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The Her-Story of Hashepsut

Updated: Aug 8, 2022

Up until recently, not many people had heard of Hatshepsut (Hat-shep-soot), and the name still trips people up. Even with her introduction to the world via National Geographic, people still have a lot of confusion about who and what she is. Was she a queen, a king, or a Pharoah, and what's the difference anyway? Was she a goddess, or a person? In many overlapping instances, the answer is, confusingly, "Yes."


Hatshepsut This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the Image and Data Resources Open Access Policy, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57859093


Born to Thutmoses I and his primary wife, Ahmose, Hatshepsut was married to her 9-year-old half-brother, Thutmoses II, at the age of 12. (1) Culturally, Pharaohs were considered to be the direct link between the gods and the people. So after their deaths, they were believed to become deities as part of Osiris. (2) So technically, since Hatshepsut died as a Pharoah, she was deified... but as an aspect of a larger diety, not as a goddess in her own right.


Hatshepsut's brother-husband had a moderately successful reign, and left his son by a different wife, Thutmoses III, to ascend to the throne after his death. (1) There was a slight problem with this arrangement: Thutmose III was only 2 years old at the time. Now, it wasn't uncommon for matriarchs of the Pharoah's family to step in as regents until the official heir was old enough to rule, which is exactly what Hatshepsut did. It was, however, very uncommon for the female regent to declare herself Pharoah and fully take over the position as ruler of Egypt, which is also exactly what Hatshepsut did. And surprisingly everyone appeared to be supportive! (3)


Let's rewind a bit to how big and daring of a move this was for Hatshepsut. At that point, Hatshepsut was the second female Pharoah in all recorded history. The only other one in history, Sobekneferu, ruled over 300 years before Hatshepsut was born! (4)


It's hard to imagine a mummy without myrrh, but before Hatshepsut's reign, myrrh trees were nowhere to be seen!


To her credit, Hatshepsut's reign was a smashing success. Under her rule, Egypt enjoyed prosperity and an expansion of trade routes. (1) The trade expeditions brought back precious frankincense and myrrh trees, which would become of great importance both as medicine and as part of the mummification process. (5) The myrrh trees are also the first recorded attempt (and a successful one, at that!) of transplanting foreign trees from an entirely different climate! (6)


In addition to trade routes, Hatshepsut set into motion extensive building projects, most notably a temple at Karnak. Namely two massive obelisks (which at the time were the largest in the world!), as well as restoration of a temple known as the Precinct of Mut (which had been destroyed by invading forces), and the building of her own mortuary temple. (1)


An expansive mortuary temple that was built for Hatshepsut. Records suggest it originally included a large garden with the myrrh trees her expedition brought back.


Hatshepsut's reign lasted 22 years, and she left a massive trove of buildings, monuments, and artifacts. However, she was almost completely obliterated from the annals of history by the very boy who she acted as regent for, Thutumoses III. (1) Originally, scholars suggested that Thutmoses III's desecration of all mentions of Hatshepsut was the result of vengeance against a woman who had stolen his throne. (1) There are issues with that theory, namely the fact that Hatshepsut herself gave him control of her armies, and if he had been so vengeful, he could have easily led a coup and overthrown her. (1) More recent evidence supports the theory that the destruction and desecration happened toward the end of Thutmoses III's reign, and was more likely done as a means of demoting Hatshepsut to what should have been her correct role - that of a regent, and not of a Pharoah - allocating her accomplishments to himself. (1) In a staunchly patriarchal society, a successful, astute, and capable female ruler had the potential to destabilize the line of male succession and could bring into question the legitimacy of his own rule. In an ironic twist of fate, many of the efforts he took to hide Hatshepsut from history served as a means of preserving evidence of her existence for egyptologists to find centuries later!


The spicy Hatshepsut products use botanicals that were available during the reign of Hatshepsut, including her recent acquisition, frankincense!


The Hatshepsut products are one of our favorites, and pay homage to this Pharoah by using ingredients that would have been available during her reign, including frankincense, ginger, sesame oil, cardamom, cumin, and turmeric!(8) The Hatshepsut products are well suited to oily skin types and to acne-prone skin, thanks to the balancing and toning properties of the spice blend!


Speaking of spice, we'll be diving into why turmeric is so awesome, and it's not just because it turns everything it touches to gold-yellow!


RESOURCES (Because knowledge is power)

  1. Hatshepsut. (2022, July 15). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatshepsut

  2. Mark, J. J. (2022, July 23). Pharaoh. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://www.worldhistory.org/pharaoh/

  3. Rattini, K. B. (2021, May 4). Who was Hatshepsut? Culture. Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/hatshepsut#:%7E:text=Unauthorized%20use%20is%20prohibited.,male%20body%20and%20false%20beard

  4. Sobekneferu. (2022, July 7). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sobekneferu

  5. Baumann, B. B. (1960). The botanical aspects of ancient Egyptian embalming and burial. Economic Botany, 14(1), 84–104. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf02859368

  6. Mark, J. J. (2022b, July 24). Punt. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 7, 2022, from https://www.worldhistory.org/punt/

  7. El-Soud, N. H. A. (2010). Herbal medicine in ancient Egypt. Journal of Medicinal Plant Research, 4(2), 82–86. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228634623_Herbal_medicine_in_ancient_Egypt

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