Maat-ka-Ra Hatshepsut

last update: 08.06.2009


Sometime between regnal year 2. and 7. of the legitimate king, Thutmosis III, Hatshepsut, King's Daughter, King's Sister, Great Royal Wife and Regent proclaim herself to be king. That the accession of Hatshepsut is to be dated into the period of year 2 until year 7 is testified by the following finds:

Among other things year 7 is deduced from finds in the proximity and/or in the tomb of the parents of Senenmut, Ra-mose and Hatnefret, who had been buried before or in year 7. In the tomb (see also tomb of Senenmut, TT71) several earthenware bowls were found among them two with the seal of the "Good Goddess Maat-Ka-Ra", what means that she already had accepted the title "Pharaoh". In 1920 Norman de Garis Davies discovered in the forecourt of TT71 an ostracon, which referred to the date "Beginning of the work on the tomb (= TT71)" in "year 7, 4. Month of sprouting, day 2". This ostracon must have been buried in the earth during the work at TT71 when the entrance to the tomb of the parents was filled up. Therefore, Hatshepsut must have accepted the title "Pharaoh" before the date "year 7, 4. Month of sprouting, day 2".

Kneeling statue of Hatshepsut, offering 2 nw-jars;
most likely from her temple at Deir el-Bahari; red granite, Height approx. 262 cm;
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Rogers Fund 1929, 29.3.1
On the other hand, damaged inscriptions found on the western external wall of the temple of Semna dating from regnal year 2 of Thutmosis III refer to a
queen, who actually can be nobody else than Hatshepsut, although their name is not mentioned (Dorman, 1988). Her status regarding Thutmosis III is clearly shown in these inscriptions, at this time she was - as the regent - still subordinated to Thutmosis III.

All contemporary documents keep persistently silent about the question when did she execute the conversion from regent to king. On the basis of the available finds (inscriptions on monuments) both, an early accession in the year 2 and a late one in the year 7 are discussed among scholars. I have tried to present the discussion on an additional page (Accession to the Throne - however when?).

After her proclamation to king she transfers the royal insignia and the characteristic elements of the royal robes in her representations. To the years of her reign she added the preceding years of her regency for Thutmosis III.

From today's view on the well-known "facts" her metamorphosis from regent to king was obviously executed in several steps, which Grimm and Schoske called (1999) "Opera of authentication (of Hatshepsut) in five acts". Due to Grimm and Schoske the following "acts" can be identified (naturally the individual "acts" can not be regarded as independent from each other) whereby, according to Grimm and Schoske, the first "act" "from the king to coregent" only formed the prolog :

Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III From King to Coregent
Hatshepsut and Thutmosis I Calling and Coronation by the Divine Father
Hatshepsut and Amun Fathered by the King of Gods
Hatshepsut and Amun Election by the King of Gods (oracle)
Hatshepsut and Amun Coronation by the King of Gods
Hatshepsut and Amun Put in Charge by the King of Gods

From King to Coregent:
The coregent became probably installed during the 12. Dynasty and means that an elder ruling king appointed his potential heir as a coregent and, in this way, regulated the succession. Most likely, the coregent had no own political power even if he should have participated in the official business.

In retrospect, Hatshepsut claimed to have been already "coregent" during the reign of her husband, Thutmosis II. The following block which is today on display in the Museum at Luxor shows Thutmosis II and right behind him his "Great Royal Wife", Hatshepsut, in an offering-scene. Investigations revealed that the presentation of Hatshepsut had been reworked - most likely after the demise of her husband - because she is shown not with the insignia of a "Great Royal Wife" but with those of the ruler.
Based on this presentation the taking over of the regency for little Thutmosis III appears inevitable.

After the accession of Thutmosis III to the throne reversed Hatshepsut this distribution of roles. As the older regent she took over with her promotion to king the role of the elder ruler and actually demoted the legitimate king Thutmosis III to the (younger) coregent.

By this time Thutmosis III was depicted on the relief behind Hatshepsut as it was the usual way for a coregent (see picture below or e.g. also the block "Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III following the barque of Amun" on the Red Chapel).

The stela "Khefethernebes" (left photo by W. Ulrich, 2009; right drawing by Champollion) today in the Vatican, Museo Gregoriano Egizio, No. 130; ca.: Height: 115 cm, Width: 80 cm, Depth: 25 cm; sandstone, the original place were the stela was put up as well as the place where it was found, both are not known - but most likely the place was Karnak; the stela was purchased in 1819 for the museum from a private collection; it is well preserved and shows only a few traces of chisel-strokes from the Amarna-period, i.e. during the reign of Thutmosis III and his successors the stela was obviously put up or at least accessible but escaped the persecution of Hatshepsut
The stela shows in sunk relief Hatshepsut who carries here the blue crown sacrificing in front of Amun, behind her her "coregent" Thutmosis III is shown wearing the white crown and holding his hands in the typical gesture of adoration - here, he clearly plays a subordinated role because only Hatshepsut is offering for Amun. The stela was a royal donation of Hatshepsut to "commemorate the reconstruction of the fortification [enclosure wall]... on the west bank of Thebes opposite to Karnak". The goddess left of Thutmosis III is the personification of the city Waset (= Thebes) depicted with a tripartite wig, whereupon on a plate the sign of the nome of Waset is shown, in one hand the goddess holds the ankh sign, in the other one a bow and a quiver.

The title of the stela reads: "Thebes who is in front of her Lord (WAs.t $ft.t-Hr-nb=s)"

(with regard to the help by identification of this stela and its matter I am deeply indebted to J. Krauss).

The 5 lines of text read as (the transcription was taken from Klug, 1998; please, note, the English text is a translation of the German text prepared by Klug):

Line 1:

anx Hr.w wsr.t kA.w wAD.t rnp.wt Hr.w-nbw nTr.t xaw HqA.t Sma.w mHw nj-sw.t (MAat-kA-Ra.w)

Living Horus: Powerful of Kas, The Two Ladies: Flourishing of Years, Horus of Gold: Divine of Appearances, Lord of Upper and Lower Egypt, King Maat-ka-Ra

Line 2:

zA(.t) (?) Ra.w nj.X.t=f mrj=f (hAt-Sps.t Xnm.t Imn) irj.n=s m mnw=s n itj=s Imn nb ns.wt tA.wj saHa n=f

beloved (?) bodely daughter of Ra, Hatshepsut, united/imbued with Amun. (The work), that she made as her monument for her father Amun, Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands,

Line 3:

Xft.t-Hr-nb=s m mAw.t m kA.t nHH axm.t=s dnj m

namely the erection of Xft.t-Hr-nb=s as a new work of the nHH-eternity by reinforcing / fortifying the bank with

Line 4:

inr nfr [wj] (?) sj sxr.w=s tpj-nn zp ir.t mjt.t Dr pA.t tA irj=n

stone. [How] (?) perfect she (= Xft.t-Hr-nb=s) is, better than her (= Xft.t-Hr-nb=s) plans made by the ancestors. Nothing comparable was done before a long time ago on earth.

Line 5:

Hm.t=s nw n aA.t n mrr=s itj=s Imn r nTrw nb.w irj?s Dj anx mj Ra.w Dt.

Her majesty did it because she loved her father Amun more than all other gods, so that she may be given life like Ra Dt-eternally.

According to Cozi (1994) and Klug (1998) the stela is a donation ["Weihestele"], which refers to a building project of Hatshepsut. The stela describes the building of a new or the reconstruction of a wall around a place [village], which was situated on the west bank opposite to Karnak. After Cozi (1994) the inscription refers to a fortified place on the west bank of Thebes that was walled-in again and he believes that this place most likely has been the small temple of Amun at Medinet Habu (see also  under monuments "Medinet Habu") that was "renewed" by Hatshepsut or to a small fortified settlement called "Djeme" (DAmt oder TAmt = Azemet, as the old-Egyptian name for Medinet Habu reads; after Maspero, 1913) associated with this temple (thanks to F. Adrom who pointed out that thsi had already been suggested by H. Brugsch-Bey).
In contrast, Traunecker (1998, quoted after Klug) assumes that the stela described the building of a wall around $ft.t-Hr-nb=s at Karnak. Based on his interpretation the goddess Waset, as depicted here, is the personification of the enclosure wall of the temple district at Karnak itself - the typical presentation of the goddess carrying weapons and especially that she averts her gaze [like a guard] from the scene would fit to this assumption.

Calling and Coronation by the Divine Father:
With her accession to king Hatshepsut levers up at the same time the legitimate succession to the throne from Thutmosis I via Thutmosis II to Thutmosis III. This she legitimized by the statement that already her - in the meantime divine [i.e. dead] - father had appointed her as the "coregent" during his reign and thereby elected her as the successor to the throne. 

This appointment should have taken place in a - probably fictitious - speech her father made during an inspection journey to the holy shrines in the north of the country in front of the great people of the kingdom, the following statements are quoted from this speech:

"My daughter, "United with Amun, Foremost of Noble Women" she may live, I appoint her as my Coregent. Because she is my successor ..... she is God's Daughter....."

Of course, "United with Amun, Foremost of Noble Women"  is nobody else than Hatshepsut and the part "God's Daughter" directly points to her myth of Birth.

The scene above in Djeser djeseru drawn by Naville (1894-1908) shows the election of Hatshepsut as the successor to the throne by her father in the presence of the "Great" of the kingdom.

Naturally, there is no proof that Thutmosis I had considered Hatshepsut as his official successor or the he had the intention to disregard his son Thutmosis II in favor of his daughter. The undisputed accession of Thutmosis II and the conformal behavior of Hatshepsut as a "King's Wife" do not indicate that she had expected to  become king.

Fathered by the King of Gods:
The "Myth of Birth" is presented on a separate page: "Monuments/Djeser djeseru/Hall of Birth"

Elected by the King of Gods (Oracle):
In detailed reports presented after her accession in Deir el-Bahari and in the "Red Chapel" Hatshepsut  claims that she was chosen to become king by "miracles", i.e. by an oracle performed by Amun himself. According to the data given in the Red Chapel this oracle has occurred allegedly in Karnak - in 2. regnal year of a not named king - during the Opet celebration whereby Amun made clear to everybody present by signs which were called miracles whom he has chosen to became the new king.

However, in the case of Hatshepsut already a legitimate king, Thutmosis III existed. As reported, the contradiction to the Maat - to offend against the Maat was even not allowed for Amun - was solved by Amun himself whereby he led Hatshepsut into the "Sanctuary of the Truth (Maat)" in the presence of the goddess. There, Hatshepsut received "the decoration of her Majesty (i.e. Maat), her equipment of a God's Wife ", which was in that temple."

To cut a long story short, the "Maat" corrected herself!

Coronation by the King of Gods:
After Hatshepsut had been crowned first by her father Thutmosis I (see above), she got crowned again by the king of Gods, Amun. In front of all people he "personally" put the double crown on her head and handed over to her the insignia of her new dignity and power - which were based expressly on divine election.

"there Hathor called: Welcome, Welcome! And showered her with love. Removing the crown of a King's Wife, put on the decoration of the Upper- and Lower-Egyptian crown, united on her head...
I (Amun) put you on my throne, I give you scepter and whisk. I made you, so that you sacrifice before me. I have created you , so that you repairs the chapels of the Gods, with it you fasten this earth on its basis .

Finally, by Amun specified her new royal titles. 

After the fictitious generation, the election and coronation by Amun Hatshepsut received - again fictitiously - the orders [instructions] of Amun 

Put in Charge by the King of Gods:
Due to her own statement all of her enterprises Hatshepsut had accomplished exclusively according to the instruction of Amun, this applies likewise to the erection of the 1. and 2. pair of obelisks at Ipet Isut as also for the Expedition to Punt in her  9. regnal year. For the order to start an expedition to Punt again an oracle of Amun was endeavored:

"The king himself, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt "truth and vitality, a Ra (= Maat-ka-Ra), the majesty of the palace - she may live, be well and healthy - turned to the temple terrace of the Kings of Gods, in order to listen at the great seat the instruction, the oracle of the God: "search the ways to Punt. Open the roads to the terrace of myrrh. Lead the army at sea and on country...... to bring the miracles from God's country to this God (= Amun), who created her (Maat-ka-Ra) beauty ."

Due to this oracle - that naturally was given only to her - Hatshepsut gave the instruction for the execution of the expedition during a meeting of the royal council especially arranged on this occasion.

The "identifiable scenes" and the main protagonists specified by Grimm and Schoske were introduced above. Inevitably this results in the question who was responsible for performing this "opera". Was it real Hatshepsut or was she the only or the most important figure on the playing ground? It appears rather improbably that she alone was responsible for the "performance" - if at all. At least for the beginning she was dependent on the support of those men, who partially held the key positions of the power structure already since the times of her father. A helpful analysis is given in a publication of Helck, "Die Männer hinter dem König und die Königswahl", in ZÄS 121, 1994.

The investigations of Helck about the "election of the king" during the 18. dynasty point to the fact that with few exceptions (with those in which the age at their accession to be only guessed) obviously all rulers have mounted the throne as infants or young people. This starts with Ahmose, who reigned for approx. 25 years  and deceased in his mid-thirties (this age was determined with the help of the mummy) - therefore, he must have mounted the throne as a 10-year old boy - and ends up with Tutankhamun who mounted the throne at a comparable age.

Due to Helck that means compellingly that the accession to the throne  was controlled by persons of the respective time. However, apart from personal ambition and aspiration for power also "ideological" convictions might have led these persons with the aim to manipulate the ruler in their sense. 

Since on the one hand, both the person and the institution of the king obviously were indispensable in the conception of the Egyptians - one has to remember here that anything has to be in compliance with the "Maat": i.e. only that what "has been sealed in presence of the king, was legally binding" - on the other hand, another system of government was inconceivable.

For the time of Hatshepsut and her predecessors Helck identified a group of persons from Elkab, who obviously already supported the accession of Amenhotep I. Numerous officers came from Elkab who already had served under Amenhotep I and partly under Ahmose. Most likely, this group had supported likewise the accession of Thutmosis I (the mayor von Elkab was the tutor of prince Wadjmose) and the accession of Thutmosis II as well. The officer Ahmose Pen-nechbet (see Persons) not only became a treasurer, but already before Senenmut he was tutor of the princess Neferu-Ra. This group might have been responsible for the accession of Thutmosis III, but also for the appointment of Hatshepsut as regent (whereby they have ignored the mother of king Thutmosis III, Isis, who not being a member of the royal family would never have been considered to rule country as regent). 

The members of the group identified by Helck reached the retirement age - e.g. Ahmose Amethu was already that old in regnal year 5 of Hatshepsut/Thutmosis III that he asked for installation of his son as a "staff of the old (man)" - at the latest until year 9 and became replaced by "own" people of Hatshepsut. The exchange during the reign of Hatshepsut took place without any disturbances, because the names of these old men have survived intact. In contrast, the names of nearly all "new" people who made their career during the reign of Hatshepsut got erased during the autocracy of Thutmosis III, which points to the fact that all power had been taken from them intentionally.

History Genealogy Family God' Wife Regent End

Copyright: Dr. Karl H. Leser (Iufaa)