Was she the archetypal wicked stepmother, an unnatural and scheming woman ?of the most virile character who would deliberately abuse a position of trust to steal the throne from a defenceless child? (Gardiner, 1961:184)? Or was she ?an experienced and well-meaning woman who ruled amicably alongside her stepson, steering her country through twenty peaceful, prosperous years who deserves to be commemorated among the great monarchs of Egypt? (Budge, 1902:I)? According to biographer and historian Joyce Tyldesley, Queen or as she would prefer to be remembered, King Hatchepsut became the female embodiment of a male role, whose reign was a carefully balanced period of internal peace, foreign exploration and monument building (Tyldesley, 1996:1). This study will show that it was Hatshepsut the Pharaoh?s devotion to the god Amen and her protection of the maat of 18th Dynasty Egypt that allowed her to forge her successful New Kingdom regime.
In about 1630 BC, a group of mixed Semitic-Asiatics called ?Hyksos? (probably Egyptian for ?rulers of foreign lands?) seized power and ruled Egypt as Pharaohs or as vassals. The Hyksos introduced the horse and chariot, the compound bow, improved battle-axes and advanced fortification techniques into Egypt. Their chief deity was the Egyptian storm and desert god, Seth. Under the Hyksos rulers Seqeneenre and Kamose the Thebans began a revolt spread northward under Kamose until, in about 1521, Avaris feel to his successor, Ahmose, founder of the 18th Dynasty (Tyldesley, 1996:24-25).
This was the beginning of ?The New Kingdom,? characterized by god-like pharaohs who left immense temples and fortresses that still stand today. Until this time, the 12th Dynasty had represented Egypt?s only true golden age, with a succession of strong pharaohs who ruled over a united land. The longing to return to the glories of the 12th Dynasty consumedthe pharaohs of the 18th and became a constant underlying theme of New Kingdom political life after a hundred years of foreign rule. A second key characteristic of the New Kingdom was steady expansion of the empire. Under 18th Dynasty pharaohs ruling from Thebes, Palestine and Syria became provinces, Nubia was conquered as far as the foot of the Fourth Cataract, conquest was extended as far north as the Upper Euphrates, and governors were appointed for all the important cities and towns of the resulting empire. As a result, 18th Dynasty Egypt becomes the richest country in the world which, in turn, leads to a prolific level of construction of the period (Budge, 1977:9).
The expulsion of the Hyksos was not without cost. Ahmose lost his father Seqenenre II and his brother Kahmose within about three years of each other, leaving him sole heir to the throne at a very young age. His mother, Queen Ashotep, may have been co-regent with him in the early years of his reign. He was faced with the task of consolidating Egypt?s borders, which he did in a series of rapid...