The Mysterious Egyptian Pharaoh Who Was Erased From History For Being Female
March 8, 2017|Alejandro López
Human memory is fragile and forgetful. What remains permanent is in the hands of those who create the official narrative. They take what appears functional and erase the rest. Text books, monuments, and remembrance days gallantly frame heroes through the heroic deeds that changed the course of history. Yet behind this reimagined tale of humanity, there are numerous stories that present a different vision of the past. The life of Hatshepsut is living proof that historical chronicles are rarely objective and tend to exalt, distort, or even forget people that are seen as "inconvenient."
Despite being part of the Thutmose Dynasty, who held power during the New Kingdom, being in command of Egypt wasn’t easy, particularly for a woman. In the case of Hatshepsut, her father, Thutmose I, was one of the most beloved pharaohs, since he extended the empire beyond the Nile and conquered territories in Asia and Nubia. He also improved living conditions for the society of the time.
During her childhood, she enjoyed all kinds of privileges, even though her mother Ahmose was not as favored by the Pharaoh. This probably awoke a survival instinct in Hatshepsut, who from a young age stood out from her brothers, in line for the throne, due to her intelligence and wit.
Thutmose I died after a thirteen-year rule. Both his sons who were being fitted to take over the kingdom also died. Without a firstborn son to take the throne, Hatshepsut became her father’s heir. But just when the situation seemed to favor her, a conspiracy between the vizier and royal architect took away her rule over Egypt, giving it instead to Thutmose II, the Pharaoh’s illegitimate son.
At that point Hatshepsut’s character led her to take actions against the reigning sexism of Egyptian society and her half-brother Thutmose II. The young woman gained popularity through the support of several religious leaders and developed a close relationship to several servants of the Pharaoh. An unexpected political maneuver forced her to become the Royal Wife and fall under her brother’s power.
Full of courage but with the obligation of honoring her father’s name and the Egyptian people, Hatshepsut kept to her obligations. Yet eventually her wisdom and intelligence overshadowed that of her husband, proving to the court her ability to rule.
Thutmose III was only twelve years old and powerless. Despite this being the third time Egypt had a female Pharaoh, Hatshepsut chose male robes and began to hide her feminine features in favor for a more masculine appearance. She would also wear a fake beard when making courtly decisions.
During her reign, she ordered a policy of beautification of the kingdom that had suffered from war and conflict. Many of the most majestic works of Thebes were built when she held power. Her fame reached mystic proportions when she presented her daughter Neferu-Ra as the direct descendant of the God Amun.
Yet, despite all this, the Pharaoh’s legacy mysteriously disappeared from Egyptian history. The names of the great rulers, their statues and effigies, still stand. Yet there is no trace of Hatshepsut. It appears that after her death, the succeeding Pharaohs chose to dismiss her importance and had any relic of her destroyed. This was the case until 2005, when history took an unexpected turn.
After a campaign of erasing her memory, the story of the queen took a new life. A group of archaeologists discovered her tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Since then, Hatshepsut’s legacy, as the woman who fought for her chance to rule Egypt, regained its rightful place in history.