Queen Hatshepsut, ruler of Ancient Egypt during the 18th Dynasty, was the sixth pharaoh of the New Kingdom, and first ruled Egypt through a dyarchy with her stepson, Thutmose III, until her coronation named her sole ruler. Many claimed that Hatshepsut was an unconstitutional ruler, who stole power from the rightful heir to the throne and had to spend much of her twenty-two year reign legitimising her right to be crowned as Pharaoh. Due to this, Hatshepsut made many changes to the commonplace traditions that were associated with being monarch, as it was unaccustomed that a female was in such a place of power. Not only did she make these adjustments to the political hierarchy of Egypt, but she also influenced trade with a range countries, as well as an influx in architectural growth. Hatshepsut held legitimate power as pharaoh, although due to the circumstances under which she came to power, her claim to the throne has been contested through the patriarchal ideologies of modern historiography. Hatshepsut’s reign resulted in flourishing trade and an extensive building plan which allowed Egypt to prosper, though distorted historical recordings have been the cause of her ‘villainous’ reputation.
Born into royalty as the daughter of King Thutmose I and Queen Ahmose, Hatshepsut grew up in the palace with the title of ‘princess’. Thutmose I fathered a male child with a lesser wife, Munofret, who became an illegitimate heir, as he was of only half-royal blood. The child, Thutmose II, was married to Hatshepsut in order to fully signify his right to rule (Lawless et al., 1997). Thutmose II grew to become Pharaoh and fathered a child with Hatshepsut, their daughter Neferure, and a child with a lesser wife, a son, Thutmose III. After only eight years of ruling, Thutmose II passed, leaving his ten-year old son as heir to the throne. As was custom, the Great wife of the previous pharaoh would become a regent for the child king, so Hatshepsut was titled regent until Thutmose III came of age. For a number of years, the two ruled in a dyarchy. An inscription in the tomb of Goarnah explains the regency (Naville, 1984):
“When King Thutmose II appeared in heaven and rejoined the gods, his son took his place as king of the Two Lands, and he was a prince upon the throne of him who begate him. His sister, the royal wife Hatshepsut, discharged the office of regent of the land.”
After a number of years, Hatshepsut herself was coronated as sole ruler. Being born of full royal blood, Hatshepsut’s coronation of the throne was justified in that it could be argued ‘she bore more royal blood in her veins than Thutmose III’ (Barnier et al. 1993). Although she was crowned as the Queen of the Two Lands, and it was unaccustomed for a woman to hold such a position, it cannot be denied that under Hatshepsut, Egypt achieved a great amount in terms of architectural growth and increased trade between foreign countries.
Throughout her twenty-two year reign, Egyptian trade, foreign exploration and economy prospered under the rule of Hatshepsut. This prosperity benefitted Egypt as a whole, increasing the country’s wealth. The expedition to Punt is an overlooked part of Hatshepsut’s reign, as some historians believe that it was unimportant. The mission to Punt that Hatshepsut lead, had the aim to prosper trade between neighbouring countries, and to increase the import of luxurious goods in Egypt. Materials such as sandstone, ebony, incense, and gold became in demand during, and after the trade mission. These materials sparked interest in the importation of other items such as cedar, and incense trees( Shaw, 2000). Another aspect of Egyptian life that was affected by the reign of Hatshepsut was the increase in the building of monuments. One of her main building projects was her mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri, though other temples, such as the one at Karnak, prospered through this time (Iselin et al., 2004). The mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri held…