Maat-ka-Ra Hatshepsut

last update: 10.12.2010

How old was Hatshepsut?


The ages of the many kings of ancient Egypt can only be estimated - this applies also to Hatshepsut. Even the mummies that survived from the New Kingdom did not contribute very much to the determination of their age - in contrast, the attempts to  determine the age of a mummy with scientific methods served to confuse the situation. The scientific determination of age resulted in remarkable contradictions to well-known historical data (duration of the reign and/or life) from identified royals. This could mean either that the identification of a mummy in question is false (mistakenly labeled during  the rescue and restoration in Dynasty 21) or that the present scientific methods are still incorrect - possibly also both applies. 

For a long time it was considered that the mummy of Hatshepsut was either lost (see also "Where is the mummy?"), so far "physical data" for an estimation of her age were not available. The following estimation of her age at certain events in her "career" should be regarded as a "minimum estimation" - starting with different "basic" assumptions results in higher values.

As described under "Genealogy" the mother of Hatshepsut, Ah-mose, was probably not of royal origin (only the title "Sister of the king" is attested for her but not that of the higher-ranking title "Daughter of the king"). If Thutmosis I - as assumed by some scholars - had married Ah-mose on his accession to the throne than Hatshepsut was most likely a young girl when she became queen. Since it is generally admitted that Thutmosis I reigned for 13 years (12 years, 9 months), Hatshepsut would be at minimum 12 years on her father's death.
Hatshepsut may have married her half-brother, Thutmosis II, most likely on the occasion of his accession to the throne. It is not known how old Thutmosis II has been on his accession but he is always called a "youngster". Therefore, bridegroom and bride might have been of a comparable age. The length of the reign of Thutmosis II is also uncertain but today the majority of scholars accept a reign of 3 years only. If Hatshepsut has married her husband at approximately 12 years, then she could have produced her only daughter, Neferu-Ra, between the ages of 13 and 14. A longer reign of Thutmosis II - in former times it has been set as high as 13 years - would naturally allow more time for this event, but the fact that she took over the regency for her small stepson Thutmosis III after the death of her husband, also implies a short reign of Thutmosis II (if one assumes that he had also married the mother of Thutmosis III after his accession to the throne).
As discussed on the page "Accession to the throne - but when??", Hatshepsut has taken full royal titles not later than "year 7, 4. Month of sprouting (Peret), day 2". Assuming an age of about 15 when she became "Regent" for Thutmosis III then she was 22 in year 7. However, if she has taken full royal titles early after the start of the regency as discussed by some scholars - the earliest date discussed is year 2 see also "Accession to the throne - but when?"), then she was already "Lady of the Two Lands" with 17.
The reign of Hatshepsut is set to approximately 22 years (see also "End and Persecution" whereby she has added the years of regency for Thutmosis III to her own regnal years. Thus, if she has been 15 at the beginning of the regency than she was with approx. 37 when the "Horus Maat-ka-Ra Hatschepsut" ascended to the sky to unite with her predecessors.

New reflections taking into consideration recent data about mummy A from KV60
However, if the mummy A which had been found on the floor of KV60 (Hawass, kmt 18-3, 2007) is really Hatshepsut, then the investigations of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) inevitable require some different estimations.
According to the data collected by the SCA this lady (KV60-A) was obese in life, suffered from osteoporosis, had a soft tissue mass in the pelvis (most likely a metastasis of an unknown primary tumor), worn-down and rotten teeth. Most likely she suffered also from diabetes mellitus. Furthermore, the investigations showed that she died between the ages of 46 and 60 - that is, the estimations discussed above are most likely obsolete - approximately several years are missing somewhere.

If one assumes for example that Hatshepsut died at the age of 52, then one may estimate on the basis of chronological data published for example by Hornung, Krauss, Warburton (2006) when the following events might have taken place in her life:
- Hatshepsut has ruled for about 22 years what would mean that she was 30 when her husband, Thutmosis II died and she became regent for her stepson Thutmosis III. At least she ascended to the throne of the Two Lands at an age of 37.
- her husband ruled at least for 3 years, if so Hatshepsut was about 27 when her father died and she became "Great Royal Wife".
- however, if one accepts that Thutmosis II ruled for a longer period, e.g. 13 years as some scholars do, then she was already 17 years old when she became queen.
- Hornung, Krauss, Warburton point out that Thutmosis I may have reigned for 10-15 years. If one accepts the 13 years  Josephus (according to: Hornung, Krauss, Warburton, 2006) listed for Thutmosis I then Hatshepsut was around 14  years - calculated on a short reign of her husband (3 years only) - or just 4 years - if Thutmosis II has reigned for 13 years - when her father Thutmosis I ascended to the throne.
- in any case these rough calculations indicate that Hatshepsut may have been born already during the reign of Amenhotep I.

Celebration of "Heb sed"
In connection with the reflections about the age of Hatshepsut also another event is remarkable - in year 15 she celebrated her jubilee ("heb sed" celebration). Surely, the entire reign of Hatshepsut was "untypical" in some way, thus, a celebration of the "heb sed" jubilee after 15 instead - as usual -  after 30 years may also be simply regarded as "untypical". On the other hand, the jubilee after 15 years is so much conspicuous that speculations about the background are unavoidable. One attempt to explain the jubilees assumes that she started to count her regnal years with the day of her father's death and, of course, by suppressing the regnal years of her husband, Thutmosis II However, this would argue for a reign of about years of Thutmosis II and, thus, against the present assumption of 3 years only.
Another attempt to explain the jubilee assumes that she was born in regnal year 1 of her father. If so she could have celebrated her thirtieth birthday as a "heb sed" jubilee by simply adding up the 3 regnal years of her husband and 15 years of her own reign to the 13 years of her father!



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Copyright: Dr. Karl H. Leser (Iufaa)