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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Feminine Kingdom

A thousand years after the Pyramids were built, Queen Hatshepsut, widow and half sister of King Thutmose II, ascended Egypt's throne when the latter died prematurely in 1473 B.C. As regent for her infant nephew and stepson, Thutmose III, she was not the first woman to rule Egypt. But, for reasons that remain unknown, a few years into her regency, Hatshepsut discarded the title "queen" and became "king." She claimed double legitimacy—as King Thutmose I's eldest daughter and by virtue of her mythic self-propagated descent from the great god Amun.

Because Egyptian kings were near-divine and crowned for life, Hatshepsut could not then abdicate in favor of her stepson. She became his senior co-ruler and controlled the Two Kingdoms, Upper and Lower Egypt, until her death 20 years later.

Although there were many allusions to a powerful female pharaoh, her name remained missing for centuries from Egyptian history. That's because 20 years after her death, Thutmose III ordered an inexplicable attack on Hatshepsut's legacy. Full Story

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