Humanities for the Unbound Mind / My Bookshelf

Book Review ~ Hatchepsut, The Female Pharaoh

Originally published June 30, 2012

As a forward to this new posting, I can remember when I first read this volume. I was suffering from a bit of a slump due in part to things going on at the time (years and years ago) and some needed changes in my own life. My friend and later husband told me that he always noticed that when I read, my spirits would change–I should find something interesting and dig in. He was right. My beloved King Hattie saved the day and reignited excitement for the yet-to-be-discovered.

A text by:  Joyce Tyldesley and readily available in paperback for around $20.00

Since I love ancient history I usually hunt through bookstore shelves for little known titles.  Sometimes the dusty, cluttered and unorganized used bookshop can produce the most fascinating bits of wisdom.  I can’t say precisely where I found this particular gem, however the pricing on the dust jacket tells me that is was most likely on one of those adventurous afternoons in a cavernous used bookshop.

Hatshepsut was born the eldest daughter of Thutmose I.  According to royal Egyptian custom, she was married to her half brother Thutmose II and became the guardian of her stepson-nephew Thutmose III.  As a ruler she went against then-accepted tradition and set herself up as King and Pharaoh.  The archaeological record that we can now piece together indicates that during her reign Egypt was internally at peace, was active in foreign exploration, and active in the pursuit of monumental projects. All indications are that the kingdom prospered for a number of years.  Sadly, her stepson took issue with her approach and methods and, once he took the throne,  led the effort to literally wipe any knowledge of her from history.  In Egyptian religious practice that was tantamount to eternal death.

This book authored by Joyce Tyldesley brings together a number of sources that help us piece together the life and times of this rather innovative monarch.  The book has photos, drawings, maps and an extensive bibliography.  A quote from the introduction will set the tone:

While it is very difficult for any biographer to remain entirely impartial about his or her subject, I am attempting to provide the non-specialist reader with an objective and unbiased account of the life and times of King Hatchepsut, gathered from the researches of those Egyptologists who have spent years studying, sometimes in minute detail, the individual threads of evidence which, when woven together, form the tapestry of her reign. It is up to the reader to decide on the rights or wrongs of her actions.

This is the type of book that introduces a reader to historical research without bogging down a “non-specialist” in academic jargon.  I found it a delightful read.

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