CRANKY LADIES OF HISTORY: Hatshepsut’s rise to power

Cranky Ladies logoWelcome to Women’s History Month 2015, which has the theme “Weaving the stories of women’s lives”, which fits perfectly with our Cranky Ladies of History anthology project! After 18 months of work, including our successful crowd-funding campaign in March last year, we are proudly releasing the anthology on March 8. To celebrate, our wonderful authors have supplied blog posts related to their Cranky Lady, and we are delighted to share them here during the month of March. 

To get your own copy of Cranky Ladies of History, you can buy from our website, order your favourite real world bookshop, or purchase at all the major online booksellers (in print and ebook). 

Hatshepsut by Amanda Pillar (“Neter Nefer”)

There is surprisingly little data on the early days of Hatshepsut’s rise to power (at least, in the records I trawled through). She is regarded as one of the most successful pharaohs of Egypt and is from the same dynasty as the famous Tutankhamun and the rule-breaking Akhenaten.

But what inspired Hatshepsut to claim the double crown?

POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOR “NETER NEFER” AFTER THE CUT – check out the story in Cranky Ladies of History before you read! 

Well, we don’t really know. I wish I could say that my story was based on solid fact, being an archaeologist, but record-keeping about kings seems to kick off once they are actually, well, kings. We do know that Hatshepsut technically ruled jointly with Thutmose III, her stepson. There has been much debate as to Thutmose III’s feelings regarding Hatshepsut’s usurping of his throne, but he later became known as the Napoleon of Egypt. With a reputation like that, it seems unlikely that he was angry about his delay in governing the two kingdoms, but that is just idle speculation – especially as there is the small fact that during Thutmose III’s reign, he began obliterating Hatshepsut’s name from the record. There are, again, many theories as to why he went to such an extreme act, or why he may have delayed doing so in the first place.

But just for fun, here are a few facts about Hatshepsut and the story:

  • Hatshepsut had the beautiful Djeser-Djeseru mortuary temple built, although she was not buried there. It is thought to have inspired the creation of the well-known Valley of the Kings.
  • Thutmose II– Hatshepsut’s husband and half-brother – was not murdered, like in the story. According to an old reference, his mummy was badly treated, and had sustained great damage. However, even the destruction couldn’t hide traces of an illness that resulted in scars.
  • There is debate as to whether Hatshepsut’s daughter, Neferure, married Thutmose III. She may have.
  • Thutmose III was actually almost a decade older than Neferure, rather than younger, as in the story. Neferure appears to have died at the age of 16. She was, however, a prominent member of her mother’s court.
  • Hatshepsut’s mummy was thought to have been found on the floor of a tomb (KV60) belonging to her wetnurse. Her wiki page says she possibly died from a carcinogenic skin lotion, which may have caused bone cancer. CT scans have shown she did have cancer, and was also apparently obese.

So while we will never really know the hows and whys of Hatshepsut’s rise to power, we can rest assured that she was an important figure of ancient history; and not the only female king Egypt saw…

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