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Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut: A Female Pharoah in Egypt

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else we're destined to repeat it.


Life of Queen Hatshepsut

Queen Hatshepsut was one of the few female Pharaohs who ruled in ancient Egypt. Of the female Pharaohs, her reign is one of the most well-known, second to Cleopatra, and the longest. In her honor, her temple still stands today. This artifact gives archaeologists a vast array of knowledge.

Hatshepsut was born in the fifteenth century BC. She had two brothers and a half-brother who was in line to become Pharaoh. Her full brothers died at a young age, which put her half-brother in line for the throne. His name was Tuthmose II, named after their father. A female Pharaoh was unheard of during these times, so she was initially overlooked to become queen. She eventually became a ruler due to a lot of different factors.

Before her reign, she led the country while her half-brother and husband, Tuthmose II, were still alive (yes, she married her half-brother.) Although he was still considered King during this time, he was too ill to act the part. He ruled for three to four years before his death.

Technically, Tuthmose II had a son with a woman named Isis. They called him Tuthmose III. Tuthmose III should have been the next in line to become King, but because he was too young, Hatshepsut acted as King, which caused tension between the two later in life.

Hatshepsut was a strong, well-respected leader and reigned for twenty-one years until her death in 1458 BC. During her reign, she had many statues constructed, more than any other queen. To gain respect and maintain her position even after Tuthmose III became of age, Pharaoh Hatshepsut dressed in kingly attire, down to a false beard. She is often referred to as King Hatshepsut due to how she presented herself. She claimed that she descended from the god Amon. They found this claim inscribed throughout her temple.

The Pharaoh Hatshepsut's Name In Hieroglyphics


Her Temple

More than ten centuries ago, the temple of Hatshepsut, also known as the temple of Deir El-Bahri, was built across the river from Thebes near the banks of the Nile. For centuries, the three-tiered temple was covered in sand, hidden from onlookers, until 1881.

Her lover Senmut initially built the temple. Senmut was a member of her court and had more than twenty titles, one included architect. He constructed the Temple of Deer El-Bahri with three levels connected by two ramps. The construction took about twenty years, which gave her little time to enjoy it, as she only reigned twenty-one years. He designed the walls, so they would be like a blank canvas ready to be filled with hieroglyphics to tell the story of her reign, which they continued throughout her reign. On the ground level was a sphinx. The sphinx had ahead of Hatshepsut but the body of a lion.

Due to Senmut's hard work and possibly his relationship with the Queen, she rewarded him so much that he could afford to build a temple not far from the Egyptian Queen's temple. He was buried there, along with his family and minstrel. He also had some of his favorite pets, which were apes and horses, buried there.

When Senmut constructed the temple, he designed it to be Pharaoh Hatshepsut's burial place. She felt this was too obvious of a place to be buried, so she decided her burial would be somewhere more obscure.


The Tomb

Another architect that worked on the temple and her tomb was Ineni. He was very secretive about it and prided himself that he was the only one who knew where Queen Hatshepsut's tomb lay. He was so determined to keep it a secret. Rumors have it; he killed all one hundred enslaved people that worked on the construction after its construction.

Even if he genuinely did kill all the men, it did not do any good. Queen Hatshepsut's tomb was still found by the one person who most resented her - her nephew Tuthmose III. Not only did she take his rightful spot as King, but she may have also treated him poorly. Tuthmose II fathered him with another woman, which caused jealousy.

After her death, much of the tomb was stolen and destroyed. Her mummy was believed to be missing, and the only things left were a liver and a broken tooth. After she died, many believe Tuthmose III requested her name be erased from all artifacts, even on her temple at Deir-El-Bahri. This was relatively easy since most of her depictions were male and could easily be made to look like Tuthmose III. Some wonder if Tuthmose III killed Hatshepsut; this is unknown. The likelihood is excellent due to his intense dislike of her.

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The Mummy

It is unknown, even today, whether the mummy of Hatshepsut still exists. In 1903, the archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered an ornate stone coffin known as a sarcophagus that contained Hatshepsut's liver inside. Oddly enough, there was not a mummy nearby. After further investigations, he discovered two mummies in another corridor. One was in a coffin; the other was on the floor. Due to inscriptions on the tomb, they believed that the mummy was her nurse.

Then in 1989, Donald Ryan, another archaeologist, decided to explore where the mummy was last left. He felt this person must have been significant since the mummy was in a royal pose. Plus, the mummification process was outstanding, as if they took extra care when mummifying. Donald Ryan built a coffin for this mummy, and it was left there until 2007.

In 2007, Zahi Hawass decided to round up all the mummies found during the period as the two Carter discovered. He found a broken tooth. The most surprising discovery was that the CT scans showed that the tooth belonged to the coffin-less mummy found on the floor many years earlier.

In 2009, they did DNA testing on the mummy and discovered that the mummy shared 70 percent of DNA with the royal family around that time. Although no one knows for sure, it is possible that Hatshepsut's Mummy was uncovered and sits in the Cairo Museum.

No one will ever know if the coffinless mummy is that of the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut's or not. No one will ever know if Tuthmose III killed his step-mom/aunt. There are a lot of mysteries surrounding the female Pharaoh, which only makes her story that much more intriguing.

List of Sources

  • "Ancient egyptian kings queens hatshepsut." Discovering Ancient Egypt. Accessed February 27, 2018.
  • Jarus, Owen. "Hatshepsut: First Female Pharaoh." LiveScience. April 05, 2013. Accessed February 27, 2018.

© 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz


Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 25, 2012:

It truly is amazing. Especially since they did not have the tools we have today. I do know they would have entire villages dedicated to working on one tomb.

dmop from Cambridge City, IN on May 25, 2012:

Such an interesting story with such a rich history. I am still baffled as to how the ancient Egyptians accomplished the building of such great structures. Great job writing this voted up, useful, and interesting.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 22, 2012:

It really was, wasn't it. LOL!

Denise Mai from Idaho on May 22, 2012:

Married to her half brother who then went and had a child with another woman? This is like a modern day soap opera. Well done! I enjoyed reading this. :)

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 21, 2012:

Thank you for the great compliment. Part of it is that I found this absolutely fascinating!

Hubert Williams on May 21, 2012:

Great story and well told. I love it when people write it in a captivating and understandable fashion.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 20, 2012:

Thank you so much. Yes she was ahead of our times. :)

Sophie on May 20, 2012:

Angela, This was such an interesting read. Thanks for enlightening me on Hatshepsut. She seems to have been a woman, bolder and much ahead of the times in which she lived. Thanks for making History readable. Have a great day.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 19, 2012:

Thank you so much! I absolutely love anything that has to do with Ancient Egypt. I found her story especially interesting. I guess I like the whole idea of a woman in power. LOL

Cathy from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on May 19, 2012:

Angela, excellent and informative read. I think Egyptian history is very fascinating. You can see a lot of Egyptian history regarding mummies occasionally on the planet earth satellite channel. You provided so much interesting information. Thank you. Thumbs up.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 19, 2012:

I wondered if they were able to compare the dna of the tooth and the dna of the liver to see if it is the same? I'm not sure how all that stuff works, but it seems plausible to me. They are quite certain the liver is Hatshepsut's, but they aren't sure about the tooth. If they knew it was from the same, they'd be more certain about Hatshepsut's mummy?

SkeetyD on May 19, 2012:

I love Egyptian history and I find Hatshepsut's story intriguing. Mr. Hawass' work on trying to uncover the truth about the mummies in commendable. It's amazing how they go about finding DNA that is not corrupt after thousand of years

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