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Great Royal Wife, Queen Nefertiti

Amarna - Capital Cities

Neferneferuaten Nefertiti, Queen Consort of Egypt

“Beautiful are the Beauties of Aten, the Beautiful one has come”

Hereditary Princess; Great of Praises; Lady of Grace and Sweet of Love; Lady of The Two Lands

Main King’s Wife, his beloved; Great King’s Wife, his beloved; Lady of All Women

and Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt

Born: Approximately 1370 BC, potentially in Thebes
Parents: Unknown
Sibling: Only known one was Mutbenret
Spouse: Pharaoh Amenhotep IV who became Pharaoh Akhenaten
Issue: 
  Meritaten (Year 1 of marriage);
  Meketaten (Year 4 of marriage); 
  Ankhesenpaaten (Ankhesenamun) (Year 6 of marriage); 
  Neferneferuaten Tasherit (Year 8 of marriage); 
  Neferneferure (Year 9 of marriage); 
  Setepenre (Year 11 of  marriage)

Died: In either Amarna or Thebes 

 

Early Scenes which Depict Queen Nefertiti in Egypt

Queen Nefertiti was married to her husband, the Pharaoh, before he moved the religion, the Capital City and the Royal Family to Amarna, where he eventually also changed his name.

When the Royal couple were first married they would have spent some time at the Court Akhenaten’s father, Pharaoh Amenhotep III at Malkata Palace City Complex unusually situated on the West Bank of the River Nile in Thebes. For more details about Malkata Palace City Complex, click here. 

The Mansion of the Benben, Karnak Temples, Thebes was dedicated to her directly; within she is shown in both the traditional form as assisting Pharaoh with offerings; but in some reliefs she is shown in the Pharaoh’s role; perhaps showing an early element in their equal relationship, similar to that which was shared by her husband’s parents, Pharaoh Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye. Click here to find out more about their marriage.

Royal Butler Parennefer’s Tomb (TT188) where newly enthroned Amenhotep IV is accompanied by his Royal Wife which are believed by Egyptologists to depict the current Crown Princess Nefertiti.

Did Queen Nefertiti take on the role of Pharaoh?

If Nefertiti did rule as Pharaoh Neferneferuaten, her reign would have commenced after the passing of Pharaoh Akhenaten and marked by the fall of Amarna and relocation of the Religious Center and Capital City back to Thebes.

It is possible that Nefertiti copied Pharaoh Hatshepsut and adopted the male forms to ensure a favourable reception from the world that she and her husband had removed themselves from in Thebes. 

To stick with the pure lineage of Pharaoh’s often marrying their relations or offspring, Nefertiti may well have elevated Meritaten, her daughter, to cover the role of Great Royal Wife, and rule at least in a courtly and perhaps diplomatic way at her mother’s side.

It is thought that Meritaten at this point was married to the shadowy figure of Smenkhare. Which most Egyptologist believe was a separate figure to that of Pharaoh Neferneferuaten. 

The fog of time may never let us know!

In many reliefs Nefertiti is shown in the fully male role of smiting Egypt’s enemies and her chairs have been depicted as her sitting over the captives taken in battle on Egypt’s behalf; all these instances reflect the male side which a Pharaoh looks to promote in a gender role regimented society, era and country.

Burial: One of the last remaining debates over Queen Nefertiti?

 

Pharaoh Akhenaten commissioned and built a Royal Tomb for his Great Royal Wife in the Hills next to Amarna, but it is almost certain that she was never buried there due to her probable move back to the “old religion” and their base in Thebes. 

The Egyptologist Victor Loret found 2 female mummies which are known as ‘The Elder Lady’ and ‘The Younger Lady’ in Tomb KV35 in 1898, in the Valley of the Kings. This Tomb was originally prepared for Pharaoh Amenhotep II. At times, either one of these Mummies have been regularly proposed to be the Queen’s remains.

Of these two femals, Queen Tiye, Pharaoh Akhenaten’s mother, is proven by DNA analysis to be ‘The Elder Lady’ Mummy. 

Using DNA ‘The Younger Lady’ Mummy has been confirmed as the biological mother of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, who was also a daughter of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye.

So while neither are Queen Nefertiti, it is apt that Mother and Daughter are buried together.

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Valley of the Kings Tomb KV21 holds 2 more unproven female mummies which have also been dated to the 18th Dynasty Royals. 

The first mummy has the DNA to prove that she was the biological mother of the 2 foetuses found in Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s Tomb in the Valley of the Kings; proving as far as possible that she was the Great Royal Wife, Queen Ankhesenamun. Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s spouse. 

 Could another Mother and Daughter pair have been reburied together again?

 

 

Note, no male mummies were discovered in this Tomb; all other Kings Valley Tombs which have been home to female mummies housed male remains as well; could this have been Pharaoh Nefertiti’s Tomb, allowed to be buried here due to her status as Pharaoh? 

As the mummified remains of Nefertiti’s parents have never been identified, her conclusive identification could well be impossible until science allows us to delve much further in to the world of DNA and work backwards up the strings as well as forwards.