Hatshepsut, the pharaoh woman who survived oblivion

Few women in history have had the power who were able to exercise the pharaoh women of ancient Egypt. The first pharaoh woman may have been, around 3,100 BC, Merneith.

Merneith was probably the senior royal wife of Djet, the fourth pharaoh of the first dynasty, but also the mother of Den, the fifth male pharaoh of the same dynasty. Inscriptions discovered in January 2016 confirmed that Merneith (whose tomb was discovered in 1900 at Abydos) was the Queen Regent, while it is not certain she has even ruled as pharaoh.

A precedent: Nefrusobek

The woman who certainly governed as pharaoh was Nefrusobek (sometimes called Sobekneferu), the daughter of the pharaoh Amenemhat III, who around 1,800 BC, after the death of her brother Amenemhat IV, was the last pharaoh of the XII dynasty, ruling for less than four years.

After Nefrusobek, whose burial has not been found so far, it was necessary to wait until 1,513-1,507 BC to see again a woman on the throne of the high and low Egypt.

Hatshepsut cappella rossa

Hatshepsut, the woman who became pharaoh

To ascend to the throne where she remained for 22 years was Hatshepsut, fifth sovereign of the XVIII dynasty, the only daughter of Thutmose I and his primary wife Ahmose, after having being the main wife of Thutmose II, at the death of this one, being the future Thutmose III (son of Thutmose II and a secondary wife, Iset, and grandson of Hatshepsut) a kid of just 3 years.

First blown together with her father in the Valley of the Kings (KV20 tomb), Hatshepsut was later moved during the Thutmose III reign.

Hatshepsut: Damnatio memoriae

If the pharaoh women who had preceded her had been exceptions, Hatshepsut had to be considered, at some point in history, between the end of the reign of Thutmose III and the beginning of that of Amenofi II an awkward figure to make her disappear.

Destroyed statues, resculpted cartouches, transferred mummy: what have Hatshepsut done to deserve such manner is still not clear, but at least we found her mummy again. In 1903 Howard Carter (future discoverer of Tutankhamon's tomb) found the KV60 tomb with the remains of Hatshepsut's nurse, Sitra, and of an unknown woman.

The mummy rediscovered

In 2007 Zahi Hawass carried this mummy to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and bingo! The mummy could only be that of Hatshepsut, even combing the missing tooth with the molar found in a Canopic canopy made of ivory with the incised name of Hatshepsut discovered in the famous cavity of real mummies of Deir el-Bahari (where over 50 mummies were found).

So, the woman who had been condemned by her successors to oblivion, who in the centuries became a legend then one of the greatest archaeological mysteries, finally being the object of a true treasure hunt for centuries, has been rediscovered.

hatshepsut tempio

Hatshepsut was not the only pharaoh woman

Hatshepsut, the pharaoh woman, the only one among many to be remembered for eternity, even managed to defeat even the damnatio memoriae, also suggesting reconsideration about the role and the power of other possible pharaoh queens as Nimaathap (III dynasty, surely regent for her son Djoser), Ahhotep I (XVII dynasty, surely regent between the reigns of her two sons Kamose and Ahmose), Ahmose Nefertari (XVIII dynasty, surely regent for Amenofi I).

Women who, unlike in ancient Greece or Rome, exercised great prestige and had great power, until men envious of their success didn't decide that it was better to relegate them in the shadows, in order not to risk. A well-designed project, but that did not hold to the comparison with Hetshepsut the great.

Tags: Mystery solved, Archaeology, history