Queen Hatshepsut: 1507 BCE -1458 BCE
Some 14 Centuries before Cleopatra ascended to the throne of Egypt, reigned the second of only three female Pharoahs, Queen Hatshepsut. She is considered by scholars of Egyptian history to be the longest reigning female Pharaoh in Egypt and the one of the most successful across both genders.
The only child of Thutmose I and his principle wife, Queen Ahmes, her position as future Queen was certain, however, perhaps not the age at which she would attain it. When, at 12 years old, Hatshepsut’s father died, she was married to, Thutmose II, the son of her father and one of his secondary wive; a common tradition at the time in which to ensure the royal bloodline. The marriage made her the Queen of Egypt and Principe Wife. Together, they also had only one child; a daughter, Nefurere. Thutmose II reigned for a mere fifteen years before his death, making Hatshepsut a widow before her thirtieth birthday. Whereas her own father’s death had left her a secure path to Queen, it was not so for her daughter. Thutmose II had fathered a male child with a concubine named Isis. Since he was still an infant at his father’s passing, his stepmother, Hatshepsut became regent until he became of age. During that time, however, she ascended to Pharaoh with full power of that position. It was a move not without controversy. Hatshepsut, though, established her claim successfully by proving her lineage and surrounding herself with strong supporters.
Whereas the rulers that had come before her had focused on gaining more land, Hatshepsut was a peaceful Pharoah, and made her primary goal economic growth and stability, as well as the development of new infrastructure, and building trade relationships with her neighbors. The country is said by scholars to have prospered under her rule. She is responsible for the construction of the famed Deir el-Bahri and Djeser-djeseri (holiest of holy) Temples, and the pair of red obsidian obelisks at the mouth of the Temple of Amon, one of which still exists and restored a number of other monuments. During her reign, she also ordered one of the greatest trading expeditions to have ever occured at the time.
Hatshepsut ordered images of her likeness to appear as masculine with full kilt and crown and sometimes even a beard. It is not, it is said, because of ego or pride that she did this, rather that there existed no words nor precedence for a woman to have gained such power. Though, when her stepson, Thutmose III, came to power he eradicated most of the statues, plaques and other objects being her likeness, a few survive. It is because of this that it took historians and scholars until 1822 to discover her existence. In 1903, a search for her mummy ensued though she was not found until 2007. For having the longest reign as a female Egyptian Pharoah, her life was remarkably short; just past forty years. Taken from her spot beside her father behind the Deir- el-Bahri Temple, she now rests in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.