Tausret: Forgotten Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt Edited by Richard H. Wilkinson: A Book Review

Tausret: Forgotten Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt
Author: edited by Richard H. Wilkinson
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, History
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 168
Source: My State Public Library
Synopsis: ONE OF ONLY A FEW WOMEN who ruled ancient Egypt as a king during its thousands of years of history, Tausret was the last pharaoh of the 19th dynasty (c. 1200 BCE), the last ruling descendent of Ramesses the Great, and one of only two female monarchs buried in Egypt's renowned Valley of the Kings. Though mentioned in Homer as the pharaoh of Egypt who interacted with Helen at the time of the Trojan War, she has long remained a figure shrouded in mystery, hardly even known to many Egyptologists. Nevertheless, recent archaeological discoveries have illuminated Tausret's importance, her accomplishments, and the extent of her influence. Tausret: Forgotten Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt  brings together new work by distinguished scholars whose research and excavations have increased our understanding of the life and reign of this great woman.This richly illustrated book uses recent discoveries to correctly position Tausret alongside famous ruling queens such as Hatshepsut and Cleopatra, figures who have long dominated our view of the female monarchs of ancient Egypt. Tausret uses archaeological, historical, women's studies, and other approaches to provide a scholarly but accessible volume that will be an important contribution to the literature of Egyptology -- and one that with appeal to both scholars and anyone with an interest in ancient Egyptian culture.

      My Review: Homer mentions in The Odyssey, an Egyptian King named Polybus, who lived with his wife, Alcandra in Thebes during the Trojan War. Manetho changes Polybus’s name to Thuoris, and claims that he was a male king during his chronological list of the 19th dynasty pharaohs. What these two men did not realize was that King Polybus/Throuris was actually a female pharaoh named Tausret. Pharaoh Tausret has been forgotten over the years, and this book sheds some facts based on archeology to the reign of the fascinating and powerful pharaoh.


     Pharaoh Tausret was a descendant to Ramesses II, who because of his long reign outlived many of his children and grandchildren. His longevity created a crisis in Egypt because there were very few heirs left to succeed him. His thirteenth son, Merenptah succeeded him, and he reigned for thirteen years. After Merenptah’s death there was dissent  among the royal family regarding the succession, in which it involved to have an effect of Tausret. She was the queen consort of Sety II, the eldest son of Merenptah but Setty II was challenged by Amenmesse, whose origins are still unclear, that also claimed himself as Pharaoh. However Amenmesse died a few year later leaving Sety II as the sole ruler of Egypt.


     Like Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh who reigned Egypt before her, Queen Tausret was queen regent to Siptah after Sety II’s death. Siptah, was a child and the son of a Canaanite woman and possibly Amenmesse. There was also a man of obscure origins named Bay that rose to become the most powerful man at court. However, Bay ended up being executed by Pharaoh Siptah. However after Siptah’s sudden death there was no other legitimate ruler to succeed the Egyptian throne. In order to help preserve the succession of Egypt during this dynastic crisis, Tausret had to become pharaoh. Unlike the Hatshepsut, Tausret was sole ruler, and did not dress up like a man but instead kept her female image. Because there was no one to fulfill the queenly duties, she played both the roles of queen and king. The end of her reign is unknown, and the majority of her memory has been erased until the nineteenth century. The very few records of her in ancient history gives her identity as a male king.


     Overall, I found this book to be interesting and fascinating. The book not only recounts her reign, but it also analyzes the positions and roles of royal women in Egypt. It also undergoes a detailed study and examination of the archeology of Tausret’s monuments, tomb (Ramesses III usurped her tomb in honor of his father Sethnahkt, who was the successor and possible overthrower of Tausret), and temple. This book shows Tausret as an admirable and skilled ruler that is worthy of taking her place among powerful pharaohs of Egypt. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Egypt and others who are curious of learning about this little-known female pharaoh.


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars



Comments

  1. Interesting review! I am fascinated by ancient history and will be reading this book. I love the title of this blog and the concept. So much of history has been told largely from men's perspectives!

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  2. Thanks! I like pretty much everything in history. yes, history has been told largely from the male perspectives. In ancient Egypt, women were allowed to be pharaohs, but after their reigns, they're images, names, and monuments, were mostly erased only to be re-discovered in the nineteenth century. The only images of these women are when they were queen consorts. So, in the ancient world, history was being written by the males. Now, there is another side that is recently being uncovered, and these female pharaohs can now finally sit at their rightful place in history.

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