The Female Pharaoh HatshepsutMaatkare Hatshepsut (ca. 1479–1458 b.c.) was not the only femalepharaoh in the history of ancient Egypt. Nitocris (at the end ofDynasty 6), Nefrusobek (at the end of Dynasty 12), Tawosret (atthe end of Dynasty 19), and of course, Cleopatra VII also come tomind. But Hatshepsut was arguably the most important womanever to occupy the throne of Egypt. Her ascension to powerinitially came about because of the early demise of her husbandand half-brother Thutmose II, whose son by another wife (Isis),Thutmose III, was still an infant. An ancient text described it thus:[Thutmose II] ascended into heaven and united with thegods, while his son (Thutmose III) stood [officially] in hisplace as king of the two lands,… while his sister (actually,aunt), the god’s wife, Hatshepsut, was conducting the affairsof the country, the two Lands being in her care.At first, Hatshepsut’s rule had indeed the character of a regency,and during that time, she was usually depicted as a queen. Then,step by step, attributes of male kingship entered the representationsof Hatshepsut. From about the seventh year (ca. 1473 b.c.) afterher husband’s demise, she appeared in the full regalia of a malepharaoh and began to claim to be the actual daughter of thesupreme god of Thebes, Amun, as well as to have been chosenby him through an oracle. Until the end of Hatshepsut’s days,however, the young Thutmose III continued to function as thejunior partner on the throne.Hatshepsut’s reign was, above all, a peak period for the arts inEgypt. The last vestiges of Hyksos rule having been eliminatedby this time, goods and ideas flowed freely among all regions ofEgypt, and close relationships with neighboring countries openedthe gates to the outside world. In an eastern Delta royal palaceor stronghold, for instance, painters from the Aegean island ofCrete were employed to decorate walls according to their Minoanstyle and iconography, while in Thebes, Egyptian artists initiatedthe fine tomb decoration that became a glory of New Kingdomart. By coordinating and aligning the sacred buildings along theprocessional routes in the area of Thebes (present day Luxor),Hatshepsut’s architects created an unprecedented example ofancient spatial planning, and the temples at Karnak and Deir el-Bahri gained a grandeur and beauty still admired today.Hatshepsut’s reign saw military campaigns into countries southand east of Egypt, but the female pharaoh appears to have beenmost proud of an expedition she sent into the land of Punt(perhaps in the region of modern Somalia), from which myrrh treesand gold were brought back as offerings to the god Amun. Theexpedition was depicted in narrative reliefs in her temple at Deirel-Bahri, which also housed the sculptures exhibited in this room.