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Monday, November 16, 2009

My Hatshepsut

For some reason I really enjoyed writing that title. She's mine, all mine!


Now for your regularly scheduled programming.

Yesterday we talked about obesity in ancient Egypt and I let you all in on a little secret: Hatshepsut was obese at the end of her life. Amalia, Gary, and L.T. then asked if I would be incorporating that little historical tidbit into my book and if that knowledge colored my perception of Hat.

The short answers? No and no.

Now for the long answers. Being obese in ancient Egypt would not have been the norm- this is a pre-industrial civilization and while the Egyptians were much better off than their friends in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, (compliments of the Nile's clockwork flooding), we're still not talking about a land of good n' plenty. So only those who were extremely well off would have had the privilege of love handles, double chins, and spare tires. Like Hatshepsut.

But it doesn't matter what Hatshepsut looked like- she's a rockstar! I plan on doing a full-length post featuring all of my hero's accomplishments in the future, but the short list includes her magnificent temple at Deir el-Bahri, successful forays into Egypt's neighboring countries to quell some miscreant rebels, reopening trade with the mythical land of Punt, beginning tomb building in the Valley of the Kings, and keeping peace in Egypt for her twenty-some-odd year reign. And she was a woman- the first woman Pharaoh in Egypt to seize the throne in a time of peace. And she was the first woman to successfully rule the country. The two other female Pharaohs before her each managed to end their family dynasties and plunge Egypt into chaos.


In my world, Hatshepsut led a life of luxury and enjoyed her honeyed rolls and spiced wine. Who wouldn't get a little soft after twenty years of ruling a peaceful country with a smorgasbord of new trade goodies coming to your table?

Now onto the harder question. Did I incorporate Hatshepsut's weight into my novel? I actually did in the first draft, but it got cut. I got all psychological into why Hatshepsut gained weight, but it just didn't work for the story. My betas didn't like it. I didn't like it. It became one of those unnecessary descriptions. You know the kind: blue eyes, blond hair, pink shirt, heart-shaped lips, 100 pounds overweight.

So in the end I've alluded to her health problems at the end of her life. Most Egyptians only made it to an average of 30 years during the New Kingdom so Hatshepsut would have been darn near ancient hovering somewhere around 50 years old. She had arthritis, diabetes, a tumor in her left iliac bone, and an abscessed tooth with an infection that spread to her bloodstream and killed her.

So, when you all read my published book, you'll know that Hatshepsut was also a tad on the round side toward the end. But everyone else will just hear her complain about her creaking bones and a tooth that really needs pulled.