Walking in deepening twilight past a towering obelisk, and then through the Hypostyle Hall and colonnade of 134 massive pillars—10-12 meters tall—capped with stylized papyrus and calyx, into a broad solar court, I was able to envision only the most subtle blush of the 18th Dynasty’s unparalleled magnificence. Through the lotus capitals, across the Nile’s western bank, an oblate sun disc was setting beyond the Valley of the Kings, where so many of the Tuthmosid clan’s buried secrets were revealed.
We’ve come to understand just how prominently the support of Amun-Re’s priests—as political partners, co-regents, corporate executives, lovers, and nemeses—figured in this epoch of Egypt’s golden age. At Karnak and Luxor, Pharaonic Egypt reached a powerful zenith—a politically balanced symbiosis of the sacred and secular. And it was here that the consort of Thutmosis II—Hatshepsut—rose to become the longest-reigning Egyptian woman in history.