This bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti was made before she commanded that no more images be made of her as a woman—but only as a ruler. A new book by Kara Cooney, When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt, suggests that Egypt gained stability by allowing periods of rule by women.
The truth behind Egypt’s female pharaohs and their power
In ancient Egypt, women rulers kept the society stable in times of potential turmoil. Can we use those lessons today?
A woman has yet to be elected to the highest office in the United States, but 3,000 years ago in ancient Egypt it wasn’t unusual for women to rule—and some became all powerful, like Cleopatra and Nefertiti. Yet as Kara Cooney explains in her new book, When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt, those women were ultimately only placeholders for the next male to take the pharaoh’s throne.
When National Geographic caught up with Cooney by phone in Los Angeles, she explained why Hatshepsut was so perfect; how Cleopatra grew up in a family that makes the Sopranos seem like lambs; and what these women symbolize for their society—and ours.
That’s a giant question so, as