Maat-ka-Ra Hatshepsut

last update: 27.08.2006

Coronation to King - but when?

As described on the page "Pharaoh" - and here the Egyptologists exceptionally agree with each other - Hatshepsut let proclaim herself to king sometime between regnal years 2. and 7. of the legitimate ruler Thutmosis III. The basic data for this period are given by a dedication inscription at the temple of Semna in Nubia dated to year 2 and the burial offerings found in the tomb of the parents of Senenmut which date into year 7.

Dedication Inscription at the
The dedication inscription at the temple of Semna in Nubia, which had been a donation of Senwosrets III (Sesostris III, 12. Dynasty), was carved on the eastern exterior wall of the temple and is frequently cited as the last text in which Hatshepsut  appears with her titles as a queen. Therefore the date of this inscription is regarded as "terminus post quem", thus as the earliest date, which is applicable for an accession.

Dorman (1988) points however to 2 "traps". On the eastern exterior wall of the temple which is dated on the year 2, frequently quoted in this connection, Hatshepsut  is mentioned neither as a queen nor as a king. In contrast, two damaged inscriptions at the western exterior wall of the temple of Semna which are however not dated, refer to a queen who can actually be nobody else than Hatshepsut, although her name did not survive (Dorman, 1988). Hatshepsut  is mentioned on the western wall and only here, but her nomination cannot be connected compellingly with the date on the eastern exterior wall. The text on the eastern exterior wall contains besides the date indicated above and the 5 titles of Thutmosis III  the instruction to the viceroy of Kush to restore the temple and to start up again the offerings (rites) for the divine Senwosret III (Kha-kau-Ra, Sesostris III), this was probably done by the viceroy without delay and documented only little later by him by the attachment of the inscriptions.

The position Hatshepsut in relation to Thutmosis III is clearly shown on the western exterior wall. The symmetrical decoration shows  in the center the seated Nubian God "Dedwen" (= "Dedun, the young man from Upper-Egypt, who came from Nubia", according to Kees, 1977) who crowns Thutmosis III with the White Crown.

Hatshepsut  is mentioned further left, thus, she is not the central figure of the scene.

The findings around and inside the tomb of Senenmut's parents, Year 7
The year 7 is based among other things to finds in the proximity and/or inside the tomb of the parents of Senenmut, Ra-Mose and Hatnefret. Both were buried before in the regnal year 7. However, to whom the date refers to, is not testified, but probably it refers to Hatshepsut .

In that tomb discovered 1935/36 (see first tomb of Senenmut, TT71; excavation team Metropolitan Museum of Arts) some earthenware vessel were found, one of them carried the date "year 7, 2. month of sprouting (Peret), day 8" and another one the seal of the "God's Wife Hatshepsut" (see left cartouche below) together with the label" year 7, Satuwina". Two other jugs carried the seals of the "Good Goddess Maat-ka-Ra" (see right cartouche below; drawings by Hayes, 1957), this title means that she had already mounted the throne. However, these two jugs carry no date.


Already 1920 Norman de Garis Davies had discovered in the forecourt of TT71 an ostracon (see also Dating of TT71) which referred to "Commencement of the work in this tomb" in the "year 7, 4. month of sprouting (Peret), day 2". The king, to whose reign this date if referring to, is not mentioned.

This ostracon must have been buried during the work on TT71 when the entrance to the tomb of the parents was filled up with earth.  Therefore, "year 7, 4. month of sprouting, day 2" is the last date on which things could be put inside the tomb. The jug from the tomb of the parents of Senenmut showing the title of the "Good Goddess Maat-ka-Ra" therefore testifies that Hatshepsut had already been crowned king before this date.

Since the jugs in tomb TT71 could originate from older stocks (e.g. that one with the seal "God's Wife Hatshepsut", because household and property of the "God's wife" still existed the after the accession of Hatshepsut but separated from that of the queen, but now however probably as a part of the household of her successor in the office of "God's wife", Neferu-Ra) the finds give no reference to the date of the accession, but at least a "date before (terminus ante quem)" the accession must have taken place.

Since contemporary sources do not give a date for the accession, one tries to further limit the period for the accession of Hatshepsut  on the basis of well-known writings (e.g. at various monuments, papyrus Turin 1878). However, there are numerous monuments which had been erected probably between year 2 - 7 and/or which report on events in this period. In the following two example are discussed. The conclusions, which are drawn from these inscriptions, naturally depend on that one, who actually interprets them.

The Vizier User-amun, his tomb TT131, and the papyrus Turin 1878
As already mentions under "Persons" User-amun was appointed to the office of a Vizier in "year 5, 1. month of the inundation (Achet), day 1" as the "staff of the old (man)" for his father Ahmose Amethu (i.e. to support his old father who has held this office before).

The installation User-amun to the office of the Vizier is described on the one hand in his tomb TT131, on the other hand also on a papyrus fragment which is today in Turin. The comparison of the texts proves that both describe the same event (Helck, W. "Die Berufung des Wesirs Wsr.", Ägyptologische Studien, No. 29, 1955). In contrast to the tomb the papyrus fragment, however, contains a date for this event, i.e. "year 5, 1. month of the Inundation (Achet), day 1"! In both texts the appointment into the office happen under the reign of Thutmosis III.

Simplistically regarded there are two independent sources, a tomb inscription and the remainder of an administrative document, both testify the appointment of User-amun in regnal year 5 of Thutmosis III. Of course, as the regent Hatshepsut  may have controlled everything from the sidelines, but the official appointment to an office always took place in the name of the legal ruler. According to these two sources she had not mounted the throne before "year 5, 1. month of the inundation (Achet), day 1".
Rightly, Dorman (1988) and others point to the fact that the text in the tomb TT131 is to be judged as a retrospective description of the event. User-amun deceased between years 28 and 32, thus, at a time, when Thutmosis III had already governed alone for several years and possibly the persecution of Hatshepsut had already started (see also End and Persecution of Hatshepsut ). The inscriptions in the tomb already could have taken into account the political changes after the death of Hatshepsut .
The administrative document, papyrus Turin 1878, surely is not a retrospective description of the event and also was not the base for the inscriptions in tomb TT131. Also a later censorship of the document by which the name of Hatshepsut was replaced by that of Thutmosis III, appears improbably. Nevertheless, also regarding this document there are certain doubts.
Dorman (1988) points out that the paleography of the papyrus fragment is that of the early 18. Dynasty but fits into the 19. Dynasty. Furthermore, another fragment of the same papyrus, not published yet, seems to contain a part of the Hymn to the Nile, a text which existence so far could not be testified earlier than the 19. Dynasty. Therefore, one must assume that the pTurin 1878 which contains the appointment of User-amun to Vizier is a copy in the Ramessid writing style of the 19. Dynasty, but that does not inevitably mean that the original text had been changed.
Thus, these two sources may point to a late accession between "year 5, 1. month of the inundation (Achet), day 1" (appointment of User-amun to Vizier ) and "year 7, 4. month of sprouting (Peret), day 2" (commencement of the work in TT71).

The Donation-Stela of Senenmut
North of Karnak and west of the enclosure wall of the temple of month, a stela found in a small mud-brick chapel - obviously at its original place. This stela was recorded by Christophe, L.A. (in "Karnak-North III", Le Caire, 1951; quoted after Helck, W., "Die Opferstiftung des Senenmut", ZÄS 85, 1960).
The stela describes in a long, fragmentary inscription donations of Senenmut to different temples. On the basis a photography Helck (1960) had edited the text again  and, thereby, grieved about the destructions of the Amarna period as well as about the sloppy restoration of the inscription, which he, in contrast to Christophe, did not date into the 25. Dynasty but into the time of Haremhab or Sethi I. During the new edition Helck tried to correct errors of the sloppy restoration, however, he points out that probably all questions could not be solved anymore, since the stone (granite) was - according to Christophe - strongly destroyed by the deposition of salts and, therefore, several paragraphs of the text could hardly be deciphered.

According to Helck the stela is one of the few documents about the donation of fields which had survived from the 18. Dynasty. Senenmut donates several fields in different areas to the temple of Amun at Karnak and the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari. The yield of the donated fields should be used then to produce bread and beer, whose exactly specified quantity were to be used for offerings. To support the production of bread and beer Senenmut also donated to both the workshop of the temple of Amun and that of Djeser djeseru a male and female servants each, as it were to compensate for the resulting workload. However, the legal implications of this donation are not to be discussed here further, they are to be read by Helck.

In connection with the accession of Hatshepsut the dating, the names mentioned and the places noted are of more interest.

Helck translated the 1. Line of the inscription (above) as follows:
"year 4, 1. month of the heat (Schomu), day 16, under the majesty of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Men-cheper-Ra (= Thutmosis III), son of Ra Thutmosis (II) "Beauty of Appearances", given life for ever.... "

On the left side of the stela there is an intact cartouche of the "Maat-ka-Ra" Hatshepsut  (see above). Helck translated this line as follows: 

"...this servant, completely delivery as a tribute for the hourly service of the workshop, which the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Maat-ka-Ra (----), may she live, established for her father Amun in Djeser djeseru (----). However, concerning the surplus of the offers, which occur with [....... ] the (offering) of water, done by the [Web priests ] [...."


This donation stela mentions both, the temple at Djeser djeseru as well as the throne name of Hatshepsut, Maat-ka-Ra, (see in the above illustrations underlined in green and/or red) and in neighboring parts of the texts, which show the intact cartouche of Hatshepsut, Senenmut mentions his tomb twice, which therefore must also have already been under construction.

This stela is naturally consulted by all (among others Schott, Helck, Meyer) as a proof who plead for an early accession of Hatshepsut.

Dorman (1988) argues against this with the restoration of the stela, already mentioned by Christophe and Helck. In his opinion the absence of the original border of the stela makes it most likely that the stela was already that damaged at present its restoration in antiquity that the text, which contains the date had to be carved completely again in Ramessid times.
On the other hand the part of the text in which the cartouche of Hatshepsut is show and in which Senenmut reports about his tomb seems to prove that at least the work on the tomb must have started. However due to the finds in the tomb of his parents - directly located below TT71 - this can not been the case before "year 7, 2. month of sprouting (Peret), day 8" (of course one can assume that the tomb mentioned is not  TT353). In opinion of Dorman the reference to his tomb by Senenmut "dates" the text and the stela rather into regnal year 8 of Hatshepsut  and/or the Thutmosis III. According to Dorman (1988) the date (year e) given on the donation stela of Senenmut is more than doubtful.

Variations in the Prenomen of Thutmosis III
Monuments show twice a change in the throne name of Thutmosis III. At the beginning of his reign he carried the throne name "Men-cheper-Ra". During the time of the coregency, i.e. after the accession of Hatshepsut, he used the throne name "Men-cheper-ka-Ra". After the death of Hatshepsut he changes back again to his old throne name "Men-cheper-Ra".
Meyer (1980) refers to the fact that this change of the throne names frequently did not received any attention. Since Hatshepsut  obviously had a special relationship to the "Ka" - as also shown by the use of it in her titles (see History). According to Meyer the first change to "Men-cheper-ka-Ra" was probably connected with her accession and the demotion of the legal ruler, Thutmosis III, to the rank of a coregent. 

According to the investigation of Brovarski (JEA 62, 1976; quoted after Meyer) the name "Men-cheper-Ra" is testified for the years 1 - 5 and afterwards again starting with year 21, whereas the name "Men-cheper-ka-Ra" for the years 5 - 20.


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Copyright: Dr. Karl H. Leser (Iufaa)