National Geographic : 2009 Apr
was the o spring of an adopted king. e Egyp- tians believed in the divinity of the pharaoh; only Hatshepsut, not her stepson, had a biological link to divine royalty. Still, there was the small matter of gender. The kingship was meant to be passed down from father to son, not daughter; religious belief dictated that the king s role could not be adequately carried out by a woman. Getting over this hurdle must have taken great shrewd- ness from the female king. When her husband died, Hatshepsut s preferred title was not King s Wife, but God s Wife of Amun, a designation some believe paved her way to the throne. Hatshepsut never made a secret of her sex in texts; her inscriptions frequently employed feminine endings. But in the early going, she seemed to be looking for ways to synthesize the images of queen and king, as if a visual compromise might resolve the paradox of a female sovereign. In one seated red granite statue, Hatshepsut is shown with the unmistakable body of a woman but with the striped nemes headdress and uraeus cobra, symbols of a king. In some temple reliefs, Hatshepsut is dressed in a tradi- tional restrictive ankle-length gown but with her feet wide apart in the striding pose of the king. As the years went on, she seems to have decided it was easier to sidestep the issue of ■ Society Grant Research for this project was funded in part by your Society membership.