Portrait Head of Queen Tiye with a Crown of Two Feathers

Portrait Head of Queen Tiye with a Crown of Two Feathers


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A conversation between Dr. Steven Zucker in front of Portrait Head of Queen Tiye with a Crown of Two Feathers, c. 1355 B.C.E., Amarna Period, Dynasty 18, New Kingdom, Egypt, yew wood, lapis lazuli, silver, gold, faience, 22.5 cm high (Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection at the Neues Museum, Berlin)

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House Altar depicting Akhenaten, Nefertiti and Three of their Daughters

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Portrait Head of Queen Tiye with a Crown of Two Feathers,

Tiye was a powerful figure, but her royal life was complicated, as demonstrated through this changing statue.

Thutmose, Model Bust of Queen Nefertiti

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Tiye's father, Yuya, was a non-royal, wealthy landowner from the Upper Egyptian town of Akhmim, [1] where he served as a priest and superintendent of oxen or commander of the chariotry. [2] Tiye's mother, Tjuyu, was involved in many religious cults, as her different titles attested (Singer of Hathor, Chief of the Entertainers of both Amun and Min. ), [3] which suggests that she was a member of the royal family.

Egyptologists have suggested that Tiye's father, Yuya, was of foreign origin due to the features of his mummy and the many different spellings of his name, which might imply it was a non-Egyptian name in origin. [4] Some suggest that the queen's strong political and unconventional religious views might have been due not just to a strong character, but to foreign descent. [3]

Tiye also had a brother, Anen, who was Second Prophet of Amun. [5] Ay, a successor of Tutankhamun as pharaoh after the latter's death, is believed to be yet another brother of Tiye, despite no clear date or monument confirming a link between the two. Egyptologists presume this connection from Ay's origins (also from Akhmin), because he is known to have built a chapel dedicated to the local god Min there, and because he inherited most of the titles that Tiye's father, Yuya, held at the court of Amenhotep III during his lifetime. [3] [6]

Tiye was married to Amenhotep III by the second year of his reign. He had been born of a secondary wife of his father and needed a stronger tie to the royal lineage. [4] Their marriage was celebrated by the issue of commemorative scarabs, announcing Tiye as Great Royal Wife and giving the names of her parents. [7] He appears to have been crowned while still a child, perhaps between the ages of six and twelve. The couple had at least seven, and possibly more, children.

Issue Edit

    – The eldest daughter, who was elevated to the position of Great Royal Wife around year 30 of her father's reign. [8] – Also elevated to the position of Great Royal Wife. [8] – Not known to have been elevated to queenship, though her name does appear in a cartouche at least once. – Sometimes thought to have been renamed Baketaten during her brother's reign. – Crown Prince and High Priest of Ptah, pre-deceasing his father. – Succeeded his father as pharaoh, husband of Queen Nefertiti, father of Ankhesenamun, who married Tutankhamun. – traditionally seen as one of Akhenaten's immediate successors, today some Egyptologists such as Aidan Dodson believe he was the immediate predecessor of Neferneferuaten and a junior co-regent of Akhenaten who did not have an independent reign. [9] Sometimes identified with the mummy from KV55, and therefore Tutankhamun's father. from KV35 – A daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye, mother of Tutankhamun and sister-wife of KV55. Presumably one of the already-known daughters of Amenhotep III and Tiye. – Sometimes thought to be Queen Tiye's daughter, usually based on reliefs of Baketaten seated next to Tiye at dinner with Akhenaten and Nefertiti. [1]

Her husband devoted a number of shrines to her and constructed a temple dedicated to her in Sedeinga in Nubia where she was worshipped as a form of the goddess Hathor-Tefnut. [10] He also had an artificial lake built for her in his Year 12. [11] On the colossal statue now in the Egyptian Museum she is of equal height with her husband. As the American Egyptologists David O'Connor and Eric Cline note:

The unprecedented thing about Tiyi. . is not where she came from but what she became. No previous queen ever figured so prominently in her husband's lifetime. Tiyi regularly appeared besides Amenhotep III in statuary, tomb and temple reliefs, and stelae while her name is paired with his on numerous small objects, such as vessels and jewelry, not to mention the large commemorative scarabs, where her name regularly follows his in the dateline. New elements in her portraiture, such as the addition of cows' horns and sun disks—attributes of the goddess Hathor—to her headdress, and her representation in the form of a sphinx—an image formerly reserved for the king—emphasize her role as the king's divine, as well as earthly partner. Amenhotep III built a temple to her in Sedeinga in northern Sudan, where she was worshiped as a form of Hathor . The temple at Sedeinga was the pendant to Amenhotep III's own, larger temple at Soleb, fifteen kilometres to the south (an arrangement followed a century later by Ramses II at Abu Simbel, where there are likewise two temples, the larger southern temple dedicated to the king, and the smaller, northern temple dedicated to the queen, Nefertiry, as Hathor). [12]

Tiye wielded a great deal of power during both her husband’s and son’s reigns. Amenhotep III became a fine sportsman, a lover of outdoor life, and a great statesman. He often had to consider claims for Egypt's gold and requests for his royal daughters in marriage from foreign kings such as Tushratta of Mitanni and Kadashman-Enlil I of Babylon. The royal lineage was carried by the women of Ancient Egypt and marriage to one would have been a path to the throne for their progeny. Tiye became her husband’s trusted adviser and confidant. Being wise, intelligent, strong, and fierce, she was able to gain the respect of foreign dignitaries. Foreign leaders were willing to deal directly with her. She continued to play an active role in foreign relations and was the first Egyptian queen to have her name recorded on official acts. [13]

Tiye may have continued to advise her son, Akhenaten, when he took the throne. Her son’s correspondence with Tushratta, the king of Mitanni, speaks highly of the political influence she wielded at court. In Amarna letter EA 26, Tushratta, corresponded directly with Tiye to reminisce about the good relations he enjoyed with her then deceased husband and extended his wish to continue on friendly terms with her son, Akhenaten. [14]

Amenhotep III died in Year 38 or Year 39 of his reign (1353 BC/1350 BC) and was buried in the Valley of the Kings in WV22 however, Tiye is known to have outlived him by as many as twelve years. Tiye continued to be mentioned in the Amarna letters and in inscriptions as queen and beloved of the king. Amarna letter EA 26, which is addressed to Tiye, dates to the reign of Akhenaten. She is known to have had a house at Akhetaten (Amarna), Akhenaten's new capital and is shown on the walls of the tomb of Huya – a "steward in the house of the king's mother, the great royal wife Tiyi" – depicted at a dinner table with Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and their family and then being escorted by the king to her sunshade. [15] In an inscription approximately dated to November 21 of Year 12 of Akhenaten's reign (1338 BC), both she and her granddaughter Meketaten are mentioned for the last time. They are thought to have died shortly after that date. This information is corroborated by the fact that the shrine which Akhenaten created for her—which was later found transported from Amarna to tomb KV55 in Thebes—bore the later form of the Aten's name which was only used after Akhenaten's Year 9. [16]

If Tiye died soon after Year 12 of Akhenaten's reign (1338 BC), this would place her birth around 1398 BC, her marriage to Amenhotep III at the age of eleven or twelve, and her becoming a widow at the age of forty-eight to forty-nine. Suggestions of a co-regency between Amenhotep III and his son Akhenaten lasting for up to twelve years continue, but most scholars today either accept a brief co-regency lasting no more than one year [17] or no co-regency at all. [15]

Tiye is believed to have been originally buried in the Royal Tomb at Amarna alongside her son Akhenaten and granddaughter, Meketaten. Evidence shows the two northern pillars of the incomplete pillared hall were removed to accommodate a sarcophagus plinth [18] and pieces of her smashed sarcophagus were found in and around the burial chamber. [19] Analysis of the badly damaged decoration on the left wall beyond the plinth also indicates that Tiye was buried there. In a depiction that closely resembles the mourning of Meketaten in chamber γ, a figure stands beneath a floral canopy while the royal family grieves. The figure wears a queenly sash but cannot be Nefertiti as Nefertiti is shown with the mourners. [20] Tiye's sarcophagus was likely contained within multiple nested shrines, like those of her grandson Tutankhamun. The inscription on a portion of such a shrine found in KV55 indicates that Akhenaten had the shrines made for his mother. [21]

Following the move of the capital back to Thebes, Tiye, along with others buried in the royal tomb, were transferred to the Valley of the Kings. The presence of pieces of one of her gilded burial shrines in KV55 indicate she was likely interred there for a time. [22] Provisions had been made during the reign of her husband Amenhotep III for her burial within his tomb, WV22. Shabti figures belonging to her were found in this tomb. [23]

In 1898, three sets of mummified remains were found in a side chamber of the tomb of Amenhotep II in KV35 by Victor Loret. One was an older woman and the other two were a young boy who died at around the age of ten, thought to be Webensenu or Prince Thutmose, and a younger, unknown woman. The three were found lying naked side-by-side and unidentified. The mummy of the older woman, who would later be identified as Tiye, was referred to by Egyptologists as the 'Elder Lady' while the other woman was 'The Younger Lady'. Several researchers argued that the Elder Lady was Queen Tiye. There were other scholars who were skeptical of this theory, such as British scholars Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton, who once stated that "it seems very unlikely that her mummy could be the so-called 'Elder Lady' in the tomb of Amenhotep II." [23]

A nest of four miniature coffins inscribed with her name and containing a lock of hair [24] was found in the tomb of her grandson Tutankhamun – perhaps a memento from a beloved grandmother. [23] In 1976, microprobe analysis conducted on hair samples from the Elder Lady and the lock from the inscribed coffins found the two were a near perfect match, thereby identifying the Elder Lady as Tiye. [25]

By 2010, DNA analysis, sponsored by the Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass, was able to formally identify the Elder Lady as Queen Tiye. [26] She was found to be about 40–50 years old at the time of her death, and 145 cm (4 ft 9 in) tall. [27]

Her mummy has the inventory number CG 61070. [28] In April 2021 her mummy was moved from the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to National Museum of Egyptian Civilization along with those of 3 other queens and 18 kings in an event termed the Pharaohs' Golden Parade. [29]

The royal wives club

Egyptian pharaohs could take many wives, and their great royal wife was chief among them. Amenhotep did build a harem, but his relationship with Tiye was different from the start. Historians have found that she wielded great influence at court, unusual for a woman at that time. Her name appeared on official acts, including the announcement of Amenhotep’s marriage to a foreign princess. (These ancient artifacts honor Egypt's powerful queens.)

By the 10th year of his reign, Amenhotep had repeatedly requested a daughter from the king of Mitanni, in northern Mesopotamia, and finally a princess was sent to Egypt loaded with gifts and a large entourage in train. To commemorate her arrival, another series of scarabs were issued, one of which read:

The Great Queen Tiye . . . marvels that were brought to his majesty the daughter of Suttarna, ruler of Naharin [Mitanni]. Giluk(h)epa and the chief ladies of her harem: 317 women.

The royal female line

The daughters of Amenhotep and Tiye played an important role during the pharaoh’s jubilee celebrations. The first was held around year 30 of his reign his eldest daughter, Sitamun, married Amenhotep to become a daughter-wife and queen her younger sister Isis seems to have done the same in the second jubilee around year 34.

Many Egyptologists think that these unions were purely symbolic, with no sexual relationship between parent and child. Almost all the evidence of these unions is related to the jubilees. It seems these marriages were part of the festival’s complicated regenerative rituals.

The two daughters disappear from the historical record after their father’s death, but their mother does not. Tiye took on the role of royal mother when her son Amenhotep IV became Pharaoh. She remains in his court after he changes his name to Akhenaten and revolutionizes Egyptian religion. Several murals from the Amarna tomb of her steward Huya depict Tiye enjoying a banquet with her granddaughters.

Queen Tiye announced the king’s new wife, Gilukhepa. Although the pharaoh would go on to wed a princess from Arzawa, two from Babylon, and two more from Mitanni, they never achieved the status or power of Tiye. Often the names of these foreign princesses have been lost from the record, while the presence of Tiye the great royal wife is reiterated in the sources, leaving no doubt as to which woman held power over Egypt. A year after Gilukhepa’s arrival, another scarab announced the important gift that the pharaoh had offered to his great royal wife, Tiye: a man-made lake built near her hometown:

Amenhotep Ruler of Thebes given life, the great royal wife Tiye, may she live, whose father’s name is Yuya and whose mother’s name is Tuya. His majesty commanded the making of a basin for the great royal wife Tiye, may she live, in her town of Djarukha.

The Advent of Queen Tiye

“A statue of the treasurer Sobekhotep holding a prince Amenhotep-merkhepesh probably shows the king shortly before his father's death, and a wall painting in the tomb of the royal nurse Hekarnehhe (TT 64) describes the tomb-owner as the royal nurse of Prince Amenhotep, portraying the prince as a youth rather than a small naked child. The age of the king at accession could have been anywhere between 2 and 12, with a later age perhaps to be preferred given that Amenhotep's mother, Mutemwiya, was barely more visible than Tiaa and Merytra, the preceding two kings' mothers

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Top Image: Dancing Bes figures on the left outer arm of the Sitamun's chair and detail of the face mask of one of the coffins of Yuya design by Anand Balaji (Photo credit: Heidi Kontkanen) Deriv.


Anand N. Balaji is an independent researcher who has a special interest in the Amarna era.

Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits

The Tudor rose in portraits of Elizabeth I

Tudor rose on a Medalet commemorating HMS 'Hampshire'.

The red and white Tudor rose was created by combining the emblem of the House of Lancaster (the red rose) with that of the House of York (the white rose). These rival houses were united in 1486 by the marriage of the Lancastrian Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, which brought much-needed stability to the nation after years of civil war (the Wars of the Roses).

The Tudor rose was used in Queen Elizabeth I's portraits to refer to the Tudor dynasty and the unity it brought to the realm. The rose also had religious connotations, as the medieval symbol of the Virgin Mary. It was used to allude to Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, as the secular successor to the Virgin Mary.

The pelican: a symbol of motherly love

The pelican was one of Elizabeth's favourite symbols. It was used to portray her motherly love to her subjects.

In times of food shortages, mother pelicans were believed to pluck their own breasts to feed their dying young with their blood and save their lives. In the process of feeding the mother would die. In the Middle Ages the pelican came to represent Jesus sacrificing himself on the cross for the good of mankind and the sacrament of communion, feeding the faithful with his body and blood.

The "Pelican Portrait" of Queen Elizabeth 1 c.1575 by Nicolas Hilliard.

The phoenix

A phoenix is a mythological bird which never dies but, after 500 years, is consumed by fire and born again, making it a symbol of the Resurrection, endurance and eternal life. Only one phoenix lives at a time, so it was also used to symbolize Elizabeth's uniqueness and longevity.

The ermine

The ermine, an animal of the weasel family, also featured in many portraits of Queen Elizabeth I. Prized for its tail of pure white fur with a black tip, according to legend the ermine would rather die than soil its pure white coat and it came to stand for purity. It also functioned as a status symbol, as wearing ermine was restricted to royalty and high nobility.

The sieve

A sieve is a symbol of virginity and purity reaching back to Ancient Roman times, where the Vestal Virgin, Tuccia, reputedly proved her purity by carrying water, unspilt, in a sieve. This symbol was used to glorify Elizabeth's virginity and associate England with the Roman Empire.

Elizabeth I, the "Phoenix" portrait.

Moons and pearls in portraits of Elizabeth I

Moons and pearls were used to present Elizabeth as Cynthia (Artemis), the Greek goddess of the Moon, who was a virgin and therefore pure. Sir Walter Raleigh helped to promote the cult of Elizabeth as a moon goddess with a long poem he wrote during the late 1580s, The Ocean's Love to Cynthia, in which he compared Elizabeth to the Moon.

Elizabeth was also associated with Minerva (or Pallas Athena), the Classic virgin-goddess of war and defender of the state. Although prepared for war, Queen Elizabeth I preferred peace and came to stand for peacefulness and wisdom. She was also the patron of arts and crafts, especially wool, and of trade and industry, including shipbuilding.

Other symbols used in portraits of Queen Elizabeth I

An armillary sphere is a skeletal celestial globe used to represent and study the movements of the planets. It was used to represent wisdom and power and also as a symbol of the good relationship between Elizabeth and her courtiers.

Dogs were used to represent faithfulness, and the breed associated with the Tudors was the greyhound.

While gloves represented elegance and olive branches symbolised peace, crowns, orbs and sceptres all signified monarchy.

Queen Tiye’s Nubian descents

Queen Tiye’s parents, as some scholars would put it, were not Egyptian. This, they argued, could be attributed to the fact that their names didn’t sound Egyptian at all.

Some even attribute Tiye’s way of ruling to her Nubian descents saying it was custom to Nubian female rulers.

This theory, however, doesn’t have much backing as Egyptian women were also held in high regard as compared to other ancient cultures, hence no reason to attribute Queen Tiye’s mode of ruling to Nubian ways.


Nefertiti had many titles including:

  • Hereditary Princess (iryt-p`t)
  • Great of Praises (wrt-Hzwt)
  • Lady of Grace (nbt-im3t)
  • Sweet of Love (bnrt-mrwt)
  • Lady of The Two Lands (nbt-t3wy)
  • Main King's Wife, his beloved (Hmt-nswt-‘3t mryt.f)
  • Great King's Wife, his beloved (Hmt-nswt-wrt mryt.f)
  • Lady of All Women (Hnwt-Hmwt-nbwt)
  • Mistress of Upper & Lower Egypt (Hnwt-Shm’w-mhw). [8]

While modern Egyptological pronunciation renders her name as Nefertiti, her name was the sentence nfr.t jj.tj “the beautiful one has come” and probably contemporarily pronounced Naftita from older Nafrat-ita or perhaps Nafert-yiti. [9] [10]

Nefertiti's name, Egyptian Nfr.t-jy.tj, can be translated as "The Beautiful Woman has Come". [11] Nefertiti's parentage is not known with certainty, but one often cited theory is that she was the daughter of Ay, later to be pharaoh. [11] One major problem of this theory is that neither Ay or his wife Tey are explicitly called the father and mother of Nefertiti in existing sources. In fact, Tey's only connection with her was that she was the "nurse of the great queen" Nefertiti, an unlikely title for a queen's mother. [12] At the same time, no sources exist that directly contradict Ay's fatherhood which is considered likely due to the great influence he wielded during Nefertiti's life and after her death. [11] To solve this problem, it has been proposed that Ay had another wife before Tey, named Iuy, whose existence and connection to Ay is suggested by some evidence. [ citation needed ] According to this theory, Nefertiti was the daughter of Ay and Iuy, but her mother died before her rise to the position of queen, whereupon Ay married Tey, making her Nefertiti's step-mother. Nevertheless, this entire proposal is based on speculation and conjecture. [13]

It has also been proposed that Nefertiti was Akhenaten's full sister, though this is contradicted by her titles which do not include those usually used by the daughters of a Pharaoh. [11] Another theory about her parentage that gained some support identified Nefertiti with the Mitanni princess Tadukhipa, [14] partially based on Nefertiti's name ("The Beautiful Woman has Come") which has been interpreted by some scholars as signifying a foreign origin. [11] However, Tadukhipa was already married to Akhenaten's father and there is no evidence for any reason why this woman would need to alter her name in a proposed marriage to Akhenaten, nor any hard evidence of a foreign non-Egyptian background for Nefertiti.

Scenes in the tombs of the nobles in Amarna mention the queen's sister who is named Mutbenret (previously read as Mutnodjemet). [15] [16] [17]

The exact dates when Nefertiti married Akhenaten and became the king's Great Royal Wife are uncertain. Their six known daughters (and estimated years of birth) were: [17] [14]

    : No later than year 1. : Year 4. , later known as Ankhesenamun, wife of Tutankhamun : Year 8. : Year 9. : Year 11.

Nefertiti first appears in scenes in Thebes. In the damaged tomb (TT188) of the royal butler Parennefer, the new king Amenhotep IV is accompanied by a royal woman, and this lady is thought to be an early depiction of Nefertiti. The king and queen are shown worshiping the Aten. In the tomb of the vizier Ramose, Nefertiti is shown standing behind Amenhotep IV in the Window of Appearance during the reward ceremony for the vizier. [14]

During the early years in Thebes, Akhenaten (still known as Amenhotep IV) had several temples erected at Karnak. One of the structures, the Mansion of the Benben (hwt-ben-ben), was dedicated to Nefertiti. She is depicted with her daughter Meritaten and in some scenes the princess Meketaten participates as well. In scenes found on the talatat, Nefertiti appears almost twice as often as her husband. She is shown appearing behind her husband the Pharaoh in offering scenes in the role of the queen supporting her husband, but she is also depicted in scenes that would have normally been the prerogative of the king. She is shown smiting the enemy, and captive enemies decorate her throne. [18]

In the fourth year of his reign, Amenhotep IV decided to move the capital to Akhetaten (modern Amarna). In his fifth year, Amenhotep IV officially changed his name to Akhenaten, and Nefertiti was henceforth known as Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti. The name change was a sign of the ever-increasing importance of the cult of the Aten. It changed Egypt's religion from a polytheistic religion to a religion which may have been better described as a monolatry (the depiction of a single god as an object for worship) or henotheism (one god, who is not the only god). [19]

The boundary stelae of years 4 and 5 mark the boundaries of the new city and suggest that the move to the new city of Akhetaten occurred around that time. The new city contained several large open-air temples dedicated to the Aten. Nefertiti and her family would have resided in the Great Royal Palace in the centre of the city and possibly at the Northern Palace as well. Nefertiti and the rest of the royal family feature prominently in the scenes at the palaces and in the tombs of the nobles. Nefertiti's steward during this time was an official named Meryre II. He would have been in charge of running her household. [5] [14]

Inscriptions in the tombs of Huya and Meryre II dated to Year 12, 2nd month of Peret, Day 8 show a large foreign tribute. The people of Kharu (the north) and Kush (the south) are shown bringing gifts of gold and precious items to Akhenaten and Nefertiti. In the tomb of Meryre II, Nefertiti's steward, the royal couple is shown seated in a kiosk with their six daughters in attendance. [5] [14] This is one of the last times princess Meketaten is shown alive.

Two representations of Nefertiti that were excavated by Flinders Petrie appear to show Nefertiti in the middle to later part of Akhenaten's reign 'after the exaggerated style of the early years had relaxed somewhat'. [20] One is a small piece on limestone and is a preliminary sketch of Nefertiti wearing her distinctive tall crown with carving began around the mouth, chin, ear and tab of the crown. Another is a small inlay head (Petrie Museum Number UC103) modeled from reddish-brown quartzite that was clearly intended to fit into a larger composition.

Meketaten may have died in year 13 or 14. Nefertiti, Akhenaten, and three princesses are shown mourning her. [21] The last dated inscription naming her and Akhenaten comes from a building inscription in the limestone quarry at Dayr Abū Ḥinnis. It dates to year 16 of the king's reign and is also the last dated inscription naming the king. [22]

Possible reign as Pharaoh Edit

Many scholars believe Nefertiti had a role elevated from that of Great Royal Wife, and was promoted to co-regent by her husband Pharaoh Akhenaten before his death. [23] She is depicted in many archaeological sites as equal in stature to a King, smiting Egypt's enemies, riding a chariot, and worshipping the Aten in the manner of a Pharaoh. [24] When Nefertiti's name disappears from historical records, it is replaced by that of a co-regent named Neferneferuaten, who became a female Pharaoh. [25] It seems likely that Nefertiti, in a similar fashion to the previous female Pharaoh Hatshepsut, assumed the kingship under the name Pharaoh Neferneferuaten after her husband's death. It is also possible that, in a similar fashion to Hatshepsut, Nefertiti disguised herself as a male and assumed the male alter-ego of Smenkhkare in this instance she could have elevated her daughter Meritaten to the role of Great Royal Wife.

If Nefertiti did rule Egypt as Pharaoh, it has been theorized that she would have attempted damage control and may have re-instated the Ancient Egyptian religion and the Amun priests, and had Tutankhamun raised in with the traditional gods. [26]

Archaeologist and Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass theorized that Nefertiti returned to Thebes from Amarna to rule as Pharaoh, based on ushabti and other feminine evidence of a female Pharaoh found in Tutankhamun's tomb, as well as evidence of Nefertiti smiting Egypt's enemies which was a duty reserved to kings. [27]

Old theories Edit

Pre-2012 Egyptological theories thought that Nefertiti vanished from the historical record around Year 12 of Akhenaten's reign, with no word of her thereafter. Conjectured causes included injury, a plague that was sweeping through the city, and a natural cause. This theory was based on the discovery of several ushabti fragments inscribed for Nefertiti (now located in the Louvre and the Brooklyn Museum).

A previous theory that she fell into disgrace was discredited when deliberate erasures of monuments belonging to a queen of Akhenaten were shown to refer to Kiya instead. [17]

During Akhenaten’s reign (and perhaps after), Nefertiti enjoyed unprecedented power. By the twelfth year of his reign, there is evidence she may have been elevated to the status of co-regent: [28] equal in status to the pharaoh, as may be depicted on the Coregency Stela.

It is possible that Nefertiti is the ruler named Neferneferuaten. Some theorists believe that Nefertiti was still alive and held influence on the younger royals. If this is the case, that influence and presumably Nefertiti’s own life would have ended by year 3 of Tutankhaten's reign (1331 BC). In that year, Tutankhaten changed his name to Tutankhamun. This is evidence of his return to the official worship of Amun, and abandonment of Amarna to return the capital to Thebes. [5]

New theories Edit

In 2012, the discovery of an inscription dated to Year 16, month 3 of Akhet, day 15 of the reign of Akhenaten was announced. [29] It was discovered within Quarry 320 in the largest wadi of the limestone quarry at Dayr Abū Ḥinnis. [30] The five line inscription, written in red ochre, mentions of the presence of the “Great Royal Wife, His Beloved, Mistress of the Two Lands, Neferneferuaten Nefertiti”. [31] [32] The final line of the inscription refers to ongoing building work being carried out under the authority of the king's scribe Penthu on the Small Aten Temple in Amarna. [33] Van der Perre stresses that:

This inscription offers incontrovertible evidence that both Akhenaten and Nefertiti were still alive in the 16th year of his [Akhenaten's] reign and, more importantly, that they were still holding the same positions as at the start of their reign. This makes it necessary to rethink the final years of the Amarna Period. [34]

This means that Nefertiti was alive in the second to last year of Akhenaten's reign, and demonstrates that Akhenaten still ruled alone, with his wife by his side. Therefore, the rule of the female Amarna pharaoh known as Neferneferuaten must be placed between the death of Akhenaten and the accession of Tutankhamun. This female pharaoh used the epithet 'Effective for her husband' in one of her cartouches, [25] which means she was either Nefertiti or her daughter Meritaten (who was married to king Smenkhkare).

Nefertiti's burial was intended to be made within the Royal Tomb as laid out in the Boundary Stelae. [35] It is possible that the unfinished annex of the Royal Tomb was intended for her use. [36] However, given that Akhenaten appears to have predeceased her it is highly unlikely she was ever buried there. One shabti is known to have been made for her. [37] The unfinished Tomb 29, which would have been of very similar dimensions to the Royal Tomb had it been finished, is the most likely candidate for a tomb begun for Nefertiti's exclusive use. [38] Given that it lacks a burial chamber, she was not interred there either.

In 2015, English archaeologist Nicholas Reeves announced that he had discovered evidence in high resolution scans of Tutankhamun's tomb "indications of two previously unknown doorways, one set within a larger partition wall and both seemingly untouched since antiquity . To the north [there] appears to be signaled a continuation of tomb KV62, and within these uncharted depths an earlier royal interment – that of Nefertiti herself." [39] Radar scans conducted in November 2015 by Japanese radar expert Hirokatsu Watanabe seemed to confirm Reeves' theory that there were likely voids behind the northern and westerns walls of Tutankhamun's burial chamber. [40] A second radar scan could not replicate Watanabe's results. A third radar scan has eliminated the possibility that there are any hidden chambers. [41] The positive findings of the first GPR scan were likely a result of 'ghost' reflections of the signal from the walls. [42]

In 1898, French archeologist Victor Loret found two female mummies among those cached inside the tomb of Amenhotep II in KV35 in the Valley of the Kings. These two mummies, known as 'The Elder Lady' and 'The Younger Lady', were identified as likely candidates of her remains.

An article in KMT magazine in 2001 suggested that the Elder Lady may be Nefertiti's body. [43] It was argued that the evidence suggests that the mummy is around her mid-thirties or early forties, Nefertiti's guessed age of death. More evidence to support this identification was that the mummy's teeth look like that of a 29- to 38-year-old, Nefertiti's most likely age of death. Also, unfinished busts of Nefertiti appear to resemble the mummy's face, though other suggestions included Ankhesenamun.

However, it eventually became apparent that the 'Elder Lady' is in fact Queen Tiye, mother of Akhenaten. A lock of hair found in a coffinette bearing an inscription naming Queen Tiye proved a near perfect match to the hair of the 'Elder Lady'. [44] DNA analysis has revealed that she was the daughter of Yuya and Thuya, who were the parents of Queen Tiye, thus ruling her out as Nefertiti. [45]

"The Younger Lady" Edit

On June 9, 2003, archaeologist Joann Fletcher, a specialist in ancient hair from the University of York in England, announced that Nefertiti's mummy may have been the Younger Lady. Fletcher suggested that Nefertiti was the Pharaoh Smenkhkare. Some Egyptologists hold to this view though the majority believe Smenkhkare to have been a separate person. Fletcher led an expedition funded by the Discovery Channel to examine what they believed to have been Nefertiti's mummy. However, an independent researcher, Marianne Luban, had previously suggested that the KV35 Younger Lady could be Nefertiti in an online article, "Do We Have the Mummy of Nefertiti?" published in 1999. [46]

The team claimed that the mummy they examined was damaged in a way suggesting the body had been deliberately desecrated in antiquity. Mummification techniques, such as the use of embalming fluid and the presence of an intact brain, suggested an eighteenth-dynasty royal mummy. Other elements which the team used to support their theory were the age of the body, the presence of embedded nefer beads, and a wig of a rare style worn by Nefertiti. They further claimed that the mummy's arm was originally bent in the position reserved for pharaohs, but was later snapped off and replaced with another arm in a normal position. [ citation needed ]

Most Egyptologists, among them Kent Weeks and Peter Lacovara, generally dismiss Fletcher's claims as unsubstantiated. They say that ancient mummies are almost impossible to identify as a particular person without DNA. As bodies of Nefertiti's parents or children have never been identified, her conclusive identification is impossible. Any circumstantial evidence, such as hairstyle and arm position, is not reliable enough to pinpoint a single, specific historical person. The cause of damage to the mummy can only be speculated upon, and the alleged revenge is an unsubstantiated theory. Bent arms, contrary to Fletcher's claims, were not reserved to pharaohs this was also used for other members of the royal family. The wig found near the mummy is of unknown origin, and cannot be conclusively linked to that specific body. Finally, the 18th dynasty was one of the largest and most prosperous dynasties of ancient Egypt. A female royal mummy could be any of a hundred royal wives or daughters from the 18th dynasty's more than 200 years on the throne. [ citation needed ]

In addition to that, there was controversy about both the age and sex of the mummy. On June 12, 2003, Egyptian archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities, also dismissed the claim, citing insufficient evidence. On August 30, 2003, Reuters further quoted Hawass: "I'm sure that this mummy is not a female", and "By going first to the press with what might be considered a great discovery, Dr Fletcher broke the bond made by York University with the Egyptian authorities. And by putting out in the popular media what is considered by most scholars to be an unsound theory, Dr Fletcher has broken the rules and therefore, at least until we have reviewed the situation with her university, she must be banned from working in Egypt." [47]

In a more recent research effort led by Hawass, the mummy was put through CT scan analysis and DNA analysis. Researchers concluded that she is Tutankhamun's biological mother, an unnamed daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye, not Nefertiti. [48] Fragments of shattered bone were found in the sinus. The theory that the damage to the left side of the face was inflicted post-mummification was rejected as undamaged embalming packs were placed over top of the affected area. [49] The broken-off bent forearm found near the mummy, which had been proposed to have belonged to it, was conclusively shown not to actually belong to the Younger Lady. [50]

KV21B mummy Edit

One of the two female mummies found in KV21 has been suggested as the body of Nefertiti. DNA analysis did not yield enough data to make a definitive identification but confirmed she was a member of the Eighteenth Dynasty royal line. [51] CT-scanning revealed she was about 45 at the time of her death her left arm had been bent over her chest in the 'queenly' pose. The possible identification is based on her association with the mummy tentatively identified as Ankhesenamun. It is suggested that just as a mother and daughter (Tiye and the Younger Lady) were found lying together in KV35, the same was true of these mummies. [52]

A document was found in the ancient Hittite capital of Hattusa which dates to the Amarna period the so-called "Deeds" of Suppiluliuma I. The Hittite ruler receives a letter from the Egyptian queen, while being in siege on Karkemish. The letter reads: [53]

My husband has died and I have no son. They say about you that you have many sons. You might give me one of your sons to become my husband. I would not wish to take one of my subjects as a husband. I am afraid.

This proposal is considered extraordinary as New Kingdom royal women never married foreign royalty. [54] Suppiluliuma I was understandably surprised and exclaimed to his courtiers: [53]

Nothing like this has happened to me in my entire life!

Understandably, he was wary, and had an envoy investigate the situation, but by so doing, he missed his chance to bring Egypt into his empire. [53] He eventually did send one of his sons, Zannanza, but the prince died, perhaps murdered, en route. [55] [56]

The identity of the queen who wrote the letter is uncertain. She is called Dakhamunzu in the Hittite annals, a possible translation of the Egyptian title Tahemetnesu (The King's Wife). [57] The possible candidates are Nefertiti, Meritaten, [58] and Ankhesenamun. Ankhesenamun once seemed likely since there were no candidates for the throne on the death of her husband, Tutankhamun, whereas Akhenaten had at least two legitimate successors, but this was based on a 27-year reign for the last 18th Dynasty pharaoh Horemheb who is now accepted to have had a shorter reign of only 14 years. This makes the deceased Egyptian king appear to be Akhenaten instead rather than Tutankhamun. [ citation needed ] Furthermore, the phrase regarding marriage to 'one of my subjects' (translated by some as 'servants') is possibly either a reference to the Grand Vizier Ay or a secondary member of the Egyptian royal family line. Since Nefertiti was depicted as being as powerful as her husband in official monuments smiting Egypt's enemies, she might be the Dakhamunzu in the Amarna correspondence as Nicholas Reeves believes. [59]

Headless bust of Akhenaten or Nefertiti. Part of a composite red quartzite statue. Intentional damage. Four pairs of early Aten cartouches. Reign of Akhenaten. From Amarna, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

Limestone statuette of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, or Amenhotep III and Tiye, [60] and a princess. Reign of Akhenaten. From Amarna, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

Limestone relief fragment. A princess holding sistrum behind Nefertiti, who is partially seen. Reign of Akhenaten. From Amarna, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

Siliceous limestone fragment relief of Nefertiti. Extreme style of portrait. Reign of Akhenaten, probably early Amarna Period. From Amarna, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

Granite head statue of Nefertiti. The securing post at head apex allows for different hairstyles to adorn the head. Altes Museum, Berlin.

Royal Women of Dynasty 25

Relief from the Chapel of Amenirdis, Medinat Habu

As noted the Kings of Dynasty 25 wore two cobras on all of their representations, and were the first royal men to do so. The royal women during this period who were associated with the motif also had the elevated role of being the wife of the God Amun/Imen. On the tomb chapel of Amenirdis she and her successor Shepenwepet both wear the crown of the god (above). As goddesses on the relief the two women are shown with the divine vulture and headdress. However, on statuary they were shown with two cobras and a vulture. It seems likely during this later period that the double cobra and vulture were associated with title and role of God’s Wife of Amun/Imen.

Statue of Amenirdis

Here are 10 facts about the Ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.

Nefertiti was a teenage queen.

Unsurprisingly for the era, Nefertiti was fifteen when she married sixteen-year-old Amunhotep IV. Five years into his reign, the pharaoh began his religious movement and renamed himself Akhenaten.

Akhenaten and Nefertiti built a new city.

With the foundation of their new monotheistic religion worshipping the sun god Aten, Nefertiti and Akhenaten further separated themselves from the “old reign” of Ancient Egypt and built a new capital city named Amarna.

Nefertiti might have been of royal heritage.

Nefertiti's family tree is mostly conjecture with two prevailing theories. Some historians believe her father to be Ay, who was an important advisor to several pharaohs, including Nefertiti's future husband. (Ay even became pharaoh himself after King Tut's death in 1323 BCE.) Other academics speculate that Nefertiti was a princess from the Mittani kingdom in northern Syria.

We do know that Nefertiti had a sister named Mutbenret (or Mutnodjemet), who is mentioned in the surviving art of Amarna.

Statuette of Nefertiti and Akhenaten (Photo: Rama via Wikimedia Commons)

She held many titles.

Like most royalty, Nefertiti held many titles during her time in power, including:

  • Hereditary Princess
  • Great of Praises
  • Lady of Grace
  • Sweet of Love
  • Lady of the Two Lands
  • Main King's Wife
  • His beloved
  • Great King's Wife
  • Lady of all Women
  • Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt

Standing-striding figure of Nefertiti (Photo: Andreas Praefcke via Wikimedia Commons)

Nefertiti lived up to her name.

Nefertiti was born in 1370 BCE in the Egyptian city of Thebes. Her name in English means “the beautiful woman has come.” When she and her husband Akhenaten initiated the shift in Egypt's religion, Nefertiti adopted the additional name of Neferneferuaten. Altogether, her full name means “beautiful are the beauties of Aten, a beautiful woman has come.” According to the bust she left behind, Nefertiti had beauty in spades.

Nefertiti worshipping Aten (Photo: Jon Bodsworth via Wikimedia Commons)

She ruled over the wealthiest period of Ancient Egyptian history.

Akhenaten and Nefertiti ruled over the possibly wealthiest period in Ancient Egyptian history&mdashwhich was perhaps the fuel to Akhenaten's vision. During his reign, the new capital of Amarna achieved an artistic boom, distinct from any other era in Egypt. The Amarna style showed movement and figures of more exaggerated proportions, with elongated hands and feet. The depictions of Akhenaten during this time give him distinctly feminine attributes with wide hips and prominent breasts.

She was a powerful wife.

Nefertiti was the favored consort, or Great Royal Wife, of Akhenaten from the very start of his reign. According to historical records, Nefertiti had six daughters with Akhenaten by the names of Meritaten, Meketaten, Ankhes-en-pa-aten, Neferneferuaten-tasherit, Neferneferure, and Setepenre. Despite having no sons, the art of Amarna depicts the royal couple as having a strong, loving relationship. Nefertiti is also shown in a variety of roles, including driving chariots, attending ceremonial acts with Akhenaten, and smiting enemies.

A house altar showing Akhenaten, Nefertiti and three of their daughters. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

She was both loved and loathed.

Although Nefertiti and Akhenaten governed over Ancient Egypt at a time of unprecedented wealth, their new religion unsettled the empire. As queen, Nefertiti was loved by some for her charisma and grace. However, she was also largely hated because of her active leadership in Akhenaten's sun-oriented religion.

Nefertiti possibly ruled as pharaoh after her husband's death.

The circumstances surrounding Nefertiti's death are a mystery, as her name disappears from the historical record at about the 12th year of Akhenaten's 17-year reign. A popular theory suggests that Nefertiti abandoned her old title at that point and became official co-regent under the name of Neferneferuaten.

Some also propose that Nefertiti is actually the pharaoh to follow Akenaten's rule by renaming herself Smenkhkare. If true, Nefertiti adopted a similar position to the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt in the fashion of a king, wearing even the ceremonial false beard.

She is “related” to King Tut (but not by blood).

As Nefertiti had no sons of her own, the succeeding pharaoh Tutankhamun (or “King Tut”) was the son of Akhenaten and one of his lower consorts.

Funerary mask of Tutankhamun (Photo: Roland Unger, via Wikimedia Commons)

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