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Graphical features

The Nile Valley is separated into two parts, the river basin or the flat alluvial (or black land soil), and the Red Land or desert land. The river basin of the Nile is in sharp contrast to the rest of the land of Egypt and was rich with wild life and waterfowl, depending on the waxing and wanning cycles of the Nile. In contrast, the red desert is a flat dry area, which was devoid of most life and water, regardless of any seasonal cycle. Annual flooding of the Nile deposited nutrients rich silt on the land. The annual flooding allowed for abundant harvests three times a year. If the annual flooding didn’t occur this would have disastrous effects on Egyptian economy, as they relied heavily on the agriculture. There was grazing land available once the waters receded. Egyptians were able to easily grow tree crops and vegetable gardens in the lower part of the Nile Valley, while at higher elevations, usually near levees; the Nile Valley was sparsely planted. They cultivated barley, emmer wheat, beans, chickpeas, flax and other types of vegetables this shows the diet of the Ancient Egyptians and the food that they could have traded with other countries.


Topographical features

The Climate was semi tropical climate, which meant it was hot, dry and arid. They had a large agriculture surplus and papyrus grew wild. It was subject to floods, which meant that valuable nutrients were made available. It had Valleys and some mountains. A variety of oasis scattered through the deserts. Many Egyptians lived close to the Nile, so they would have a water source, during the Middle Kingdom Egyptians moved their capital to Thebes.


Resources

The Nile was a very valuable resource as it allowed for the growth of grains, fruit and vegetables. Ancient Egyptians produced jewelry, vessels, statues, weapons and tools with the minerals they discovered. Many different minerals could be found throughout Egypt, such as, natron, basalt, limestone, alabaster, carnellian, gold, granite, malachite, copper, amethyst, feldspar, tin, jasper, quartzite and iron. This shows historians the available sources that the Egyptians had such as gold, which shows that they would have used this in jewelry (evidence of this is shown is artifacts recovered from that period, such as on Tutankhamen’s tomb) and shows the resources that weren’t available in Egypt and what they could import from other countries, demonstrating to historians that Egyptians had trade relations with other countries. Trade brought not only valuable resources to Egypt, however, also boosted the economy, supplying Egypt with a flourishing economy.


Political structures

The Pharaoh had the overriding power and was the supreme ruler of the country as well as the highest-level spiritual leader representing humankind’s link to the gods. Ancient Egypt had a highly organized government that was run by the scribal class (these were the people that knew how to read and write and also had knowledge of the specific position they were to inherit, such knowledge in agriculture). The viziers, who were councilors of the state, exercised power. The government managed the economy, the administration of both religious (temples) and non-religious (secular) as well as many types of disputes and legal issues. At the head of each division there was a high official under who was middle level and low-level officials, each department ultimately answered the king. Men predominantly ruled ancient Egypt; however, women rulers were powerful and were able to maintain stability and order. The succeeding Pharaoh married the eldest daughter pervious Pharaoh- strengthening the claim to the throne as it is believed that the women in Egypt carried the royal blood, not the males; however, this was not always the case as the previous Pharaoh may have not had a daughter. In that case the closest female relative would marry the succeeding Pharaoh. Egyptian females held rights that other ancient societies did not allow, such as, the right to divorce and to own property, however the political and social structure didn’t allow women to rule as Pharaohs. Hatshepsut’s usurpation of Thuthmose III could happen only by emphasizing her political right to rule because of her blood line (she was the royal daughter of the king and his royal wife, which, according to Egyptian belief, Hatshepsut was ‘fully’ royal).


Social Structures

Ancient Egyptians valued family life and they were considered to be the basic social structure in Ancient Egypt. Egypt was male dominated; however, women had a significant amount of freedom and legal rights. Women were allowed to own property, to hold official positions and to inherit from their parents or late husband. A woman was entitled to take her case to court and defend her legal rights. They also possessed the right to move about in public. Egyptian wives and mothers were highly respected and they faced same penalties as men. Majority of the lower classes were farmers and the whole family shared in the work. Villages in Egypt were comprised of groups of families. Ancient Egypt’s social classes comprised of a hierarchy, which had the Pharaoh at the top. The Caste System is shown below.



Military Structures

According to Mark Millmore, Ancient Egypt had a permanent army and was the only place for people to step out of the caste system and achieve importance. The king was the commander in chief of Egypt’s army and navy and he decided when and how the country’s borders were protected or expanded. They had policies for safeguarding frontiers through large-scale raiding expeditions was also developed. They had naval and land battles, which had several divisions of troops, which comprised of infantry arches and cavalry, which participated in battles. It consisted of different levels of officers and administrators for the different units of soldiers and sailors. This suggests that a hierarchy existed within the ranks. At certain times the Egyptians hired mercenaries or warriors who were recruited for pay, from outside the borders of Egypt. During this time their technology was advancing as they developed horse drawn chariots.


Economic structures

The government managed the economy. It was largely based on agriculture, which meant the economy would only thrive in times of plenty as the farmers depended on The Nile for agriculture. No monetary system (people used bartering) existed; however, there had a tax system, which consumed a large share of the total production. Much of the land was under the control of the throne, but private ownership existed. Egypt traded resources with other countries as shown in Hatshepsut’s expedition to Punt. During trading expedition Egyptians were able to obtain resources that had an economic value and boosted their economy by trading resources.


Relationship to the king to Amun

Amun was the King of the gods and maker of men, which meant he held court. Egyptians believed that Amun was the “father” of the pharaoh and the king would derive his power from Amun. The king supported the temples and worshipped Amun. It was believed that Amun could take the form of the king to impregnate the queen with the next successor. Evidence suggests that the cult of Amun grew so powerful that its priest actually ruled Egypt. Hatshepsut used propaganda in her claim to throne. In which she used her relationship with Amun to ascend the throne. It is shown on their Mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri that Hatshesput convinced the public that she was the true daughter of Amun. The inscriptions stated that while her mother Ahmose sleep Amun came into her room and impregnated her with a child that Amun prophesized would be a great king of Upper of Lower Egypt.


Overview of religious beliefs and practices of early New Kingdom period

David Bediz believed that religion permeated life in Ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians worshipped many gods and goddesses. Amun Ra was King of the gods and many mythological stories were created about the gods and goddesses. Statues and other images were made of the gods and they believed occasionally the gods resided in the statues. They had areas devoted to rituals and festivals, as well as sections for burials. A ritual may include: recitation of sacred text and all sorts of attention paid to the statue, such as, cleansing, dressing feeding and anointing them. Mummification was a process performed by an embalmer who would carefully remove the internal organs. Subjected the body to different ointments and resins, dried it out with salts and wrapped it with linen. Amulets or charms were often interspersed among the layers of linen, as they were seen as good luck, and other amulets might be placed in the coffin along with the mummy. Magical texts were sometimes written on the wrappings themselves and they could also be written on papyri or inscribed on the walls of the coffin or on the tomb. These texts served as protection in the afterlife and as a guide for the deceased on the way to. Egyptians believed that one of the most important things was to live a just and moral life. Details about Egyptian’s religious beliefs are documented in hieroglyphics on numerous buildings such as Hatshepsut’s Temple at Karnak. Hatshepsut was a strong believer in Amun and the gods, she gave a larger amount of kudos to the priesthood, which further strengthened the priesthood’s influence over the Egyptians and gave Hatshesput further support from the priesthood.



Family background

Hatshepsut was the eldest daughter of the Pharaoh, Thuthmose I and Queen Ahmose. Her father was the third ruler of the 18th Dynasty (which was the beginning of the New Kingdom). He was a successful general in the army and married the old Pharaoh’s sister, as Amenhotep was childless. She had two older brothers, Wadjmose and Amonmose, who both died young and a sister, Neterukheb. Her grandmother was Ahmose-Nefertari, who she inherited the title of “God’s wife of Amun” from. Hatshepsut also had a half brother, Thuthmose II, who later became her husband.

Evidence suggested that Hatshepsut had two daughters- Neferura (Thuthmose II’s daughter) and Merira-Hatshepuet (unknown).

The royal families are inscribed on Hatshesput’s Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahri, monuments and burial sites.



Inscriptions made at Deir el-Bahri


Hatshepsut’s claim to the throne and succession

Hatshepsut used a number of strategies to legitimize her role as Pharaoh. In her temple at Deir el-Bahri, near Luxor in the Valley of the Kings, the birth and coronation of the queen is described in paintings and works of art. From this primary source, experts have been able to conclude that in order to make her leadership legitimate she used propaganda which included: claiming that the god Amun had visited her mother while she sleep and impregnated her, thus making her a divine child, gaining the support from the priesthood of Amun, due to her supposed divinity. Support from the priesthood would have been important to further legitimate her claim; she also dressed and made statues of herself with male attire and attributes. It can be argued that this behavior was another instrument used by the Queen in her pursuit for respect.


Changes in her royal image

Historians such as, Mark Millmore and David Bediz have suggested that in order for Hatshepsut to keep and claim the throne as it being rightfully hers, she dressed and made statues of herself with male attire and attributes. According to French scholar Tefrin early statues and monuments of Hatshepsut show her in male attire, however, feminine in appearance. As she became in power for longer the representations of her became more masculine. The male attire wore by Hatshepsut may have only been used as there was no female alternative. Tjia Cook suggested that Hatshepsut might have been preparing for the continuance of a matriarchal rule, proclaiming her daughter, Neferure, as her successor; however, there is no evidence to support this. Tefrin studied five statues of Hatshepsut and concluded that the increasing size of her statues may have been due to an uncertainty if the Egyptian peoples reaction at the beginning of her reign. As her reign progressed reaction was positive, therefore statues of her as the “king” were made larger. Caroline Seawright suggested that Hatshepsut might have always had a fear of revolt, especially as Thuthmose III came into manhood. This may be another possibility as to why she took on all the aspects of a male ruler.


Relationship with Thuthmose III

When Thuthmose II died Thuthmose III was still quite young, so Hatshepsut was appointed his regent and later they set up co regency. Study of new evidence has led many historians, such as, Mark Millmore, to believe that authority was divided equally during the co regency. Hatshepsut always depicted her nephew/step son, as her co-ruler on inscriptions made at Deir el-Bahri, which suggests that he was not displaced or disregarded by Hatshepsut and her officials. It appears that she originally intended for Thuthmose III to rule and secure his right to the throne by marrying Hatshepsut’s daughter, Neferure. They joint ruled until 1473 for approximately 6years. Then she declared herself Pharaoh. Thuthmose III did not originate from the royal bloodline like Hatshepsut and his grandfather.


Roles of the king in Egyptian life

Egyptian kings were thought to be divine incarnations of the god Horus, which, is depicted at Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahri. Pyramids were built to ensure the survival of the king’s influence after his death. They received both a religious following during and after their lives. During their reign they maintained their divinity as a result of specific kingship rituals and they also possessed the royal ka. The Egyptians believed the kings to be the intermediary between mankind and the divine responsible for maintaining a divine order.


Role of queens in Dynasty XVII and early Dynasty XVIII

Pharaoh’s usually chose their queens from their own family, as they weren’t allowed to marry a ‘mortal’. In the New Kingdom the queen became more powerful and prominent. They were able to gain titles that carried jobs and responsibilities; this was an attempt to enhance the power and prestige of the monarchy. Important queens, such as Hatshepsut made the monarchy more ‘visible’. According to researcher Shojo Okomoto of the most important roles for the queen was to provide many children. In an age with such a short life expectancy, it paid to have as many sons as possible to serve as spares. They also had to ensure the smooth running of the palace, give silent support to her husband, be a passive, however, visible, complement to the king and if necessary act as regent if her husband the king died before his son was old enough to rule on his own.


Hatshepsut’s titles

Hatshepsut, an 18th Dynasty Pharaoh, had many titles of varying degrees of importance. These included:



  • “God’s wife to Amun” this provided her with her own source of money and a degree of independence. Hatshepsut used this title to get authority prior to her claim to the throne. This title also shows her religious links to the gods.

  • “King’s Great Wife” this title differentiated between the ‘main’queen and the lesser wives of the king. It meant that she was the most important wife of the King.

  • When she became king she adopted the titles Horus powerful of Kas, Two ladies flourishing of years, female Horus of fine gold, Divine of Diaclems, King of Upper and Lower Egypt (Shows she was the King of the two countries) all these titles were adopted by the King once they became a Pharaoh. Hatshesput adopting these demonstrates her power and political and religious significance.

  • She also changed her name to Khenemet-Amun-Hatshepsu, which meant she who embraces Amun, the foremost of women. Dropping the “t” was a tradition that the succeeding Pharaoh would adopt once they became king.


Marriage

The Egyptians held marriage as a sacred bond as this is made clear in the many statues and writings that depict men and women in a relationship where both depended upon each other. The common practice was for the pharaoh to marry his favourite son to his eldest daughter. Brother and sister marriages and even father daughter marriages were accepted in the royal families of ancient Egypt. It is thought that Hatshepsut was about age fifteen when her father dies. She then was married to Thuthmose II, however he died early into his reign. Thuthmose had one daughter with his royal wife Hatshepsut, her name was Neferure, and she also had one other child a son, Thuthmose III, by his concubine Aset.


Relationship with daughter, Neferure

Evidence suggests that Hatshepsut must have had a close relationship with Neferure as she is depicted as the most prominent princess in Ancient Egyptian history. She is shown on many monuments such as ones found at Senenmut’s burial site as shown below and her name is etched on many scarabs. Hatshepsut also granted her daughter the title “God’s wife” which Hatshepsut previously held. Although it seems as through Neferure may have been used as a porn in the political struggle of Hatshepsut and Thuthmose III. If Neferure married Thuthmose III she would legitimize his right to the throne, however, until this would happen Hatshepsut could use her as a bribe to keep her power.











Images of Senenmut - the majority with Neferure

Expedition to Punt

Trading missions to Punt date from at least the 5th Dynasty and in Hatshepsut’s 8th year of Pharaoh she ordered a trading expedition to Punt. Punt was rich in products the Egyptians desired, such as, myrrh, frankincense, woods, sweet smelling resin, ivory, spices, gold, ebony, however, they also brought back exotic animals and plants that had no apparent economic value. Hatshepsut sent Senenment; a number of historians such as Tija Cook suggested that he was one of her most trusted advisors, with a fleet of five ships that included thirty rowers each. They departed Quserio, in the Red sea for what was primarily a trading mission. On the return of the expedition, Hatshepsut held a procession to the temple of Amun-Ra, where her inscriptions stated that the god himself and Hathor (Lady of Punt) guided the expedition to Punt.


Military campaigns

Hatshepsut conquered no new territory. She kept hold of the Egyptian borders that she inherited and led the usual military show campaigns that each monarch had to perform in order to hang on the southern border. From Tefnin’s research he proved that Hatshepsut led two of the 5fivecampaigns during her reign Author Joyce Tyldessly describes her military policy as “active defence” rather than “deliberate offence”. She also had modest military campaigns in Nubia. The most famous of her expeditions was her trip to Punt, which is shown at her Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahri. Tyldessly, and Mertz believe the evidence show Hatshepsut as having “military adventurism” in Punt, since the army was always in attendance should the trading not go as planned.


Building program

When Hatshepsut ascended the throne, her building program was more abundant then previous rulers, Helen Strudwick quotes “Hatshepsut wanted to stamp her position as king and show her great loyalty to Amun (the great god of Thebes)”. Hatshepsut built magnificent temples as well as restoring many others. Senenmut was her chief advisor and the architect for many of her buildings. Her most famous buildings include the temple at Deir el-Bahri in Thebes and her Temple in Karnak. The temple at Deir el-Bahri served as a statement of Hatshepsut’s reign, as they were a permanent reminder of the outstanding building program that Hatshepsut undertook. Deir el-Bahri was built after she declared herself Pharaoh, she built it as a mortuary temple to ensure royal continuity in the afterlife and cement her claim to the throne. On some of the alabaster unguent (lotion) jars found was the inscription: “She made as her monument to her father, Amun… may she live like Re forever.” She also restored and dedicated her Temple at Karnak to Amun-Ra. Many inscriptions made during Hatshesput’s reign justify her claim to the throne are shown throughout the Temple at Karnak.





Deir el-Bahri Apart of the Temple at Karnak



Relationship with the Amun priesthood, officials and nobles

Religion played an important role in Hatshepsut’s ascension the throne. The priesthood of Amun had significant political power and was crucial to Hatshepsut’s justification to the throne. Hatshepsut’s use of the god Amun Ra was critical to her justification to sole ruler and claim to the throne. Historian Pamela Bradley stated that there was a divine document used by all the Pharaohs to show that they had the right to rule. This is shown on Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple at Deir-el-Bahri. She also used Amun Ra to justify her usurpation of the Egyptian throne over Thuthmose III. Hatshepsut needed the priesthood and officials support to ascend the throne; this may be one reason why she gave Amun and priesthood so much kudos, once she became king. Tija cook suggested that one reason as to why the priesthood of Amun and the officials gave their full support to Hatshesput was due to the fact that she claimed to be the true daughter of Amun-Ra. The birth myth of Hatshepsut states that Amun Ra was her father, and he impregnated her mother queen Ahmose. Amun Ra prophesied that the child would be a great king of the lands, according to Hatshepsut. Alan Gardiner emphasizes that Hatshepsut could not have ruled without the aid of strong male advisers: “It is not to be imagined, however, that even a woman of the most virile character could have attained such a pinnacle of power without male support.”



Inscriptions made at Karnak during Hatshepsut’s reign



Relationship with Senenmut

Senemut was a lowly born man who rose to power with Hatshepsut. He was considered one of her strongest supporters and one of her most trusted advisors. He was best known as her chief architect of her temples. Hatshepsut also sent him on the expedition to Punt. During, his time, he gained 80 offices and titles. He proclaimed himself as “companion greatly loved, keeper of the palace, keeper of the heart of the king and making all things come to pass for the spirit of her majesty”. Historians such as David Silverman have suggested that Senenmut was Hatsheptsut’s lover and they had a child together named Meria-Hatshespet, however, there is no evidence to support this claim.


Relationship with Thutmose II

Thutmose II was Hatsheput’s half brother/cousin and later became her husband. It was customary for the succeeding Pharaoh to marry the pervious Pharaoh’s favourite daughter; this was done, as Egyptians believed that the females carried the royal blood. Therefore Thuthmose II and Hatshepsut were married to legitimize his rule. Evidence also suggests that they had a daughter together named Neferure. A number of historians such as Mark Millimore have hypothesized that Hatshepsut may have been the power behind the throne as during Thuthmose II’s reign he was quite ill.


Attempts to suppress or erase her from history

Hatshepsut ruled for around twenty years, before disappearing from history. Her disappearance coincided with Thuthmose III becoming Pharaoh in his own right. After her death, many of her monuments and temples, such as, Deir el-Bahri were damaged or destroyed. Replacing the names on older monuments with the new Pharaoh’s name was a common practice of Egyptian Pharaohs; however, in some cases it was an act of damnation memoriae (To damn the memory of a person). The belief among many historians such as Barbara Mertz is that Thutmose III was responsible, he is quoted as saying “We are not satisfied with a tame and bloodless ending for the haughty spirit of Hatshepsut. I am personally, if illogically, am convinced that Thutmose did away with Hatshepsut. It is highly probable that he did away with her mummy: no trace of it has ever been found”. Historians such as Charles Nims and Peter Dorman have examined and studied the marking and concluded that a number of the markings were done 42 years after Thuthmose III’s reign. There is a number of reason that researchers such as David Bediz as to Thutmose III’s motivation for removing her name from her monuments, these include: bitterness from being denied the throne for so long or that he wanted all traces that a female King ruled erased. Ironically the wall that was built around her obelisks at Karnak, to keep people from discovering that Hatshepsut ruled, actually persevered her name for the future. Historian DB Redford stated, “Thutmose was motivated not so much by genuine hatred but by political necessity. His own legitimacy stood in need of demonstration”. This theory is a more believable explanation as some of the monuments were not defaced and leads historians to believe that Thutmose III may done this for political necessity, as there is no evidence of hatred between the two during Hatshesput’s reign. The theory that Thuthmose III obliterated her name and images out of hatred is not very plausible as why would he have done this twenty years after her death? Pamela Bradley stresses that the images defaced are selective, none of her queen images touched, which infers that there was more of a problem with Hatshepsut as Pharaoh rather her actual personality.


Modern and ancient interpretation of Hatshepsut

Ancient interpretations- During Hatshepsut’s reign she was considered to be equal of her male predecessors. She is portrayed in many monuments and temples such as her Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahri, as a prolific builder, conventional warrior pharaoh and also as a devout supporter of Amun and the Amun-Ra priesthood.


Modern interpretations- Historians J.A Wilson and Alan Gardiner portray her as a pacifist due to her emphasise on building programmes rather than military campaigns. Wilson and Gardiner also criticised her for being too ambitious and that Hatshepsut owed her success to her male supporters. Whilst Tyldesley praised her for her strong character and prosperous reign. Tyldesley also admired Hatshepsut for winning the support of the bureaucracy and priesthood.


Primary source- Hatshepsut with

false beard. Secondary source- Hatshepsut without

false beard.



Bibliography


Books and worksheets:

  • Hennesey, Dianne “Studies in Ancient Egypt” published by South Melbourne Nelson 1993

  • Bradley, Pamela “Ancient Egypt: Reconstructing the Past”, (Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1999

  • Silverman, David. “Ancient Egypt.” Published by Oxford University Press, New York. 1997.

  • Erman, Adolph. “Life in Ancient Egypt.” Published by Benjamin Blom Inc., New York. 1984



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http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/egypt/history/dynasties/dynasty18.html accessed on November 12

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  • History of the Egyptian Religion, part IV New Kingdom Related Articles

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