Hatshepsut has been called many names throughout the ages.... to Tuthmosis I, she was the Princess, his daughter. To Tuthmosis II, she was half-sister, beloved wife, queen of the land. To Tuthmosis III, she was mother-in-law, stepmother, aunt, and the number one obstacle in his way to ultimate power, and to herself she was the rightful ruler of Egypt - the divine child of the god Amun, her father's chosen heir. For many years she ruled over the great empire, and unlike the warring Pharaohs of the past, she focused her energies inwards. For two decades Egypt enjoyed a peaceful and prosperous existence under female rule. The arts and architecture prospered. In addition to building fine monuments all over the country, she sanctioned the construction of the beautiful Deir al-Bahri, one of the finest monuments to ever grace the land. This spectacular Mortuary Temple merges with the sheer limestone cliffs on the eastern face of the Theban Mountain as if nature itself had built this extraordinary monument. Surrounded by myrrh trees, and approached by a grand sphinx-lined causeway, the temple walls are full of beautiful color reliefs of the lovely queen and Tuthmosis III making offerings to great deities like Anubis and Hathor. While she maintained complete power, Hatshepsut always depicted herself with her stepson on all royal monuments as co-rulers.
Despite these minor concessions made to him, the teenage Tuthmosis III was full of bitter resentment towards his step-mother. No matter how hard he tried to maintain his power as pharaoh, he kept getting shot down by her or her followers. He set out to overcome her domination of him. Even though he got the army on his side, he was never any match for his peace loving stepmom. Hatshepsut's direct royal lineage kept haunting the young Tuthmosis and was the reason the powerful courtiers and nobles so easily acknowledged her power. Eventually, her power overshadowed his so much that she was able to crown herself as both queen AND king!!! The powerful priesthood still had to be won over and she did this by claiming to be the divine child of the god Amun (as most Pharaohs did). She even started dressing and acting like a man, and had herself depicted wearing the traditional Pharaonic beard in reliefs and statues! Poor little Tuthmosis III had no choice but to succumb to Hatshepsut's control. For 22 years he waited, impatiently, for his time to be ultimate ruler, building up his hatred for "dear" auntie/step-mom/mother-in-law. Then, in 1457 BC, Hatshepsut died and he finally got his chance to rule. Hmmmmm....was the peace loving queen's death a natural one or could more sinister causes been at work?…
Immediately Tuthmosis III took over the empire and set out to conquer the rest of the known world. During Hatshepsut's reign Egypt had been prosperous. No armies had been to west Asia in over 20 years, and Tuthmosis was ready to change that. Within no time at all he was leading his country to war with Palestine. After years of waiting and calculating under Hatshepsut's control, Tuthmosis III went on to become Egypt's greatest conqueror. The empire's frontier expanded far beyond its natural borders, past Syria and into Western Asia, opening Egypt up to new trading routes.
Tuthmosis III was known to be extremely talented in many respects: as a general and administrator, as a charioteer and archer and athlete. He also promoted art and architecture, and had a rare interest in natural history. He constructed the great Wall of Records around the temple of Karnak where he showed how his unrelenting bid for power was balanced by his just treatment of the people he conquered. Judging by the records and his treatment of others, he seems to be a modest and fair ruler, but don't be fooled, there was surely a dark side to our hero.
Just as soon as he set out to conquer distant lands, he also set out on a wrath of vengeance against Hatshepsut's legacy. I've heard of hating your in-laws but this is a bit extreme! The vengeful king went all over the country destroying any images of the Queen. Statues were de-faced, images of Hatshepsut were obliterated from reliefs, temples were destroyed, and sphinxes were smashed to pieces. But to add insult to injury in this troubled youth's life, the monuments he built on top of or over Hatshepsut's ended up preserving her constructions rather than obliterating her from history. For example, the large limestone structure he built around the Queen's beautiful tall obelisks in Karnak endured the hardships of time while preserving the obelisks inside. Today, thanks in large part to Tuthmosis III's attempts to eradicate any signs of his step-mother's rule, many of Hatshepsut's finest monuments remain for future generations to behold. On many walls throughout Egypt, you will still find the figure of young Tuthmosis III standing beside a smudged out image of the aunt/step-mother/mother-in-law, king/queen/ghost that continues to overshadow and haunt his legacy....Talk about family feuds!
Stay tuned next week for more murder, romance and intrigue on Egyptian Dynasty as Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony are caught in an entangled web that brings the great Egyptian Empire head to head with the Romans…
Jasmine - Valley of the Dead
Abeja - Egyptian Life, THEN and Now
Abeja - Egyptian Life, NOW and Then
Monica - I'm M.A.D. about the Acropolis
Making a Difference - Just Do It...or forever hold your peace!
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