Hatshepsut Hatshepsut is one of the most fascinating personalities of the ancient world. Much of the interest in her has naturally focused on the fact that she was a woman in a man’s world, a woman who broke with tradition by establishing herself as pharaoh of Egypt. It is also interesting that she came to power at a time when Egypt was on the threshold of perhaps its greatest period of achievement in both internal and foreign affairs. This was made possible by the founders of the 18 th Dynasty who expelled the foreign rulers, the Hyksos, in a lengthy war of liberation and reunited Egypt. Hatshepsut’s father, the first of the great line of Thutmosid pharaohs, had done much to consolidate the work of his predecessors Ahmose and Amenhotep I who had set the pattern for the development of the 18 th Dynasty. When Hatshepsut assumed the throne of the Two Lands, this pattern had taken a definitive shape. The fortunes of the young dynasty and the kingship itself were inextricably bound to the state cult of Amun-Re and a great program of building works in honour of Amun was an important focus of each pharaoh’s reign. The management of the resources and workforce needed for these ambitious building projects required a large and efficient bureaucracy of officials. Because of Amun’s importance, his priesthood came to have a dominant role in both the religious and the secular affairs of state; a development which became even more pronounced during Hatshepsut’s reign. In foreign affairs, Hatshepsut inherited the control of Nubia and the exploitation of its rich resources. In particular, its gold played an important role in Egypt’s economic development. Egypt’s interest in northern expansion into Syria- Palestine was clearly demonstrated in the reign of Hatshepsut’s father, Thutmose I, who conducted a number of campaigns into that region. However, it was not until after her time, during the independent reign of Thutmose III that the real work of conquest and empire building in the north began. Hatshepsut found inspiration in the reigns of the Middle Kingdom rulers for her religious and building policies. Hatshepsut was also mindful of her predecessors, but she was also an innovator who set her own stamp on New Kingdom Egypt, especially in the developing ideology of kingship and the theology of the state cult of Amun-Re. Another source of inspiration came from her female forebears, great queens such as Tetisheri, Ahhotep and Ahmose- Nefertari. These women had played an important role in the foundation and development of the early New Kingdom, often acting as regents in the troubled times of war and directing the affairs of the Two Lands. These were formidable role models for Hatshepsut. There is keen scholarly debate on key aspects of Hatshepsut’s reign; she has been variously cast by historians as a wicked step-mother usurping the throne from the rightful heir, as an ambitious power-seeker, as a loyal and dutiful
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- Hatshepsut, Ahmose I, Thutmose III