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New Stones Featuring Hatshepsut Unearthed

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April 21, 2016

Hatshepsut has turned up again in stone.

Egypt’s first female pharaoh, who ruled in the 15th Century B.C., is known about from written sources, but not much other proof of her reign (or her existence) has been found. A new discovery on Elephantine Island has changed that.

A team of archaeologists have discovered stone blocks that refer to Hatshepsut by name, the German Archaeological Institute said, and depict her as a woman. The archaeologists have surmised that the stones were carved in the early part of Hatshepsut’s reign because later depictions of her show her as a male. The common theory is that she adopted the appearance, both physical and pictorial, of a male in order to strengthen her standing among the male-dominated society of Ancient Egypt. She was co-ruler for a time with her husband, Thutmose II; he died at a young age, and she carried on as sole ruler for a time. During her reign, the civilization prospered and completed several grand building projects.

After Hatshepsut’s death, the Egyptians erased mentions of the female pharaoh. Scholars knew little of her life until 1822; in that year (the same year in which translations of the Rosetta Stone were announced), some scholars decoded hieroglyphs on the walls of the ancient town of Deir el-Bahri and found mention of Hatshepsut.

The stone blocks also refer to Khnum, one of the many Egyptian gods, according to Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities. Hatshepsut is often associated with Khnum.

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