Egypt: Tour Egypt Monthly: Queens of Ancient Egypt, Part II


By Dr. Sameh Arab

The Voyage to the Land of Punt

Hatshepsut The voyage to the Land of Punt was one of the most important, and yet mysterious achievements of Hatshepsut. It is believed to have started during her 7th regal year, immediately after her coronation, and lasted until the 8th. Herodotus later writings believed this only lasted two months.

A Scene from Hatshepsut's Temple Related to the Punt Expedition

Punt was a legendary land, previously known as the "Land of the God", as mentioned in the "Book of the Dead".

"The Lands of the Gods see thee, they could write [concerning thee]; the Deserts of Punt could count thee."

It is untrue, as Hatshepsut claimed, that her voyage was the first in history. It has been an ancient tradition to undertake that trip since the 4th dynasty, when a son of "Khufu" (Cheops) did it. Other voyages were mentioned during the reign of "Sahu-Ra" in the early 5th dynasty, when Egyptians began trading with the Land of Punt. Another expedition has been mentioned during the reign of "Pepi II" (6th dynasty). The caravan leader, "Harkhuf" has written to the 9-year old king describing a dancing dwarf he was bringing back to Egypt.

During the reigns of "Mentu-Hotep II" and "Mentu-Hotep III" (11th dynasty), as well as "Sesostris I" and "Amenemhat II" (12th dynasty), successful expeditions were dispatched to the Land of Punt. "Sesostris III" (12th dynasty) had dug a canal joining the Nile and the Red Sea (Suez Gulf), for ships to sail directly to Punt.

A story narrated during the reign of "Amenemhat II" by a ship captain who had been to a magic island in the sea far south beyond Nubia. The sailor told the vizier (prime minister) about a tempest which arose suddenly and drove the ship towards a mysterious land. He suddenly heard a noise like thunder, and saw a huge serpent with a beard. Upon hearing that the sailor was sent by the pharaoh, the serpent let him go back, with gifts to "Amenemhat". It told him that it was Amon-Ras blessing that has made this island rich and lacking nothing. Upon hearing this amusing story, "Amenemhat II" ordered it to be documented on a papyrus. The story is known to historians as "The Shipwrecked Sailor".

After the death of Hatshepsut, trade continued with Punt during the 18th dynasty by "Thotmos III", "Amon-Hotep III", and "Horemheb". Puntite officials were even depicted in wall reliefs of the temple of "Ramses II" at Abydos. The last king known to record a trading expedition to Punt was "Ramses III" during the early 20th dynasty.

The actual location of the Land of Punt is still mysterious. As the trip was assumed to have been heading through the Nile then southward through the Red sea, most historians believe it lies at the western African coast near what is today Somalia or Ethiopia. Such assumption is based upon the African features of the queen of Punt (at el-Deir el-Bahary temple) and the ornaments around her legs. The location was described as a sand coast with heights covered by ebony and incense trees. Upon its return, the expedition has bought back ivory, silver and gold too. Giraffes, which are purely African animals, and monkeys were shown to live there.

Another assumption was that the voyage was across the Nile, not the sea. This was evidenced by the presence of 5 types of river-fish. The Punt harbour would then be located around a small river, which is assumed to be the Gloin river (or Elephant river) in Somalia. Other extremists have assumed that Punt lies at the Arabian Peninsula or Sinai. The "Narmer" Stele (1st dynasty) showing the king fighting his enemies while bare-footed with a boy carrying his sandals, denoted a sacred land that he stood upon.

It is to be noted that the artist has not inscribed the usual hieroglyphic sign for foreign lands above the name Punt. This might point towards the fact that Punt was considered as part of Egyptian lands.

Hatshepsuts voyage to Punt was depicted on her temple of el-Deir el-Bahary. Reliefs show the departure of the expedition, its arrival at the mysterious land, the lading of the ships with the gifts by the Puntine leader to Hatshepsut, and the preparations for the return voyage.

The story illustrates that it was planned according to direct orders of the god Amon, in order to bring back trees and incense necessary for divine rituals. Though the campaign was a peaceful trading expedition for enhancing diplomatic relations and commerce, it included a small military corps. It was formed of five ships, each measuring 70 feet long, and with several sails. These accommodated 210 men, including sailors and 30 rowers, and was led by the Nubian general "Nehsi". A huge red granite statue covered by precious stones and representing Amon and the queen in front of him, was erected on the coastline.

EL-Deir el-Bahary Temple

Hatshepsut started building her mortuary temple in her 7th regal year, which was not finished until the 16th or maybe 20th. All nomes (provinces) contributed as if it was a national project, same as when building the Great Pyramid. The architect was "Senenmut", and after his death it was completed by "Imhotep".

The temple was hewn in the rocks at a location which was considered sacred during ancient times, and dedicated to the cult of Hathor, the cow goddess. At the same site were also the tombs of her ancestors, and the temple was built to encroach upon the courtyard of that of "Mentu-Hotep" (11th dynasty), which her architect Senenmut has quoted from its design to a far extent. Hatshepsut dedicated that temple to Amon, but she also built chapels for Hathor and Anubis within the complex. Side chambers were set for the queens mortuary cult, though she was buried at the Valley of Kings with her father "Thotmose I" whom she moved his mummy from its original burial. Other than the worship of Amon, the temple was dedicated to document the legend of her divine birth, as well as her voyage to the Land of Punt.

The temple was built of limestone, with its rear parts hewn in a cave-like structure within the rocks. It consists of three terraces or courtyards on different levels that rise gradually from the valley to the sanctuary deep inside the rocks, and are linked by ramps that divide the temple into northern and southern halves. These vertical and horizontal lines show extreme harmony in dimensions, balance and smoothness. Its harmony with the surrounding environment (the mountain, desert and sky) is quite obvious. The design combined the old architecture of the Middle Kingdom (broken angled crownless pillars) and modernization (wider courtyards).

Originally, the temple was linked to an old Valley Temple on the Nile by an avenue of sphinxes with the queens face. At the gateway of el-Deir el-Bahary Temple, six sphinxes stood guarding its entrance. All those structures, including the avenue, were later destroyed by "Thotmose III", and remnants of about 120 of those sphinxes were later found.

In front of the gateway and on both sides of the ramp in the first courtyard, Hatshepsut planted the trees obtained from the Land of Punt. The stumps of two trees are still preserved in front of the gateway within enclosures. This was the first time in history to cultivate plants in a different environment than their original habitat.

The entrance to the temple is towards the east, leading to the Lower Courtyard. The whole structure was enclosed within a retaining wall of limestone, parts of which are still preserved on the south side. Along the west side of each terrace rises a colonnade.

The Lower Courtyard:

The Lower Courtyard was originally a garden. Four small ponds were dug on both sides of the ramp in which papyri grew. The remnants of those ponds could still be seen in front of the ramp as two cavities. On both sides of the ramp, northern and southern colonnades end by the Middle Terrace.

Each colonnade has two rows of 11 pillars. The front row pillars are square, and are adorned at their tops by falcons, vultures and snakes.

The rear row pillars are 16-sided uncrowned ones. The inscriptions and reliefs on the columns are now erased, with very few that could still be seen.

The remaining reliefs on the rear wall of the north colonnade (on the right side of the ramp) represent the ritual hunting and fishing in sacred ponds. A water fowl being caught by a net in a pond could be seen.

The rear wall of the south colonnade (on the left side of the ramp) shows later-defaced reliefs representing the obelisks transported through the Nile from Aswan and erected at el-Karnak. The text started by the queens titles, her instructions to build the ships and the transport of the obelisks. She also mentioned how the men were gathered from allover Egypt in Elephantine for this task. Twenty-seven rowing boats in three rows were used, with other ones around for the priests who were burning incenses and praying to bless this mission. The boats then landed at Thebes, and the scene then shows soldiers celebrating, and priests preparing sacrifices. The text also mentions that the obelisks were erected in celebration of her "Sed Festival" (30 years of coronation). It is notable that the name of "Thotmose III" appeared within the text by sailors who cheered for him with the queen. Hatshepsut was depicted making offerings to Amon, but later was defaced.

On both sides of the ramp, a great serpent (representing evil) was depicted, together with the lion that conquered it.

The Middle Courtyard:

The first ramp ascends to end in the Middle Courtyard which is bounded also at the west end by a colonnaded terrace. Another ramp (leading to the upper courtyard) divides it into a northern colonnade on the right side (The Birth Colonnade) and a southern one on the left side (The Punt Colonnade).

The Birth Colonnade

This part depicts the legend of Hatshepsuts birth and her coronation by Amon. The roof is supported by 22 square pillars in two rows, all showing the same scenes on their four sides: Amon laying his hand in blessing on the shoulder of Hatshepsut. The figures were later obliterated.

The rear wall shows Ahmose, Hatshepsuts mother, while pregnant with Khnum and the midwife frog-headed Heqet (goddess of birth). In another relief, Ahmose is seen standing opposite to the Ibis-headed god Thot.

The north side of the colonnade opens into 4 unfinished chambers. At the very north end, two steps lead into a vestibule supported by 12 columns, each with 16 sides.

The Vestibule is small and almost square-shaped, leading to the Chapel of Anubis. Its roof is painted in blue to represent the sky, with glistening stars within.

The vestibule contains a small niche, above which "Thotmose III" is seen offering wine to the god Sokar (god of the dead, and guardian of the entrance to the underworld). Hatshepsut (obliterated figure) is seen with Anubis, and on its left she is standing in front of the symbol of Emewet (god of the dead).

Another niche shows Hatshepsut standing before Osiris, and Nekhbet (protective goddess of Upper Egypt) and Harakhty (Horus of the Horizon) are seen with the defaced name of Hatshepsut in between.

At the rear wall (west) of the vestibule, three steps lead to the Chapel of Anubis. On both sides of the entrance, Hatshepsut was depicted making offerings to Amon on the left, and Anubis on the right wall. Gifts are seen heaped in front of both gods.

The Chapel of Anubis consists of three chambers with vaulted roofs. The walls of the three chambers show well-preserved colored paintings of the queen with various gods, particularly Anubis. "Thotmose III" is shown only once in the second chamber with the god Sokar.

The Punt Colonnade

The Punt Colonnade lies on the left (southern) side of the ramp, and is identical in construction to the Birth Colonnade. It was dedicated to commemorate the voyage to the Land of Punt. Most of its reliefs are now damaged.

The south (left) wall of the colonnade shows a coastal village in the Land of Punt. Beehive-shaped huts that were raised upon long pegs and entered by ladders, are seen within the shadows of palms and incense trees. The unarmed Egyptian delegate Nehsi is seen followed by his guards, and received by the king of Punt followed by the queen. The queen was obese with redundant skin and wearing ornaments around her legs. She was followed first by her two sons and a daughter, then by 3 local officials with a saddled donkey. The underlying text denotes their submission to the sun god, and reverence to the "king" of Egypt.

The reliefs also showed the features of the Puntine people, who were black Africans, as well as another race much resembling Egyptians. The later group of inhabitants was depicted as red colored (as the traditional color of Egyptians in ancient art), wearing a small beard resembling those of Egyptian priests and the short Egyptian shirts. Donkeys were depicted as the method of transporting goods, and white dogs guarding the peoples houses. Birds, monkeys, leopards and hippopotamus are also seen, as well as giraffes which are typical African animals, to live in Punt. Nehsi is then shown in front of his tent with a banquet offered to his guests, and observing the gifts presented.

The right side wall shows the departure of the convoy with the ships laden with merchandise and monkeys hanging on the masts. The west (rear) wall shows on the left side the arrival of the ships at Luxor. It is worth mention that only the departure and arrival of ships were depicted without documenting details of passing through any land, which has raised suspicion of a direct route through the Nile. Above, Puntines and Egyptians are seen with gifts to the queen. The queen is then shown with her guarding spirit dedicating the gifts to Amon. Gold is being weighed, with Seshet (the goddess of scribes) recording, while Horus was operating the scale. Thoth is also seen measuring the amount of incense, with seven trees in a tub. Hatshepsut is then shown with Amon but the inscription in between was obliterated. "Thotmose III" is seen offering an incense to the barque of Amon. The text shows one of Hatshepsuts forgeries, when it mentions that Amon praised her as the first pharaoh to reach this land. It also mentioned that all remote voyages there were only rumors and legends.

The north (right) wall of the colonnade shows the queen seated under a canopy - with her spirit behind in front of numerous dignitaries. She announced that the trees were to be planted in her temple, as her father Amon has ordered.

The Temple of Hathor The south side of the Punt Colonnade opens into the Temple of Hathor, which originally was entered from its east side by steps. The temple is now ruined, but originally was formed of two colonnades on different levels. Both colonnades contained 16-sided columns and either square ones with Hathor capitals (lower colonnade) or rounded Hathor columns with some preserved reliefs (upper colonnade).

The Upper Courtyard:

The upper courtyard of the temple is badly ruined. Its original roof was supported by 16-sided columns, and several colossal statues of the queen, that were reshaped later, by "Thotmose III," into pillars. The court opens by a giant granite gate at the end of the ramp from the middle courtyard. Immediately behind that gate, once stood a hypostyle hall which is was totally ruined by Coptic monks during the Roman persecution period. On the north side of the courtyard is a chapel, with its entrance opening at the northeast corner of the Upper Courtyard.

The Chapel The Upper Courtyard open into a Vestibule, with three 16-sided columns supporting its roof. Opposite the entrance is a niche with reliefs of the queen, and on the rear wall she is seen in the presence of Amon. On the side walls, she is seen seated to a table with a priest in front of her.

The vestibule leads to an Open Court (west side), with an alter in its middle raised over 10 steps. The alter was dedicated to Ra-Harakhty (Ra associated with Horus). A niche at the rear wall shows the queen making offerings. The north wall of the court opens into the two-chambered chapel, with most of its reliefs chiseled away later.

The side walls of the first chamber show the queen making offerings to Amon and the gods of the dead (Osiris, Anubis, Sokar and Emewet). She was also shown with her father "Thotmose I" in front of the sign of the god Emewet at the rear wall of that chamber.

The second chamber shows "Thotmose I" and his mother "Senseneb" making offerings to Anubis. Hatshepsut and her mother "Ahmose" are seen on the left side wall making offerings to Amon. This was a further bypassing of the memory of "Thotmose II", and more of reverence to Hatshepsuts own father. The skies at night with its stars are represented on the roof.

The Mortuary Chapel of Hatshepsut

The Mortuary Chapel of the queen is located on the south side of the Upper Courtyard. It is a well-preserved vaulted chamber, with its rear wall having a doorway that leads into the realm of the afterlife. On both sides of the entrance are reliefs showing sacrificed animals being slaughtered. The side walls of the chapel show priests burning incenses, performing rituals and offering gifts to Hatshepsut, who is seated in the front.

The rear wall of the Upper Courtyard has several niches. The larger ones once contained statues of the queen, and the smaller ones show reliefs with representations of Hatshepsut and "Thotmose III" in the presence of various gods. In the center of that wall is the entrance to the Sanctuary.

At the north end (right side) of the wall behind the Chapel is the Hall of Amon, with its partially preserved roof decorated with stars on blue background representing the sky. The left hand wall of the hall shows the queen in the presence of Amon and Amon-Min (god of virility), while the right hand one shows "Thotmose III" in equivalent presentations. Originally Hatshepsut was depicted with Amon on the rear wall, but was later replaced with "Thotmose III". All figure of the deities were later defaced by "Akhen-Aton".

On the left hand side of the western wall (south end of the Upper Courtyard) and adjacent to the Mortuary Temple; is a small chamber with a well-preserved roof. Its right side wall originally showed Hatshepsut in the presence of Amon-Ra, with her guardian spirit behind. An offering table later replaced the queens figure. That of "Thotmose II" on the left side wall also replaced her figure while offering the sacred oil to Amon. On the rear wall, the figure of "Thotmose I" replaced that of Hatshepsut, and is seen with "Thotmose III" making offerings to Amon.

The Sanctuary

A granite gate in the middle of the rear wall of the Upper Courtyard of the temple opens into a small passage leading to the Sanctuary, which is hewn inside the rocks. The sanctuary originally contained only two chambers with vaulted roofs and niches, but a third one was later added by "Eugretes II" (146 117 BC). This was dedicated to Imhotep and Amon-Hotep whom the Ptolomies much venerated. The three chambers are badly damaged.

Some reliefs could still be identified in the first chamber; in which Hatshepsut, "Thotmose III" and princess "Nefru-Ra" are seen making offerings to the barque of Amon. Behind them are seen "Thotmose I" and Queen "Ahmose" (Hatshepsuts parents) with her small sister "Bit-Nefru". The scene is better preserved on the right side wall, but on the left one, only "Thotmose III" and "Nefru-Ra" can be identified.


Among the outstanding monuments Hatshepsut has erected were the famous granite obelisks. "Thotmose I" started to erect two obelisks at el-Karnak (each measuring 57 meters, according to Herodotus), but one was left on the ground without any inscriptions, while the other included the names of "Thotmose I" and "Thotmose III". As the reign of "Thotmose II" lasted less than the 30 years to celebrate the festival of "Sed", and probably due to Hatshepsuts his wife reverence to her fathers memory, the obelisk was left untouched, and came later to inscribe on it, beside two other ones which she were cut during her reign. On the one left from "Thotmose I", she related this obelisk to herself, in an unusual fashion. The text is almost an oath that the granite was cut in her 15th year, and lasted seven months. It is obvious that her aim was assert that her reign has followed her fathers, totally neglecting "Thotmose II". The transport of this obelisk from Aswan and its erection were depicted in the Lower Colonnade of el-Deir el-Bahary Temple, but were subjected to much defacement. Both obelisks at el-Karnak are believed to have been coated with gold.

It is very difficult to decide what has Hatshepsut built at el-Karnak because of the massive destruction her monuments have during her successors reigns. Beyond the 4th Pylon was a ruined temple dating to the Middle Kingdom, which included a sanctuary. The sanctuary was renewed with some colored reliefs made on the northern wall. Two doors were opened in the northern and southern walls, each leading to six chambers for storage, and a warehouse for incenses. A huge alter was placed, ands a small temple was built with her name engraved hidden between its stones. She depicted herself kneeling in the presence of Amon, who was touching her during her coronation. "Thotmose III" came later to build the 5th Pylon and his temple at that place.

Adjacent to Amons Temple, Hatshepsut has built another temple facing the east, so that the sun would shine throwing its lights even into the sanctuary. The temple included two sitting statues for herself (south side) and for "Thotmose III" (north side), with numerous marble ones showing her sitting in the presence of Amon. The two granite obelisks were placed in that temple. Later, "Akhen-Aton" (Amon-Hotep IV") came to build his own temple over hers. Both temples are now ruined.

The old town of Armant (23 Km south of Luxor) was the southern boundary of Thebes, which was known as "The Upper Egyptian On" (to differentiate it from "Heliopolis-On" of the north). Hatshepsut built a temple there dedicated to the war god "Munt". The temple carried her name as well as "Thotmose III", who later renewed it and included a stele over which he recorded the start of his reign.

On the west bank opposite Thebes at "Medinet Habu" (City of Habu), was a small unfinished temple of "Amon-Hotep I" dedicated to commemorate the glories of the Middle Kingdom. This was continued by "Thotmose I", "Thotmose II" then finalized by Hatshepsut. The temple is raised over seven small steps, with five adjacent chambers deeply hewn, and a separate one forming a sanctuary. On the walls of the sanctuary, Hatshepsut depicted her titles in seven forms. At el-Qurna, she also built a pier and a citadel. She was depicted on a stele there with "Thotmose III" who was wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt.

Architecture outside Thebes:

Outside Thebes (Luxor), Hatshepsut decided to reconstruct the temples that were devastated by the Hyksos. At el-Qouseya (330 Km south of Cairo), and in the ancient capital of the 14th nome (city of "Kis" - now el-Weseia), Hatshepsut renewed the Temple of Hathor, the cow goddess. At el-Ashmunein, capital of the 15th nome (296 Km south of Cairo), she renewed the temple of Amnemhat II, which was dedicated to glorify the Ibis or baboon headed Thot, the moon god and god of writing and learning. The temple was built at the site of the ancient "Sacred city of Khmunu" or the "City of Deities", the center of Thots cult. According to the ancient mythology, it was believed that on a primal hill, Thot has created eight primal frog gods who in turn engendered the egg from which the sun grew. Hatshepsut enforced the gates of the temple by marble and golden shutter leaves, renewed its furniture, and erected an alter made of gold and silver, as well as a golden statue of Amon. The festivals were revived, and the rituals performed by the local priests were re-organized in dedication to the sacred ennead as well as the gods Khnum and Heqet.

At Kom-Ombo (97 Km south of Luxor), Hatshepsut renewed also the Temple of "Amon-Hotep I", which was dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, the Nile god. In that temple set over cliffs overlooking the Nile, she depicted herself during her early reign with "Thotmose III", each wearing one of the Egyptian crowns. She also renewed the temples of the 11th and 12th dynasties kings at el-Cab (38 Km south of Luxor). All are now destroyed, with only few stones found carrying her name.

Two other temples were hewn in the rocks. The temple known as "Speos Artemidos" (The Gretto of Artemis) or "Istabl Antar" (Antars stable) was built so high on the cliffs near Beni-Hassan (270 Km south of Cairo). This included a vestibule and a narrow passage leading to a sanctuary, and on its faade she made a long dedication recording the annals of her supremacy forever. The importance of this temple lies in her trial to ascribe the expulsion of the Hyksos to herself. In the original design, she made no mention of "Thotmose III", but later, he and "Seti I" added their names and defaced hers.

The other temple known as "Batn el-Baqara" was hewn in the same valley during her joint reign with her brother and husband "Thotmose II", and was dedicated also to "Pakhet". It included only a small niche (160 x 98 cm), and on the faade, Hatshepsut and "Thotmose III" were depicted making offerings to the gods Pakhet, Khnum, Hathor and Harakhty. Though it seems that "Thotmose III" was more dignified there, he came later to deface her image and names. Princess "Nefru-Ra" was also shown following her mother, and the titles were dignifying her as "The gods hand". The temple was later occupied by Coptic monks during the early centuries AD during the Roman persecution.

Some colored pottery found in a mine at Sinai included the image of Hatshepsut. It seems that the scribe was confused, as he wrote the name "Maat-Ka-Ra Thotmose" as one and the same pharaoh.

Hatshepsuts death and burial

Hatshepsut decided to be buried with her father "Thotmose I" in the Valley of Kings. A tunnel was dug behind the huge cliffs of el-Deir el-Bahary Temple, to the east side of the Valley of Kings. Thus the mortuary rituals performed for her Ka after her death, would be immediately above her tomb, allowing the Ka to ascend each morning and witness the sunrise. The tunnel is about 700 feet long, and was dug 300 feet under ground level, with some rightwards deviation to avoid the rocky bed.

In an exaggerated reverence to her father, Hatshepsut made another sarcophagus for him to be included in her burial chamber. His mummy was moved from its original tomb to be buried with her. Some of his mortuary furniture was found, including a marble vessel bearing the name of "The Royal Wife Hatshepsut". This was her title during the life of her husband "Thotmose II" when her father was buried, and she was never called so when her own tomb was built. Two other vessels were found, one harboring the names of her father and mother, and the other those of "Thotmose I and "II". Such act was a further instigation to "Thotmose III", as it showed her reign to be immediately following her fathers. "Thotmse II" would thus look like a usurper, beside her intentional ignoring of the later, and depicting her parents in the chapel at the Upper Courtyard of the temple.

The tomb that was later looted, and a sarcophagus bearing her name was found at el-Deir el-Bahary in AD 1881, but proved to belong to another princess of the 21st dynasty. A chest containing the four canopic jars and two unidentified female bodies were also found, but no evidence could prove that these were hers.

The last mention of Hatshepsut was on her 17th regal year, when she died on the 10th day of the 6th month of the 22nd year (early February). The circumstances of her death remain uncertain, but seem to be natural. "Thotmose III" arranged for her funerary ceremonies, as he was shown at Karnak wearing the White Crown, with two statues of the embalmed queen wearing the Red Crown, and acquiring the traditional Osirian position.

"Thotmose III" started to appear alone as a sole pharaoh. Immediately he recorded his authority on a relief dedicated to "Monto", the war god, in boasting of his physical power, and how he could kill 7 lions and capture 12 wild bulls all alone. The exaggeration seems to be camouflaging his previous submission during Hatshepsuts life. Soon after he retrieved kingship, "Thotmose III" started leading 17 campaigns in Gaza, Palestine, Syria and Nubia, which restored Egypts domination over the Near East. Some years after Hatshepsuts death, he started mutilating her inscriptions and surrounded her obelisk by a wall. This did not take place immediately after the queens death, as it seems "Thotmose III" had to wait for the death of some remaining officials who were loyal to her. Hatshepsuts name never appeared in any later annals.

The defacement of Hatshepsuts monuments

Few years after Hatshepsuts death, "Thotmose III" started his revenge. He started to erase her name, which was so crucial for an ancient Egyptian and constituted an integral part of existence during afterlife. "Thotmose III" started by chiseling the names off the inscriptions, and replaced them by his own, those of "Thotmose I or II" or were left vacant. He aimed to give an impression of the continuity of the three pharaohs reign uninterrupted by Hatshepsut. This was followed by defacing her reliefs. Her statues were smashed, burned and soaked in water, particularly those of the "Ka". The eyes and nose of the statues were smashed so the deceased queen could not see or breathe in her afterlife, and uraeus (royal cobra placed on the forehead) was smashed too, to deprive her any power.

What "Thotmose III" failed to destroy, he remolded and related to himself. At el-Karnak after destroying her statue sitting beside Amon, the design of the gods figure did not make any sense. Amon was made to stand instead of sitting, and the base of the smashed queens statue was replaced by drawings. On top of one obelisk, the queen was kneeling on her knees, with Amon performing her coronation. Removal of the queens figure rendered the gods hand stretched for no reason, and hence a wand was placed in it. When he could not deface the inscriptions on another obelisk, he simply surrounded it by a high fence. At the top which could not be hidden, he replaced her name and figure with his. In one temple when he failed to coat with gold to hide her name, "Thotmose III" dismantled it. He also usurped the golden gates of her temples and utilized the stones of a temple to tile his orchard. This was disclosed when the name of the queen was later found in its base.


The story of Hatshepsut is never complete without "Senenmut". During the early co-regency, she had full support of "Hapuseneb", the High Priest of Amon and other officials, whom she allowed to build their tombs within the rocks above her temple at el-Deir el-Bahary.

"Senenmut" was the most powerful and loyal man in her court, who was a descendant of a family known to be loyal to the Thotmosid house. He himself has worked with her father as an overseer of the royal palace, and accompanied him in his military campaigns. As soon as her father died, Senenmut wasted no time to gain Hatshepsuts confidence. He was given many authorities, as Hatshepsuts adviser, overseer of the "She-Horus House", all royal properties as well as some temples. In addition, Senenmut was a talent architecture, and has left his fingerprints at her mortuary temple. The Louvre Museum in Paris displays his statue carrying his architectural tools.

The relation between him and the queen was so unique and vague. Some scholars believe in a secret intimate relationship, and some even suspect that he was the actual father of her daughter "Nefru-Ra". Several statues at Cairo Museum show him with the princess. One of which shows her sitting on his lap with his chin touching her head. The princess is shown with a ponytail and her finger in her mouth. Another statue shows him hiding the princess with his arms and knees, and another statue at Chicago Museum show Senenmut standing, while the princess was seated on his arm, and touching his shoulder. Moreover, the tomb of Senenmuts parents show his mother with a scarab ring given to her by Hathor, and among her furniture was a sarcophagus bearing the name of the princess.

Among the authorities of Senemut was the "Overseer of Private Chambers", including the queens own bedroom and bathroom.

So many statues of Senenmut were built by Hatshepsut at Thebes and Karnak. His name was also inscribed with the queens at the Temple of Hathor in el-Deir el-Bahary. However, the most unusual privilege was his figure that he depicted in small niches of this temple, which were hidden behind the doors. Once the doors were closed at night, his figures would appear worshipping her and Amon in the darkness of the temple, an act that no other architect in history has ever dared to do. He was also permitted an unprecedented honor, which was his burial within the courtyard of the queens temple. in this tomb, her images were depicted everywhere, with Senenmut in a worshipping position. A cartouche of "Maat-Ka-Ra" (Hatshepsut) was also placed over the symbol off gold.

An unfinished tomb above el-Deir el-Bahary was found with some graffiti. One of these shows a drawing of Senenmut, and on another wall there is a sketch showing a female Pharaoh in passive submission to a male figure. It was unverified if this was a contemporary comment on their relationship, a later satire, or simply a fantasy.

Suddenly in the 16th regal year of Hatshepsut, Senenmut was replaced two officials, a vizier (prime minister) and an overseer of the royal palace. It is uncertain whether he resigned after the death of "Nefru-Ra" or was deposed. Few months later, he disappeared from all documents, and it is not confirmed if he died naturally, or was assassinated by "Thotmose III" associates. From then onwards, "Thotmose III" started to acquire more authorities. In either case, Senenmut was buried in dignifying necessary for a noble who and his family have served the Thosmosid House since Queen "Ahmose", Hatshepsuts mother.

You may write Paul at with any questions or comments.

The Nile, the Moon and Sirius: The Ancient Egyptian Calendar
By Richard Weininger

The Nile, the Moon and Sirius: The Ancient Egyptian Calendar By Richard Weininger

The Egyptian Traveler's Survival Kit By Jimmy Dunn

The Tomb of Nefertari By Paul Groffie

Palace of the Sun King By Dr. Joann Fletcher

The Ecological Context of Ancient Egyptian Predynastic settlements By Michael Brass

Tunnel Vision By Ralph Ellis & Mark Foster

The Queens of Egypt - Part II By Dr. Sameh Arab

Cross Staff and Plumbline and the Great Pyramid By Crichton E M Miller

Editor's Commentary By Jimmy Dunn

Ancient Beauty Secrets By Judith Illes

Book Reviews Various Editors

Kid's Corner By Margo Wayman

Cooking with Tour Egypt By Mary K Radnich

Hotel Reviews By Juergen Stryjak

Egyptian Exhibitions By deTraci Regula

Egyptian View-Point By Adel Murad

Nightlife Various Editors

Restaurant Reviews Various Editors

Shopping Around By Juergen Stryjak

Web Reviews By Siri Bezdicek

Prior Issues

February 1st, 2001

January 1st, 2001

December 1st, 2000

October 1st, 2000

September 1st, 2000

August 1st, 2000

July 1st, 2000

June 1st, 2000

Last Updated: June 9th, 2011