The Role Of Hatshepsut In Shaping The Development Of The Egyptian Nation

Despite a questionable rise to power, Hatshepsut was largely successful in impacting and shaping the development of the Egyptian nation as Pharaoh. This is provided testament to by the inclusion of multiple prolific buildings filtering through her religion, administration and military decisions and duties - instrumental to Egypt's wealth, fearsomeness and advancement as a juggernaut Civilization. Forever revolutionising the role of Pharaoh, Hatshepsut excelled in these key areas - all these factors empowering the mighty Egyptian nation under the rule of the 18th Dynasty, carving out an Ancient Pharaonic legacy. Through these three pillars, she ruled the nation using a peaceful and prosperous approach until her death in 1483 BC.

The foundation for Hatshepsut’s legacy began when she came to throne in 1478 BC, taking the reins over from her bloodline predecessor Thutmose II. Thutmose II had unified both Upper and Lower kingdoms, thus paving the way for an increased expectation of the subsequent ruler. Hatshepsut was married to her half brother Thutmose and upon his death, the leadership position would then be facilitated by the male heir Isis. He would be Thutmose III, however, at the time he was a mere nine years old. Therefore, a system of co-regency was enacted, with Hatshepsut independently earning the entitlement as pharaoh. Hatshepsut’s motives to manage the large area were largely unknown, some scholars suggesting incentive bolstered by prior female co-regents, including Tetisheri, Ahhotep and Ahmose-Nefertari. Although previously the New Kingdom Egypt and the unified nature was already there, she unconventionally fulfilled the same duties as a King, and upheld ma’at in an unorthodox manner.

Religious beliefs and duties were paramount to the Pharaonic structure in Ancient Egypt, and Hatshepsut assimilated herself into this critical role early on. She commanded the title of the child to the preeminent deity Amun. Located in primary resource ‘Coronation Relief’ (Appendix A), the quintessential making of the Queen in the Godly realm is imprinted. Hieroglyphics border the setting, with a total of seven Queen’s names bequeathed upon Hatshepsut. All the names are notated in the unusual feminine form. Society in Ancient Egypt highly regarded religion, holding an extensive part of daily life. Thus, because of her divine inception, Hatshepsut’s rule theoretically appropriated the ‘seal of approval’ from Gods to whom the whole empire worshipped. With the inclusion of a second naming of Hatshepsut to ma’at, she further supplemented her chief position, validating her right to oversee the throne - all the while with more conventional values similar to that of a king. The Speos and Artemidos Temple presents a second stone relief from scene of Hatshepsut being blessed by two high ranking Gods, Amun and Pakhet. This key element of propaganda fuelled from religious perspective emphasised Hatshepsut’s royal sacred lineage to her subjects - Placing her on a pharaonic pedestal, so often seen from previous pharaohs. In contrast, the text Chronicles - Investigating the Ancient World views these actions in a negative position, stating: “She schemed and succeeded in usurping the titles of the Pharaoh… then proceeded to weave a story that she had been fathered by Amun!”. Hatshepsut’s ability to oversee the empire is brought into question here, by making pessimistic comments. Because of the rarity for a female to occupy the throne, reestablishing her image as being blessed from the Gods is necessitated. Therefore, bias can be detected in similar sources who view her rule poorly. On the contrary, modern historians have evaluated her ruling more positively, the Personalities text describing her as a ‘woman gifted with… extraordinary intellect and a powerful personality and will.’ As well as taking the religious formalities into her stride, Hatshepsut went above and beyond - by commissioning and restoring numerous monuments such as the Temple of Mut, and the temple at Deir El-Bahri, located at Karnak. This served as further verification of her ruling ability to the nation. The restoration of these such religious buildings rallied favour, attributed to her pacifist views when upholding ma’at, and cultivating land under her domain. Undeterred by controversy surrounding her rule and suspicious inception, the powerful religious image Hatshepsut gave to her followers granted a hand in enacting supreme decisions. It also provided a measure of safety from upheavals out of fear of divine intervention - a shrewd tactician’s dream.

With her astounding tactics, the administration role would be well suited to Hatshepsut - and she flourished in this aspect, erecting architectural feats while effectively managing the sprawling empire. Hatshepsut’s lavish style, centric to a wealthy display, was made manifested in her many projects. Bob Brier, a learned researcher in Egyptology articulates that “she constructed one of the most elegant temples in Egypt… she had erected two huge obelisks in Karnak and claimed she had restored numerous temples through Egypt.” Further verification of this claim can be viewed from the primary source of dedication stelae to the two obelisks  therefore supplementing Hatshepsut’s pivotal hand governing monumental works, a key aspect of the pharaonic role. She was able to accomplish a provider position, her works a visual representation of prominence - no doubt inspiring confidence in her subjects and galvanising action without the need for brutality. Her architectural brilliance ensured she was represented in a positive light when supervising sculptures, structures and statues relating to herself. This is evident in the statue head of Queen Hatshepsut. In this resource, Hatshepsut’s feminine features contrast strikingly with the male beard - signifying strength and fortitude. Charlotte Booth, scholar on Ancient Egypt, makes comment regarding these distinct characterisations, expressing that to be treated as a king in the artwork, she had to be represented as such. Additionally, another venture instrumental to her administration control was her trading, import and export, as well as her calculated, discerning use of resources. Her mighty hand in business negotiations ensured unrivalled access to many luxuries, a feature sure to measure success and increase general happiness. Perhaps her most notable venture, she had oversight of the expedition to Punt. This operation had the inclusion of numerous resources that were brought back with her - an inscription from this particular Punt relief lists some of the luxury items depicted; Myrrh trees, panther skins, ebony, ivory, cinnamon and gold. This boosted Egypt fiscally and aided to a booming amount of trade resources, reinforcing Hatshepsut’s successfulness as provider to the people. Because Hatshepsut had promoted the Punt expedition, she was acclaimed with ultimately affecting the prosperity and affluence of the kingdom for the better. Lecturer Charlotte Booth mentions that trade expeditions similar to the relief to Punt were ‘very lucrative for Egypt, and Hatshepsut was remembered for her participation - even though it was an act of a King and not a Queen’. Hatshepsut’s application of strategic trade was a facet that aided the security of her empire, avoiding mass militaristic overtones. This characteristic distinguished her from any other pharaoh - all whilst authorising her to uphold the values of ma’at in her distinctively premeditated non-violent manner. By doing this, the unification of the various roles of pharaoh was possible, giving onlookers a visual demonstration of faith, asserting her capability in matching or excelling previous male pharaoh rule.

Hatshepsut, although seemingly adopting a pacifist approach, ensured her military conquests were successful under her reign. During her reign she consolidated and validated the achievements of her father; as aforementioned, Thutmose I had seized control over Nubia and Syria meaning that Hatshepsut was assigned the hefty task of protecting their relations with the relatively new friendly territory. In this manner she succeeded, providing her subjects with assurance of peace and prosperity between both lands. Therefore, she was successful in this facet of leadership as she didn’t incite needlessly to war and territory-conquering - focusing on keeping stability and prosperity already gained from prior rulerships.

The decisions Hatshepsut made when in power were decidedly beneficial for the nation of Ancient Egypt. They depict the high caliber of ruler she was, highlighting individual feats of power to rally the people on her side. She incited a healthy economy and built marvellous religious buildings, all while upholding firm religious beliefs, even successfully manipulating what some believe as religious propaganda regarding her birth. Hatshepsut excelled in advancing the mighty Ancient Egyptian nation forward. 

16 December 2021
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