Monuments decores en bas relief aux noms de Thoutmosis II et Hatchepsout a Karnak. 2 vols. By LUC GABOLDE. MIFAO 123. Cairo: INSTITUT FRANCAIS D'ARCHEOLOGIE ORIENTALS, 2005. Pp. vii + 263, plates. (paper)
The life of Hatshepsut is one of the most intriguing episodes of pharaonic history. Her break with tradition, accomplished for raisons d'etat, was a watershed event in New Kingdom politics. As Gabolde indicates, the obvious crisis in kingship caused by the death of the short-reigned king Thutmose II, compounded by the absence of a competent male heir, must have formed the basis for the queen's slow but inexorable seizure of royal power. This review, however, does not wish to repeat or even revise our present understanding of Hatshepsut's career, but instead reflects the presentation of new material concerning this ever-mysterious royal personage. Indeed, it is fair to state that after Peter Dorman's comprehensive work on Senenmut, Hatshepsut's major domo--and truly her eminence grise--little new has been added to the extant information (cf. Peter F. Dorman, The Monuments of Senenmut [London, 1988]). This state of affairs has fortunately been broken by Gabolde's study, which will become another staple among the primary source publications of the Eighteenth Dynasty. (In this context, two recent studies covering the same issues as Dorman presented can be noted: Vivienne Gae Callender, "The Innovations of Hatshepsut's Reign," BACE 13 : 29-46, and Cristina Gil Paneque, "The Official Image of Hatshepsut during the Regency: A Political Approximation to the Office of God's Wife," TdE 2 : 83-98.)
Gabolde's task was complex. He first had to reconstruct the location, timeframe, and purpose of four separate edifices, all of which were built around the time of Thutmose II's death and all of which seem to have been completed by his son's seventh regnal year or so. Their historical implications increase because they were built after the demise of the queen's husband and in a temporal interval that witnessed a regency under the aegis of Hatshepsut, ending with her rise to pharaonic status. The queen became Maatkare, a Pharaoh (and therefore male).
It is pleasing to say that the author has achieved his aims. He analyzed the construction of Ntrj-mnw, where Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, and Neferure all appear, along with the old monarch, the posthumously-presented Thutmose II. The palimpsests which Gabolde scrutinized reveal the names of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III in place of that of Thutmose II. Moreover, the regent's designation (Hatshepsut) was surcharged with the royal name Maatkare. Neferure was identified as the sister of the king; hence, Thutmose III was already pharaoh at the time that this religious shrine was carved. Gabolde also stresses the "quasi-omnipotence" of Hatshepsut in the scenes and texts, which attest to her great value during the childhood of her stepson, Thutmose III.
Since this portion of Gabolde's work is the most important, the choice of the background data was crucial. Gabolde, true to his expert scholarship, did not overlook any of the primary or secondary sources for the reconstruction of this historical period. (For a recent summary, see the remarks in Catherine H. Roehrig, ed., Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh [New Haven, 2005].) Needless to say, Ntrj-mnw was partially dismantled around the time when Hatshepsut became pharaoh, but at the beginning of the independent reign of Thutmose III--in his twenty-second regnal year--it was pulled down completely. …