Queen Hatshepsut’s remains have not been found completely, and there is much evidence to discuss the role of Thutmose III in the female pharaoh’s disappearance. Historians Manuelian and Loeben and archeologist Tyldesley formulated different hypotheses to explain the mystery. In this context, Manuelian and Loeben’s theory seems to be more plausible and convincing.
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The mystery is associated with many aspects of Queen Hatshepsut’s rule in Egypt. On the one hand, during a long period of time, historians could not assume that the images of the male-dressed pharaoh represented a female Egyptian king. On the other hand, the number of these images was limited because Thutmose III, a successor of Hatshepsut, focused on removing reminders related to Hatshepsut’s rule.
Additionally, the female pharaoh’s mummified remains seemed to disappear as well as wall-images and monuments (Sayre, 2011, p. 112). Thus, archeologists and historians focused on solving the mystery of the disappearance of the male-dressed Egyptian queen, and there are many hypotheses and theories to explain the mystery.
Historians Peter Manuelian and Christian Loeben state that the secret of Hatshepsut’s disappearance is similar to many other historical mysteries associated with the rule of powerful kings. Thus, to demonstrate her ability to rule equally to males, Hatshepsut introduced a “radical step of representing herself as a man, complete with the male torso and ceremonial royal beard” (Manuelian & Loeben, 1993, p. 27).
Researchers also note that Hatshepsut could die before her tomb was built at a certain place, and this fact explains the problem of finding the remains. Furthermore, Thutmose III’s attempts to remove traces of Hatshepsut’s rule should be discussed with references to his passion for strengthening the power, “expansion and incorporation”, then to the desire for revenge (Manuelian & Loeben, 1993, p. 28).
In addition, the actual destruction of Hatshepsut’s monuments could take place two decades “after the king had taken sole rule and begun his series of military campaigns” (Manuelian & Loeben, 1993, p. 28). According to Manuelian and Loeben, there are no mystery in Hatshepsut’s disappearance and Thutmose III’s actions.
Joyce Tyldesley, an archeologist, focuses more on the discussion of the social context typical for the period of Hatshepsut’s rule. It was unusual for the Egyptians to live and develop under the rule of the female pharaoh. Thutmose III could not admit the fact of Hatshepsut’s success, and he aimed to “rewrite Egyptian history” without the figure of the queen while removing all monuments and images (Tyldesley, 1996, p. 216).
Tyldesley also provides the theological explanation to Thutmose III’s actions because the Egyptians believed that the spirit could live forever in images (Tyldesley, 1996, p. 216). It was Thutmose III who started a “vindictive campaign” to remove reminders of Hatshepsut and who could even kill the successful female pharaoh (Tyldesley, 1996, p. 223). Tyldesley explains the disappearance of Hatshepsut’s remains in the social context, focusing on the idea of Thutmose III’s revenge.
Manuelian and Loeben’s theory can be discussed as most convincing because the historians support their conclusions with the archeologists’ data regarding the period of destructing Hatshepsut’s monuments. Moreover, Manuelian and Loeben’s theory is more plausible because the researchers concentrate on the analysis of the political situation in Egypt during the discussed period, avoiding the focus on the interpretation of Thutmose III’s possible motives to kill Hatshepsut or remove the traces of her rule.
Manuelian, P., & Loeben, C. (1993). From daughter to father: The recarved Egyptian sarcophagus of Queen Hatshepsut and King Thutmose I. JMFA, 5(1), 25-61.
Sayre, H. M. (2011). The humanities: Culture, continuity, and change. New York, NY: Strayer University Pearson Learning.
Tyldesley, J. (1996). Hatchepsut: The female pharaoh. London, UK: Viking.