Cleopatra and Tutankhamun are probably the most illustrious rulers of Ancient Egypt known today. Tutankhamun is familiar because his unusually luxurious tomb is almost intact. On the other hand, Cleopatra became famous for her enormous power and a high-profile romance with Julius Caesar himself. Her life and death are histories. And how many great films have been shot! At the same time, history also remembers other most authoritative and powerful female pharaohs who ruled Ancient Egypt before Cleopatra. The most influential and unjustly forgotten ones are further in the review.
Hatshepsut was not the first woman to rule Egypt. She was the second historically confirmed female pharaoh after Sobekneferu. Her name means “the first among noblewomen.” She was a very successful and intelligent ruler.
Nevertheless, many have not even heard of her today. When the husband of Queen Thutmose II died, the Egyptian throne passed to Hatshepsut’s stepson Thutmose III. At that time, he was completely a child and naturally could not rule himself. The queen became regent.
This did not surprise anyone in those days. After three years of regency, Hatshepsut became pharaoh. This was rather unusual; she became the de facto co-ruler of Thutmose.
The people could not accept the legality of such a government. After all, the pharaoh is a living embodiment of the male gods. In Egypt, these were Horus, Amon -Ra, and Osiris. For this reason, a woman was rightly considered incapable of possessing all the fullness of power and divine essence.
Hatshepsut’s reign was relatively peaceful. She was a very wise ruler. The people respected her. Egypt flourished. The queen was the initiator of many construction projects. Among them is the magnificent Deir el-Bahari temple. During his lifetime, Hatshepsut was portrayed as a man, always with a beard.
After her death, the queen was buried in the Valley of the Kings. They tried to erase her memory. All her images were erased, and the statues smashed. Archaeologist Joyce Tyldesley suggested that perhaps all of this was done at the behest of her stepson Thutmose III.
He did his best to rewrite history to destroy the evidence of his stepmother’s rule and attribute all the successes to himself.
Arsinoe II was from the Ptolemaic family. She also ruled Egypt as a pharaoh. Arsinoe was the queen of Macedonia and Thrace and the queen of Upper and Lower Egypt. This woman was the wife of two in a row Macedonian kings. During her lifetime, she wove endless intrigues against her relatives.
As a result of all this, she returned to Egypt, married her younger brother Ptolemy II. This practice was in the order of things in Ancient Egypt. After the wedding, Arsinoe became a full co-ruler. She even had the appropriate combination of names, which was traditionally assigned to male pharaohs.
For the Greeks, such a practice – marriages between brothers and sisters was not just alien; they considered it blasphemy. But Arsinoe somehow managed to calm down the Greeks and not offend the Egyptians.
There is evidence that Arsinoe II accompanied Ptolemy when inspecting the Egyptian borders during the First Syrian War. Also, her profile was minted with might and main on coins, together with her husband, and alone, in all the prescribed royal regalia. Primarily in the crown of Lower Egypt. Historians claim that this suggests that she may have been a pharaoh in her own right.
Numerous pieces of evidence of the reign of Arsinoe II have survived in both Egypt and Greece. Experts believe that thanks to her, the Alexandria Museum with the famous library of the same name was built.
After the queen’s death in 270 BC. in many regions of the country, her cult was established. Among these places is Alexandria. It speaks better than any historical texts of the enormous influence she had on the Egyptians and Greeks during her royal reign.
If Hatshepsut is a relatively well-known historical character today, then Khentkaus I is practically unknown to anyone. It is practically not mentioned anywhere in any of the surviving historical texts. Its status is today very actively discussed by specialists in history and archeology.
Egyptologists, according to various surviving data, concluded that she was the daughter of King Menkaure. Experts also believe that Khentkawes was the wife of king Shepseskaf. He ruled from 2510 to 2502 BC. Both her sons, Sahure and Neferirkare, later became the pharaohs of Egypt.
The burial complex of Khenthaus I at Giza was as impressive as the nearby pyramids of her male predecessors.
The hieroglyphic inscriptions in her tomb can be translated as “Pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt, mother of the pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt.” Likewise, she was depicted as a pharaoh on the walls of her tomb.
Khentawes was seated on a throne with a scepter, another corresponding royal regalia, and a false beard.
So far, experts have not come to a consensus on whether she really ruled Egypt. However, her burial pyramid has since been called the “Fourth Pyramid of Giza.”
Sobekneferu is the first female pharaoh in Egyptian history. Historians first discovered written evidence of this about her. There is overwhelming evidence that she ruled Egypt on her own as a pharaoh. Sobekneferu was the daughter of Amenemhat III. At the end of his many years of reign, famine struck the country. This was due to poor harvests and unfavorable weather conditions.
Her brother Amenemhet IV ascended the throne. Nothing has changed under his rule. The people and the elite were unhappy. Therefore, he reigned for a very short time. Pharaoh died without leaving a male heir. Thus, his wife, who was also his sister, became the sole heiress. Interestingly, she received her name in honor of the Egyptian god Sobek, who is portrayed in the form of a crocodile.
The reign of the queen was crowned with the construction of several magnificent temples. Under her, the construction of the pyramids in Hawara was completed. Her father is buried there. Historians believe that she built her pyramid near Dakhshur.
The exact place of her burial is unknown to this day; the body was never found. All that is known is that the queen’s name was mentioned in the official list of the pharaohs of Egypt. A rather chaotic succession of rulers followed it.
The name of Queen Nefertiti is probably known to many. She is considered one of the most famous women of the ancient world and a symbol of female beauty. The latter opinion is based on her famous bust, which was found in Amarna, Egypt.
Nefertiti was the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten. She ruled Egypt in the 1300s BC. Some scholars believe that this couple was not just an ordinary royal couple but co-rulers.
The mystery of this woman’s origin is shrouded in the same mystery as her death. It is not known for certain who she was: an Egyptian or a foreign princess. The name of this queen is translated as “The fairest has come.” There were histories about her unearthly beauty in Egypt.
In many images, Nefertiti is portrayed as equal in height to King Akhenaten, the main proof of her reign with her husband. However, in addition to this, no written evidence has been preserved confirming her political status. After the 14th year of the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten, Nefertiti completely disappears from all written sources.
Some experts believe that she passed away, although there is no record of this. There are only suggestions that she was buried in the royal tomb in Amarna. The queen’s body was never found. Many experts claim that Nefertiti outlived her husband. After his death, she took the name Smenkhkare and ruled Egypt alone. There are many theories about the future life of the female pharaoh. So far, this is all just speculation.