Using historical narratives to teach history – Little Hatshepsut activities


Little Hatshepsut

Knowledge and Understanding

Roles of key groups in ancient Egyptian society (such as the nobility, bureaucracy, women, slaves), including the influence of law and religion. (ACDSEH032)

Timeline - ancient societies
A rough timeline showing general agreed dates with stories for key ancient societies.

The setting:

The writer sets the story after the reigns of Hatshepsut (reigned from c1479 – 1458 BC [BCE]) and Thutmose III, both of Egypt’s New Kingdom.

Red chapel of Hatshepsut
The red chapel of Hatshepsut (Karnak, open air museum) by ‘Kingtut’; from Wikipedia:

  1. Name the river Ahmes takes refuge beside. It’s not named in the story but you should know, as modern scholars consider it one of the key reasons the Egyptian civilisation flourished.
  2. Name a danger that lives in this river.
  3. Ahmes refers to the rain as ‘rare inundation of the sky’; this was a view that the ancient Egyptians held and related rain to the river’s flooding. What does this tell us about the importance of the annual flooding of the Nile to the people?
  4. Why is rain a rare thing in Egypt?
  5. The writer has researched significant aspects of life in this civilisation to try to make it seem real. Use clues in the text and research to help you complete the questions below: The first one has been done for you:
  • ‘Hapi’ (paragraph 1) suggests to me that this is the name of a god. Research reveals that Hapi is in fact the god of the Nile River, particularly when it brings good things with its annual flood.
  • ‘Linen’ (paragraph 20) suggests to me that … Research reveals that …
  • ‘‘Hatshepsut’ (whole story) suggests to me that … Research reveals that …
  • ‘They’d lost a slave once.…’ (paragraph 6) suggests to me that … Research reveals that …
  • ‘had made her family well to do’ (paragraph 3) suggests to me that … Research reveals that …
  • ‘Good for business…’ (paragraph 17) suggests to me that … Research reveals that …
  • ‘Shipping trade’ (paragraph 7) suggests to me that … Research reveals that …

Beliefs and Values of the times

  1. Quote evidence in the story to support the idea that the flooding of the Nile is important to the people of Egypt.
  2. This story suggests that females have quite a lot of freedom at this time. Identify at least two pieces of evidence in the story that suggest this.
  3. Despite the freedoms that women have, men seem to have the most power in this society? What evidence in the story tells you this?
  4. The writer tries to make us feel sympathy for Ahmes – but she will marry Nitocris regardless. Do you think she should? Why do you think the writer makes Ahmes (Little Hatshepsut) acquiesce (that is, give in) so easily?

Material Circumstances of the times

  1. Slaves may have been an important part of the economy of ancient Egypt – what evidence is there in the story to support this idea.
  2. Farming was important to people at the time – what do you think the ships of Nitocris’s father may have transported?
  3. Research the diet of Ancient Egyptians? What did they eat? Did poorer people have the same diet as the wealthy?


History skills

Historical questions and research

Identify a range of questions about the past to inform a historical inquiry (ACHHS207)

Identify and locate relevant sources, using ICT and other methods (ACHHS208)

The research process

How did the writer research this story and what prior knowledge did he bring to the writing?

There was prior knowledge of other ancient civilisations such as that of Ancient Greece and Rome. He also knew about Nile crocodiles and that females allegedly had more freedoms in ancient Egypt than in other ancient societies.

  1. Hatshepsut is one of only a very few female pharaohs. What does this reveal about gender roles and the power of women in ancient Egyptian society?
  2. Thutmose III attempted to erase all memories of Hatshepsut – why?
  3. The writer did much of his research on line; would ‘Ancient Egypt and the roles of women’ be a good search string to begin with? Why or why not?
  4. What is another search string that could be used?


What the writer made up?

Much of the story is fictitious. Most of the character’s names, however, are versions of real ancient Egyptian names; in fact, some of them are the names of other pharaohs. The writer is not sure about how many people were taken by crocodiles in ancient Egypt but it is reasonable to expect that some people must have lost their lives to these large reptiles, which are related to Australia’s saltwater crocodiles. It’s also a little controversial to suggest that slaves were a common feature of ancient Egypt; see this article suggesting that slavery in ancient Egypt was different from the style of slavery practised in Ancient Egypt and Rome.

 Where did the writer get his information? (Bibliography)


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