Who is Hatshepsut? #IntWomensMonth

Our first historical lady is Hatshepsut. We met her for an exclusive interview on the podcast. Oh man, my humor is so Disney Channel right now, let’s move on quickly*.

intwomensmonth comromco

In our Facebook group for collaborators, we held an open poll to see which international females, past or present, we were aware of. Close to the top of the list was Hatshepsut, who I never heard about, so I made sure to feature her. The only way I get things done is by making myself feel pressured to and setting myself a reward (reward was British talk show clips, just fyi).

So, Who is Hatshepsut?

  • Hatshepsut was one of the first female Pharoahs ever and the sixth in the 18th dynasty.
  • Born circa 1508 BCE and died circa 1458 BCE**.
  • She is considered by scholars to be one of the most successful female Pharaohs.
  • As the widowed queen of the Pharaoh Thutmose II, she rose to power. Though how is questionable.
    • What is clear is that she was made regent, as is according to custom, after Thutmose II’s death in c.e. 1479 b.c.e. She had to become queen because her stepson (Thutmose III) was too young to rule on his own.
    • What is unclear, according to scholars, is whether she was tyrannical when she continued her reign or was a effective leader, knowing she had to remain in power to protect her people?
  • One scholar claims that by Hatshepsut holding onto power and disregarding her stepson’s coming of age she became the “vilest type of usurper.”
  • Further “evidence” of this opinion is the fact that Thutmose III destroyed all evidence of his stepmother’s rule. Was this emotional or political?
    • According to the sources I read, this was 20 years after her death, not immediately, and was politically motivated, not emotionally.

Was Hatshepsut a Strong Leader or a Wicked Opportunist?

Is this just a product of the evil stepmother trope? (More on that at a later time.) OR is this a misogynist view of history? This power grab may not be as horrible as it sounds according to more recent scholars:

Of course, it made a wonderful story,” says Renée Dreyfus, curator of ancient art and interpretation at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “And this is what we all read when we were growing up. But so much of what was written about Hatshepsut, I think, had to do with who the archaeologists were…gentlemen scholars of a certain generation.” via Smithsonian Mag.


To Egyptologists of an earlier generation, Hatshepsut’s elevation to godlike status was an act of naked ambition. (“It was not long,” Hayes wrote, “before this vain, ambitious, and unscrupulous woman showed…her true colors.”)” via Smithsonian Mag.

who is hatshepsut

There’s also the fact that seven years into her regency, Hatshepsut’s image was turned masculine either as a pointed remark or in response to a direct order from Hatshepsut to show her strength.

Oh boy. Things haven’t changed much, have they? Ladies in charge always have a hard time. They are given a hard time by both males and females and they know it.

An inscription found on a pair of obelisks at Karnak read, “Now my heart turns this way and that, as I think what the people will say—those who shall see my monuments in years to come, and who shall speak of what I have done.” Hatshepsut erected those obelisks towards the end of her reign and her words hint towards her self-awareness.

Please teach me more about Hatshepsut
in the comments!

*No disrespect to Disney Channel, I used to love that channel! (Used to love it probably until I was 24.)

** You’ve probably heard of many of these different time indicators. Yet the politically correct way is c.e. for common era, meaning everything from year 1 to 2016, and b.c.e. for before common era, meaning everything before year 1. The terms Anno Domini (after death) and Before Christ revolve around a Christian timeline so academia agreed to make them more religiously neutral.

Image source.

Further Reading:

the woman who would be king hatchepsut book hatshepsut met

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  • I’ve never heard of her! I’m putting some of those books on hold at the library right now!

    • Thanks for reading Kendall and I love that you are a library lover like I am!

  • I saw a documentary about her. It was impressive. It’s cool that you chose her for the International Women’s Month :)

    • Is it available online? My research was fun because I had no idea about anything related to her.

  • “The Woman Who Would Be King” has been on my to-read shelf for years, but I haven’t gotten around to it. I do love reading history books about women by women because then I can usually avoid some of the more misogynistic takes on history.