Today, I want to present a strong Pharaoh, not a common one, though. It is a she, a woman! Which, of course, is very rare. However, it is not always so easy to dig into ancient history for finding the truth. There’s a big problem when we look back and read our history: they all have been written by men! Therefore, fairness failed here and there, and finding the truth, is a big challenge, but it is surely worth trying.
Hatshepsut, also spelt Hatchepsut, was the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Egypt (spouse: Thutmose III), ruling for 20 years in the 15th century B.C, who attained unprecedented power for a woman, adopting the full titles and regalia of a pharaoh. She is considered one of Egypt’s most successful pharaohs. Place of Burial: Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut.
Her reign was one of the most prosperous and peaceful in Egypt’s history. There is evidence that she commissioned military expeditions early on, and she certainly kept the army at peak efficiency but, for the most part, her time as pharaoh is characterized by successful trade, a booming economy, and her many public works projects which employed labourers from across the nation.
Let’s have a read on this brilliant research by my adorable friend and Egyptologist Marie Grillot with great thanks.
Addendum: Here in this article, “Aty” will be used as the queen’s name. I don’t know if I have correctly transferred it! You can look at here for more information.
In the year 9 of her reign, Queen Hatshepsut decides to lead an expedition to the distant Land of Punt. This territory, which Gaston Maspero called “Pouanît”, sometimes assimilated to the “country of the Somalis”, is thus “located” by the Egyptian Museum in Cairo: “This country is a place located near the Red Sea and the south of the ‘Egypt (Southern Sudan or present-day Eritrea) “. As for Jean-Pierre Corteggiani, he could not be more “consensual” on the location of this famous region: “whose exact location is still a problem for Egyptologists, some continuing to want it African, others. preferring Arabic, when she may just be both at the same time.
The maritime expedition – made up of at least five boats and longboats – is placed under the high command of Panehsy: it will last no less than three years! It can be described as “peaceful” and mainly takes the form of a “commercial exchange”. Egypt brings its own “commodities” and “manufactured” objects and receives, in return, gold, electrum, panther skins, ebony, ivory, animals such as monkeys, giraffes, felines, …
To all this is added what is certainly the most coveted: the fact of getting the famous frankincense trees, and especially the precious frankincense. The “Antyou” was used in the fumigations offered to the god Amon-Ré, and therefore essential for the holding of religious rituals.
This expedition was undoubtedly a highlight of Hatshepsut’s reign. Thus, various episodes of this “journey” have been reproduced on the south portico of the second terrace of her temple of Deir el-Bahari, the “Djeser Djeserou”.
If we are allowed to admire today, “in situ”, this “stone comic” composed mostly of “original” scenes. It should be remembered that, at the end of the 19th century, certain bas-reliefs were “cut out” and stolen.
They later took the road to the Cairo Museum and were replaced “on the spot” by copies.
This is the case with this famous “scene”, which allows us to “know” the sovereigns of this land of Punt… Thus specifies Rosanna Pirelli (The wonders of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo): “The prince wears short hair, a long beard and a necklace with three pendants; a dagger is slipped under the belt of his loincloth, and he holds a staff in his left hand “. But we must admit that the representation says “particular” of Queen Aty eclipses that of her husband Parehou and that of the servant who follows them …
In the “Guide to the Cairo Museum”, Gaston Maspero described it bluntly as follows: “The wife of the Prince of Pouanît is represented as a monstrous mass of flesh. It was assumed for a long time that there was a case of kind of steatopygia there, which made the reputation of the Hottentot Venus. Then when this hypothesis had been rejected, we believed to recognize in the queen of Pouanît a variety of achondroplastic dwarf, a sort of lordosis, the particular type of which currently has no representative in pathology “.
The expedition to the Land of Punt: bas-relief representing the royal couple followed by a servant – painted limestone
New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII-Reign of Hatshepsut, 1490-1470 BC. JC
From his temple at Deir el-Bahari (West Thebes) – Egyptian Museum in Cairo JE 14276 (photo from the museum)
For the Cairo Museum: “Aty is represented with an obese and misshapen body. It is possible that the Egyptian artist decided to present her to us in this way because she suffered from elephantiasis, a disease characterized by the hypertrophy of a part of the body. It is also possible that the artist has exaggerated a little to achieve a kind of caricature or comic imitation. “
For Rosanna Pirelli: “The figure of the queen constitutes a very special case in Egyptian iconography. The torso, strongly arched forward and rests on short, swollen legs. The rest of the body is covered with bulges. The queen, whose long hair held on the forehead by a headband and ends in a ponytail, is dressed in a tunic, whose belt is worn very low on the hips. She wears bracelets at the wrists and, around the neck, a necklace “.
Bas-relief of the expedition to the Land of Punt: representation of the Queen of Punt – painted limestone New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII – Reign of Hatshepsut, 1490-1470 BC. JCFrom his temple at Deir el-Bahari (West Thebes) – Egyptian Museum in Cairo JE 14276
In their “Official Catalog Egyptian Museum of Cairo”, Mohamed Saleh and Hourig Sourouzian are very nuanced: “It is with realism and humour that treated his wife with a misshapen body. She was visibly suffering from obesity (we recognize her Decrum’s disease manifested by steatopygia, excessive curvature of the spine, and overflowing flesh on wrists and ankles that have remained relatively thin “).
The royal couple will honour the envoys of Hatshepsut. Thus specifies Abeer El-Shahawy (The Egyptian Museum in Cairo): “When they saw the statue of Hatshepsut, they paid her the greatest homage, calling her ‘the great king of Egypt, the woman with the shining sun ‘. A pile of gifts was deposited in front of the chief of Punt for the Egyptians “…
On the ships loaded with all the presents, the incense trees will sail towards Thebes …
The walls of the temple relate to the return of the expedition, and in particular, as Marcelle Baud explains: “The triumphal procession of the return to the temple of Amun which occupies part of the upper register. There, the products are recorded by the god Thoth himself and the incense measured by Hatshepsut in person “.
This painted limestone bas-relief representing a royal couple of Punt, followed by one of their servants, 49.3 cm high and 45 cm wide, was recorded in the Journal des Entées: JE 14276.
Queen of Punt relief JE 14276
Visitor’s Guide to the Cairo Museum, Gaston Maspero, 1902, French Institute (Cairo)
Visitor’s Guide to the Cairo Museum, Gaston Maspero, 1915 (n ° 452)
Treasures of Egypt – The Wonders of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Francesco Tiradritti
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Abeer El-Shahawy, Matḥaf al-Miṣrī
Official catalog Egyptian Museum of Cairo, Mohamed Saleh, Hourig Sourouzian, Verlag Philippe von Zabern, 1997
Trading Scenes of Punt
Queen of Punt Syndrome, by Camillo Di Cicco | July 18th 2008
Jean-Pierre MARTIN, “Did the queen of Punt suffer from Cutis Laxa?”, In History of medicine in ancient Egypt, Cherbourg, July 7, 2014.