Saturday, October 25, 2008

AUB president sheds light on female pharaoh

Lebanon Daily Star

The American University of Beirut's (AUB) new president, Peter Dorman, who is also a professor of archeology and an expert on ancient Egypt, gave a presentation Wednesday about Hatshepsut, the only woman to reign as a male pharaoh over ancient Egypt.

Organized by the Society of the Friends of the AUB Museum and held at the AUB Archeological Museum, the illustrated lecture was titled "Gender Trouble in Ancient Egypt: The Case of King/Queen Hatshepsut." It attracted a large audience, including Culture Minister Tammam Salam and his wife.

In his talk, Dorman highlighted the uniqueness of the reign of Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut, who assumed the role of male king of ancient Egypt, through her garb and title, as depicted in the hieroglyphs contemporary to her time of rule.

Hatshepsut is the fifth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (1500 BC) of Ancient Egypt and wife of Thutmose II - also Hatshepsut's half-brother - who died a few years after becoming king without a direct heir to the throne. Thutmose III, Hatshepsut's stepson and nephew, was too young to assume kingship at the time. As a result, Hatshepsut claimed power as queen regent, and then usurped it, by claiming to be the legitimate heir, by virtue of being the daughter of a king. Seven years into her rule, she also assumed the role of male king.

"Hatshepsut holds a unique place in ancient Egyptian history since she is the only woman to rule in the guise of a male ruler," said Dorman.

While surveying the circumstances that led to her becoming queen then assuming legitimacy for rightful heir for kingship, Dorman supported his observations with archaeological evidence - mostly derived from her funerary temple in Dayr al-Bahri on the banks of the Nile - that showed the evolution of her role from queen to king.

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