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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Queen Hatshepsut Story Part 1/2

Queen Hatshepsut
Women in ancient Egyptian society shared with men the right to own property and businesses. Some women in ancient Egypt became government officials and trusted advisers to pharaohs. Historians believe that Queen Tiye, wife of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, ruled along with her husband, making many important decisions. Few women, however, became pharaohs.

Queen Hatshepsut also ruled with her husband, Thutmose II. Hatshepsut had married her half- brother, a common custom among Egyptian royalty. After the death of her husband, Hatshepsut refused to give up her rule to young Thutmose III, the son of Thutmose II and another of his wives. Because he was male, Thutmose III stood next
in line to the throne. However, Hatshepsut believed she deserved to rule because she was the daughter of Thutmose I.

Hatshepsut did become pharaoh. In doing so, she became the first important woman ruler in world history. Advised by her vizier Hatshepsut ruled Egypt during the period of the New Kingdom. As pharaoh, she helped bring strength and wealth to Egypt. Hatshepsut is remembered for her expansion of trade routes, and for sending expeditions to the land of Punt.

Read now a story about Queen Hatshepsut's coronation, or crowning, as pharaoh. As you read, think about what it might be like for a person to take on a new role in a society.

And so arrangements for my coronation go forward. The sooner it takes place, the better. For plots of defiance to hatch, time is essential. We will dispense with time.
Throughout the Two Lands and abroad, the edict of my ascension to the throne is sent, only a few weeks before the ceremony. By tradition the event takes place on a major religious holiday, in this case the Feast of Opet. Hapusoneb insists this is a bit hurried but perfectly proper. But then anything Pharaoh-to-be decides is proper. The edict reads:

Hatshepsut. Cause thou that all oaths be taken in the name of My Majesty, born of the royal mother Ahmose. This is written that thou mayest bow thy head in obedience and knowest that the royal house is firm and strong.

The third year, third month of Inundation, day 7. Day of Coronation.
I worry over my dress. As ceremony demands that the king wear the royal braided beard strapped to his chin (no matter whether he has a beard of his own or not), I shall certainly do so. Ought I, then, to wear the long dress of a queen or the short kilt of a king?

With a question Hapusoneb supplies the answer.
He is preoccupied, poor man, at having to oversee so many elaborate arrangements in such a short period of time. At each succeeding audience with me he appears more harried, more bent with care, until his back curves like a strung bow.

"One of the problems,
Majesty, is that the titles and coronation ceremonies are designed for men. How are we to change them?"
The solution strikes me, clear as Hapusoneb's harassed face.
"There is no need to change anything, Vizier. I mean to rule as a king, with the full powers of a king. And I shall dress as a king. The rituals, the titles, will remain the same as those initiated by Narmer, first King of the Two Lands."
Hapusoneb appears dubious, then relieved. After all, he can scarcely overrule Pharaoh-to-be, no matter what his misgivings.

And as I am resolved to be as resolute, as forceful as any king, I will begin by donning full regalia  for my coronation. Around my waist, over the short kilt, I fasten a broad belt adorned with a metal buckle in the form of my personal cartouche.  Tied to it in front is an apron of beads, in back a bull's tail. A girl attaches : the beard to my chin. Over my wig is fitted the nems, the leather headcloth with the two striped lappets falling forward over my shoulders.

For the ceremony I have ordered a dazzling gold-and-jeweled pectoral  suspended from a double gold chain. On each of my arms a girl clasps a pair of wide bracelets, another on each wrist, a third pair on my ankles. On my fingers rings are strung like chunks of beef on skewers. Surely I must weigh twice as much as usual.


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