Hatshepsut’s Myrrh Tree

This is our entry in Dutch goes the Photo!’s Tuesday Photo Challenge – Old.

This sign stands in front of the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in Upper Egypt, on the Nile near the Valley of the Kings.  The sign states:

This tree was brought from Punt by Hatshepsut’s expedition which is depicted on the temple walls

Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt for almost 22 years around 1500 BC, was one of its most successful pharaohs. She was the daughter of Thutmose I, chief wife of Thutmose II (her half brother),  and (officially) co-regent with Thutmose III (her husband’s son with a secondary wife).  (Of course, the true history is much more complicated than this summary.)

The tree in the photo was brought back from the Land of Punt, part of the trade goods acquired during a trading expedition overseen by Hatshepsut.  This myrrh tree, one of 31, was transplanted in front of her mortuary temple.  (There really is the stump of a 3500-year-old tree in this enclosure.)  Frankincense was another trade good from this expedition, which was charred and ground for use as kohl eyeliner, a widely-used eye cosmetic.

This photo was taken on March 2, 2013. Specs are:

Olympus TG-1, ISO 100, f/8, 1/800 sec, 4.5 mm.

Scale & Observation

In 2013, we visited Egypt, first touring Cairo before cruising down the Nile River to Aswan, making stops and excursions to observe ancient sites. Today’s Photo 101 theme is to “play with scale … use anything and everything to help convey size in your image.”  Three images from that trip are shown in this post, each using humans to suggest the enormity of objects from that earlier time.


Abu Simbel, Nubia, Egypt

This photo was taken at Abu Simbel in Nubia, Egypt. This is one of two temples at this site;  it was built for the goddess Hathor and for Nefertari, the favorite wife of Rameses II. Of  the six statues, two are Nefertari and four are Rameses II. These statues are each about 10 meters tall.

Pharaoh Amenhotep III, Colossi of Memnon, Luxor, Egypt

This photo is of the Colossi of Memnon, which are two massive seated stone statues of the Pharoh Amenhotep III, located in the Theban necropolis, west of the Nile River from Luxor. These statues are approximately 3400 years old. Including the stone platforms (about 4 meters high) beneath their feet, they are 18 meters high and stand 15 meters apart.

Unfinished obelisk, Aswan, Egypt

This photo shows (what is believed to be) the largest obelisk ever discovered, located in a stone quarry in Aswan, Egypt. Hatshepsut, one of the most successful Egyptian pharaohs, ordered this obelisk to be made. Fractures appeared in the obelisk as it was being carved from a single rock, and so it was abandoned. Had it been completed, it would have stood 42 meters tall.