Who Tried to Erase Queen Hatshepsut from History?

Pharaoh Hatshepsut was one of the most successful Pharaohs and she had a peaceful and prosperous reign. There were magnificent temples built, borders were well protected and profitable trading missions to the mysterious land of Punt run. Though she had achieved so much, but it seems someone was not happy with her achievements. After Hatshepsut’s death in 1457 BC her monuments were attacked and statues dragged down. Even her titles were destroyed and images defaced. Such acts wiped her name from Egyptian history. It was after three thousand years that modern Egyptologists were able to reconstruct all the damaged inscriptions and place Hatshepsut to her rightful place.

Pharaoh Hatsheput: One of the Greatest Pharaohs

Egyptians believed that spirit lived on in the presence of statues, body and name of the deceased. But all these were wiped out in Hatshepsut’s instance. But who could have done such a terrible deed and why? Tuthmosis III, who was the stepson and successor to Hatshepsut, is the obvious culprit.

Karnak Temple which was constructed during Pharaoh Hatsheput's reign

Hatshepsut was the eldest daughter of Pharaoh Tuthmosis I and his wife Queen Ahmose. But Ahmose failed to provide the kingdom with a male heir. So Tuthmosis I had to substitute his successor from the royal harem. Price Tuthmosis, who was the son of a respected secondary wife, went on to marry Hatshepsut. Thus Hatshepsut was married to her half brother. Tuthmosis succeeded to the throne with the title Tuthmosis II. Soon Hatshepsut went onto give birth to a daughter, Princess Neferure, but she had no son. Again a baby from the royal harem was chosen as the successor to the throne. When Tuthmosis II died suddenly, his son was named the next Pharaoh and Hatshepsut was named the regent (as Tuthmosis III’s mother was of unacceptable low status). Hatshepsut would guide the young Prince. For the next couple of years Hatshepsut acknowledged Tuthmosis III as the rightful ruler and just acted on his behalf. But suddenly without any explanation she pronounced herself as the crowned king of Egypt. She took all the limelight and her step son was relegated into the background. Tuthmosis III spent the next 20 years in obscurity.

Engraving Showing Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III

From this point onwards Hatshepsut was the supreme force in Egypt. There were scarce military campaigns during her reigns as few had the guts to challenge Pharaoh’s might. All the resources in Egypt were directed to nationwide improvement programs. Extension of Karnak Temple Complex and building of Deir el-Bahari are examples of such improvements. She died after reigning for 22 years and was buried alongside her father in the Valley of Kings.

Tuthmosis III who succeeded Hatshepsut

There is only one aberration in Hatshepsut’s reign. She had usurped the throne of her stepson. Female Pharaoh’s were legally accepted by the Egyptian’s.  There were many occasions when women substituted for their husbands or sons. But a regent usurping the throne was quite unanticipated. In some inscriptions Hatshepsut has tried to justify her decision. She says that her earthly father and heavenly father both wanted her to be the next Pharaoh. She also tried to assure looking like a typical male Pharaoh. Most of her images are drawn with a man’s body, some feel she even wore a false beard. Moreover one of the reasons for her usurpation of power could be counsel from the elites. Not Pharaoh could succeed the throne without support from the elites.

Drawing from Tuthmosis III's reign

But Hatshepsut was in no way a ruthless power seeker. She raised Tuthmosis III as her successor. She even gave him military training not fearing any feuds in future. She had no need to do such things. All the Pharaoh had to do was plan for Tuthmosis III’s execution. But as soon as Hatshepsut died all her monuments were attacked and destroyed. Most feel this was ordered by none other than Tuthmosis III. Though Hatshepsut felt her stepson had no reason to hate her, but that was not the case. He wanted to remove earlier Pharaoh’s memories forever. The eradication mission was extensive and lasted even during early reign of Amenhotep II.

Hatshepsut was buried here in the Valley of Kings

First reason for such action could be the hatred that had grown up in the mind of Tuthmosis III. His power had been usurped by his stepmother and he was thrown into the background despite being named as King earlier. His mother was also largely ignored in every aspect. The second reason could be Tuthmosis III’s bid to be one of the greatest Pharaoh’s. If we merge the two reigns of Tuthmosis III and Hatshepsut then it would lead to a glorious period. May be it was lust for such fame that made him take actions.

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2 thoughts on “Who Tried to Erase Queen Hatshepsut from History?

  1. Your statement that Tuthmose III attacked Hatshepu’t’s momuments upon her departure is incorrect. Modern scholarship clearly shows the destruction began toward the end of Tuthmose III’s long reign, and into the reign of his son Amenhotep II.

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