In the normal course of things, she could never have been a pharaoh. Her husband, Thutmose II died when her son was not even five years old. However, she ruled Egypt pretty well, managing religion to the economy. But destiny had something to erase from her legacy.
Egypt is known throughout the world for its mighty civilization and rich heritage. Their ancestors were advanced in numerous areas of life – from science to medicine. However, considering a woman as a pharaoh disturbed their core beliefs.
The Egyptian kingship passed traditionally from father to son. Such would have happened in the Thutmose dynasty as well if a mishap didn’t remove the security of a father from the fate of Thutmose III. However, life had to go on, the kingdom needed a pharaoh and thus came the role of Hatshepsut as a regent and stand-in co-monarch.
Much against orthodox beliefs, Hatshepsut competently fulfilled the traditional roles of the office. She enhanced the economy of Egypt and played a pioneering role in the successful trade mission to the distant land of Punt.
She had her roots strongly held in religion. She was widely acclaimed as the daughter of the state God, “Amun”. Being a great builder, she also helped in the construction of her own mortuary temple, Djeser-Djeseru which is still admired today.
However, her beliefs in religion were also challenged. Egyptians at that time were made to believe that the pharaoh is the living embodiment of the male god Horus. Moreover, rule by women is described as a serious disturbance to the identity of Maat, a word for “truth”, expressing a belief in order and justice, vital to the Egyptians.
Hatshepsut tried her best to align with the male-dominated Egyptian beliefs. She linked her order in the state with her patriarchal titles. She took the name of Maatkare and sometimes referred to herself as Hatshepsut, with a masculine ‘su’ ending.
How was Pharaoh Hatshepsut wronged by her own legacy?
Twenty years after her death, the statues of the Pharaoh were demolished and a systematic attempt was made to erase from history. The intention of the miscreants was to let people forget that a woman ever sat on the Egyptian throne. And the needle of suspicion falls on her own son, Thutmose III.
He might have done it to make his own reign look stronger, to make and people and his ego believe that he is a self-made Pharaoh and no woman had any contribution in his life.
But the truth cannot be hidden for long.
With all the ill-efforts of the ancient censors, we have enough credible evidence to suggest as to what was the life struggle of the most powerful woman Egypt has ever seen.
Women need to be respected and acknowledged in all their forms for the growth of any culture. Their contribution can never be ignored.
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