Tausret – d. 1189 BCE – Thebes, Egypt

Ancient Egypt

Ruling during the Trojan wars, Tausret was the last woman to rule Egypt as Pharaoh until Cleopatra VII, over 1000 years later.

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The story of Tausret (also known as Twosret or Ta-Usret, meaning powerful one) and her rise to power is in many ways very similar to her predecessors Sobekneferu and Hatshepsut, though she only ruled for a fraction of the time Hatshepsut did – approximately two years.

Like the two female Pharaoh’s who came before her, she was first the wife of a King; Seti II. When Seti died, he left behind only a ten year old boy, named Sitpah, as heir.

“Twosret” by en:User: John D. Croft – English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Like Hatshepsut, Tausret was regent on the behalf of the boy-king. This continued for around six years, before Sitpah died in his mid-teens. At this point, Tausret was the logical choice for Pharaoh, with her royal connections and experience in power. Similarly to Hatshepsut and Sobekneferu, Tausret used both female and male iconography to refer to herself in statues and carvings.

While her reign as an independent Pharaoh lasted around two years (c.1191 – 1189 BCE), there is evidence that she included Sitpah’s reign as her own, making it seem as though she ruled for close to eight years. The reason for this may have been Sitpah’s shaky parentage – which is still disputed. We know that he was not Tausret’s son, nor was he likely to have been Seti’s child. He may have been a nephew or cousin. Sitpah’s apparent illegitimacy may have been the cause of a civil war which marked the end of the 19th dynasty. Tausret’s absorbing his reign into her own might have been a way of asserting her own kingship, as her royal blood was not under question.

We do not know how Tausret’s reign ended – whether she simply died, or was overthrown by Setnakhtre, who founded the 20thdynasty. What we do know is that he really disliked her. He took over her tomb (which she shared with Seti), removed her body and plastered all of the walls, removing any trace of the female king.


References:

Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt: From Early Dynastic Times to the Death of Cleopatra – Joyce Tyldesley

Tausret: Forgotten Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt – Richard H. Wilkinson

Theban Tomb Mapping Project

On Wikipedia:

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