April 24 - Thutmose III Becomes Pharaoh - Hatshepsut Becomes Powerful!

Posted on April 24, 2020

It's weird to think that we know the exact date of something that happened about 3,500 years ago! And yet April 24, 1479 B.C.E. is given as the date when the Ancient Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose II died, and his son, Thutmose III, became the ruler.

Problem was, Thutmose III was only two years old!

Luckily, Thutmose III had a stepmother (who was also, by the way, his aunt) who could rule as regent. Hatshepsut had been the primary wife of Thutmose II. She stepped into the role of making decisions and setting the course for the Egyptian Empire.

And that course was a lot more peaceful than "normal" for the times. Hatshepsut re-established important trade routes and started hundreds of construction projects. Her buildings are considered grander than any of the earlier pharaoh's works. She ordered many sculptures and had two obelisks created and positioned at the entrance to the Temple of Karnak; these are considered the tallest in the world at the time.

Shortly after Hatshepsut became regent, she elevated herself to the position of pharaoh. (She didn't officially take the pharaoh-ship away from Thutmose III, but she did make him, when he was old enough, the head of her armies.)

It was uncommon for a woman to rule Ancient Egypt, but there had already been one to three female pharaohs, and of course some women ruled as regents.

Hatshepsut was the daughter of a king (Thutmose I), and she was both half-sister and wife of another king 
(Thutmose II), so her bloodline as pharaoh was completely solid. She had served in an important office called God's Wife when her father was pharaoh, and she used that position plus her knowledge of history and of the Ancient Egyptian religion to make the case for herself as Egypt's ruler.

Modern-day scholars consider Hatshepsut a very good pharaoh. Her reign was relatively long and peaceful, and it was very prosperous.

By the way, when Hatshepsut died (in her mid-40s), Thutmose III became the pharaoh. He was then in his early 20s, which nowadays at least would be considered a young man. Perfect timing, right?


The truth is that some of Hatshepsut's statues were removed and replaced with Thutmose III statues, and in other cases her statues remained but her name was chiseled off statues and buildings. Some scholars (at least in the past) believed that Thutmose III may have been angry that he had been kept from the throne for around 20 years. Others aren't sure that Thutmose III is to blame for the statue removals and damage; it's possible that other important people resented a woman in power or had other motivations. 

Nefertiti (above) and Cleopatra (below)
are more famous than Hatshepsut...but
the latter is considered by many to be
the "first great woman" that we know of...

Also on this date:

Teach Children to Save Day

Anniversary of the start of the Library of Congress

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