Hatshepsut: The Woman Who Became An Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh (Killed By Her Nephew)

Seated Statue of Hatshepsut, circa 1479–1458 B.C.E. (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons)

Cleopatra may have the name recognition when it comes to famous women of Ancient Egypt, but the path to the throne was paved by Hatshepsut. She reigned for close to 20 years during the 15th century B.C.E., a period known as the New Kingdom, but even though her time as pharaoh was long and filled with magnificent accomplishments, Hatshepsut was buried by history. Her significance wasn't uncovered until the 19th century, when she was seen more as a vile usurper than a celebrated ruler who led Egypt into peace and prosperity.

Born To Be A Regent

As the eldest of two daughters born to Thutmose I and his queen, Ahmes, 12-year-old Hatshepsut ascended to the throne as Queen of Egypt following the death of her father. At the time, she was married to her half-brother, Thutmose II, the son of her father and a member of his harem. Thutmose II died young, around 1479 B.C.E., and the throne was passed down to his infant son, Thutmose III, born to a secondary wife.

As was custom at the time, Hatshepsut reigned as Thutmose III's regent and handled affairs of state until he came of age. At least, that was the plan. At the onset of her time as regent, Hatshepsut performed her job diligently and without any excitement. She recognized her stepson as the one and only pharaoh, and that was that. Then, with no warning, Hatshepsut was crowned pharaoh, and Thutmosis III was left to languish in the background for the next 20 years.