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This site has been chosen as a benchmark because Hatshepsut's Temple at Deir el-Bahri, Egypt is an architectural testament to the technological skill and culture of Ancient Egypt. Although not popularly known, Hatshepsut was a key figure in ancient Egypt's history. The only female pharaoh of Egypt, Hatshepsut ruled Egypt from 1478 BC -1457 BC.
      The mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut (hat- shep - soot) is situated in the Valley of the Kings. Located in the area of Thebes, present-day Deir el-Bahri is a natural rock amphitheater directly across from the Nile River. Carved out of a deep bay of cliffs this was an important religious and funerary site in the Theban area during ancient times. The area contains complexes built by many rulers and noblemen during the 11th through 18th Dynasties, including Mentuhotep II and Thutmosis III.
     The temple of Hatshepsut is the best preserved of the complexes at Deir el-Bahri. Called by the people Djeser-djeseru, "sacred of sacreds", Hatshepsut's terraced cut stone temple is situated directly against the rock face of Deir el-Bahri's great rock bay. Designed by the Queen's architect Senenmut, the temple is one of the most impressive monuments on the west bank of the Nile echoing the lines of the surrounding cliffs in its design and a seemingly natural extension of the rock faces.
     The temple, which was re-discovered in 1891, took fifteen years to build. Hatshepsut declared that she built the temple as "a garden for my father Amun". (Hatshepsut claimed to have been of divine birth, sired by the god Amun.) The temple approach was a 121-foot causeway lined with Sphinxes. The temple was modeled after the complex of Mentuhotep and consisted of three broad courts separated by colonnades. The terraced courts were connected via ascending ramps and bounded by dressed limestone walls.
     Each of the courts was decorated with scenes about Hathsepsut and ancient Egyptian religion and society and items acquired during Hatshepsut's reign. The first court had been planted with exotic trees and shrubs from the trade expedition to Punt (present-day Somalia). Its portico was decorated on the northern side with scenes of the marshes of Lower Egypt and on the southern side scenes depicting the quarrying and transportation of great obelisks by barge to Karnak. A second court was decorated with reliefs telling the story of the trade mission to Punt via the Red Sea and scenes showing Hatshepsut's divine conception and birth as the daughter of Amun, one of the most important members of the Egyptian Pantheon.
     At the southern end of the second colonnade there is a Hathor chapel. Historically Deir el- Bahri was connected with the goddess Hathor, chief deity, of the Theban necropolis. The chapel had its own entrance and contains a vestibule with characteristic Hathor-headed pillars, a twelve columned hall and inner rooms decorated with various scenes of Hatshepsut and Hathor. There is also a smaller chapel to Anubis, another Egyptian god, at the northern end of the colonnade. The upper terrace had an entrance portico with Osiride statues, statues of Hatshepsut sculpted to appear as the god Osiris, before each pillar. Most of these statues have been destroyed.
     After its discovery in 1891, Swiss-born Edouard Naville began archaeological excavations at the Temple of Hatshepsut. In 1911 those excavations were taken over by Herbert Winlock who went on to -conduct twenty-five years of extensive excavation and restoration. During excavation thousand of smashed fragments of reliefs and statues were found. It is surmised that they were destroyed either during the Amarna period or during Hatshepsut's successor Thutmosis III's, campaign to erase her name from all official records. Many of the temple's statues and sphinxes have been reconstructed. The main portico of the first terrace was restored in 1906.
     Hatshepsut was the first and only female Pharaoh of pre-Hellenistic Egypt and led an interesting career as ruler of Ancient Egypt. To bolster her claim to the position, she stressed her divinity and accomplishment while taking on all the accouterments of a male ruler. Hatshepsut conducted many explorations and trade missions to foreign lands and left behind a legacy of architectural and statuary elegance. During her reign there were solid achievements in the realms of trade and exploration characterized by commerce and building.
     The daughter of a Pharaoh (Thutmosis I), Hatshepsut (born circa 1502 BC) was married to her half-brother Thutmosis II. Thutmosis II became pharaoh at his father's death, but ruled for only a few years dying, archaeologists believe, of a rare skin disorder. Thutmosis II and Hatshepsut had one daughter Neferue. However, he also had a son, Thutmosis III, with his concubine Aset. At his father's death Thutmosis III was too young to ascend to the throne so Hatshepsut acted as Regent.
     Hatshepsut was a model regent until the seventh year of the reign when she became pharaoh with the support of the royal court and priests. She assumed the title King of Egypt (there was no term for queen) and took on the symbolic masculine aspects of her role, including the traditional male Pharaonic attire and false beard! She became Pharaoh in all statuary and relief, however, there are few statues that depict her as a woman (one of these is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.) Some contend that, contrary to the more common interpretation, Hatchepsut was not an obsessed "power-grabber," but a typical pharaoh. She allowed Tuthmosis ill to obtain the traditional pharaonic military education. She always referred to herself as co-regent, and her long rule was characterized by economic prosperity and extensive monument-building. It appears from the records that Hatshepsut may have been a popular ruler. There are some references to her subjects calling her "Good Queen Hatshepsut". It is notable that there were no wars during her reign.
     Hatshepsut built more monuments and commissioned more works of art that any other Egyptian Queen that would follow her as wives of Pharaohs. Some might say that Hatshepsut was an early preservationist. As part of her building campaign many buildings were restored. During the Hyksos invasion centuries earlier many buildings and temples had been destroyed. Hatshepsut had many of these restored including the Temple of Ipet-Issut and the Temple of Hath or.
     According to the Egyptian priest and historian Manetho, Hatshepsut' s reign lasted for twenty-one years and nine months. After her death Thutmosis III became sole Pharaoh and would go on to conquer many lands expanding Egypt's influence and rule. Approximately forty years into his reign he went on a campaign to erase Hatshepsut's name from all records and the List of Kings. The reason for this campaign is uncertain, but it may have to do with the new Pharaoh's jealousy of his mothers' popularity or his feeling that she stole his rightful position as pharaoh. -

This site can be used to address the following themes of World History as recommended by the New York State Regents.
1. Trade - Ancient Egypt was centrally located influencing and being influenced by neighboring cultures. Many of Egypt's Pharaohs established trade relations and networks to obtain various items including spices, fruit (trees), cloth and building materials. Hatshepsut's reign is noted for commerce and she authorized many trade expeditions during her reign. The most notable of these expeditions, to Punt, is documented on the walls of Hatshepsut's temple.
2. River Cultures - Ancient Egypt was one of the great early ancient civilizations. The ancient civilizations in the Fertile Crescent are responsible for the foundations of modern society, due to their placement between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. For the first time, the regular flooding of these rivers allowed people to create permanent settlements, which relied on food production (rather than gathering) and a steady water source.
3. Building Technology and Architecture - Ancient Egypt is noted for its building capabilities and left behind a legacy of monumental architecture. Hatshepsut undertook a great deal of building; architecture is noted alongside commerce as the focal points of her reign. Most notable of ancient Egyptian architecture are the Great Pyramids. The pyramidal structure, a form seen elsewhere in the world, served as tombs for the royal and elite of ancient Egyptian society, far earlier than Hatshepsut's reign. Built through manual labor, the monumental architecture of ancient Egypt has perplexed scholars for many years and there are many theories on the construction and technology utilized by the ancient Egyptians.
4. Kinship - Human groups exhibit different forms of social organization many placing a great deal of importance on kinship and familial relations to structure the group or society. In ancient Egypt the importance of kinship ties was a prominent factor among the ruling and elite families. Hatshepsut's family and royal lineage is a prime example of the kinship values of ancient Egyptian society. The complex kinship system of ancient Egyptian society also gives insight into patterns of inheritance, the sons in a ruling or elite family were always married to a female in the same bloodline.
5. Taboos - Ancient Egypt did not have an incest taboo, common in many cultures. What are some of the taboos or norms, which define the way we act in society? How have these changed over time and across cultures?
6. Class - Ancient Egyptian society, like many of the early Fertile Crescent civilizations created a system of social stratification. Once communities, became centralized with a ruler and the development of a central government in a city-State, societies were no longer egalitarian. The advent of the city-state led to a ruling and elite class, a class of skilled workers, and a larger class of laborers. This system would later form the basis for Marx' treatise Das Kapital.
7. Slavery - Slavery was common in Ancient Egypt, most notably enslaved were the Jews. Slave labor is thought to have been the main source of labor to construct the monumental architecture seen in Egypt. Thought very different from slavery in this country, this can tie in to the issue of slavery in United States as was taught during American History. Slavery has been an institution in many societies throughout time, though Egyptian slavery was fairly mild comparatively in that slaves could marry, own property and were not required to live with their owner.
8. Gender - Hatshepsut was one of the earliest female political figures. It has been said by scholars that had she been a man her reign would have been remembered as a great one. While Hatshepsut did take on the masculine aspects of the position of Pharaoh such as wearing men's clothing and a false beard, her gender definitely had an impact on her ability to rule her people. The circumstances of her reign and the fact that her successor attempted to erase her from all mention of Egypt's history provides a commentary on how women have been received, accepted and portrayed in history. In ancient Egypt both men and women could inherit family wealth, brother sister marriages kept property intact. Both nobles and farmers practiced this marriage pattern
8. Writing - The Ancient Egyptians are well known for their hieroglyphic writing system. For centuries this system was undecipherable, until Napoleon's conquest of Egypt uncovered the Rosetta Stone which decoded much of this system of writing. The Ancient Egyptians kept detailed records of their economy, history, religion, royals and daily life.

In English this site can be used to explore historical fiction and writing systems. Queen Hatshepsut has been the subject of historical fiction, one adult novel and two children' s books. Historical figures have frequently been used in literary works as writers tell the story of history's famous and not so famous faces. Some historical fiction is rich with detail about the period in which it is written and often takes a great deal of artistic license in its characterization of an historical figure. Students can read historical fiction comparing the historical content with what they have learned in history class. Further students can write stories inspired by and set in historical time periods. Hatshepsut was also the inspiration for a book of poetry by Ruth Whitman. Students can explore history (people, places and events) as an inspiration in world literature. Lastly, as with many ancient civilizations, mythology can also be explored. Hatshepsut's temple is a testament to the importance of mythology in the ancient world as evidenced in the depiction of her divine birth and the tribute to Hathor, Anubis and Osiris through statue and relief.
      Hieroglyphics are a system of writing in which ideas and actions are represented by small images. Students might try to create their own hieroglyphic system or create new hieroglyphics for words or ideas that did not exist during the time of Hatshepsut. Also students might consider how this visual way of representing ideas and action differs from our system. What might this difference imply about the values or ideals of Egyptian society.

Connections between this site and science are connections to the life cycle and reliance on the river. For the Ancient Egyptians the life cycle was a key component of their daily activities and beliefs. Their beliefs revolved around the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth, which equated to creation, degeneration and recreation. Analogies can be made to the life cycles of all living organisms but particularly the caterpillar and butterfly, in which the caterpillar is recreated/reborn as a butterfly. Another connection is the biological aspect of mummification. The art of mummification was complex in that it displayed a great deal of knowledge about both biology and chemistry.
     As stated above, the development of Egyptian society relied on proximity to the Nile River. The regular flooding of this river provided soil nutrients which allowed Egyptians to grow food in one place rather than relying on gathering as earlier people's had. At the same time, the river could have a destructive effect. If flooding was too severe or lasted too long, damage to farm fields or settlements could greatly impact Egyptian civilization.

Connections between this site and mathematics are to explore the geometry of the Temple of Hatshepsut and other Ancient Egyptian architecture, particularly the pyramids. Also, explore the Ancient Egyptian mathematical system and the history of mathematics looking at the development of counting systems in ancient civilizations. There are numerous web sites regarding the highly complex counting and mathematical systems of the Egyptians. They used complex algebraic functions and had a system of fractions and percents. Additionally their counting system was a representational system like a hieroglyphic where a curled cow's tail represented the number ten, etc..

Some recommended activities to use with the site are to recreate aspects of Ancient Egyptian culture or technology including scaled models and mummification. Have students build a scaled replica of the Temple of Hatshepsut. Watch the Nova program "this Old Pyramid" which explores theories on how the pyramids were built. Have students hypothesize and debate on how the pyramids were built but hand without the aid of modern machinery. Explore the supposed mystical properties of a pyramid and the alignment of the pyramids with the constellations in the night sky. Explore mummification and Ancient Egyptian burial practices, have the class mummify a small animal.
     Explore the Ancient Egyptian writing system of hieroglyphics having students learn to write their names in hieroglyphics.

Some local buildings which relate to themes addressed in this unit and could be used for additional study are:
     Brooklyn Museum of Art - The Brooklyn Museum of Art has a world-famous Egyptian collection. It is the second largest collection of Ancient Egyptian art and artifacts outside of the Cairo Museum; the British Museum has the largest collection outside of Egypt. Among the objects in the collection are three statues from the reign of Hatshepsut including a statue of the Queen's architect Senenrnut from Armant. The statue, made of granite, is holding an image of a goddess and a rebus for the throne name of Hatshepsut. There is also a fragment of a painted relief that bears the image of Hatshepsut.
     Metropolitan Museum of Art - The museum has artifacts from Hatshepsut's temple as part of their permanent collection and an Egyptian Temple, the Temple of Dendur, has been reconstructed within the museum.
     Central Park - Directly behind the Metropolitan Museum in Central Park is Cleopatra's Needle, and obelisk inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Some recommended activities to use on a visit to this site are to have the students sketch the objects in the museum collection that are associated with Hatshepsut and Egyptian architecture. This can be part of an ongoing project to create an illustrated timeline of world cultures that highlights architecture and iconography. Also, have students transcribe hieroglyphics on display at the Museum. In ancient civilizations there were very few who could read and write, those who could were often priests and/or highly skilled scribes.

Some other ideas, which could be explored or expanded on having to do with this site, are the ideas of cyclical time and. For the Ancient Egyptians cyclical time was a key component of their life and beliefs. Their beliefs revolved around the life cycle of birth, death and rebirth (as noted in the science section above). This cyclical component also extended to their mythology where the solar creator Ma' at died each evening only to be reborn each morning. The importance of the cycles is also seen in the agricultural history of Egypt. Ancient Egyptian society and its success and development began with their agricultural success. The yearly flooding of the Nile created an incredibly fertile floodplain. This cycle was an integral component of Ancient Egyptian life.


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Global History I

Ancient Kingdoms of the Nile
Egyptian Civilization

World Literature

Egyptian Literature and The Egyptian Book of the Dead

Algebra - Math A

Adding and Subtracting Radicals
Pythagorean Theorem
Simplifying Radicals
Trigonometric Ratios


Basic Chemistry
Biology as a Science
Chemical Compounds of Life
The Cell


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Dorman, Peter F. The Monuments of Senenmut: Problems in Historical Methodology. Kegan Paul International Press, New York 1988.
The selections are 2 brief segments discussing the architecture of Senenmut as exhibited in the Temple of Hatshepsut. The text draws on archaeological and art historical information for this discourse. The included chapters are the author's conclusions regarding the life and career of Senenmut, Hatshepsut's royal architect. Senenmut is an important figure in Hatshepsut's reign and was a noted architect of this period in Ancient Egypt.

Gedge, Pauline. Child of the Morning. Dial Press, New York 1977, pp 160-172
Child of the Morning is a work of historical fiction focusing on Hatshepsut. Gedge uses the historical setting and historical characters to tell a story about the life of Queen Hatshepsut. The selected reading deals with Hatshepsut's coronation as Pharaoh.

Rolka, Gail Meyer. 100 Women Who Shaped History. Bluewood Books, CA 1994 p. 8.
The selected reading is a brief but concise history of Hatshepsut and her accomplishments as Pharaoh.

Tyldesley, Joyce. Daughters of Isis. Penguin Books, London 1994.
A brief history of Hatshepsut that can be copied and provided to students. This brief history was the foundation for Tyldesley's 199 book Hatchepsut The Female Pharaoh.

Tyldesley, Joyce. Hatchepsut The Female Pharaoh. Penguin Books, London 1996.
Tyldesley's book details Hatchepsut's life and history. This scholarly biography combines archaeological and historical evidence to discusses Hatchepsut's political and personal history. The text does not limit itself to Hatchepsut but provides a well-rounded account of the early 18th Dynasty Theban royal family. Tyldesley uses surviving texts and fragmentary monuments and some (educated) speculation to recreate this vivid account of Hatchepsut.

Wells, Evelyn Hatshepsut. Doubleday & Company 1969.
The selected reading is the first chapter or a sometime dry biographical account of Hatshepsut. Since the writing of this account a great deal of evidence has been uncovered that has changed the previous viewpoints on Hatshepsut, her life and her reign. The selected chapter does not detail the biographical details but introduces the reader to Hatshepsut through the statuary remains of her Temple, some of which are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cairo Museum.

Whitman, Ruth. Hatshepsut Speak To Me. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1992.
Whitman's book is a collection of poems inspired by Hatshepsut. The poems are set up as a dialogue with Whitman speaking to Hatshepsut in poetic form and Hatshepsut's responses. Through the poems Whitman tells a story of Ancient Egypt and of Hatshepsut herself. At the same time the reader learns something about Whitman herself. A few selected poems are included.

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut


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Ancient Egypt
Excellent site maintain by the British Museum to accompany their exhibit. The British Museum has one of the best Egyptian collections in the world. The site provides information on all aspects of Ancient Egyptian life and multimedia activities. There is also information on mummification and the Ancient Egyptian numbering/mathematical system.

Ancient Egyptian Heiroglyphics
This site contains general information about Egyptian hieroglyphics including a hieroglyphic tutor and information on hieroglyphic links to mathematics. The site also contains general information about Ancient Egyptian life and culture.

Deir el-Bahri
This site contains a history and floorplan of the temples at Deir el-Bahari. There are physical descriptions of the layout as well.

The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir El Bahri
Virtual Tour of the temple of Harshepsut

Hatshepsut: The Queen Who Would Be King
Site devoted to the story of Hatshepsut. Includes poetry dedicated to her.
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