Historically, Hatshepsut was the second female pharaoh who lived between the years 1507 and 1458 BC (Dell 22). She was the leader of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt and ruled with the help of the two-year old Thutmose III. In ancient dynasties, women had an inferior status and were not allowed to hold leadership roles. However, Hatshepsut became pharaoh and challenged the belief that only men were fit to rule dynasties. Her ascent to leadership was a great achievement because the notion of a female ruler was repulsive to the Egyptians. Her reign of twenty years was not revered by the Egyptians who obliterated all her memories. Her major achievements as pharaoh included growing the economy and commissioning numerous building projects.
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Hatshepsut was an influential pharaoh because of the changes she brought during her 20-year rule. Her major accomplishments included economic development, the creation of a large army, establishment of trade routes, and commissioning of numerous building projects (Dell 32).
One of the changes that took place after Hatshepsut became pharaoh was rapid economic growth (Sova 48). The growth originated from the expansion of trading relations and sea-borne expeditions (Jordan 42). Hatshepsut established trade routes that had previously been disrupted during the Second Intermediate Period. These trade routes were useful in the creation of the Eighteenth Dynasty’s wealth. She oversaw and funded a trading expedition to Punt that included five large ships and more than 200 hundred men (Sova 49). The expedition brought many goods from Pun including myrrh, frankincense, gold, animal skins, and myrrh trees. After the expedition, the pharaoh conducted several raiding expeditions that played a critical role in boosting the economy.
Hatshepsut was a prolific builder in Ancient Egypt who launched several building projects to repair the damages done by the Hyskos. She built magnificent temples, renovated her father’s hall, built a chapel, and constructed a mortuary temple at Deir el Bahri (Jordan 51). The temple was described as one of the most beautiful temples in Egypt because its walls were covered by a painting that chronicled the expedition to Punt. The images on the wall included the large ships that were used during the expedition and a marching army (Warburton 77). Hatshepsut is credited with the commissioning and completion of major building projects such as temples and chapels. For instance, she funded and oversaw the construction of two large obelisks at the Temple of Karnak (Kramer 53). One of them still stands in contemporary Egypt and reminds them of the reign of Hatshepsut. She also renovated the Precinct of Mut at Karnak after it was damaged by the Hyksos in about 1650 BC (Scott 82). The Precinct represented the great goddess of Egypt and it was later ravaged by other pharaohs who used the materials to supply other projects. She also constructed so many statues that some of them are available today in various museums around the world that display Ancient Egyptian artifacts (Sova 55). Hatshepsut also commissioned and funded the Karnak’s Red Chapel project. The chapel was sentimental to her because she lined it with stones that represented the most important events in her life (Kramer 58). Her 16th year as pharaoh was celebrated with the construction of two more obelisks in her honor. One of the obelisks disintegrated during construction and was transformed into a quarry site. Hatshepsut also built the Temple of Pakhet and the Djeser-Djeseru (Scott 82).
It was rare for a woman to ascend the throne during Ancient Egypt. However, Hatshepsut became the pharaoh and ruled for twenty years. Historians have describes her as a wise ruler who brought numerous economic changes to Egypt. She was able to recover valuable artifacts and precious metals that had been looted from the dynasty during raids before she ascended to power (Scott 101). In addition, she built more magnificent buildings that any of her predecessors. Her accomplishments were proof of her wisdom and great ability as a pharaoh. Compared to other female rulers, the reign of Hatshepsut was more prosperous (Jordan 63). In addition, it was longer. During the early years of her reign, she successfully conquered other armies that attacked her dynasty (Warburton 79). In later years, she changed her tactics and encouraged peaceful relations with other dynasties. Her strategy of avoiding war and making peace with other dynasties facilitated the re-establishment of trading relationships that improved Egypt’s economic prosperity (Scott 122). Her ambitious building projects raised the standards of Ancient Egyptian architecture to classical levels.
Hatshepsut was one of the most accomplished pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. She created a large army, grew the economy of Egypt tremendously, commissioned numerous building projects, and established peace and trading relationships with other dynasties. I feel that Hatshepsut defied the odds and traditions of Ancient Egypt by becoming a pharaoh and showed the world that a woman could rule and accomplish greatly like male pharaohs. I also feel that the pharaoh system played a key role in the development and the placement of Egypt as one of the countries of the world with a rich history.
Dell, Pamela. Hatshepsut: Egypt’s First Female Pharaoh. Capstone, 2008.
Jordan, Shirley. Hatshepsut: First Female Pharaoh. Teacher Created Materials, 2007.
Kramer, Charlotte. Rebel Pharaoh: Hatshepsut Unveiled. Xlibris Corporation, 2011.
Scott, Emmet. Hatshepsut, Queen of Sheba. Algora Publishing, 2012.
Sova, Evelyn. Hatshepsut: Queen to King. Page Publishing Inc, 2015.
Warburton, David. Architecture, Power, and Religion: Hatshepsut, Amun, & Karnak in Context.
LIT Verlag Munster, 2012.