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Nefertiti

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....also called Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti

Titles:

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.

Family Background:
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 this theory.
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.

Early Years
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 to Nefertiti.
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 crowd.

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 life.
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’s burial.
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 Egypt, 2004
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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