The female Pharaoh who ruled by wearing false beards

Dhaka, Wednesday   08 April 2020


The female Pharaoh who ruled by wearing false beards

 Abdur Rahman Rahad

 Published: 10:08 PM, 11 October 2019   Updated: 09:28 AM, 12 October 2019

File Photo

File Photo

There are many mysterious events in Egypt including the Nile, which make it different from other civilizations. Everyone knows about the huge Egyptian pyramid. How the tall giant pyramid was created without modern technology still evokes the wonders. The security system in Egypt was also excellent. Today we will talk about a pharaoh in Egypt.

When we think about Egyptian Pharaoh, we immediately think about a king wearing blue and gold crowns and sitting on the throne. However, history shows that in the three thousand years of Egypt, there were 7 women among the 170 pharaohs. Although historians are skeptical of this number, many women rulers have been removed from the pages of history. But for some fancy features, they still remain in the pages of history.

Among them, Hatshepsut is one of the most powerful and renowned pharaohs in the history of Egypt. Hatshepsut was the first female ruler of ancient Egypt to reign as a male with the full authority of pharaoh. Her name means ‘Foremost of Noble Women’ or ‘She is First among Noble Women’. She reigned between 1473 and 1458 B.C.

Early Life of Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut was the daughter of King Thutmose I. Thutmose I also fathered Thutmose II by his secondary wife Mutnofret. In keeping with Egyptian royal tradition, Thutmose II was married to Hatshepsut at some point before she was 20 years old. During this same time, Hatshepsut was elevated to the position of God's Wife of Amun, the highest honor a woman could attain in Egypt after the position of queen.

Upon the death of Thutmose II, Hatshepsut began acting as regent for her stepson, the infant Thutmose III, but later took on the full powers of a pharaoh, becoming co-ruler of Egypt around 1473 B.C.

Rise to Power

Hatshepsut and Thutmose II had a daughter, Neferu-Ra, while Thutmose II fathered a son with his lesser wife Isis. This son was Thutmose III who was named his father's successor.

Thutmose II died while Thutmose III was still a child and so Hatshepsut became regent, controlling the affairs of state until he came of age. In the seventh year of her regency, though, she changed the rules and had herself crowned pharaoh of Egypt. She took on all the royal titles and names which she had inscribed using the feminine grammatical form but had herself depicted as a male pharaoh wearing artificial beards.

Hatshepsut as Pharaoh

As pharaoh, Hatshepsut undertook ambitious building projects, particularly in the area around Thebes. Her greatest achievement was the enormous memorial temple at Deir el-Bahri, considered one of the architectural wonders of ancient Egypt. Another great achievement of her reign was a trading expedition she authorized that brought back vast riches including ivory, ebony, gold, leopard skins and incense to Egypt from a distant land known as Punt (possibly modern-day Eritrea).

Hatshepsut surrounded herself with supporters in key positions in government, including Senenmut, her chief minister. Some have suggested Senenmut might also have been Hatshepsut’s lover, but little evidence exists to support this claim.

Hatshepsut’s Death

While Hatshepsut had been ruling the country, Tuthmose III had not been sitting silently. Thutmose III was technically co-ruler with Hatshepsut.

Hatshepsut probably died around 1458 B.C., when she would have been in her mid-40s. She was buried in the Valley of the Kings, located in the hills behind Deir el-Bahri. In another effort to legitimize her reign, she had her father’s sarcophagus reburied in her tomb so they could lie together in death. Although Hatshepsut was given a burial in the Valley of the Kings, her memory was not honored.

Hatshepsut’s Mummy

The archaeologist Howard Carter discovered her royal tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings in 1902. When he located her sarcophagus some years later, however, it was found to be empty. Carter also unearthed a separate tomb known as KV60, which contained two coffins: that of Hatshepsut’s wet nurse–identified as such by an inscription on its cover and that of an unknown female.

In 2006, a team led by Dr. Zahi Hawass set out to determine whether the anonymous woman in KV60 could be herself missing queen. The vital piece of evidence was a molar tooth found in a wooden box bearing Hatshepsut’s name. When Hawass and his colleagues compared the tooth to a gap in the mummy’s upper jaw, it was a perfect fit, leading the researchers to conclude that the search for Hatshepsut was finally over.

The Egyptian belief that one lives on as long as one's name is remembered, is exemplified in Hatshepsut. She was forgotten as the period of the New Kingdom continued and remained so for centuries. Once her name was found again by Champollion in the 19th century CE, and then by others throughout the 20th, she gradually came back to life and assumed her rightful place as one of the greatest pharaohs in Egypt's history.