Theban Symposium: Creativity and Innovation in the Reign of Hatshepsut

May | 2010

Granada, 4-7 Mayo 2010. Abstracts

Peter Dorman – American University in Beirut

Opening Remarks

Dimitri Laboury – University of Liège

How and why did Hatshepsut invent the image of her royal power?

Pharaoh Hatshepsut is indubitably one of the most debated characters of Ancient Egyptian History. The nature of her royal power and the significance of her assumption of the throne seem to have become nowadays the subjects of endless discussions and controversies, often contaminated by the modern reception of her reign and the preconceived ideas or ideological orientations of the beholders.

In this context, two issues appear to be really essential: the masculine iconography of Hatshepsut during most of her reign; and her relationship with Thutmosis III on a political level. Both can be addressed through the investigation of the iconography of the reigning queen, through the analysis of her iconographical and – in fact – official discourse on her royal power, a discourse that can actually be followed in its diachronic development, step by step. It is thus possible to examine how Hatshepsut gradually constructed the image of her kingly authority, where she found sources of inspiration, when and how changes did occur, … And, as usual, addressing the question of how leads to the question of why.

Luc Gabolde – University of Montpellier

Hatshepsut at Karnak: a woman under god’s command

From Hatshepsut time, many texts record her deeds, especially her building activity at Karnak. A particularity of this litterature lies in the fact that, almost systematicly, the queen claims that she acted under the god Amun’s command.

Her position at the head of the state was obviously weakened by the existence of a consort, a legitimate male heir, Thutmosis III. Therefore, she constantly tried to show that her promotion to the royal status and her realisations were done in order to follow a mandatory divine order, given through an oracle, or even through a direct acces to the god’s will.

J.J. Shirley – Johns Hopkins University

The Corregency Elite: who won and who lost in Hatshepsut’s rise and the transition to Thutmose III

This paper will address several issues concerning elite officials who served during the Hatshepsut/Thutmose III coregency and continued under Thutmose III, with a view towards elucidating how Hatshepsut may have effected her rise to king and discerning whether there were consequences once Thutmose III became sole king.

There are several competing hypotheses regarding the means through which Hatshepsut assumed the mantle of kingship and became Thutmose III’s co-regent. Did several officials, believing a crisis could occur when Thutmose II’s death left a young successor, determine the best way to proceed was to have Hatshepsut assume power? Did Hatshepsut herself utilize her power as GWA to obtain the support of particular elite, thereby stabilizing her reign and creating a “support and reward” situation? This paper will re-examine these questions considering that during Hatshepsut’s regency several officials were promoted or had their duties expanded. To what extent was this due to an association with Hatshepsut, the internal creation of a cabal, or simply “business as usual” within the Egyptian government?

Considering the role that officials may have played in establishing Hatshepsut ’s kingship, it is interesting to note that several officials transitioned from serving under Hatshepsut to Thutmose III’s sole reign with their positions intact. Here too, however, there needs to be a re-examination of how many of these officials remained in power, for how long, and who was chosen by Thutmose III to replace them. The fate of officials in office at the time of Thutmose III’s ascension perhaps reflects on the manner through which Hatshepsut came to power.

Barbara Engelmann-von Carnap – University of Heidelberg

Unconventional versions: on the tomb of the officials under Hatshepsut in Thebes

In the Theban officials’ cemetery of the first half of the 18th Dynasty, the tombs of Hatshepsut’s contemporaries are conspicuous for especially unconventional, original, and new types of tombs.

Especially in the necropolis of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, these tombs stand out among the younger and older ones, and this applies just as well for the monumental tombs of the viziers and Amun priests as for the smaller tombs, such as that, among others, for the Royal Servant.

In this connection, the special role of the Tomb of the Second Prophet of Amun, Puiemre, will be examined, which distinguishes itself through an unusual location, a completely exceptional ground plan, and an uncoventional decoration system

A final estimation of these tombs’ uniqueness can, however, only be formulated when we know more about the legacy of the officials under the queen’s predecessors.


Zbigniew Szafranski – University of Warsaw

The exceptional creativity of Hatshepsut

An explosion of artistic creativity of Hatshepsut is exemplified in her temple at Deir el-Bahari. Landscape, terraced architecture and sculpture create one of the great architectural wonders of the ancient world. An architect who had definite ideas that molded the project, perhaps even Hatshepsut herself, designed an innovative and original monument.

Since several decades, the Polish-Egyptian Mission has undertook renewed study of the temple; major breakthroughs were made in understanding and restoring its overall decorative and architectural program. The original and innovative building illustrates the exceptional creativity of Hatshepsut who broke with the tradition of copying recognized prototypes.

It seems that Hatshepsut was aware of contemporaneous Minoan architecture which spread widely through the Mediterranean cultures; new features were known to Egyptian architects of the time. For example, in the Delta, at Tell el-Daba, the major Palace G, with its open colonnades, was constructed on a elevated platform, accessed by a monumental ramp.

The upper terrace of the temple, its architectural form, decoration, and statuary indicate that the process of making Hatshepsut divine is complete. A significant proportion of the temple’s statuary corpus is made up of architectural figures. Limestone Osiride statues and Hatshepsut’s small kneeling figures conform to a single new type. They present unusual elements, namely, the Osirides grasp four implements, in the right fist: the ankh and nehaha flail, and in the left one: the kheqa crook and was scepter. The kneeling statues are depicted with the nemset vase, the djed pillar, and the prominent khat. The combination of implements is entirely unique to Hatshepsut’s statuary; they are illustrated by newly restored objects.

The Eight Pylon, a monumental doorway facing south toward the Mut temple, was her grandest construction projects at Karnak; the pylon became the new entrance to the temple and accommodated the second processional axis of the building: the north-south processional way which linked the Karnak temple to the Luxor temple, the site of the Opet festival. A similar or the same idea, i.e. the north-south processional axis, was invented in the Upper Festival Courtyard of Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri; the Opet festival scenes are depicted on the eastern wall of the Courtyard. Hatshepsut marked the second axis of her temple at Deir el-Bahari with an additional row columns, the third one, located to the east of the Courtyard and indicated the processional way leading to her own mortuary complex which forms some kind of a “temple” inside the temple.

The processional approach to the temple at Deir el-Bahari was flanked by two rows of sandstone, painted sphinxes, more than a hundred altogether. This is the first avenue of sphinxes ever built in Egypt. Rediscovery of c. 4.500 pieces of these sphinxes, their conservation, study and restoration is one of the main tasks of the Mission.

The reason for Hatshepsut’s proscription remains elusive. Twenty years after Queen/King Hatshepsut herself disappeared from the pages of history, having ruled almost 22 years, her names and many of her representations suffered various degrees of damage during the reign of her successor, Tuthmosis III. In the year 42 of Tuthmosis III, the year of Hatshepsut’s death(?), Tuthmosis III attacked her monuments at all. The erasures was a rejection of the idea of female kingship in general. The idea of the matriarchy propagated by Hatshepsut is by no means evident in the Upper Shrine of Anubis, called also „the Chapel of the Parents” (of Hatshepsut). This is also in accordance with the representation of Queen/King(?) Neferure located at the entrance to the Main Sanctuary of Amun-Re in the Upper Festival Courtyard. Hatshepsut the mother was paving the way for her daughter, Hatshepsut the King was paving the way for a line of female pharaohs.

Susane Bickel – University of Basel

Hatshepsut and the gods: New religious conceptions and their political implications

As certain religious texts indicate, the early fifteenth century BCE was particularly conscious about the distance between human experience on earth and the world of the gods. This perception of distance was twofold: Both the spatial separation from the gods thought to exist far away in heaven, and the temporal distance form the time of the gods’ most effective action during creation and the establishment of world order were explicitly treated.

The discourse developed to present the kingship of Hatshepsut seems to counter this perception of distance very consciously. What is new in the elaborate discourse of royal ideology is not so much the use of female pronouns and grammatical markers, but rather the extraordinary inventiveness to illustrate the closeness between Hatshepsut and the gods. A new rhetoric was developed to stress Hatshepsut’s intimacy with the gods, particularly with Amun according to our extant documentation. Concepts of love, intimate knowledge, filial obedience are central to this discourse. The display of royal ideology insists in a new manner on the sovereign’s divine filiation through the presentation of the birth cycle, a patent manner of illustrating intrinsic intimacy. The texts also stress the relation of divine order and royal compliance, extending for this purpose the theological concept of Amun’s divine kingship in order to present god and pharaoh as a harmonic team of governance.

The perception of a temporal distance from the «time of the gods» was also compensated by an intense rhetoric effort. Expressions like the famous «never had the like occurred» or «first time of doing something» are particularly frequent in Hatshepsut’s official texts. More specific, however, to her royal discourse are the two related topics that Amun has foreseen Hatshepsut’s kingship since the beginning of time and that she acts in order to let future generations remember. These concepts of divine plan and royal concern for the future place Hatshepsut is the centre of an extensive temporal solidarity between generations.

The two main themes of Hatshepsut’s communication, the rhetoric of intimacy and the discourse of temporal connection, not only served as justification and legitimisation of her rule, they also counterbalanced the current concepts of world view. They consciously built upon these concepts in order to proclaim a new world order and a new solidarity between mankind and the gods as well as a solid coherence between the present time, the distant past and the future. This message of solidarity and the valuation of the present time might have been important instruments in interior politics still subject to conflicts. This discourse of proximity was effectively enhanced by parts of the building program, such as the obelisks designed to reach the sky and connect the two spheres.

Betsy Bryan – Johns Hopkins University

Hatshepsut in the temple of Mut

Study and excavation of the New Kingdom remains at the Mut Temple enclosure have resulted in a clearer understanding of the early development of the cult and its installations. Hatshepsut’s contributions in the precinct have been presumed to be considerable, due to the autobiographical texts of a number of her officials. Now, however, many elements of her monuments have been discovered, and the nature, sequence, and locations of her activities in the enclosure can be described – and considered in relation to both earlier and later construction at the site. In addition, some assessment of the characteristics of the goddess Mut in the early 18th Dynasty can be made and considered in comparison to her presentation in later eras. This lecture will describe Hatshepsut’s monuments in the precinct of Mut and will offer the results of new study of the celebration of the Festival of Drunkenness in Thebes during her reign.

Andrés Diego – CSIC, Madrid

Play and display in Egyptian high culture: the cryptographic texts of Djehuty (TT 11) and their socio-cultural contexts

Cryptographic hymns at the courtyard of the funerary chapel of Djehuty (TT 11) are among the earliest and longest examples of “normal” cryptographic texts in New Kingdom Thebes.

This paper focuses on different aspects derived from a new study of these compositions.

  • a) An assessment of innovation and creativity as part of wider Egyptian cultural traditions promoted by the elites during the joint reign of Thutmose III/Hatshepsut.
  • b) A new reading of the texts (already published by Kurt Sethe in 1908 with important inaccuracies).
  • c) A short review of the religious sources and inspirations of their contents.
  • d) A discussion of the socio-political scenario where these hymns were created and displayed having particularly in mind other previous and coetaneous practices with cryptography both in official and, above all, in private contexts.

Analyses derived from these views confirm cryptography as a tool used by their authors for exhibiting scribal capabilities and/or access to restricted knowledge among their peers.


Eberhard Dziobek – Bonn/Heidelberg

Paradigms of Innovation and their application for the early New Kingdom

The modern business and research community uses a number of key terms when discussing innovation:

Open Innovation

  • Design Spaces
  • Lead User Theory
  • Disruptive Innovation
  • The (fuzzy) front end of Innovation
  • Innovation Management – to name just a few

I propose to look at modern definitions of innovation first and then try and apply them to ancient society – to see if we possibly speak the same language across millenia.


Dorothea Arnold – Metropolitan Museum of Art

The sphinxes of Hatshepsut: style, iconography and function

This contribution to the conference at Granada will mainly focus on the large granite sphinxes from Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri. Based on the different styles and sizes of these sphinxes and the directions of their inscriptions it will be suggested that most of them were not arranged originally as pairs as suggested by Winlock and since then generally accepted but as singly positioned works. It will further be shown on the evidence of the findspots of the fragments from which the sphinxes have been reassembled that their original location, albeit mostly not as pairs, was indeed on the second terrace of the temple as suggested by Winlock. Since, however, findspots of fragments also place the large kneeling statues of Hatshepsut on the second terrace and these indeed arranged as a central row of pairs, the relationship of the two types of statues will be considered.

Catharine Roehrig – Metropolitan Museum of Art

A new look at Hatshepsut’s foundation deposits

Of the eleven excavated foundation deposits that are connected with the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri, one was discovered by Naville in 1894-95, two were discovered by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon in 1910 and 1911, and nine were discovered b the Metropolitan

Museum of Art between 1922 and 1927. Largely based on the positions of these foundation deposits, Herbert Winlock postulated an original, unrealized plan for the temple that was very similar to the temple of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II. Based on an examination of the notes and photographs taken by the Metropolitan Museum excavation team, it is clear that at least one of these deposits has been significantly misplaced on published plans of the temple. It is also evident that the contents of the deposits are less uniform than previously suggested.

Tamás Bács – University of Budapest

Overseers of the southern foreign countries and Thebes in the reign of Hatshepsut

Until more recently a significant amount of controversy has surrounded the occupants of the Nubian viceregalship during the joint reigns of Hatshepsut resulting in opposing historical reconstructions as to the political stability of the viceregal establishment under her rule. Working within the confines of an extremely limited and often ambiguous data set, debates have centred on the number and identity of the individuals having occupied the office as well as the possible length of their tenures. Lately, the re-examination of the epigraphic evidence coupled with new archaeological information, however, has gone some way in clarifying certain aspects of the problems involved.

A new element was added to the debate by the surfacing of material related to a formerly unknown ‘overseer of southern foreign lands’, Penre, from both Thebes and Dokki Gel. However, the nature of this material – burial related from Thebes and votive from Dokki Gel – is such that it has raised a host of questions of its own that are open to interpretation. These range from questioning the possibility of attributing the Theban and Dokki Gel material to one or more individuals, to the more important one of whether the variant titles of ‘first king’s son’ and ‘king’s son’ found beside the overseer title on objects from the Theban one should indeed qualify their owner as a viceroy of Kush or not. As the textual evidence at hand offers no firm conclusions, a more indirect approach shall be taken here. This involves the survey of the context and a profiling of the contents of the burial assemblage of Penre excavated on Sheikh Abd el-Qurna. If nothing else, the survey may at least offer insight into the kind of status this in number and state of preservation greatly diminished assemblage may reflect and concurrently present an opportunity to reiterate arguments favouring the identification of Penre as a viceroy of Kush under Hatshepsut.

José M. Serrano – University of Seville

Tradition and innovation in the funerary rituals represented in the tomb of Djehuty (TT 11)

The tomb of Djehuty (TT 11) offers a rich iconographic repertoire, including an original collection of funerary rituals. On the right hand wall of the corridor, in its habitual place, we find the ritual of the Opening of the Mouth. It is a wide and well developed version, including complex images and relatively long texts. Moreover, it is surely one of the oldest versions preserved from the 18th Dynasty, a significant moment in the history of this ritual. Its visual features and internal structure were apparently elaborated on the basis of a deep religious understanding of the funerary liturgy. The analysis of the different scenes and texts provides relevant information for the history and character of the ritual as a whole. It is relevant to notice the common features with the panel represented in the tomb of Rekhmire, but also with Ramesside texts. Finally, this new document fits well with other ‘innovations’ of the 18th Dynasty, specially those from the time of Hatshepsut-Thutmose III.

Ellen Morris – New York University

Millions of men of her sword’s captivity: prisoners of war, pride, and productivity in a new imperial regime

In the period of Egypt’s initial imperial expansion to the north, an unprecedented number of foreign captives were brought from the Syro-Palestinian area to Egypt to labor on state building projects and on temple, palace, and private estates. Although textual sources documenting this practice have been well studied in the past, relatively little attention has been paid to artistic evidence. This paper focuses upon a distinctive group of laborers depicted in the tomb paintings of some of the most important officials of the mid-Eighteenth Dynasty. Images of these highly recognizable men appear in Egyptian art suddenly—and most distinctively—during the joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III and within a few generations gradually disappear from view. It is argued that these tomb paintings chart the dissemination and eventual assimilation of warriors from Naharin, captured in the campaigns of Thutmose I and Thutmose III. Their appearance in private tombs at this time likely reflected reality insomuch as prisoners of war would have populated Egyptian estates in unprecedented numbers at this time. The memorialized subservience of these men, however, also served to celebrate Egypt’s own new found dominance over the most fierce and exotic of northerners. Thanks to the strong arm of pharaoh, the most formidable enemies imaginable now entered Egypt enshackled.


Charles Bonnet – Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, Paris

The temples of Hatshepsut in Dukki Gel and the New Kingdom occupation

During our last seasons, we found the remains of two temples erected by Thutmosis I. In a huge fortified town, facing one of the main doors, is partly preserved an extraordinary Nubian complex with two main indigenous sanctuaries. A Kushite king clearly took over the power on the territory and it is under the reigns of Thutmosis II and Hatshepsut that rebellion end up.

Several new architectural programs are settled.

Dominique Valbelle – Centre de Recherches Egyptologiques de la Sorbonne

The part of Hatshepsut in some architectural programs of the early 18th Dynasty

The study of the epigraphic remains found in Dukki Gel temples of the beginning of the 18th Dynasty excavated by the Swiss Mission in Kerma raises the question of the respective parts played by Thutmosis I, Thutmosis II and Hatshepsut in these architectural programs. The question will be examined in comparison with various other contemporaneous programs in Nubia and Egypt.


Jean-Luc Chappaz – Art and History Museum of Geneva

Tradition et innovation en Moyenne Egypte: Hatchepsout au Speos Artemidos

Le Spéos Artémidos, établi à la limite méridionale du XVIe nome de Haute Égypte, reste un monument déconcertant. La « grande inscription d’Hatchepsout », gravée sur le fronton, nous le désigne comme un sanctuaire de la déesse locale Pakhet. Mais ce même texte, ainsi que les scènes gravées sous le règne de la souveraine – autant que les ajouts de Séthi Ier –, insistent davantage sur la fonction, le rôle et la légitimité du « maître du Double Pays » que sur les rites ou sur l’univers mythologique de la déesse tutélaire des lieux. Au demeurant, et aussi inachevé soit-il, le Spéos Artémidos présente, dans son architecture, une distribution des volumes et des espaces peu conforme avec ce que l’on sait les monuments du même genre attribuables à la première moitié de la XVIIIe dynastie.

À défaut de pouvoir résoudre toutes les interrogations que pose, en l’état, ce monument, les questions aborderont notamment les points suivants :

  • Pourquoi la nécessité d’affirmer, sous le règne d’Hatchepsout, puis de Séthi Ier, la légitimité du pouvoir royal, dans une région bien éloignée des centres traditionnels du pouvoir pharaonique ?
  • Quel pouvait être l’aspect du Spéos Artémidos à l’époque d’Hatchepsout, et comment ce sanctuaire pouvait-il « fonctionner », sur un plan liturgique ou rituel, dès lors qu’aucun dispositif cultuel ne peut être assuré dans le monument à cette époque ?
  • Ce sanctuaire s’inscrit-il dans un cadre local (au centre de carrières, difficiles à dater), ou a-t-il une importance plus large ?
  • Les interventions plus tardives (Pinodjem Ier, Alexandre IV, mention dans la Notitia dignitatum) permettent-elles de mieux cerner la raison d’être du sanctuaire aux époques antérieures ?

L’exposé posera plus de questions qu’il n’apportera de réponses. Pour éviter de se perdre en hypothèses, le point de vue choisi sera strictement minimaliste, en fonction de la documentation relevée lors des missions du Fonds pour l’Égyptologie durant les années 1980. Les discussions au sein de ce colloque aideront peut-être à éclairer ces interrogations.

Vivian Davies – British Museum

The Tomb of Ahmose Pennekheb at Elkab: recent research

The soldier and high official Ahmose-Pennekheb, who prospered during the early 18th Dynasty, is well known to Egyptologists through his famous historical inscriptions. However, his tomb at Elkab has never been properly recorded and published. This paper describes the first results of a programme of documentation recently undertaken by a British Museum team, which has yielded new information, and also presents images of the decoration taken in the 1890s when the tomb was in a better state of preservation.

José M. Galán – CSIC, Madrid

The painted burial chamber of Djehuty (TT 11)

Djehuty, overseer of the Treasury under Hatshepsut-Thutmose III, pretended to impress his contemporaries visiting his funerary monument (TT 11) with his writing skills and his creativity in the design of inscriptions within their architectural context. On one hand he shows his knowledge of arcane funerary texts, such as Pyramid Texts, and on the other hand he incorporats unconventional ritual scenes to the decorative program. Moreover, even in the restricted, non-accessible part of the monument, inside the burial chamber, Djehuty displays his liking for writing by covering the walls and ceiling with passages from the Book of the Dead. It is, thus, one of the earliest decorated burial chambers of the 18th Dynasty, and it constitutes one of the earliest Book of the Dead compositions. The archaeological (re)discovery of the funerary shaft will be described, and the burial chamber will be analyzed and compared with earlier and roughly contemporary ones in order to asses its originality.