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Queen Tetisheri

Great Royal Wives - The People

As with other formidable Queens, Tetisheri was not from Royal Blood. She was the daughter of Tjenna and Neferu, and was born during the 17th Dynasty. Egyptologists know about her parents from Mummy bandages found with the mummified body of the Queen in the Mummy Cache at Theban Tomb number 320 (TT320). Regrettably, as her remains were found
in a Mummy Cache we have no direct evidence for which Queen’s Valley or King’s Valley Tomb was or was due to be her Tomb. There is reasonable evidence to suggest that her Tomb may have been KV41.

Tetisheri was married to Pharaoh Senakhtenre Ahmose, also known as Pharaoh Tao I, and became the matriarch to the 18th Dynasty. He elevated her to the title of his Great Royal Wife, and she embodied and embraced this role to the full. Today she is known among Historians as a matriarch through her son Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao II and his wife, Tetisheri’s daughter and Pharaoh Tao II’s full sister, the indomitable Queen Ahhotep I; and though her grandson, Pharaoh Ahmose I.

How did the Queen end up as the Regent for her son’s rule?

Queen Tetisheri lived during one of the most tumultuous periods of all Ancient Egyptian times. The 2nd Intermediate Period. This, as told to us by the biased records left by the conquerors of history, was due to the invasion and takeover of the Hyksos Peoples. They are accused of creating the First Foreign Takeover of Egypt.

Archaeologists have more recently discovered through research and isotype analysis of the Hyksos remains that there was a larger community of Hyksos living in the Nile Delta for some time before they took control of the majority of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. Largely meaning that they were welcomed traders and immigrants rather than invaders. According to the Tombs located there, they were employed by the Egyptian State as shipbuilders and craftsmen, Soldier and Sailors. Could the “Hyksos invaders” have actually been a community of foreign immigrants who were born in Egypt but whose Ancestors were from the Levant area?

From records, Egyptologists have discovered that there was a line of impotent Pharaohs which led to the period known as the Second Intermediate Period. The settlers known as Hyksos had been trading and settling in the portside city of Avaris for some so when the power vacuum occurred, the probable Egypt born Hyksos were ideally implanted within the community to conquer a weakened state. This created what we know today as the 15th Dynasty.

Their rule of Egypt lasted for over 200 years which may not be considered as a short-lived grab for power. Trade continued between the northern part of Egypt and the Southern City of Thebes, where the Egyptian Pharaoh’s 16th and 17th Theban Pharaohs settled. Use of the Nile in both directions has been recorded for trading purposes. It is thought that Thebes may have paid their due, taxes and have communicated in a friendly manner with the Hyksos. While they remained subordinate to the now Capital City of Avaris, but this cannot be totally confirmed.

The War : The Battles

Queen Tetisheri outlived her husband, Pharaoh Tao I. Their son, Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao II began to live up to the meaning of his name: “He Who Strikes Life Re”. On beginning his own rule and in an effort to push back the Hyksos rule and enliven his own to more than just the Theban area, diplomatic relations between the 2 sets of Pharaohs broke down. Finally, he was allegedly provoked in to battle by Hyksos Pharaoh Apopis who claimed that Theban resident Hippos were disturbing his sleep. Now, this anecdote must be understood with a large amount of trepidation as there are approx. 645km between the two cities!

As Pharaoh marched to meet the Hyksos Pharaohs in battle, Queen Mother Tetisheri took on the role as Regent for her son.

Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao II died probably as a result of one of these battles or at the very least from the wounds that he had sustained. His Mummy reflects a violet death with 3 axe wounds, a sharp implement wound (probably a sword or spear thrust), and a crushing blow. His Mummy was then embalmed in a perfunctory manner and not with the care which was usually due a Pharaoh, enhancing the case that the Pharaoh died on the battle field or within the battle camp.

The war was continued by the late Pharaoh’s Wife who was also his Sister, Queen Ahhotep I, again leaving her mother, Tetisheri, as Regent of her young son, Pharaoh Kamose, in her absence. This commenced until Pharaoh Kamose and Crown Prince Ahmose became of age they joined the battlefield. At this juncture, former Queen and now Queen Mother Ahhotep I, now took over from her mother, Tetisheri, as Regent.

The Battles continued unabated and these had a high human cost, including, after only 3 years of reign, Pharaoh Kamose, who is believed to have died in battle. Crown Prince Ahmose inherited the Crown making his Pharaoh Ahmose I who is created with the commencement of the 18th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, taking the country out of the Intermediate Period when he defeated, and swiftly banished, the Hyksos.

Whilst Pharaoh was winning the war which had consumed his father and his brother, Ahhotep and Tetisheri strengthened the new Pharaoh’s early reign in the roles of Regents and ensuring that the Theban Court was kept in check. Egypt was at last reclaimed Egypt under the Egyptian Pharaohs.

For more information about the Hyksos, their rule and their Capital City of Avaris, click here. 

How Tetisheri was honoured

Regent Tetisheri was honoured by her grandson, Pharaoh Ahmose I, for her consistent rule, advise and support.

After she died, and as mentioned above, it can be assumed that she was buried in her own Tomb as part of a highly respected funeral ceremony. As well, her grandson, Pharaoh Ahmose I built her a ceremonial Pyramid and a commemoration Stela at Abydos. Click here to learn more about Tetisheri’s ceremonial Pyramid. 


The Stela

The Reliefs shows Pharaoh Ahmose and Tetisheri together on its right-hand side. Pharaoh holds the Staff and Mace of Egypt whilst wearing the Tailed Short Kilt with the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. Click here for more information about the Crowns of Egypt. Tetisheri is seated at an Offering Table whilst wearing the Queen’s Vulture Crown and her regalis. The relief reads:

“To be given life, the son of the king, begotten by his body, King Ahmose, the good god, the lord of the two lands, the one identified with Horus”

With Tetisheri being listed as, “The Wife of a King, the Mother of the King, Tetisheri, living forever”

The Stela records Pharaoh Ahmose I informing his wife, Queen Ahmose Nefertari:

“I, it is, who have remembered the Mother of my Mother and the Mother of my Father, Great King’s Wife and King’s Mother, Tetisheri, triumphant. She already has a tomb and a Mortuary Chapel on the soil of Thebes and Abydos, I have said this to thee, in that my Majesty has desired to have made for her a Pyramid and a house in Tazeser, as a monumental donation of my majesty. Its lake shall be dug, its trees shall be planted, its offerings shall be founded, equipped with people, endowed with lands, presented with herds, Mortuary Priests and Ritual Priests having their duties, every man knowing his stipulation . . . . . His Majesty did this because he so greatly loved her, beyond everything. Never did former Kings the like of it, for their Mothers”


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