The Queen Who Would Be King

A scheming stepmother or a strong and effective ruler? History’s view of the pharaoh Hatshepsut changed over time

Hatshepsut is depicted in the clothing of a male king though with a feminine form. Inscriptions on the statue call her "Lady of the Two Lands." (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund)
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Even so, new light continues to shine on the queen who would be king. In 2007, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass identified a previously excavated royal mummy as Hatshepsut. Catharine Roehrig is among those scholars awaiting more evidence to bolster the claim. “The fact that the mummy is female, was found in the Valley of the Kings and is about the right age makes this identification quite possible,” she says. But, Roehrig adds, “The evidence is not conclusive; further studies are in progress.”

Tyldesley believes that Hatshepsut may have been keenly conscious of her exceptional place in history. “This is just speculation,” she says, “but I think she was almost aware that she might be forgotten or that her actions would be misunderstood.” Toward the end of her reign, Hatshepsut erected a second pair of obelisks at Karnak. On one the inscription reads: “Now my heart turns this way and that, as I think what the people will say—those who shall see my monuments in years to come, and who shall speak of what I have done.”


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