About 3,000 years ago in ancient Egypt it wasn’t unusual for women to rule.
One of them was the beautiful and brilliant Nefertiti. Why is the world talking about her over three millennials later?
Keep scrolling to find out more;
History books have it that more than any other Egyptian queen, Nefertiti represents the epitome of true, successful female power. She saved Egypt at a critical moment in its history.
Nefertiti was the principal wife of the pharaoh Amenhotep IV (aka Akhenaten), who lived in the 14th century BC. Written records providing concrete historical facts about her origins, marriage, family life, political status, and death are scarce but there are surviving images and texts which form important sources of information, but allow for various interpretations.
The families of Tey and Ay (a top adviser) came from the Middle Egyptian city of Achmim, which was also home to the parents of Tiye, wife of the pharaoh Amenhotep III. The families certainly knew each other, making it unsurprising that Tiye chose Nefertiti as a wife for her second son Amenhotep (aka Akhenaten).
Whether the marriage took place before Amenhotep IV ascended the throne in 1351 BC, and how old Nefertiti was at the time, is not documented. Since royalties were generally married at a very young age, and Amenhotep IV was no older than 16 to 18 at his coronation, Nefertiti was probably somewhere between 12 and 16 years old.
Shortly after their wedding, their first daughter, Meritaten, was born and in the years following, had five other daughters.
In just the fourth year of his reign, Amenhotep IV (her husband) decided to build a new royal residence in Middle Egypt, Akhetaten, near the present-day city of Amarna. There, together with Nefertiti, he sought to establish his new creed, the veneration of the Aten, the sun disc, as the one and only god. In the seventh year of his reign, the royal family moved to Akhetaten. In the course of the move, Amenhotep IV changed his name to Ach-n-Iten (Akhenaten = “pleasing to Aten”).
She represented the female element of Aten while her husband represented the male—and both acted as a bridge between Aten and the Egyptian people.
Her supposed reign:
On the walls of tombs and temples built during Akhenaten’s reign, Nefertiti is depicted alongside her husband with a frequency seen for no other Egyptian queen. In many cases she is shown in positions of power and authority—leading worship of Aten, driving a chariot, or smiting an enemy.
It is also possible that she became her husband’s official co-regent under the name Neferneferuaten. Akhenaten was followed as pharaoh by Smenkhkare, who some historians suggest may have been another name for Nefertiti. This would not have been without precedent: In the 15th century B.C. the female pharaoh Hatshepsut ruled Egypt in the guise of a man, complete with a ceremonial false beard.
If Nefertiti kept power during and beyond Akhenaten’s last years, it is possible she began the reversal of her husband’s religious policies that would reach fruition during the reign of King Tut (the son that was bore by her husband and her sister). At one point, Neferneferuaten employed a scribe to make divine offerings to Amun, pleading for him to return and dispel the kingdom’s darkness.
Nefertiti disappears from the historical record around the 12th year of Akhenaten’s 17-year reign. History suggests that she may have died at that point.
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