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November 15, 2014
Lecture & Book Signing
Kara Cooney, PhD
Associate Professor of Egyptian Art & Archaeology, Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures, UCLA
A woman’s power in the ancient world was always compromised from the outset.
Complex societies are inherently based on masculine dominance, forcing female rulers to resort to familiar methods to gain power. Some female rulers, like Cleopatra, used their sexuality to gain access to important men and bearing them children. Many, like Sobeknefru, only ruled at the end of a dynasty, after the male line had run out, or, like Britain’s Boudica, in the midst of civil war. Sometimes, a woman was the only effective leader left after drawn-out battles against imperial aggression. Some women, like Hatshepsut, gained their position as the regent and helper of a masculine king who was too young to rule..
Almost no evidence of successful, long-term female leaders exists from the ancient world – in the Mediterranean, Near East, Africa, Central Asia, or East Asia. Only the female king of Egypt, Hatshepsut, was able to take on formal power for any considerable length of time, and even she had to share power with a male ruler. Given this social reality, how then Hatshepsut negotiate her leadership role? How did she rule “behind the throne” before her accession? Why did she ascend the throne as a king? What was her relationship with her co-regent Thutmose III? How are we to find this woman’s power when it is cloaked by traditional patriarchal systems? This lecture will work through the ample evidence for Hatshepsut’s reign in an attempt to find the woman behind the statues, monuments, stelae, and obelisks.
Kathlyn (Kara) Cooney is Associate Professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture at UCLA is the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. She earned her PhD in Near Eastern Studies from Johns Hopkins University in 2002. She has been part of archaeological excavations in Egypt at the craftsmen’s village of Deir el Medina, the royal temple site of Dahshur and various elite Theban tombs. Her academic work is published under her formal name Kathlyn M. Cooney, but she is called Kara by everyone.
Besides UCLA, Kara has also taught at Stanford and Howard University. She headed the Villa Scholars Program at the Getty Research Institute from 2006-2008. In 2005, she was co-curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. A native of Houston, Kara received her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. Her first book, The Cost of Death: The Social and Economic Value of Ancient Egyptian Funerary Art in the Ramesside Period was published in 2007, and she is currently working on a study of coffin theft and reuse during the 20th and 21st Dynasties. Her biography of Hatshepsut, the 18th Dynasty female king, entitled Hatshepsut: The Woman Who Became King, has just been published by Crown, a subsidiary of Random House.
Kara produced a comparative archaeology series with her husband Neil Crawford entitled OUT OF EGYPT, which aired 2009 on the Discovery Channel and is now streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime. In 2006 Kara appeared in EGYPT’S LOST QUEEN, a documentary about Hatshepsut, Egypt’s most successful female ruler.
*Unless otherwise noted, all lectures are held at the Penn Museum at 3:30 PM*
*Entrance fees are $10 for the general public, $7 for University Museum members and UPenn Staff & Faculty, $5 for Students with ID, and FREE for ARCE-PA members and children under 12