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The last word.

Way back around 3,500 years ago, an unusual pharaoh ruled Egypt. Hatshepsut was the first famous female pharaoh--and she was such a powerful ruler that the jealous king who followed her rule tried to destroy evidence of her existence. Thanks to archaeologists who uncovered the truth, we now can celebrate the glorious her story of Hatsheupsut.

Hatshepsut grew up as the oldest daughter of the pharaoh Tuthmosis I. When her father died, Hatshepsut married the new king, her sickly half brother Tuthmosis II. A son was born, Tuthmosis III, but Hatshepsut was not the mother. The baby was born to a lesser wife of Tuthmosis II. (Multiple wives and family intermarriage were common for royalty). When Tuthmosis II died a few years later, his child was slated to take the throne.

Tuthmosis III was only 9 when he became pharaoh, so Hatshepsut became the regent who would rule in her stepson's name until he was of age. Hatshepsut was a headstrong woman, however, and she didn't feel that Tuthmosis HI was the rightful and deserved king.

A few years later, she did something brave that no woman had ever done before. Hatshepsut crowned herself pharaoh.

Hatshepsut ruled Egypt in peace and prosperity from 1479-1458 B.C. In order to look more like the male pharaoh familiar to Egyptians, she shed her feminine appearance. For ceremonies, she often wore a man's kilt, a long false pharaoh's beard, and gold collar. While she kept her feminine name, she would direct the stonecutters of her monuments to show her looking more like a man.

During her rule, Hatshepsut did many amazing things. She built a lavish temple at Deir el-Bahari called Djeser-Djeseru, which means "Holy of Holies." The temple, dedicated to the sun god Amon-Ra, surpassed anything built at the time. On its walls, scribes painted Hatshepsut's story, including trade expeditions to Punt, in what is now Somalia. It took two years for Hatshepsut's ships to make the journey, but they brought back stories, animals, and lots of resources such as myrrh trees. The precious trees, whose resin was used as incense, were planted in front of Djeser-Djeseru.

Hatshepsut also restored a temple to the goddess Mut and flanked it with two towering obelisks, which were then the tallest in the world. In her 15th year of rule, Hatshepsut held a yearlong jubilee, and ordered two more gold-topped obelisks built. To this day, the one standing obelisk remains the tallest ancient obelisk in Egypt.

The great she-king died after 21 years of rule. Hatshepsut's death was unexpected, and some believe that her stepson Tuthmosis III murdered her. Centuries later, explorers found her sarcophagus (an elaborate coffin), but her mummy was missing. But in 2007, a mummified body was found in an undecorated tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, and archaeologists believe it is Hapshepsut.

After Hatshepsut died, her stepson Tuthmosis III took over as pharaoh, and initially showed no sign of disrespect towards Hatshepsut. But after a few years, he ordered Hatshepsut's name be erased from the royal records and replaced with his own. Countless stone statues depicting her were smashed, and stonecutters chipped away her face from wall carvings. He tried to destroy any evidence of the she-king and rewrite history in his own favor.

But Hatshepsut's spirit stayed strong, and Tuthmosis III didn't succeed in hiding her from the world. Many historians were able to prove that there was indeed an awesome pharaoh who ruled between Tuthmosis II and Tuthmosis III, and who was, in fact, a woman.

So Hatshepsut's glory lives on, marking history with the determination of a woman who set out to rule her kingdom peacefully and succeeded.

Niikah, 15, Michigan, is a homeschooler who lives on an organic farm and loves to play music, make art, and write.
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Author:Hatfield, Niikah
Publication:New Moon Girls
Date:Sep 1, 2014
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