Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Nook Reviews: Five Fierce Females of Ancient Egypt

5. Tetisheri
Tetisheri statue (from the British Museum). 
Credited with being the "Mother of the New Kingdom," Tetisheri was the grandmother of Ahmose, the 18th Dynasty pharaoh who expelled the foreign enemies, the Hyksos, and founded the New Kingdom. Ahmose took great pride in being Tetisheri's grandson and built a mortuary temple in her honor at the site of Abydos. She cared greatly for the Egyptian people and initiated many projects in their favor during her long life.

4. Cleopatra VII         
Cleopatra VII on the wall at the Temple of Denderah
Cleopatra VII ruled over Egypt during the Ptolomaic Period. Although many queens were named Cleopatra, she is the one who is most famous. She was at the center of a nasty love triangle and is said to have committed suicide using an Egyptian Asp. She is popularly depicted in Western culture as a beautiful woman, but not much is known of the real Cleopatra least of all what she looked like.

3. Nefertiti
The bust of Nefertiti.
Nefertiti, who name means the "Beautiful One Has Come," was the Great Royal Wife of the pharaoh Akhenaten. She is known best from her bust, a statue that was most likely used to teach sculptors. She disappeared from the historical record about fourteen years after her husband took the throne and yet she still has managed to captivate audiences for centuries.

2. Hatshepsut
Statue of Hatshepsut from Djser Djser
Hatshepsut was the first female pharaoh of the early 18th Dynasty. She declared herself king and initiated many temple building projects. During her reign, she was responsible for the proliferation of the cult of Amun. She built her mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri in a terraced format and commemorated her divine birth and the expedition to Punt. In ancient and modern times, there has been speculation that she was consorting with her chief advisor, Senmut. After her death, the Egyptians attempted to erase her memory through the process of proscription.

1. Sekmet
Statue of Sekmet.
While not technically a woman, Sekmet is the fiercest of the fierce females in Egypt. The feline goddess of protection and pestilence was in charge of keeping Egypt save from disease and also for causing it. She has developed a very popular cult in the modern year, as evidence by the fact that it was impossible to find a normal picture of her.

That, Book Nooks, is the list of the top five fierce females of ancient Egypt. Please check the side bar lists for some great books on the ladies above. The book on Hatshepsut, Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh, is particularly delightful.

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