Cast of the original from the Sanctuary of Amun-Re, Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Deir el-Bahri, Egypt, 18th Dynasty, New Kingdom, c. 1426 BCE.

Description:

The mortuary temple of Hatshepsut is considered one of the best preserved of its kind. Mortuary temples served as places for worship and ritual, during a pharaoh’s lifetime and after his or her death.  Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple was decorated with reliefs and frescoes which celebrated her leadership, accomplishments, and divine heritage. As one of the few female pharaohs of ancient Egypt, her claim to rule was bolstered by the mortuary temple relief cycles.  Born into royalty as the daughter of Thutmose I and his principal wife, Ahmose, Hatshepsut married her father’s heir, Thutmose II. Their marriage produced one child – a daughter named Neferue - before Thutmose II’s early death. However, Thutmose II had a son and heir with a secondary wife. Upon Thutmose II’s death, Hatshepsut began to act as queen regent for the young heir, Thutmose III. Seven years into this arrangement, Hatshepsut took the extraordinary step to be crowned pharaoh and declared herself co-ruler with Thutmose III. She went on to rule Egypt effectively for twenty years.

The relief replicated here is located on the southern side of the jamb of a granite portal that leads to the sanctuary of Amun-Re in Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple. Earlier scholars believed the relief to represent Hatshepsut herself but later study determined that the figure originally represented Hatshepsut’s daughter, Neferue. The figure was altered during Hatshepsut’s lifetime to represent her own mother, Ahmose.  The facial features of the figure depicted match other known representations of Neferue. Archeologists have determined that while the figure’s facial features remain untouched, attributes of the princess were removed from this work and replaced with attributes of a queen consort. For example, her wig was replaced with the vulture headdress associated with queen consorts. Additionally, the figure originally held an hts scepter, associated with Egyptian princesses, that was later removed. The figure now holds a lotus flail. The reason for the change in identity is uncertain, however, it is likely that Neferue died in childhood and the change was driven by a desire to further stress Hatshepsut’s royal lineage, traced through her mother. 

This cast is a portion of a larger scene which depicts Neferure/Ahmose standing behind the throne of Amun-Re as Tuthmosis III received the sign of life, a common motif in Egyptian art.

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