Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Q for Queen Hatshepsut: Female Scientists Before Our Time

Statue of Hatshepsut
 -Metropolitan Museum of Art
Queen Hatshepsut ruled as Egypt's 5th pharaoh from c.1478 to 1458 BC, a role she inherited when her husband/half-brother Thutmose II passed away. She had married him at the young age of twelve.  

During her reign as Pharaoh, she built beautiful temples and expanded trade to the south in Punt, trading jewelry, papyrus, and bronze weapons in exchange for ivory, perfume, gold, leopard skins and live apes. Much more has been written about her, but in brief, she was Egypt's 2nd female pharaoh and is considered to be one of Egypt's most important pharaohs. But before we get to her scientific contribution it's important to understand the back story.


After Queen Hatshepsut died, Thutmose III (her stepson/half-brother) was finally old enough to reign. She had been ruling in behalf of Thutmose, who had been ten-years-old at the start of her rule.  




Confused with the genealogy? I sure was. Below is a chart that helps explain. Technically, Thutmose III and Amenhotep II were Hatsheput's half-brothers. Hatshepsut also (according to this chart) was the same queen who found Moses of the Bible floating in the river . . . but that's another story!
 


The two half-brothers are important in Hatshepsut's story, because these are the two pharaohs who proceeded to remove all references to Hatshepsut as pharaoh. Removal of Hatsheput's reign in history included the defacing of monuments. Within a short time two jealous (?) brothers had erased the records of accomplishments from her eulogies, and taken full credit. The reasons are not all together clear. Although this was not an uncommon practice, the fact that she had been Egypt's 2nd female pharaoh makes their act all the more outrageous. Further, an important aspect of her story was lost in the process.

Temple of Hatshepsut built in Thebes
Few knew of Hatshepsut's support of education and medical science until recently, or that she had encouraged many women to study medicine. In fact, she had encouraged all of her subjects to read and become educated. A strong supporter of medical science in particular, she started three medical schools. She built botanical and herbal gardens too, where women healers were responsible for growing medicinal plants and keeping the pharmacies full. 


After the queen’s death this window of opportunity slowly faded for women. Medical practice shifted to mostly male priests and healers. Despite the setback, the medical schools flourished. Word spread, drawing many 'soon to be' Greek physicians to the schools for medical training. Historians have since added to the queen’s eulogy, her heart for science and education and the encouragement she gave to women wishing to become physicians.




Source:
http://www.ancient.eu/article/49/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatshepsut
Brooke, Elisabeth, 1995. Women Healers: Portraits of herbalists, Physician, and Midwives. Healing Arts Press.
Bennett, Jennifer, 2009. “Lilies of the Hearth: The Historical Relationship Between Women and Plants.” In: Botanical Medicine for Women's Health, Aviva Romm, ed. Churchill Livingstone.

24 comments:

  1. Intriguing lady. Sounds like she had a lot of jealous rivals and enemies. Wonder if she lived out a full lifespan, or died an untimely death. Maui Jungalow

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    1. Courtney, thanks for visiting! Actually, there's quite a bit online about her now. She did a lot as pharaoh.

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  2. Patriarchy out in full force! She was a great queen. Shame so much has been erased/lost, so spiteful, uff! They could have gone out and made their own mark in the world, but no. How small minded can people get??

    Nilanjana.
    Madly-in-Verse

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    1. Yes, a good way to put it. It happens even today. Unless, people speak up small-minded people make their mark after others.

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  3. So interesting - and the rivalry of those half brothers of hers. Good to see the statue of her in the Met Museum of Art. Not MOMA? And to read of her accomplishments and encouragement to women to study and be educated. Thanks Sharon.

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    1. Isn't the statue beautiful? She did a lot for women in her day and deserves to be at the Met.

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  4. Interesting and informative post. I didn't know much about Egyptian history, because of your post I know a bit.
    Quaint

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  5. Seems that even in ancient times people liked to take credit for someone else's work. Thanks for sharing. Happy A-to-Z-ing.

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    1. Thank you, and welcome! Taking credit for someone's work is a sad fact. It probably exists in the archives of history more than we realize.

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  6. Hi Sharon - fascinating to learn about Hatshepsut - I knew nothing of this ... so great you've got it here for me to look at once the A-Z is over. Men!!!! That's enough ... cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/q-is-for-quirky-quizzy-facts-and-quaggas.html

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    1. Ha-ha. Men indeed...but oh do we ever love them so :)

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  7. That is a complicated genealogy and another woman I've not heard of (not that I've spent time studying early Egyptian scientist).

    http://sagecoveredhills.blogspot.com/2017/04/q-is-for-queen-cassiopeia.html

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    1. Not surprised....she was new to me too. In fact, most of these ladies have been.

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  8. Finally a name I am familiar with. I saw a show on her not long ago.

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    1. Oh, good for you Denise knowing her story. So glad historians discovered the truth!

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  9. I know her! I didn't know all about this though so it was very intriguing to learn about her and her accomplishments. I have a feeling she was quite strong and men have issues with women who are this strong. I think this is the reason they tried to eliminate her from all history

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    1. Yay, someone else who knows her!! Interesting though her brothers' misdeed wasn't mentioned when you learned about her.

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  10. When I was teaching 6th grade, we studied Hatshepsut, but not as much was known about her then. I'm intrigued that she's considered the queen who discovered Moses in the bulrushes. Can you give some references for that? I'd sure like to know more about it. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Elizabeth! So-oo interesting you taught about her once, and now know the whole story. I didn't delve too much into the Moses story much, but found this link: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/02/Moses-and-Hatshepsut.aspx
      It'll get you started in your research. Have fun!

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    1. "There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus."

      Delete

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