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‘The find of the century’

3 July 2007 by Karen

You might have seen this BBC article last week on the discovery of the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut. It is being described as the biggest archaeological find in Egypt since Howard Carter found Tutankamen’s tomb in 1922. We have a few pieces related to Hatshepsut so Ashley Cooke, curator of antiquities, agreed to do a blog post on who Hatshepsut was.


brown stone sphinx in a museum

Statue of Hatshepsut as a sphinx in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Egyptologists in Cairo believe they have identified the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut – one of the most famous queens of Ancient Egypt. Alongside her nephew, Tuthmosis III, she ruled Egypt as a crowned king during the prosperous Eighteenth Dynasty (about 1473 – 1458 BC). She was a the daughter of king Tuthmosis I and Queen Ahmose Nefertari. She married her half-brother, Tuthmosis II and gave birth to daughter called Neferura. When her husband died his son by another marriage assumed the throne of Egypt. However, he was only a child so Hatshepsut ruled as regent and later assumed full royal titles and enjoyed a long co-regency, thus effectively blocking him from full power.

Hatshepsut was a very successful ruler and built many monuments that can still be seen today, including a spectacular terraced temple, set within the cliffs at Deir el Bahri (near to the Valley of the Kings) (see a pic on our Flickr page). It is from this temple that a carved relief of Hatshepsut’s father was recovered in the early 1800s, probably from the ruined Anubis chapel within the temple complex, and is now within the Egyptology collection at Liverpool. You can see it on our flickr page.

This is a fragment of limestone fallen from a temple wall, 35 cm high and carved in raised relief, representing the pharaoh Tuthmosis I, the father of Hatshepsut. The king wears the long royal beard and a coiled uraeus over a wig cover. The carving of Hatshepsut’s father is unusual because it reveals that the sculptor has obviously changed his mind about the position of the arms. A previous outline reveals that the king’s right arm was originally raised, but a decision was made to place the arm by his side. The earlier carving would have been covered by a layer of plaster and concealed in the final painting of the temple wall.

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