One of the greatest queens of ancient Kemet was Queen Hatshepsut. While she was known as a "warrior" queen, her battles were engaged with her own rivals for the position of power in Kemetic hierarchy. A born dynast in her own right, Hatshepsut proved to be an aggressive and overpowering force. However, it was not in war, but in her aspiration to ascend to the "Heru (Horus) consciousness," she displayed the strength that has given her a place in history.
She adopted the Truth of Maat and became involved in the elimination of undesirable people and elements from Kemet. Determined to be revered in times yet to come, Hatshepsut depicted herself in as many masculine attributes as possible, i.e. male attire, king’s beard, etc. Although she ascended to the throne upon the death of her king-brother Thutmose II, she exerted her rightful claim to the throne. In exercising her power, she involved herself in foreign campaigns, a concentration on domestic affairs, extensive building and commercial ventures.
Even before becoming legal ruler, Hatshepsut, was actively pushing things dearest to the hearts of all Africans leaders: the expansion of foreign trade, international diplomatic relations, perfection of national defense, vast public building programs, securing the South and the North through either peace or war and, one of her "pet projects", building a great navy for both commerce and war.
Hatshepsut reestablished the trade networks that had been disrupted during the Hyksos occupation of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, thereby building a wealth of the eighteenth dynasty that has become so famous since the discovery of the burial of one of her descendants, Tutankhamun, began to be analyzed.
She oversaw the preparations and funding for a mission to the Land of Punt. The expedition set out in her name with five ships, each measuring 70 feet (21 m) long bearing several sails and accommodating 210 men that included sailors and 30 rowers. Many trade goods were bought in Punt, notably myrrh, which is said to have been Hatshepsut's favorite fragrance.
Most notably, however, the Egyptians returned from the voyage bearing 31 live frankincense trees, the roots of which were carefully kept in baskets for the duration of the voyage. This was the first recorded attempt to transplant foreign trees. It is reported that Hatshepsut had these trees planted in the courts of her Deir el Bahari mortuary temple complex. Egyptians also returned with living Puntites (people of Punt). This trading expedition to Punt was roughly during Hatshepsut's nineteenth year of reign. She had the expedition commemorated in relief at Deir el-Bahri, which also is famous for its realistic depiction of the Queen of the Land of Punt, Queen Iti, who appears to have had a genetic trait called steatopygia. Hatshepsut also sent raiding expeditions to Byblos and Sinai shortly after the Punt expedition. Very little is known about these expeditions. Although many Egyptologists have claimed that her foreign policy was mainly peaceful, there is evidence that Hatshepsut led successful military campaigns in Nubia, the Levant, and Syria early in her career.Hatshepsut was one of the most prolific builders in ancient Egypt, commissioning hundreds of construction projects throughout both Upper and Lower Egypt, that were grander and more numerous than those of any of her Middle Kingdom predecessors.
She employed two great architects: Ineni, who also had worked for her husband and father and for the royal steward Senemut. During her reign, so much statuary was produced that almost every major museum in the world has Hatshepsut statuary among their collections; for instance, the Hatshepsut Room in New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art is dedicated solely to these pieces.
Following the tradition of most pharaohs, Hatshepsut had monuments constructed at the Temple of Karnak. She also restored the original Precinct of Mut, the ancient great goddess of Egypt, at Karnak that had been ravaged by the foreign rulers during the Hyksos occupation. She had twin obelisks, at the time the tallest in the world, erected at the entrance to the temple. One still stands, as the tallest surviving ancient obelisk on Earth; the other has since broken in two and toppled. Another project, Karnak's Red Chapel, or Chapelle Rouge, was intended as a barque shrine and may have stood between her two obelisks originally. She later ordered the construction of two more obelisks to celebrate her sixteenth year as pharaoh; one of the obelisks broke during construction, and thus a third was constructed to replace it. The broken obelisk was left at its quarrying site in Aswan, where it still remains, known as The Unfinished Obelisk, serving as a demonstration of just how obelisks were quarried.
The Temple of Pakhet was built by Hatshepsut at Beni Hasan in the Minya Governorate south of Al Minya. Pakhet was a synthesis that occurred combining Bast and Sekhmet, who were similar lioness war goddesses, in an area that bordered the north and south division of their cults. The cavernous underground temple, cut into the rock cliffs on the eastern side of the Nile, was admired and called the Speos Artemidos by the Greeks during their occupation of Egypt, known as the Ptolemaic Dynasty. They saw the goddess as a parallel to their hunter goddess Artemis. The temple is thought to have been built alongside much more ancient ones that have not survived. This temple has an architrave bearing a long dedicatory text bearing Hatshepsut's famous denunciation of the Hyksos that has been translated by James P. Allen. They had occupied Egypt and cast it into a cultural decline that persisted until a revival brought about by her policies and innovations. This temple was altered later and some of its inside decorations were usurped by Seti I, in the nineteenth dynasty, attempting to have his name replace that of Hatshepsut.
The masterpiece of Hatshepsut's building projects was her mortuary temple complex at Deir el-Bahri. It was designed and implemented by Senemut at a site on the West Bank of the Nile River near the entrance to what is now called the Valley of the Kings because of all the pharaohs who later chose to associate their complexes with the grandeur of hers. Her buildings were the first grand ones planned for that location. The focal point was the Djeser-Djeseru or "the Sublime of Sublimes", a colonnaded structure of perfect harmony nearly one thousand years before the Parthenon was built. Djeser-Djeseru sits atop a series of terraces that once were graced with lush gardens. Djeser-Djeseru is built into a cliff face that rises sharply above it. Djeser-Djeseru and the other buildings of Hatshepsut's Deir el-Bahri complex are considered to be among the great buildings of the ancient world. Also another one of her great accomplishments is the Hatshepsut needle (also known as the granite obelisks). Her success on most of these fronts made her one of the giants of the race.