How common was incest in ancient civilizations

The legacy of the Pharaohs

One of your favorite Egyptian queens is clearly Hatshepsut. Why do you just admire these Mrs?

She left Egypt better than she found it! She put Egypt and her dynasty on solid foundations and produced the next king, Thutmose III. He later became the Napoleon of Egypt and he expanded the borders of the empire to an unprecedented extent. She has made very clever use of religious ideology to equip herself with inviolable power. She told her people: “God has chosen me, these are not my own ambitions, this is not my own wish, but my father, the god Amun-Re, spoke to me and told me that I have to do this . "

I'm so fascinated with Hatshepsut because she made everything so perfect that is really idealized. Success is very interchangeable in some ways. This is something that everyone can claim for themselves or simply ascribe to themselves. You can easily remove her name from the reliefs that show how she built obelisks or sent expeditions to the gold land of Punt. Instead, whoever could have their own name inserted there.

In contrast, failure is not so abstract. This goes hand in hand with suicide by vipers or sea fights, in which everything goes terribly wrong. That is very individualized. That is why we remember Cleopatra. Shakespeare wrote a drama about them. On the other hand, we must raise Hatshepsut from the ashes of history and discover why female successes are so easily ignored while female failure is so glorified.

They emphasize that these women's power was "a short-term illusion". Usually they were also removed from historical records. What was the reason for this?

These women were placeholders in a much larger power system based on masculinity. They were there to ensure that the next man in the line of line could step into that circle of power. There are simple biological reasons that help us understand why it has been more difficult for women to be at the center of that power. You can perhaps have two children a year. One man, on the other hand, can father hundreds of children without the hormonal changes and all the physical risks that come with them. So the woman stands in a moment of crisis to protect the patriarchy when something goes wrong with the line of succession from man to man. As soon as the patriarchal system can step in again, the woman is removed. Of the six women in my book, five have been called kings. However, this does not automatically mean that they will not simply be wiped out a few generations later, if it is convenient for a man to remove them from history and book their successes for himself.

Tell us about the legacy of these fabulously rich and powerful women. Can we still learn something from them today?

First, if we were born with racist prejudice, then sexism could be the same. Unless we start to put it into words and talk about what form it can take, we will not be able to overcome sexism.

Second, a woman's emotionality is commonly seen as her greatest weakness, her ability to cry and empathize with other people's suffering. But that ability could be the only thing that will get us through the 21st century. Because of this emotionality, women commit fewer violent crimes, do not want to wage war and make more differentiated decisions. This is exactly what makes the hand shrink from the big red button rather than beating it with the fist. These women ruled in a way that gave the men around them some security and ensured that their dynasties would continue.

These women whisper to me from the past that we have to do something different. What fascinates me most about them is their protective instinct; their ability to work together; their interest in fine nuances; their desire to build bridges rather than tearing them down. It's not always all about masculine aggression and economic growth. If we can learn something from these women, it is not only to work out short-term solutions, but also to think about our future - about our children and grandchildren.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The article was originally published in English on NationalGeographic.com.