When Egyptologists gather this weekend in Philadelphia, the spotlight will shine on the first female pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, some 4,000 years ago. She’s also the subject of a new book, “The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt,” by Dr. Kara Cooney.
“This woman really did everything right,” Cooney said. “She created an economic base in Egypt that was unassailable; politically, she had the reins of the country in her hand; and then, ideologically, she was able to maintain her power with the priesthood.”
And yet, today, she is basically unknown, due to a concerted effort by her successors.
“They went through her temples and chiseled away her images,” Cooney explained. “They went after her statues with sledgehammers. So if you go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or other museums today, you see these statues that have been painstakingly put back together by conservationists.”
Cooney wonders, “Why do we have a problem, even today, with strong, successful female leaders?”