....also called Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti
Executrix, Great of Praise, Lady of Favour, Great in the Palace,
Perfect of Face, Beautiful with Plumes, One whose voice one rejoices
to hear, The King’s Great Wife whom he loves, Lady of the Two Lands.
It is not known who Nefertiti’s parents were. The most popular theory
seems to be that Nefertiti was the daughter of the high ranking
courtier Aye and his unnamed first wife. Aye’s wife Tey is known
to have been Nefertiti’s wetnurse and tutor. This means that Nefertiti
must have grown up with Aye and Tey. Other theories have included
Nefertiti being the daughter of the Mitanni King Tushratta and his
wife Yuni. But there does not appear to be much evidence to support
We first see Nefertiti as the King’s Great Wife of Amenhotep IV
(who would later rename himself Akhenaten). Nefertiti is known to
have had six daughters: Meritaten, Meketaten, Ankhes-en-pa-aten,
Neferneferuaten-tasherit, Neferneferure, and Setepenre.
Meritaten seved as Great Royal Wife towards the end of the reign
of Akhenaten and into the reign of the mysterious Smenkhare. Ankes-en-pa-aten
would be the longest surviving daughter of Nefertiti. She married
the boy-king Tutankhamen and changed her name to Ankhesenamen.
Nefertiti was the Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep IV / Akhenaten.
Amenhotep IV built several structures at Karnak. The structures
there include the Gempaaten which is a palace complex. It is believed
that the royal family lived at the Gempaaten during the winter months
(according to Aldred). One of the structures within the Gempaaten
complex is the Hut-Benben (“Mansion of the Benben”). Aldred mentions
that the Mansion of the Benben was a temple exclusively devoted
In year 3, Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti apparently held a great festival
in the temple at Karnak. Inscriptions show the royal couple traveling
by palanquin, feasting while being entertained by dancers and musicians,
and appearing at the palace’s “window of appearance” waving at the
Moving to the New Capital of Egypt.
Amenhotep at some point changes his name to Akhenaten, and founds
a new Capital named Akhet-Aten more than a 100 miles north of Thebes.
Nefertiti takes on the longer name of Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti.
Several beautiful temples and palaces are built in Akhetaten and
Nefertiti plays an important role in religious life as well as court
In year 12 there is another large festival that takes place. Inscriptions
in the tombs of the nobles show that there is a large tribute, and
Akhenaten and Nefertiti are shown with their six daughters receiving
tribute from many people.
The Later Years
Soon after year 12 disaster seems to strike. First Meketaten, the
second eldest daugher, dies. Scenes in the royal tomb in Akhet-Aten
(modern Amarna) show a grief stricken Nefertiti and Akhenaten mourning
their daughter. Around roughly the same time Akhenaten’s mother
Queen Tiye also dies, and several of the younger daughters of Nefertiti
also disappear from the scene.
Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti as coregent and possibly Pharaoh?
It is difficult to say what exactly happened with Nefertiti towards
the end of the reign of Akhenaten. For a while it was thought that
Nefertiti fell into disgrace and was replaced at court by her daughter
Meritaten. This theory was based on a mistaken identity however.
A royal lady seems to have disappeared from the scene and her place
was taken by Meritaten, but the lady in question was the secondary
Queen named Kiya, not Nefertiti.
It is possible that Nefertiti became a co-regent to Akhenaten and
that Nefertiti ruled alongside her husband in the latter years of
his reign. There is mention of an individual named Djeserkheperure
Smenkhare and it is possible that this is a king who ruled between
Akhenaten and Tutankhamen. Some Egyptologists believe that Smenkhare
is just another name for Nefertiti and that she became pharaoh after
the death of her husband Akhenaten.
Nefertiti may have been buried in the royal tomb at Amarna, but
this is by no means certain. A special set of rooms appear to have
been prepared for her. It is not known what happened to her after
that. Some speculate that her funerary equipment was reused in the
burial of King Tutankhamen. There are some statues from Tut’s tomb
which appear to depict a female ruler.
People have tried to identify several mummies as being that of Nefertiti.
The latest attempt was by Joanne Fletcher who claimed that a mummy
in KV34 was that of Queen Nefertiti. This identification was actually
first proposed by Marianne Luban. Susan James had proposed that
the mummy of the “older woman” in the same tomb was actually that
of Queen Nefertiti. The experts do not seem to consider any of the
arguments conclusive and no mummy has been definitively identified
as that of our illustrious queen.
Bibliography / Suggested Reading:
1. C. Aldred, Akhenaten: King of Egypt, 1988.
2. J.H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Vol.2: The Eighteenth
Dynasty, 2001 (reprint of 1906 edition).
3. A. Dodson and D. Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient
4. R.E. Freed et al, Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten – Nefertiti
– Tutankhamen, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1999.
5. W.J. Murnane, Texts from the Amarna Period, 1995
6. N. Reeves, Akhenaten: Egypt’s False Prophet, 2001.
7. G. Robins, Women in Ancient Egypt, 1993.
8. J. Tyldesley, Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen, 1998.
9. P. Vandenberg, Nefertiti: An Archaeological Biography, 1978.
The above information is copyright
© 2005 Anneke Bart and may not be reproduced without permission.
Thank you to Anneke Bart for allowing queen-nefertiti.co.uk permission to reproduce this information.
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