April 12, 2012

Queen Hatshepsut 1498-1483 BC

Queen Hatshepsut 
(Maatkare)
Dynasty 18
1498 - 1483 BC

Queen Hatshepsut 
As Tuthmosis II had realized early on, Queen Hatshepsut was a strong-willed woman who would not let anyone or anything stand in her way. By Year 2 of her co-regency with the child king Tuthmosis III she had begun her policy to subvert his position. Initially, she had been content to be represented in reliefs standing behind Tuthmosis III and to be identified simply by her titles as queen and 'great king's wife' of Tuthmosis II. This changed as she gathered support from the highly placed officials, and it was not long before she began to build her splendid mortuary temple in the bay of the cliffs at Deir el-Bahari (pp. 73, 106).

Queen Hatshepsut
Constructed under the supervision of the queen's steward Senenmut who was to rise to the highest offices during her reign - Queen Hatshepsut's temple took its basic inspiration from the 12th Dynasty temple of Mentuhotep, adjacent to the site on the south. The final plan of the temple made it unique in Egyptian architecture: built largely of limestone, it rose in three broad, colonnade-fronted terraces to a central rock-cut sanctuary on the upper terrace. The primary dedication was to Amun but there were also smaller shrines to Hathor (who earlier had a small cave shrine on the site) and Anubis, respectively located on the south and north sides of the second terrace. A feature of the temple was its alignment to the east directly with the great temple of Amun across the Nile at Karnak.

The queen legitimizes her rule
Queen Hatshepsut recorded that she had built her mortuary temple as a 'garden for my father Amun'. Certainly, it was a garden, with small trees and shrubs lining the entrance ramps to the temple. Her focus on Amun was strengthened in the temple by a propaganda relief, known as the 'birth relief', on the walls of the northern half of the middle terrace. Here Amun is shown visiting Queen Hatshepsut 's mother, Queen Ahmose, while nearby are the appropriate deities of childbirth (the ram-headed Khnum and the frog-headed goddess Heqet) and the seven 'fairy-god- mother' Hathors. The thrust of all this was to emphasize that she, Hatshepsut, had been deliberately conceived and chosen by Amun to be king. She was accordingly portrayed with all the regalia of kingship, even down to the official royal false beard.

Hatshepsut's Mummy
To symbolize her new position as king of Egypt, Queen Hatshepsut took the titles of the Female Horus Wosretkau, 'King of Upper and Lower Egypt'; Maat-ka-re, 'Truth is the Soul of Re'; and Khnemetamun Queen Hatshepsut , 'She who embraces Amun, the foremost of women'. Her coronation as a child in the presence of the gods is represented in direct continuation of the birth relief at Deir el-Bahari, subsequently confirmed by Atum at Heliopolis. The propaganda also indicated that she had been crowned before the court in the presence of her father Tuthmosis I who, according to the inscription, deliberately chose New Year's Day as an auspicious day for the event! The whole text is fictitious and, just like her miraculous conception, a political exercise. In pursuing this Queen Hatshepsut makes great play upon the support of her long-dead but still highly revered father, Tuthmosis I.

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