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The Punt expedition to the reign to Hatshepsut

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Along with her development of Egypt, Hatshepsut’s expedition to Punt was one that she took great pride in, enough for it to be recorded in her mortuary temple. Along with the expedition came many positive outcomes, which included religious, economic and political benefits. Bentley believes that it was one of the most ‘important events of her reign’.

One main feature of importance of the expedition was the economic impact that it had. Hatshepsut benefited greatly from the expedition, with many resources obtained. Redford states ‘Hatshepsut was not blind to the need of bolstering Egypt’s economy’, emphasising that she was active in her trade missions. Bradley states ‘the Egyptians needed a continuing supply of exotic products…’ this illustrates the need for strong trade in order to maintain stability. The exotic products that they received included myrrh, incense, ebony, ivory, gold and even dancing pygmies, according to Tyldesley. These products were rare and objects such as these heightened the level of success of the Egyptians. Tyldesley states that ‘trade flourished’ during her reign in contrast to the reigns of her predecessors.

The Speos Artemidos temple, middle Egypt quotes ‘and Punt overflows me on the fields’. This temple shows the view of Hatshepsut in promotion of her expedition, thus it may have bias from her view. Hatshepsut used the expedition as propaganda and the temple may be to an extent biased. Tyldesley states ‘presented the King with a marvellous propaganda coup…’ illustrating her use of propaganda. This source ensures that there was economic growth and that the expedition did benefit her reign. With the economic benefits came support and it further justified her reign. The expedition also gave an opportunity for extended trade with other parts of the continent. The expedition opened up trade between Egypt and inner Africa, according to Bentley. Egypt prospered from this trade and provided continuity during the period.

Another important point was that this expedition was a revival of New Kingdom tradition, according to Grimal. Grimal also states that it was a high point in her foreign policy. Along with this Grimal believes that it was rare, that she was not as adventurous as Tyldesley believes (‘Hatshepsut’s wider foreign policy should be classed as one of adventurous and exploration’) Nevertheless this would further reinforce her reign, as she was emulating the old Pharaohs. This trade is comparable with great Pharaohs of the past; therefore it would please the public and officials.

The economic factor was as important as any for Hatshepsut. Without the expedition the great products that they received would never have been had, thus there would have been less prosperity. The expedition came at a very good time, when Hatshepsut needed to justify her reign and keep her people happy. In this aspect the expedition was very important to her reign.

The expedition to Punt also gave religious benefits. Some historians believe that it was Amun who ordered her to go on the expedition (Tyldesley). One of the main reasons Hatshepsut went on the expedition was to receive religious benefits by appeasing Amun and to also maintain the support of the Amun priesthood. Another view comes from O’Connor, who believes that Hatshepsut did not need support from the Amun priesthood because she was the head of religion.

By showing devotion to Amun it would also appease the officials and further justify her reign. In the scenes at Deir el-Bahri, an inscription is made which is devoted to her dedication to Amun, which is further proof of her dedication. Through this Hatshepsut justified her reign and now had approval from the officials and the Amun priesthood. According to Lawless, Hatshepsut did more than any other Pharaoh to raise the status of Amun beyond all other Gods. The success of the expedition increased Hatshepsut’s intimacy with Amen as Amen commanded the expedition to her, ‘The ways to Punt should be searched out…’.

With this in mind, there are others who believed that this did not occur. Bradley believes ‘it is likely that it was Senenmut or Hapuseneb who suggested that an expedition to be sent…’. Bradley has a different view, with the expedition sent to bring back products to use at religious temples. Bradley raises a valid point but is not one who uses new interpretations. Robins is one who does disagree with Bradley, believing that this view was not true and that Amun ordered Hatshepsut to go on the expedition.

The expedition to Punt provided Hatshepsut with religious benefits, which furthermore reinforced her reign. With the support of Amun and from officials, Hatshepsut was able to make her reign last longer and have a more supportive base.

The expedition to Punt was very important to Hatshepsut as she had a new way to promote her success. Tyldesley states ‘returning triumph from Punt…presented the King with a marvellous propaganda coup and an irresistible opportunity to advertise the glories of her reign’. This statement is supported with evidence from many ancient sources. Deir el-Bahri has a section devoted to Punt, the middle portico shows the story of the expedition and so does many other of her building works. This also highlights that Hatshepsut saw it as a very important point of her career.

Hatshepsut as a female Pharaoh was always going to need to be pro active in order to have support. With this one success, she used it as much as possible in order to promote her reign. In order to be Pharaoh, she would need support, especially from males according to Gardiner. Tomb scenes depict Hatshepsut as a typical king, further evidence that she justified her reign. Her events, especially that of the expedition to Punt are widely recorded. Hatshepsut wanted to be remembered for it because it contributed to Egypt’s prosperity and she successfully illustrates this through the propaganda that she employed.

Hatshepsut importantly also extended the boundaries the knowledge of the Egyptians. The expedition to Punt can be seen as one of her initiatives that made Egypt prosper. Bradley identifies that she opened a peaceful trading route, while Bentley also agrees with this. Once again Hatshepsut emulated past Pharaohs and even managed to do what other Pharaohs in the past had not. Edwards states that ‘her reign was generally peaceful and she increased the trade borders of the country’. Trade then flourished and for Egypt a period of prosperity occurred. This was particularly important to Hatshepsut as

The expedition to Punt is seen as important as it provided economic, political and religious benefits for Hatshepsut. As a result of the expedition she was seen as a traditional Pharaoh and was then depicted as one. The expedition made a significant impact, not only as it sustained her power as Pharaoh but also because it also contributed to her success as the first female Pharaoh who completely owned the throne.



Redford, D. The History and Chronology of the Eighteenth Dynasty, University Press 1984

Edwards, A.A.B. Queen Hatasu, and Her Expedition to the Land of Punt, 1891

Tyldesley, J. Daughters of Isis: women of ancient Egypt, 1994 Penguin Books

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Edition 6, 2000

Breasted, J.H A History of the Ancient Egyptians, 1908


Anonymous, 1997, retrieved November 6th 2006


Anonymous, 1998, retrieved November 6th 2006


Lorton, D, 1987, retrieved November 7th 2006


Anonymous, 2001, retrieved November 10th 2006



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