Day 5: Hatshepsut’s Temple

Our visit to this site is special to me for a number of reasons.  Most importantly, Hatshepsut was hella fierce. She (and let me emphasize again, SHE) was one of ancient Egypt’s most successful pharaohs, ruling longer than any other woman who took the throne (21 years by most accounts) and succeeding militarily as well as establishing peace in much of Egypt. She was apparently very beautiful, but never let looks speak where actions spoke louder.  She encouraged foreign trade, bringing in vast wealth, and was able to fund grand architectural projects, including her own mortuary temple, which is considered the closest ancient Egypt came to classical architecture.  She is also believed to be the pharaoh who ordered the construction of the obelisk we saw at the quarry in Aswan.  Hatshepsut assumed the full regalia of a pharaoh, wearing a false beard, headdress, and shendyt skirt of her male predecessors.  Her tomb is even in the Valley of the Kings.

She was clearly not content assuming the role of the “King’s Great Wife” and letting her husband take over rule.  She claimed divine origin, saying she was a descendant of the mother goddess Mut and allied with the lioness Sekhmet, Isis, and Hathor.

So when some Egyptian dude called out to me, “You are Hatshepsut, you are welcome,” as I walked up, I was a little proud, if grossed out by his uncomfortable come-on.

The temple is actually a painstaking rebuilding and reconstruction of the original, which was trashed and dismantled by Hatshepsut’s jealous stepbrother.  In true ancient fashion, he tried to change history by wiping out records of her reign, almost successfully, but today the temple stands (if rebuilt) as a testament to the lasting power of this magnificent queen and woman to be reckoned with.


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