's numerous building projects for the bankruptcy of the Egyptian state and she is depicted as keeping Thutmose III as a prisoner within the palace walls.
A popular theory that Hatshepsut was the princess who found Moses floating in the Nile has been widely debated by Egyptologists and Biblical scholars.
At least four authors have written historical fiction novels featuring Hatshepsut as the heroine: Hatshepsut: Daughter of Amun by Moyra Caldecott, King and Goddess, by Judith Tarr, Child of the Morning by Pauline Gedge, and Pharaoh by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, as well as the Lieutenant Bak series of mystery novels which is set during her reign.
American humorist Will Cuppy wrote an essay on Hatshepsut which was published after his death in the book The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody. Regarding one of her wall inscriptions, he wrote, “For a general notion of Hatshepsut's appearance at a certain stage of her career, we are indebted to one of those wall inscriptions. It states that 'to look upon her was more beautiful than anything; her splendor and her form were divine.' Some have thought it odd that the female Pharaoh should have been so bold, fiftyish as she was. Not at all. She was merely saying how things were about thirty-five years back, before she had married Thutmose II and slugged it out with Thutmose III. 'She was a maiden, beautiful and blooming,' the hieroglyphics run, and we have no reason to doubt it. Surely there is no harm in telling the world how one looked in 1514 B.C."
These two statues (top and bottom) once resembled each other, however, the symbols of her pharaonic power: the Uraeus, Double Crown, and traditional false beard have been stripped from the left image; many images portraying Hatshepsut were destroyed or vandalized within decades of her death, possibly by Amenhotep II at the end of the reign of Thutmose III, while he was co-regent, in order to assure his own rise to pharaoh and then, to claim many of her accomplishments as his.