Probably no one noticed or even cared that the Mummy of Queen Hatshepsut has been identified and the cause of death determined, but for buffs of Egyptian History this was a momentous occasion because it answered questions that have lingered for 3500 years. For those not familiar with the situation the cast of characters is fascinating. First there is Thutmose I, Pharaoh and father of Hatshepsut, Thutmose II her half brother, Senemut, the Architect and tutor of her daughter Neferure, and Hatshepsut's step son Thutmose III.
This is a family that actually seemed to get along rather well and with the death of Thutmose I, he was succeeded by his son Thutmose II who was not royal since the succession in ancient Egypt was through the maternal line. Therefore, Hatshepsut succeeded her father as ruler and married her half brother who became Thutmose II. But at this point things became a little muddled. Thutmose II did not live long after succeeding to the throne although he did father Neferure with Hatshepsut. He also fathered a boy via a lesser wife who became Thutmose III.
How Thutmose II died has always been a mystery since he was a young man. Senemut the Architect came onto the scene either shortly before or after the death of Thutmose II. But Senemut was very close to Hatshepsut – so close as to raise eyebrows and open the question of paternity for Neferure and speculations regarding the death of Thutmose II. Furthermore, the boy fathered by Thutmose II was taken from his mother and raised by Hatshepsut as her own son. At the death of his father Thutmose III became the new ruler and Hatshepsut became Regent. She and Senemut embarked on a building program that gave Egypt many of the great buildings that symbolize the greatness of Ancient Egypt. This included the great Temple of Karnak as well as her magnificent tomb which stands today as the greatest built outside of the Pyramids.
The relationship between Thutmose III and Hatshepsut is unknown but it is known that she reigned with him as regent for only a short time, then she became Pharaoh and ruler of Egypt, dressing like a man and wearing the false beard symbolizing her status. Hatshepsut ruled Egypt for at least 20 years but the mystery deepens at this point because Thutmose III vanishes and surfaces years later as a mighty warrior and a great general. Thutmose III is known today as “the Egyptian Napoleon. He led a huge army that greatly extended the Egyptian Empire and its wealth. At any point after his maturity he could have overthrown Hatshepsut as the usurper of his throne – he didn’t. Why is unknown but it is known that at her death he assumed the throne as Pharaoh and married his half sister Neferure – or at least that is speculated. Years after he assumed the throne but certainly during his lifetime, every statue and indication that she ever existed was systematically obliterated.
So the mystery has always been what role did Senemut play? What happened to Neferure? Why didn’t Thutmose III over throw his step-mother? Who and why was every vestige of Hatshepsut’s existence obliterated and by whom? There has always been a hint of scandal and possibly murder. But with the recent verification of the Mummy of Hatshepsut and the tomb of Neferure things have finally come into focus.
Hatshepsut was the darling of her father Thutmose I but was the only living child of of his at his death. She dutifully married her half brother Thutmose II and bore him a child -- Neferure. However, the Mummy of Thutmose II shows that he suffered from a genetic skin disease which undoubtedly either killed him or led to his untimely but natural death through other related disease. At his death his son Thutmose III was a very young child and not capable of ruling but some one had to run the country so Hatshepsut tried ruling as Regent but that was clearly too clumsy of an arrangement. So Thutmose III was apparently sent off to become a soldier while his step-mother ruled.
There is no doubt but that this arrangement suited Thutmose III because there is no indication whatsoever of problems between him and his step-mother during her lifetime. Hatshepsut allowed Senemut to tutor Neferure but with recent writings it seems he was never more than just a courtier who served a purpose and nothing beyond that. Queen Hatshepsut seems to have died a natural death brought on by a ruptured abscessed tooth. At her death Thutmose III returned a highly regarded General, married Neferure, and assumed his throne. Neferure apparently died shortly after the marriage and there is evidence that her tomb was at one time occupied.
During her lifetime Hatshepsut raised her daughter like a Prince and she is shown wearing the scalp-lock usually associated with the Crown Prince. It is believed she was grooming Neferure to succeed her as Queen. Nevertheless, the succession went peacefully and Thutmose III succeeded to the throne and married Neferure. Apparently at some point there was some question of legitimacy because he was not descended from Hatshepsut but was merely a stepson so it was he who years later ordered the destruction of her memory. However, this destruction was half-hearted and only happened to major edifices, so it is unlikely it was done through hate.
So after all of these years, Hatshepsut is shown as a kindly stepmother who could have killed her rival but did not. Her stepson is shown as dutiful son who succeeded her an only reacted to circumstances in his decision to obliterate her memory and not from any malice toward her. There was no murder, no malice, and no hatred behind the destruction of her memort -- it simply became a political necessity.