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In the Ancient Egyptian context, the pharaoh was the main authority figure. To assume this role, an individual was typically a member of the royal family, was seen to be predestined by the gods, and was usually male. An exception to these last two rules was the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, who reigned from 1478-1458 BC, during the New Kingdom period. Scholars have observed that over the course of her reign Hatshepsut was depicted as a mixture between a male and female, until she ultimately conformed to the prototypical masculinized representation of the pharaoh. My research revealed that even when she was eventually depicted as a male, her female identity caused her to approach her portraits as pharaoh differently. For example, she abandoned the typical military representation of a warrior pharaoh, and instead she adopted religious-based images that illustrated her interactions with the gods and her participation in trading expeditions. Using contextual evidence and images, I was able to determine that Hatshepsut’s female identity had the largest impact on the artwork that she had commissioned at the beginning of her reign. In addition, it is evident that Hatshepsut continued to have internal conflicts with how to express her gender as her reign progressed. For example, in her masculinized portraits, she continues to incorporate feminized labels. These results are significant because they help us to better understand the wide variety of cultural and biological gender representations that she experimented with, which included female, androgynous, and male appearances, and to see that she never became completely male.

Publication Date

4-2016

Publisher

University of Minnesota, Morris

City

Morris, MN

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology

Hatshepsut: the Woman Who Ruled Egypt

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