The American Research Center in Eygpt

LECTURE: Reading Divine Queenship in New Kingdom Egypt

LECTURE: Reading Divine Queenship in New Kingdom Egypt

LECTURE: Reading Divine Queenship in New Kingdom Egypt

LECTURE on November 11, 2015 at 7:00PM

Dr. Lanny Bell  

Associate Professor Emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Chicago and a Visiting Researcher in Egyptology at Brown University

LOCATION:  Unitarian Church of All Souls (Reidy Friendship Hall)
1157 Lexington Avenue (at East 80th Street)
New York, NY 10075

ABSTRACT:  Divine kingship is one of the fundamental tenets of ancient Egyptian religion, and the various aspects of the king’s divinity are well documented.  During the New Kingdom (1570-1070 BCE) a number of outstanding women are also depicted as co-equal partners alongside their royal spouses in the performance of ritual acts before the gods and goddesses; they also share in the royal cults at Deir el-Bahari, the Ramesseum, Karnak, Amarna, Abu Simbel, and Sesebi.  Sometimes they clearly governed as coregent during the lifetime of their husbands, with their femininity complementing the masculine powers of the kings; some even succeeded to the throne in their own right after the death of their husbands.  These powerful women include Hatshepsut and Ankhesenamun (both of royal descent), as well as Tiye, Nefertiti, Mut-Tuy, and Nefertari (all of non-royal lineage).  Here we will examine the implications of some representations of these queens, looking at them through Egyptian eyes. 

Most Pharaohs had multiple wives, but only one is designated Chief Queen, while the others remain in the harem.  Chief Queens are expected to produce sons to succeed their fathers.  The fully developed mythology of Egyptian kingship identifies each successive ruler as the physical offspring of the Creator Amun-Re and a human mother—the queen whose divinity was achieved by her bearing the next hybrid god-man.  Hatshepsut is the first ruler to depict the grand cycle of her conception as god-king.  Her priests were instrumental in other ways in legitimating her reign—creating propagandistic texts and manipulating reliefs in such a way that her father Thutmose I is alleged to have designated her as his successor, stressing her marriage and alleged co-rule with his short-lived son Thutmose II (Hatshepsut’s half-brother), and her guardianship of his underage grandson Thutmose III (Hatshepsut’s stepson and nephew)—with whom she finally became senior coregent.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER:  Lanny received his BA in Egyptology from the University of Chicago (1963) and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (1977).  He has taught Egyptology at the University of Pennsylvania (1965-77), the University of Chicago (1977-96), and Brown University (1997-2007).  He retired from the University of Chicago in 1996 to become an Independent Scholar.  He is currently a (fully-tenured) Associate Professor Emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Chicago and a Visiting Researcher in Egyptology at Brown University.  His areas of specialization include divine kingship, the temples of Thebes, and epigraphy—on which he has published extensively.  He has directed 5 field seasons for the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (The Theban Tomb Project: 1967-74) and 12 seasons for the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute (The Epigraphic Survey: 1977-89).  He lectures widely for the Archaeological Institute of America (since 1971), and has accompanied numerous Egyptian tours.  This coming March, he will be lecturing for the Oriental Institute in Egypt—it will be his 63rd tour since 1973.

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