Nefertiti

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Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti in hieroglyphs
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Neferneferuaten Nefertiti
Nfr nfrw itn Nfr.t jy.tj
Beautiful are the Beauties of Aten, the Beautiful one has come
Nofretete Neues Museum.jpg
The bust of Nefertiti from the Ägyptisches Museum Berlin collection, presently in the Neues Museum.

Neferneferuaten Nefertiti (ca. 1370 BC – ca. 1330 BC) was the Great Royal Wife (chief consort) of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. Nefertiti and her husband were known for a religious revolution, in which they worshiped one god only, Aten, or the sun disc. With her husband, they reigned at what was arguably the wealthiest period of Ancient Egyptian history.[1] Some scholars believe that Nefertiti ruled briefly as Neferneferuaten after her husband's death and before the accession of Tutankhamun, although this identification is a matter of ongoing debate.[2]

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-niswt-‘3t meryt.f); Great King’s Wife, his beloved (hmt-niswt-wrt meryt.f), Lady of all Women (hnwt-hmwt-nbwt); and Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt (hnwt-Shm’w-mhw).[3]

She was made famous by her bust, now in Berlin's Neues Museum, shown to the right. The bust is one of the most copied works of ancient Egypt. It was attributed to the sculptor Thutmose, and it was found in his workshop. The bust is notable for exemplifying the understanding Ancient Egyptians had regarding realistic facial proportions.

Family[edit]

See also : Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt Family Tree
A "house altar" depicting Akhenaten, Nefertiti and three of their Daughters; limestone; New Kingdom, Amarna period, 18th dynasty; c. 1350 BC - Collection: Ägyptisches Museum Berlin, Inv. 14145

Nefertiti, Egyptian Nfr.t-jy.tj, original pronunciation approximately Nafteta, for ("the beauty has come"). 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. Scenes in the tombs of the nobles in Amarna mention the queen’s sister who is named Mutbenret (previously read as Mutnodjemet).[4][5]

Another theory that gained some support identified Nefertiti with the Mitanni princess Tadukhipa.[6]

The exact dates of when Nefertiti was married to Akhenaten and later promoted to queenship are uncertain. Their six known daughters (and estimated years of birth) were:[5][6]

Life[edit]

A standing/striding figure of Nefertiti made of limestone. Originally from Amarna, part of the Ägyptisches Museum Berlin collection.

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.[6]

Close-up of a limestone relief depicting Nefertiti smiting a female captive on a royal barge. On display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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 in the scenes 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.[7]

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).[8]

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 center 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.[2][6]

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.[2][6]

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 style of the early years had relaxed somewhat'.[9]

Trial Piece depicting Nefertiti from Amarna, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology,UCL

One is a small piece on limestone and is a preliminary sketch of Nefertiti weaing 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) modelled from reddish-brown quartzite that was clearly intended to fit into a larger composition.

Inlay head almost certainly of Nefertiti from Amarna, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL

This tribute from year 12 is one of the last times princess Meketaten is shown alive. Meketaten may have died in year 13 or 14. Nefertiti, Akhenaten, and three princesses are shown mourning Meketaten.[10] Nefertiti disappears from the scene soon after that.[6]

Death[edit]

Nefertiti worshipping the Aten. She is given the title of Lordess of the Two Lands. On display at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

About Year 14 of Akhenaten's reign, under pre-2012 Egyptological theories, Nefertiti was thought to vanish from the historical record with no word of her after that date. The hypothesis here included a sudden death by a plague that was sweeping through the city or another natural death. This theory is based on the discovery of several shabti fragments inscribed for Nefertiti (now located in the Louvre and Brooklyn Museums).

A previous theory that she fell into disgrace is now discredited, since the deliberate erasures of monuments belonging to a queen of Akhenaten have been shown to refer to Kiya instead.[5]

During Akhenaten's reign (and perhaps after), Nefertiti enjoyed unprecedented power. The Coregency Stela may show her as a co-regent with her husband. By the twelfth year of his reign, there is evidence that she may have been elevated to the status of co-regent:[11] equal in status to the pharaoh. It is possible that Nefertiti is to be identified as the ruler named Neferneferuaten. Some theories 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 was evidence of his return to the official worship of Amun, and his abandonment of Amarna to return the capital to Thebes.[2]

However, these theories are now discredited due to the 2012 discovery of a Regnal Year 16, month 3 of Akhet, day 15 inscription dated explicitly to Akhenaten's reign which mentions, in the same breath, the presence of Queen Nefertiti—or the "Great Royal Wife, His Beloved, Mistress of the Two Lands, Neferneferuaten Nefertiti"—in its third line.[12] The badly legible five line text, found in a limestone quarry at Dayr Abū Ḥinnis, just north of Dayr al-Barshā, "mentions a building project in Amarna"—Egypt's political capital under Akhenaten and was deciphered and interpreted by Athena Van der Perre.[13] The quarry is located north of Amarna.[14] This means that Nefertiti was certainly alive in the second to last year of Akhenaten's reign and demonstrates that Akhenaten still ruled alone late in his reign along with his wife by his side. Therefore, the female Amarna pharaoh known as Neferneferuaten whose timeline must be placed sometime between the death of Akhenaten and the accession of Tutankhamun would have ruled only after Akhenaten's death. This female pharaoh used the epithet 'Effective for her husband' in one of her cartouches,[15] which means she was either Nefertiti or Meritaten, Nefertiti's daughter who was married to king Smenkhkare. Nefertiti presumably died a few years after Akhenaten's death.

Burial[edit]

There are many theories regarding her death and burial but, to date, the mummy of this famous queen, her parents or her children has not been found or formally identified. In 1898, archeologist Victor Loret found two female mummies inside the tomb of Amenhotep II in KV35 in the Valley of the Kings. These two mummies, named 'The Elder Lady' and 'The Younger Lady', were likely candidates of her remains.

The KMT suggested in 2001 that the Elder Lady may be Nefertiti's body.[16] 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 29-38 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.

Due to recent age tests on the mummy's teeth, it eventually became apparent that the 'Elder Lady' is in fact Queen Tiye, mother of Akhenaten and that the DNA of the mummy is a close, if not direct, match to the lock of hair found in Tutankhamun's tomb. The lock of hair was found in a coffinette bearing an inscription naming Queen Tiye.[17] Results have discovered that she was the daughter of Yuya and Thuya, who were the parents of Queen Tiye, thus ruling her out as Nefertiti.[17]

"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.

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.

Most Egyptologists, among them Kent Weeks and Peter Locavara, 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.

In addition, 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 "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."[18] On different occasions, Hawass has claimed that the mummy is female and male.[19]

In a more recent research effort led by Hawass, the mummy was put through CT scan analysis. Researchers concluded that she may be Tutankhamun's biological mother, an unnamed daughter of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye, not Nefertiti. Fragments of shattered bone were found in the sinus, and blood clots were found. The theory that the damage was inflicted post-mummification was rejected, and a murder scenario was deemed more likely. The broken-off bent forearm found near the mummy, which had been proposed to have belonged to mummy, was conclusively shown not to actually belong to it. Scholars think that, after Tutankhamun returned Egypt to the traditional religion, he moved his closest relatives: father, grandmother, and biological mother, to the Valley of the Kings to be buried with him (according to the list of figurines and drawings in his tomb).

Iconic status[edit]

Portrait study of Nefertiti

Nefertiti's place as an icon in popular culture is secure as she has become somewhat of a celebrity.[citation needed] After Cleopatra she is the second most famous "Queen" of Ancient Egypt in the Western imagination.[citation needed]

In the arts[edit]

Novels[edit]

Music[edit]

  • "Nefertiti, Sun Goddess" (Lyrics = Leo-Neferuaten Boyle, Music = Sovra Wilson-Dickson, written December 1998) appears on the demo album compact disc, "The Aten Shines Again" by Leo-Neferuaten Boyle (2002). A subsequent YouTube video was created for the track in November 2012.
  • "Nefertiti" is a studio album by American jazz musician Miles Davis, released in December 1967.


Film[edit]

Television[edit]

Nefertiti was also cited as inspiration for the character Cortana in the Halo video game series.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ RE Freed, S D'Auria, YJ Markowitz, (1999) "Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen" (Museum of Fine Arts, Leiden)
  2. ^ a b c d Dodson, Aidan, Amarna Sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb, and the Egyptian Counter-Reformation. The American University in Cairo Press. 2009, ISBN 978-977-416-304-3
  3. ^ Grajetzki, Ancient Egyptian Queens: A Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Golden House Publications, London, 2005, ISBN 978-0-9547218-9-3
  4. ^ Egypt State Information Service - Famous women
  5. ^ a b c Dodson, Aidan and Hilton, Dyan. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. 2004. ISBN 0-500-05128-3
  6. ^ a b c d e f Tyldesley, Joyce. Nefertiti: Egypt's Sun Queen. Penguin. 1998. ISBN 0-670-86998-8
  7. ^ Redford, Donald B. Akhenaten: The Heretic King. Princeton University Press. 1987. ISBN 978-0-691-00217-0
  8. ^ Dominic Montserrat, Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt, Psychology Press, 2003
  9. ^ Trope, B., Quirke, S., Lacovara, P., Excavating Egypt. Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, 2005 ISBN 1-928917-06-2
  10. ^ Murnane, William J., Texts from the Amarna Period in Egypt, Society of Biblical Literature, 1995 ISBN 1-55540-966-0
  11. ^ Reeves, Nicholas. Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet. p.172 Thames & Hudson. 2005. ISBN 0-500-28552-7
  12. ^ Athena Van der Perre, "Nefertiti’s last documented reference (for now)," in: In the light of Amarna: One hundred years of the Nefertiti discovery, edited by Frederike Seyfried. Berlin: Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, pp.195-197
  13. ^ Dayr al-Barsha Project featured in new exhibit 'Im Licht von Amarna' at the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung in Berlin 12/06/2012
  14. ^ Christian Bayer, "Ein Gott für Aegypten - Nofretete, Echnaton und der Sonnenkult von Amarna" Epoc, 04-2012. - pp.12-19
  15. ^ Marc Gabolde, ‘Under a Deep Blue Starry Sky’, in P. Brand (ed.), "Causing His Name to Live: Studies in Egyptian Epigraphy and History in Memory of William J. Murnane", pp. 17-21
  16. ^ Susan E. James, "Who is the mummy The Elder Lady?" KMT, v.12 no.2 (Summer, 2001)
  17. ^ a b Hawass, Zahi et al. "Ancestry and Pathology in King Tutankhamun's Family" The Journal of the American Medical Association p.640-641
  18. ^ Hawass comments - No Discrimination
  19. ^ Times Online - King Tut tut tut

External links[edit]