Dorman lectures on Gender Trouble in Ancient Egypt: The Case of King/Queen Hatshepsut

Published October 23rd, 2008 - 12:17 GMT

AUB's new president, Peter Dorman, who is also a professor of archeology and an expert on ancient Egypt, gave a presentation on October 22 about Hatshepsut, the only woman to reign as a male pharaoh over Ancient Egypt.

Organized by the Society of the Friends of the AUB Museum and held at the AUB Archeological Museum, the illustrated lecture was titled "Gender Trouble in Ancient Egypt: The Case of King/Queen Hatshepsut.” It attracted a large audience which included Lebanon's Minister of Culture HE Tammam Salam and his wife, AUB Trustee Farouk Jabre, and AUB Acting Provost Wadah Nasr.

While introducing President Dorman, Nora Jumblat, the president of the Society of Friends of the AUB Museum, overviewed Dorman’s biography and academic career, emphasizing his specialty in Ancient Egyptian history and archaeology.

In his talk, Dorman highlighted the uniqueness of the reign of Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut who assumed the role of male king of ancient Egypt, through her garb and title, as depicted in the hieroglyphs contemporary to her time of rule. Hatshepsut is the fifth 'pharaoh' of the eighteenth dynasty (1500 BC) of Ancient Egypt and wife of Thutmose II—also Hatshepsut’s half-brother—who died a few years after becoming king without a direct heir to the throne. Thutmose III, Hatshepsut's stepson and nephew, was too young to assume kingship at the time. As a result, Hatshepsut claimed power as queen regent, and then usurped it, by claiming to be the legitimate heir, by virtue of being the daughter of a king. Seven years into her rule, she also assumed the role of male king.

"Hatshepsut holds a unique place in ancient Egyptian history since she is the only woman to rule in the guise of a male ruler," said President Dorman. While surveying the circumstances that led to her becoming queen then assuming legitimacy for rightful heir for kingship, Dorman supported his observations with archaeological evidence - mostly derived from her funerary temple in Dayr Al-Bahri on the banks of the Nile --  that showed the evolution of her role from queen to king.

"Hatshepsut no longer claimed legality for being wife of a deceased king; rather, by being the eldest surviving heir to the throne, and tracing legitimacy to her father in life and death," said Dorman.

In conclusion, Dorman noted that Hatshepsut’s images were intentionally and meticulously desecrated and destroyed after her death by Thutmose III, and experimented with possible reasons for this fact.

"Hatshepsut may have been forgotten, but with research we have been able to recover important aspects of her life," said Dorman.

President Dorman is an international leader in the study of the ancient near east, and in particular the field of Egyptology, in which he is a noted historiographer, epigrapher and philologist.

He is the author and editor of several major books and many articles on the study of ancient Egypt and is probably best known for his historical work on the reign of Hatshepsut and the Amarna period. His most recent monograph, Faces in Clay: Technique, Imagery, and Allusion in a Corpus of Ceramic Sculpture from Ancient Egypt (2002), examines artisanal craftsmanship in light of material culture, iconography, and religious texts. In 2007, he and Betsy M. Bryan of The Johns Hopkins University came out with an edited volume titled Sacred Space and Sacred Function in Ancient Thebes.
Since 2002 he has chaired with great success the distinguished Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at one of the world's top research universities, the University of Chicago. Prior to that, he spent nine years (1988-1997) heading the epigraphic efforts at Chicago House in Luxor, Egypt. >From 1977 to 1988, he worked in curatorial positions in the Department of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.


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