In Egypt the word 'colossal' truly makes sense.
This is the foot of a, yes, colossal statue of Queen Hatshepsut; one of a pair that flank the southern entrance to the Eighth Pylon at Karnak Temple.
Hatshepsut was the young Queen chosen to run the kingdom for her young step-son, Thutmose III, after her husband, Thutmose II, died. This wasn't so unusual. However years later, at about the time she should have made way for the king to rule in his own right, Hatshepsut declared herself senior co-ruler, effectively pushing Thutmose II to the background – for the next 20 years.
If anyone doubted the power of a female pharaoh, the Eighth Pylon at Karnak and its colossal statues set them straight.
In the 18th Dynasty, grand pylons of Karnak Temple were the new fashion. The first one was an innovation by Hatshepsut's father, Thutmose I, which set a trend that continued for centuries. The pharaohs gradually created a series of 10 pylons at Karnak, which functioned as grand ceremonial gateways. As each pharaoh added a new pylon in front of his predecessor's , it was connected to the one behind by high walls, which had the effect of creating a large courtyard between the two.
The pylons are numbered in sequence as one moves through the temple, so the most recent, built by Nectanebo I, is labelled the First Pylon. It was built over a thousand years after Thutmose I's original.
What we now call theEighth Pylon, was one of Hatshepsut's contributions to Karnak Temple. Her pylon was the first to be built on the southern side of the temple, creating a new main gateway for the processional route that led to the Mut Temple.
The Queen also raised two colossal statues of herself seated either side of the gateway to speak of her power and divine right to rule.
When Thutmose III finally inherited the throne, he changed the inscriptions on the statues to try to deny Hatshepsut her place in history. Thutmose III reassigned the statues to his father, Thutmose II, effectively writing his step-mother out of the picture.
Photo: Hassan Ammar