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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 395–405 | Cite as

Hatshepsut and the Politics of Punt

  • Pearce Paul CreasmanEmail author
Original Article
  • 2.4k Downloads

Abstract

Most discussions regarding the relationship between pharaonic Egypt and the “land of Punt” have focused on the latter’s location (a subject of considerable debate) and exotic imports. The most famous of the ancient expeditions to Punt was launched by the Eighteenth Dynasty female pharaoh Hatshepsut, who boasted that she had reopened this prestigious trade route. If so, it would have been after a long hiatus possibly of some two centuries. Offering a new perspective in the discussion of Punt, this paper explores the rationale behind her particular expedition to this fabled land. Comparisons between the textual and iconographic evidence of Hatshepsut’s expedition and similar records from a distant predecessor (King Sahure) and those of later kings suggest the political nature of the endeavor, which is further underscored by its apparent timing in relationship with her coronation. Like any other Egyptian king, and perhaps more so because of her unorthodox rise to power, Hatshepsut had to prove her fitness to rule. She did so by economic means: international trade under the guise of an act of religious piety. This perhaps allowed her to obtain the cooperation of other influential entities within the Egyptian society.

Keywords

Ancient Egypt Trade Politics Legitimization Kingship Punt 

Résumé

La plupart des discussions concernant la relation entre l'Egypte pharaonique et le ‘pays de Pount’ ont porté sur l'emplacement de celui-ci (un sujet de débat considérable) et les importations exotiques. Le plus célèbre des anciens expéditions à Punt a été lancé par la dix-huitième dynastie femme pharaon Hatchepsout, qui se vantait qu'elle avait rouvert cette route commerciale prestigieuse. Si c'est le cas, il aurait été après une longue interruption éventuellement de deux siècles. Offrant une perspective nouvelle dans la discussion de Punt, cet article explore les raisons de son expédition particulière à cette terre fabuleuse. Les comparaisons entre les preuves textuelles et iconographiques de l'expédition d'Hatchepsout et un similaire à partir d'un lointain prédécesseur (le roi Sahure) et ceux des rois ultérieurs suggèrent la nature politique de l'entreprise, qui est en outre soulignée par son synchronisme apparente en relation avec Hatchepsout’s couronnement. Comme n'importe quel autre roi égyptien, et peut-être plus en raison de son lieu peu orthodoxe au pouvoir, Hatchepsout devait prouver son aptitude à gouverner. Elle l'a fait par des moyens économiques: le commerce international sous le couvert d'un acte de piété religieuse. Ce peut-être lui a permis d'obtenir la coopération d'autres entités influentes au sein de la société égyptienne.

Notes

Acknowledgments

The author is especially grateful to the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful suggestions, which have significantly strengthened this work. Furthermore, Noreen Doyle is owed a great debt of gratitude for ensuring that this work came to press and for her intellectual contributions to it.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research and Egyptian ExpeditionUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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