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Hatshepsut’s claims to the throne

Principal Focus
Claim to the throne and succession: Divine Birth and Coronation reliefs
Family Tree
Hatshepsut as a Pharaoh


H 1.1 describe and assess the significance of key people, groups, events, institutions, societies and sites within the historical context
H 4.1

use historical terms and concepts appropriately


explain and evaluate differing perspectives and interpretations of the past

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The Principal Focus of this study is for students to gain an understanding of Hatshepsut in the context of her time

Personalities can influence the course of history. By synthesising information students can construct an evaluation of Hatshepsut’s significance and legacy.

There is quite a lot of evidence from this period, primarily archaeological. This evidence presents Hatshepsut as she wished to be presented, even though a great deal of archaeological evidence of her reign has been destroyed.

The student therefore should be able to argue why she became “King” of Egypt, why she presented herself as a man, why figures of Hatshepsut had been carefully hacked from the walls of her mortuary temple and why her mummy appears not to have been found. The work presented here deals with two of these questions.

Finally the student should be able to assess why Hatshepsut’s reign was important and evaluate her impact and influence on her time and her legacy to Egyptian history.

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Claim to the throne and succession: Divine Birth and Coronation reliefs

Queen Hatshepsut was remarkable because she became “King” of Egypt, an achievement that was never before or after repeated. On Thutmose II’s death, Hatshepsut became regent for Thutmose III. Instead of surrendering her regency when Thutmose III matured, she usurped his title of Sovereign Ruler of Egypt.

Hatshepsut’s use of the god Amon in her claim to the throne was critical to her justification of rule. The divine origin was an ancient doctrine used by all pharaohs to show that they had the right to rule and that they were the result of divine conception. As seen on reliefs at her Mortuary Temple at Dier-el-Bahri, Hatshepsut claimed that the god Amon had visited her mother, Queen Ahmose, and had copulated with her to produce the divine offspring, Hatshepsut. In the relief, Amon is shown placing ankhs (the symbol of life) on the amazed Queen Ahmose’s nose and hand. This was so she could inhale his divine essence and conceive his child

Hatshepsut also used Amon to justify her usurpation of the throne over Thutmose III by showing in a relief in her Red Chapel sanctuary at Karnak (dedicated to Amon) a religious procession. In this procession there is a statue of Amon that did not make a ‘divine manifestation’ (probably a nod) in the direction of Thutmose III. Apparently Amon was supposed to do this if the young prince rightly deserved the throne.

Hatshepsut also claimed she had accompanied her father, Thutmose I, on campaigns and had met with the gods. This shows his approval of her as the next ruler of Egypt and that he hailed her as his sole heir, and that all the gods of Upper and Lower Egypt praised her as the daughter of Amon

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Family Tree

  Name Dates Duration
(as sole ruler)
Link to Ahmose 1. Ahmose c. 1570 - 1546 BC 24 years
  2. Amenhotep 1 c. 1546 - 1526 BC 20 years
Link to ThutmoseI 3. Thutmose I c. 1525 - 1512 BC 13 years
Link to ThutmoseII 4. Thutmose II c. 1512 - 1503 BC 9 years
  5. Hatshepsut c. 1503 - 1482 BC 21 years
Link to ThutmoseIII 6. Thutmose III c. 1482 - 1450 BC 32 years



  1. Why is Hatshepsut remembered?
  2. How did Hatshepsut use the god Amon to justify her right to the throne?
  3. How did she further justify her usurpation of the throne from Thutmose III?
  4. Who beside Amon, did Hatshepsut claim, regarded her as rightful ruler of Egypt?
  5. Which Pharaoh ruled the longest in Hatshepsut’s immediate family?

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Hatshepsut as a Pharaoh

Early representations show the Queen in all the trappings of the Pharaoh, but with full femininity in her appearance. As her reign continued, this gradually evolved into a more and more masculine depiction (according to the French scholar Tefrin). This may have been to prepare the way for the continuance of matriarchal rule, with her daughter Neferure as her successor. Tefrin studied five statues of Hatshepsut found in a quarry behind Dier-el-Bahri. He concentrates on four of the statues (dated at various times of her reign) as one was badly damaged. He claims Hatshepsut was gradually trying to move towards a totally masculine figure.

One conclusion that can be made from this study relates not only to the depiction, but also to the increasing size of the statues. In the early years of her reign, the statues were small, showing she was probably still unsure of the people’ reaction to her usurpation. Later as her reign progressed, there was obviously no adverse reaction forthcoming, reflected in the larger size of the statues (the larger the statue, the more powerful the Pharaoh). This showed Hatshepsut’s growing confidence in her position as ruler of Egypt.

After nearly twenty years on the throne, Hatshepsut’s power began to decline as she and her supporters grew old and weak. During the last two years of her life she made Thutmose II co-regent and he took over as Pharaoh in 1482 BC.

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Steindorff & Seale, When Egypt Ruled the East, The University of Chicago Press

Bentley, Juliette Hatshepsut , Teaching History

Hatshepsut: The Queen who would be King (external website)
This is a site created and maintained by David Bediz that covers various aspects of Hatshepsut’s life. It contains six further links that give more detailed information.

Hatshepsut, Female Pharaoh of Egypt (external website)
This is an essay written by C. Seawright. An excellent starting point and there are very good references at the end of the essay.

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