Hatshepsut (reigned 1503-1482 B.C.) was an Egyptian queen of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Usurping the throne after her husband's death, she held effective power for over 20 years.

The daughter of Thutmose I by his queen Ahmose, Hatshepsut was married to her half brother Thutmose II, a son of Thutmose I by a lesser queen named Mutnofre. During Thutmose II's lifetime Hatshepsut was merely a principal queen bearing the titles King's Daughter, King's Sister, God's Wife, and King's Great Wife.

On the death of Thutmose II the youthful Thutmose III, a son of Thutmose II by a concubine named Ese (Isis), came to the throne but under the tutelage of Hatshepsut, who for a number of years thereafter succeeded in keeping him in the background. At the beginning she had only queenly status but soon assumed the double crown of Egypt and, after some initial hesitation, had herself depicted in male dress.

Although both she, and later Thutmose III, counted their reigns from the beginning of their partnership, Hatshepsut was the dominant ruler until Year Twenty. Thutmose III was also shown as a king but only as a junior coregent. In an inscription of Year Twenty in Sinai, however, Thutmose III is shown on an equal footing with his aunt.

For obvious reasons warlike activities were barred even to so virile a woman as Hatshepsut, and with the exception of a minor expedition into Nubia, her reign was devoid of military undertakings. But an inscription on the facade of a small rock temple in Middle Egypt, known to the Greeks as Speos Artemidos, records her pride in having restored the sanctuaries in that part of Egypt, which she claimed had been neglected since the time of the alien Hyksos rulers.

Among the many officials on whose support Hatshepsut must have depended at least initially was one Senmut, whom she entrusted with the guardianship of the heir to the throne, the princess Ranefru, her daughter by her marriage to Thutmose II. According to Senmut himself, he was responsible for the many buildings erected by the Queen at Thebes. Among these was her splendid terraced temple at Deir el-Bahri, which was inspired by the earlier structure there of the Eleventh Dynasty king Mentuhotpe I.

Apart from the customary ritual ceremonies, the colored reliefs on the walls of this temple depicted the two main events of Hatshepsut's reign, the transport of two great red granite obelisks from Elephantine to Karnak and the famous expedition of Year Nine to the land of Punt, an unidentified locality which probably lay somewhere on the African Red Sea littoral.

Once having proclaimed herself king, Hatshepsut had a tomb excavated for herself in the Valley of the Kings. How she died is unknown, but after her death her memory was execrated by Thutmose III, who caused her name to be erased from the monuments wherever it could be found.

Further Reading on Hatshepsut

The reign of Hatshepsut is discussed in some detail in James H. Breasted, A History of Egypt from the Earliest Times to the Persian Conquest (1905; 2d ed. 1909), and by William C. Hayes in The Cambridge Ancient History (12 vols., 1923-1939). Leonard Cottrell, Queens of the Pharaohs (1966), discusses Hatshepsut. On the Queen's temple see E. Naville, The Temple of Deir el Bahari (7 vols., 1894-1906).