Peopling the Past, Video #14: Kara Cooney talks about Women and Power in Ancient Egypt

Photo of Dr. Kara Cooney walking in front of an Egyptian temple.
Dr. Kara Cooney

In the fourteenth instalment of the Peopling the Past video series, Dr. Kara Cooney discusses Women and Power in ancient Egypt, including six female rulers from Merneith of Dynasty 1 to Cleopatra, as well as the challenges historians face in understanding the lives of these leaders. 

Kathlyn (Kara) Cooney is a professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA. Cooney’s research in coffin reuse, primarily focusing on the 21st Dynasty, is ongoing.

Her research investigates the socioeconomic and political turmoil that have plagued the period, ultimately affecting funerary and burial practices in ancient Egypt. This project has taken her around the world over the span of five to six years to study and document more than 300 coffins in collections around the world, including Cairo, London, Paris, Berlin, and Vatican City. Her first trade book, The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt is an illuminating biography of its least well-known female king and was published in 2014 by Crown Publishing Group. Her latest book, When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt, was published in 2018 by National Geographic Press.

Interested in learning more? Check out these relevant publications from Dr. Cooney.

Cooney, K. 2014. The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt. New York: Crown Publishing.

Cooney, K. 2018. When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Press.

Coming Soon – The Good Kings: Absolute Power in Ancient Egypt and the Modern World. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Press.

Further Readings

Bains, J. 2014. “Ancient Egyptian Kingship.” Annuaire de l’École pratique des hautes études (EPHE), Section des sciences religieuses 121 | 2014: 103–108.

Brewer, D.J., and E. Teeter. 2001. Egypt and the Egyptians. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Robins, G. 1993. Women in Ancient Egypt. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Roehrig, C.H., ed., with R. Dreyfus and C.A. Keller. 2005. Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Online Resources

Kara Cooney for Time Magazine – Women Achieved Enormous Power in Ancient Egypt. What They Did With It Is a Warning for Today

Statue of Hatshepsut as King – Metropolitan Museum of Art (also check out this example)

UCL – Women near Kingship

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