The powerful lady-pharaoh that ruled over ancient Egypt.
Ancient Egypt is famously known for its pyramids, mystical half-human half-animal gods, and the great and powerful pharaohs that ruled over the land.
The role of the pharaoh was powerful, almost Godlike, as they dominated every aspect of ancient Egyptian rule. They were the defenders of the land as well as very powerful priests who would be responsible for the communication between the Gods and the rest of the people. Both Religious and military knowledge was equally crucial for the rulers during this time. The Pharaoh was responsible for officiating religious ceremonies, for choosing the sites where the temples would be built, and most importantly for maintaining a cosmic balance in the universe. He would also act as administrator, collecting taxes and enforcing the rule of law. That’s quite a wide-ranging resume.
Being Pharaoh was a role largely reserved for men. Just as with the kings of western culture, the ultimate role of the ruler was always passed down to the firstborn male. Sometimes when circumstances were just right, a woman would inherit the role.
In Ancient Egypt, there have been few females that inherited the role of pharaoh during the dynastic period.
Hatshepsut was the first female ruler of ancient Egypt. She was no ordinary ruler. She was smart, was a prolific builder, and was regarded as one of the best pharaohs that ever ruled.
Hatshepsut reigned as if she was a man.
Often, the statues and carvings that would depict her were created in the shape of a man, but with a few subtle details that gave away feminine features.
By depicting herself as a man she would have full control over the religious rituals, that could only be performed by the kings.
Because pharaohs were viewed almost like living divine entities, by portraying herself as a man, she could embody the God Horus, who was a male God and one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities. He was God of the kings and the sky.
Hatshepsut reigned with the full authority of the pharaoh.
During her time, the people under her wing lived in peace. She oversaw the construction of hundreds of great monuments and among them was the great temple at Deir el-Bahari at Luxor.
She was also a master trader having re-established the trade networks that have been previously disrupted. With her cunning intelligence, she brought back wealth to the land. Her trading success included a voyage to the land of Punt, located somewhere on the North East coast of Africa where many marvels were brought back and introduced to the land, notably frankincense and myrrh.
Upon her death, a jealous pharaoh, her successor and step-son/nephew Thutmose III, ordered the destruction of all depictions and carvings that had her name or face. He wanted to take credit for all her work and be worshipped as the ultimate pharaoh. He wanted to destroy her memory entirely and almost succeeded.
In 2007, Egyptian authorities found Hatshepsut’s mummy and revealed her cause of death. She died in her 50’s of bone cancer and also suffered from arthritis and diabetes.
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