Systematic Removal of Records of Hatshepsut's Reign
Monuments are an important source of dating information, but there is a shortage of inscriptions for Pharaoh Hatshepsut. After Hatshepsut ceased to be pharaoh her name was scratched from monuments.
It was thought that this attempt to remove Hatshepsut from memory was because her stepson, nephew, and successor, Thutmose III, hated her for taking away his power, but recent theories reject that idea, partly because it wasn't done immediately.
A current theory is that Thutmose III feared that his heir would be rejected in favor of another contender from Hatshepsut's family line.
Another line of reasoning concerns the concept of order in the universe, Maat, that Hatshepsut [her royal name was Maatkare=Maat is the Ka of Re (source: Understanding The Royal Titulary)], by virtue of being a woman acting as pharaoh, disrupted.
However interesting it might be to speculate on why the Egyptians of the fifteenth century B.C. practiced what, using a Latin term, we call damnatio memoriae, it does not get at the reasons we can't authoritatively date the reign of Hatshepsut.
We don't know the dates of the reigns of most of the Egyptian pharaohs. During the New Kingdom, which the 18th Dynasty began by expelling the foreign rulers known as Hyksos, dating was better than it had been in earlier periods of Egyptian history, but problems remained.
Our basic dates for Egyptian kings comes from a 3rd century B.C. history written by an Egyptian priest named Manetho, who innovated by dividing his kings list into dynasties. His history is lost, but epitomized versions of it survive. Manetho's sources were not primary; that is, he used library documents and not monuments.
In addition to Manetho's there are other kings lists. Two, from the time of Ramses II at his temple at Abydos, contain lists of over 70 kings from the legendary king Menes to his own reign. There is another list from the same period that omits the kings of the two intermediate period and the censored rulers, including Hatshepsut and Akhenaten. There are no dates on these, so we don't know how long kings ruled and if there is a discovery of a new monument with regnal dates on it, all other dates may have to be modified.
There was a New Kingdom document referred to as the "Turin Canon of kings" with the lengths of reigns, as far as was known by the author. This scroll broke in modern times and has been partly restored, but its dates are not entirely accurate.
Dates can also be correlated from the New Kingdom onward by comparison with Mesopotamian events. The Battle of Megiddo, for instance, leads some to believe the date of Thutmose III's accession should be 1504 and not 1490.
Astronomical observations are another tool, but we don't know how reliable the ancient astronomers were and some of the data is not specific enough to rule out the possibilities. Interpretation of the data is another problem; for instance, it makes a difference what the Egyptians counted as the first day of the lunar month.
Despite or perhaps because of these sources, our knowledge is very approximate. Even when we have some idea of the dates of rule, we don't know how long monarchs co-ruled. For these reasons, we can say only that the beginning of the 18th Dynasty may be somewhere from 1570 B.C. to 1539 and Hatshepsut ruled somewhere between 1504 and 1457.
- "The Present Status of Egyptian Chronology," by William A. Ward Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 288. (Nov., 1992), pp. 53-66.
- "The Chronology of Ancient Egypt," K. A. Kitchen World Archaeology, Vol. 23, No. 2, Chronologies. (Oct., 1991), pp. 201-208.
- Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh, by Joyce A. Tyldesley