When we talk of powerful women across time and history, we think of a lot of names. But one name that is less known but should be a part of this list is Hatchepsut. The third woman in 3000 years to rule one of the most intelligent and vast civilization to exist. She was a strong and ambitious woman.
In Ancient Egypt, being the pharaoh carried with it a huge set of responsibilities and aura about it. Egypt as a civilization functioned on Maat, a word that signifying order and truth. The Pharaoha were the harbingers of Maat. According to Ancient Egyptian theology Ra the Sun or the Sun God, travelled everyday across the sky, bringing light to the Earth and sustaining all living matter. His powers were believed to be strongest at noon but would weaken at sunset. Having to pass through Akhet (the horizon) to the underworld, the Pharaoh’s soul would merge with Ra’s, to help Him fight the demons that he encountered on the way. Thus, the Pharaoh was more than a human to the people of ancient Egypt.
Ruling for around 22 years, she is probably one of the most impressive pharaohs of Egypt. Hatchepsut was the fifth pharaoh of Egypt. She succeeded to the throne of Egypt in 1478 BC. Hatchepsut was the wife of Thutmose II (her half-brother as well). When he died leaving the throne to his young son, Thutmose III, Hatchepsut became the two year old’s reagent.
And Then A Queen
However, later on she went ahead and took up the task of ruling, herself. Some say because she was ambitious but others say that she did it to save the kingdom for her son.
Knowing that her power grab was highly controversial, Hatshepsut fought to defend its legitimacy. Pointing to her royal lineage and claiming that her father had appointed her his successor. She sought to reinvent her image. Thus, in statues and paintings of that time, she ordered that she be portrayed as a male pharaoh, with a beard and large muscles. In other images, however, she appeared in traditional female regalia.
This is most probably why after her death an act of ‘Damnation Memoriae’ was committed. Her statues, busts and inscriptions were looted, destroyed and chiselled off the face of history. Her mummy was also hidden away secretly. It is still a mystery as to who ordered the desecration of her memory twenty years after her death. Theories revolve around the Priests of Amun, the highest cult of Ancient Egypt. Again, it could also have been her stepson, nephew and co-ruler, Thutmose III, getting back at her for taking what according to him was rightly his.
As it turns out, some relics still remain. Today we are fortunate enough to be blessed with the knowledge of the existence of this woman. Here we found the evidence of how equipped a ruler she was. An excellent military commander with a successful Nubian campaign to her name. She undertook major building projects like the mortuary temple called Djeser-Djeseru, which remains to be phenomenal piece of architecture and engineering. She was a great economist, successfully campaigning a trade mission to the distant land of Punt through the Nile by building one of the oldest boats to ever exist.
We are thankful that we revel in the knowledge of existence of the one of the most powerful women of all times.
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