Maat-ka-Ra Hatshepsut

last update: 09.07.2008

Military Campaigns to Nubia

It has long been the view of Egyptologists that the reign of Hatshepsut has been a time of peace without military campaigns. The queen, so they believed, was primarily interested in the development and maintenance of the Two Lands after her predecessors had expelled the Hyksos and had united the country again.
Responsibly for this assessment were the facts that the patriarchal view of early male Egyptologists who did not believe that a queen could (physically) lead the soldiers of the Two Lands on the battle fields, consequently took it for granted that she pursued  a pacifistic policy, and as well as the obviously missing reports about military activities from the time of Hatshepsut.
However, they have ignored clear findings in the form of representations or inscriptions on her dismantled buildings, destroyed relief at Djeser djeseru, a graffito at Sehel and the stela of a certain Djehutj.

Above a part of a relief from the temple Djeser djeseru of Hatschepsut that shows an bowman (limestone, 14.5 x 17 cms; from: The Walters Art Museum, No. 22.98, Baltimore, USA). Such representations of elite soldiers are on several relief scenes in the Chapel of Hathor and also on the upper terrace. They unambiguously show that an adequate attention was given to the military requirements of the empire.

E. Naville wrote in his report about the excavation of Deir el-Bahari, Part III (London 1898):
... The fragments of inscriptions found in the course of the excavations at Deir el Bahari show that during Hatshepsut's reign wars were waged against the Ethiopians, and probably also against the Asiatics. Among these wars that which the queen considered the most glorious, and which she desired to be recorded on the walls of the temple erected as a memorial of her high deeds, was the campaign against the nations of the Upper Nile.
On the short wall closing the eastern portico on the south side, there was a sculpture describing that campaign. The god of Nubia, Tetun (i.e. Dedun) was seen bringing to the queen a series of captive nations or places, each of them represented, as usual, by a crenellated cartouche surmounted by a negro head. This sculpture had been entirely carried away by the Copts to the upper part of the temple; nothing of it remained in situ except the end-signs of some of the cartouches. However, several blocks have been recovered; among them the figure of the god Tetun and a few of the prisoners. Most of these blocks were built into the supporting wall of the central court.
All people depicted belong to the land of Kush, and they are called by Tetun Khasetu resu (the nation of the South)  or Antin Khent, (the Anti of Nubia). .....

In addition, the "Count, Treasurer of the King of Lower Egypt, Sole Friend, Chief Treasurer, the one concerned with the booty", Ty (Tai), wrote in his graffito on the island Sehel:
I followed the Good God, His Majesty [.....] may she live. I have seen (H.M.) overthrowing the  Iwn-[...] , (and that) he brought their chiefs home as living prisoners . 
I saw him destroying the country of NHs, while I was in the following of His Majesty. I was a royal messenger doing what is said..."
Graffito of Ty at Sehel (from: Habachi, L., JNES 16, 1957). The remaining signs inside the cartouche can easily completed to read "Maat-ka-Ra". The horizontal line of text below the inscription tells that the inscription was made by the draughtsman of Amun, Amenmesse.

According to Habachi (1957) Ty's titles are all well-known with the exception of the last one "xf a" - the word means " seize, grasp, make booty (in a campaign) " (Hannig, 1997, p. 597) - therefore, one must assume that this Ty participated "...I was in the following of His Majesty.." in the campaign - most likely not serving in the military operations but as a civil official - and was an eyewitness.
Since there is no date it is not clear when this campaign (or more likely supression) had took place. However, the title "Good God" testifies that the campaign was undertaken after her accession to the throne.
Later this Ty also served Thutmosis III and was mentioned 5 years after the death of Hatshepsut, i.e. regnal year 25, on a stela erected at Serabit el-Khadim (Ratie, 1974).

In the same publication Habachi pointed out that this inscription is the occasion to  reconsider some text fragments from the tomb of Senenmut (TT71) and a part on the stela of Djehutj mounted in his tomb (TT11).
The text fragment from the tomb of Senenmut reads (Urk. IV, 399; German translation by Blumenthal, et. al., 1984):
[....] the appearance of (?) [....] southern country (tA-nHsj) [....] made by (?) [...] your figure (?) [.....I have] seized [.....] ribbon [.....] seize for the 3rd time [...] everyone [....]
To "seize" is to be interpreted here probably as to "collect the spoils of war". Furthermore, since Senenmut did not claim to have been in Nubia before the reign Hatshepsut, the text must refer to a campaign under Hatshepsut.

In his tomb (TT11) the Overseer of the Treasury, Overseer of the Craftsmen, Djehutj, let cut two stela into the north wall of the court, among them one which was later called the "Northampton stela". This stela had been erected on the right side of the court, next to the passageway to the hall. The stela reports about the numerous jobs which were done under the supervision of this Djehutj. The biographical part of the text contains the following report (Urk. IV, 438; german translation by Blumenthal, et. al., 1984):
"[I] have monitored [the measuring of the booty] of this strong [king] out of the miserable [Kush] (are measured) like figs. [...] the ruler - he may live, be safe and healthy - [even ...] a marvelous Heqat of Electron. And the counter said a number (greater) [than] they .... "
On account of this description of Djehutjy Habachi believes that the queen not only accompanied her troops to Kush but also that Djehutj has observed the queen herself collecting booty.

Meanwhile, at least four Nubian campaigns are attributed to Hatshepsut during corulership with Thutmosis III. Most likely, Thutmosis III participated in some or possibly in all campaigns to Nubia (O' Connor in: Cline, O' Conner, 2006).




Copyright: Dr. Karl H. Leser (Iufaa)