Essential Architecture-  Egypt

Hatshepsut's Obelisk




Karnak Great Temple of Amun [Amon], Luxor, Egypt [Between 4th and 5th Pylon.]


-1450 Pharaoh: Queen Hatshepsut (The 18th Dynasty, reigned B.C. 1473-1482)


Ancient Egyptian


Height: 29.56 meters (some sources say 27.5 meters, 30.43 meters, 33 meters, 36 meters, 97 feet)
Weight: 323 tons (some sources say 315 tons, 318 tons, 320 tons, 380 tons)
Stone: Red granite.


Monument This is the tallest obelisk in Egypt.
Provenance: Hatshepsut is a female pharaoh. She is generally known as one of the most successful pharaohs of ancient Egypt, lasting peaceful 22-year reign. She built many monumental constructs, and it's said she erected 4 obelisks.

She was born in the 15th century BC as a daughter of Tuthmose I, and got married to Tuthmose II, a son of Tuthmose I and the concubine. (Therefore, she got married to her half-brother. It seems such intermarriage was often done in the 18th dynasty.) After Tuthmose I passed away, his husband Tuthmose II, technically ascended the throne. For the few years of his reign, however, Hatshepsut seems to have held the reins. Tuthmose II had sired a son through the commoner Isis. This son, Tuthmose III, was in line for the throne, but due to his young age Hatshepsut took over as the de facto monarch as a regent. 2 years later, she took control as pharaoh, the first female pharaoh in the ancient Egypt. There was no war during her reign, although there were many wars in the New Kingdom Era (about 470 years, from B.C. 16 Century to B.C. 11 Century). Thus, she ruled for peaceful 15 years (other source says 22 years in total) until her death in B.C. 1482. She brought the wealth to the Nation by trading with far Punt (present-day Northern Somalia) and imported fragrant, myrrh, frankincense, etc.

I think many people knows because the media reported that in March this year (2007), a mummy which was found in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor by well-known Howard Carter -- who later made history with his discovery of Tutankhamun Tomb -- in 1903 and stored on the 3rd floor of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo was identified as Queen Hatshepsut by the DNA technology.

Hatshepsut was represented wearing the traditional artificial beard, and she was sometimes referred to be a masculine pronoun.

The Queen standing at left is contributing a pair of obelisk to God Amen-Ra. This stone relief was inside of 3rd Pylon of the Karnak Great Temple of Amun until late 19th century, but it is stored in Luxor Museu now.
© Luxor Museum

It's said she erected four obelisks (two pairs obelisks) at Karnak Temple, but only this one of which still remains standing. (Note: One another pair obelisk is broken and lying down near by.) (It's said the lost pair of obelisk had more than 50-meter tall, which is phenomenal height, if it remains.)

Inscriptions: On its base are 32 horizontal lines of hieroglyphs, 8 lines each side that describe why she had constructed this obelisk. The inscription says in part:
"I was sitting in the palace and I remembered the One who created me; my heart directed me to make for him two obelisks of electrum [a natural alloy of gold and silver], that their pyramidions might mingle with the sky amid the august pillared hall between the great pylons of [Tuthmosis I].... My Majesty began to work on them in the year 15, the second month of Winter, 1st day, continuing until Year 16, fourth month of Summer, 30th day, spending 7 months in cutting it from the mountain." Lest anyone doubt her sincerity, Hatshepsut went on to say, "I acted for him with a straightforward heart, as a king does for any god... Let not anyone who hears this say it is boasting which I have said, but rather say, "How like her it is, she who is truthful to her father." The god knows it in me [namely] Amun, Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands.... I am his daughter in very truth, who glorifies him."

Apart from the usual decoration of the pyramidion, there are on the upper half of each face of each obelisk eight scenes on either side of the customary column of inscription.

You can see the hieroglyphic full text of its base at .

Special thanks to