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Female Pharaoh – Hatshepsut’s Controversial Accession

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Hatshepsut’s controversial accession as a female pharaoh in the early period of New Kingdom Egypt led to an influential reign of self-promotion. However, her motives continue to be a subject of question as to whether Hatshepsut was motivated by her predecessor’s traditions, or were the essentialities of self-promotion too lucrative.

Hatshepsut improved the economic state of Egypt and made bold moves through building projects and trade expeditions all of which secured Egypt’s prosperity and Hatshepsut’s position in power.

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Her sovereignty can be considered an anachronism as her accession as pharaoh was contentious due to the fact she was a woman. Her acceptance may also have been amplified by self-promotion. Hatshepsut was interpreted and portrayed herself as both man and woman and often publicized her relation to Amun-Re and her father Thutmose I.

Throughout her period of influence there was much controversy surrounding her relationship with Senemut, which may have lead to the eradication of her reign.The unusual circumstances of Hatshepsut coming into power are what make her reign so remarkably fascinating.

For more than 1000 years, Egypt had been only been ruled by men, until Hatshepsut. Being the daughter of the remarkable pharaoh Thutmose I and Aahames, both of royal lineage, Hatshepsut was presumably born into power.

When Thutmose I died his only remaining son (to a commoner) logically assumed power. However to legitimize his position in power as pharaoh, he married his half-sister Hatshepsut.However Ray believes that “…it is likely that the King was worried about his wife’s ambitions; her name after all, meant foremost of the noble ladies. ” (Ray, 1994) Ray clearly believes that Hatshepsut had substantial ambitions prior to her becoming pharaoh.

Despite this fact Hatshepsut had a strong desire to rule “… in few early scenes she is shown dutifully following her partner, but this soon changes. This was to be co-regency that was far from equal. ” (Ray, 1994) These vicissitudes have been depleted in conventional temple scenes from Deir el Bahri.Ray considers that “… the icon of a tradition pharaoh is necessary; she appears as a male ruler.

In sculpture, on the other hand, she is shown as female but imperial, with the typical Tuthmosid face and arched profile. Her portraits were unmistakable. ” (Ray, 1994) This transformation from male to female is one that makes her reign so captivating, the move shows the possible inclination of Hatshepsut’s confidence and security as a ruler. During Thutmose II and Hatshepsut’s diarchy “… little is known and arguably little is worth knowing.

(Hurley, 2008) It can be assumed that Thutmose II was threatened by his wife’s ambitions; Hatshepsut after all emphasized her political right to the throne through her father Thutmose I and relation to Amun. These claims of Hatshepsut being named heir to the throne may have proven to be propaganda to justify her accession as pharaoh when Thutmose II died. Hatshepsut may have felt that as the daughter of a pharaoh and a great royal wife she had a superior claim to the throne that Thutmose III the son of a mere concubine did not.Thutmose III befell into the position of pharaoh at the diminutive age of ten.

Customary it was necessary for the former queen Hatshepsut to become regent until Thutmose III became of age. During this time Hatshepsut proclaimed herself as pharaoh, and had an extensive, efficacious reign in Egypt but unfortunately passed away on “the tenth day of the sixth month of her twenty-second year of reign. ” (Lawless, 1996) (approx. : 1482 BC) Tactlessly at some point it is conspired that Thutmose III began a proscription of his aunt’s memory.

It can perhaps be said that he was in awe of her, or reacted in such a manner as female sovereigns had long been attested. Officials have long referred to Hatshepsut as “the excellent seed of a God,” (Lawless, 1996) and its no secret Hatshepsut also publicized these beliefs about herself, through her temple Deir el Bahri. Hatshepsut not only claims to be her father’s heir to the throne she also claims to be the daughter of Amun and from this it can be speculated that Thutmose III did not share this same opinion and thus implemented the eradication of her memory in history.Female rulers had long been attested in history of dynastic Egypt.

Men deemed female pharaohs as “unnatural and meant decline and retribution”. (Ray, 1994) Hatshepsut attested these beliefs when she took the unprecedented step from being regent for Thutmose III to being the crowned pharaoh; it is difficult to determine why this step was undertaken when it seemed she already possessed un-rivaled power. “Egyptian society gave remarkable freedoms and legal rights to women- far more than in the rest of the Near East or in the classical world- but limits were limits, even by the Nile. (Ray, 1994) Hatshepsut was able to legitimize her assumed power by depicting she was “chosen” by the gods, however this can be attested with the likelihood of trickery to swathe her insecurities as a woman in a civilization governed by men.

Such scenes from these claims have been carved at her temple Deir el Bahri, particularly in the Middle Colonnade. Amun: “Khnemer-Amun-Hatshepsut shall be the name of this my daughter, whom I have placed in your body… she shall exercise the excellent kingship in this whole land.My soul is hers, my bounty is hers, my crown is hers, that she may rule the two lands,” (Lawless, 1996) This evidence was an important aspect of Hatshepsut’s bid for throne along with key courtiers support which was necessary to establish the bureaucracy and the vast civil services. These supporters may have been established from her father and husband’s administrations in the Amun Priesthood, where she was already well known as God’s wife Amun.

It was necessary for Hatshepsut to gain such support from key men in her attempt for throne, as this move violated all conventions set by predecessors due to the mere fact she was a woman. Hatshepsut’s accession as pharaoh was portrayed as a prosperous reign in ancient Egypt. Once control was gained, she began an extensive building program, precarious trade expeditions to undiscovered lands (Punt) and reformed religious policies. The impact of her rule was subsequently extensive, despite the fact that she was regarded as an “unfortunate anomaly” (Ray, 1994) being a pharaoh and women in the 18th dynasty.

Hatshepsut reflected a wide range of changing perspectives from original Egyptology but Roebuck believes that “…the constitutional aspects of her succession and the co-regency continue to undermine her achievements in supremacy as pharaoh. ” (Roebuck, 1966) Hatshepsut’s need to fortify her power with propaganda may have been the very reason her succession is undermined. “Hatshepsut the female Horus, was not orthodox. Her kingship depended on mythological props, and also political ones; in fact, she would not have made a distinction between the two.

(Ray, 1994) Rays opinions also suggest that there may have also been a third element at work… a personal one to prove her worth as a pharaoh. Hatshepsut’s voyage to Punt allowed new trade links to be established between Egypt and inner Africa, which verified her position in authority as “Egypt was prospering, and arguably on the threshold of perhaps its greatest period of achievement in both internal and foreign affairs. ” (Hurley, 2008)One pertinent fact of her reign was the “apparent lack of military activity. (Ray, 1994) “Hatshepsut’s pride was in the internal development of Egypt and in commercial enterprise; Thutmose III pride was in the external expansion of Egypt and in military enterprise.

” (Hurley, 2008) “Inconsequential indications of campaigns to Nubia have been evident in Hatshepsut’s reign”. (Clayton, 2006) This lack of military expeditions may have been her attempt to adopt a pacifist and feminine advance in Ancient Egyptian politics or it is probable that Hatshepsut could simply not trust the army. If she led a campaign herself, even if this were politically acceptable, what would happen if she lost? A female commander would be a natural thing to blame for defeat. ” (Ray, 1994) The voyage to Punt may have been used to conceal this apparent lack of military activity, as it was certainly an exercise for an underemployed army, but no matter how immense or diminutive Hatshepsut’s extent was she made a point of showcasing her prosperous and illustrious reign as pharaoh.

These publications of her achievements meant further showcasing of her personal relationships with the gods. Hatshepsut was known to have a strong sense of the future and reformed religious policies at that time, by including aspects in the important development of the gods, particularly Amun, divine oracles, personal piety, the ideology of kingship and religious festivities, all of which Hatshepsut was extremely proud of. However perhaps she was not so great. What if she was just another pretentious pharaoh?Intending to confirm her worth and significance as a woman, many pharaohs both prior to and subsequent to Hatshepsut erected monuments in their honor, and claimed they were practically God’s them selves, could it be affirmed that Hatshepsut was no exception to such predecessors? Hatshepsut was recognized and portrayed as being a munificent employer to those who served her dutifully.

Those who were been enticed to deceive their mistress were counseled of the consequences.This caveat is present in an inscription from the third terrace of her mortuary temple at Deir el- Bahri: “he who shall do her homage shall live, he who shall speak evil in blasphemy of her Majesty shall die. ” (Hurley, 2008) Such coercion was what enabled Hatshepsut to seize supremacy for such a prolonged time period. This grasp of power may have also been armored by the gradual disappearance of her father’s advisers, thus virtually all her supporters were new men whom of hich owed nothing to the customary aristocracy and little to conformist benefaction.

Hatshepsut’s controversial relationship with Senemut was undoubtedly one of the most influential along with her viziers, this facet of her reign can additionally be used as supporting substantiation for her determination to hold power.Bedez supports this credence as it is recognized that “…Hatshepsut produced no offspring with Thutmose II, her only daughter Neferure was most likely the daughter of his lover Senemut. (Bedez, 1997) Numerous Egyptologists have conjectured this view that they might have in fact been lovers and this portion of her sovereignty was held in reserve as it was immoral for a pharaoh to publicize her relationship with a commoner. “Other evidence offered as a justification of this conjecture is a graffito from an unfinished Middle Kingdom Deir el-Bahri tomb used as a rest house by the workers of her mortuary temple: it depicts a male and a second person of ambiguous gender with pharaonic regalia engaging in an explicit sexual act from behind.

The latter person in the graffito is wearing what has been identified as a royal headdress. ” (Hawass, 2007) These opinions could arguably be justified that the figure has been misinterpreted “as a contemporary political parody to highlight one way in which Hatshepsut could never be a true king–she could never dominate a man in the way that she is now being dominated. ” (Hawass, 2007) While the conjecture that the pair was in fact lovers this depiction could also be bias towards the conventional view that no illustrious woman could govern with such accomplishments without the contribution of a male.However such views are intricate and challenging to accept when Hatshepsut was recognized as a key intellectual female of this time in the 18th dynasty.

Although numerous controversies were protuberant in Hatshepsut’s accession as pharaoh, Hatshepsut’s regency was one of relative peace and prosperity, her influence and supremacy is unquestionable as no such substantiation suggests threats from foreign lands during her sovereignty, therefore military expeditions were not necessary to be undertaken, and instead an illustrious building project was immanent along with religious reforms.The controversy that is Hatshepsut will continue to be distinguished by historians, as the ambiguity of her accession still remains questionable. Were the essentialities of self-promotion to decoying for Hatshepsut? Was she just another ostentatious ruler who used propaganda to publicize her worth to the throne? There is no doubting that Hatshepsut’s impact in influence was extensive but will these triumphs continue to be surpassed until the feminist movement rediscovers her, or will her rule continue to be disregarded by contemporaries and predecessors alike?

Cite this Female Pharaoh – Hatshepsut’s Controversial Accession

Female Pharaoh – Hatshepsut’s Controversial Accession. (2017, Apr 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/hatshepsut/

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