The mummy of Hatshepsut, one of ancient Egypt’s most famous female pharaohs, has been positively identified. Hatshepsut was the daughter of Tuthmose I and Princes Ahmose, both of royal origin; she was the favourite of their three children. When her two brothers died, she was in the unique position to gain the throne upon the death of her father.
To have a female pharaoh was unprecedented and probably most definitely unheard of as well. When Tuthmose I passed away, his son by a minor wife (Mwt Nofret), Tuthmose II, technically ascended the throne. For the few years of his reign, however, Hatshepsut seems to have held the reign.
From markings on his mummy, archaeologists believe Tuthmose II had a skin disease, and he died after ruling only three or four years. Hatshepsut, his half sister and wife, just gave birth to 3 daughters, but he had a son from a minor wife Isis. This son, Tuthmose III, was supposed to ascend the throne, but due to his age Hatshepsut was allowed to reign as a co-regent.
Hatshepsut was not one to sit back and wait for her nephew to age enough to take her place. As a favourite daughter of a popular pharaoh, and as a charismatic and beautiful lady in her own right, she was able to command enough of a following to actually take control as pharaoh. She ruled for about 15 years, until her death in 1458 BC, and left behind more monuments and works of art than any Egyptian queen to come.
Hatshepsut was a master politician and an elegant stateswoman as she claimed to have been handpicked by her father, above her two brothers and her half-brother. In her temple are written the story of her divine birth.
This propaganda worked well to cement Hatshepsut’s position. But as Tuthmose III grew, her sovereignty grew tenuous. He not only resented his lack of authority, but no doubt harboured only ill will towards his step-mother’s consort Senmut.