Nefertiti, queen of Egypt

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Also Known As: "(pronounced at the time something like *nafratiːta)"
Birthplace: Egypt
Death: circa -1330 (31-48)
Place of Burial: Egypt
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Kheperkheprure Ay, Pharaoh of Egypt and Tey
Wife of Amentotep IV AkenAton, Pharaoh of Egypt
Mother of Meritaten; Meketaten; Ankhesenpaaten I; Neferneferuaten Tasherit; Neferneferure and 3 others
Sister of (No Name); Mutbenret, Great Royal Wife; Nakhtmin, II; Private and Private

Occupation: aka Neferneferuaten; aka Nefernefruaten-Nefertiti; poss. aka Smenkhkare; poss. 2nd woman (after Hatshepsut, q.v.) to be titled PHARAOH; poss. aka Tadukhipa (Princess) of MITTANI, Akhenaten Wife, Royal
Managed by: Flemming Allan Funch
Last Updated:

About Nefertiti, queen of Egypt


This article is about the Ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. For the Miles Davis album, see Nefertiti (album).

Nefertiti (pronounced at the time something like *nafratiːta[1]) (c. 1370 BC – c. 1330 BC) was the Great Royal Wife (chief consort) of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. Nefertiti and her husband were known for changing Egypt's religion from a polytheistic religion to a henotheistic religion. They revered only one god, Aten, the sun disc. This was not strictly monotheism, as they did not deny the existence of other gods.

She had many titles; for example, at Karnak there are inscriptions that read Heiress, Great of Favours, Possessed of Charm, Exuding Happiness, Mistress of Sweetness, beloved one, soothing the king's heart in his house, soft-spoken in all, Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt, Great King's Wife, whom he loves, Lady of the Two Lands, Nefertiti'.

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 itself is notable for exemplifying the understanding Ancient Egyptians had regarding realistic facial proportions. Some scholars believe that Nefertiti ruled briefly after her husband's death and before the accession of Tutankhamun as Smenkhkare, although this identification is a matter of ongoing debate.

Contents [hide]

1 Family

2 Death

3 Burial

3.1 The "Younger Lady"

3.2 The Elder Lady?

4 Iconic status

5 References

6 External links


See also : Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt Family Tree

Nefertiti's parentage is not known with certainty, but it is now generally believed that she was the daughter of Ay, later to be pharaoh and the sister of Mutnedjmet.[2] Another theory that gained some support identified Nefertiti with the Mitanni princess Tadukhipa.

The exact dates of when Nefertiti was married to Amenhotep IV and later promoted to his Queen are uncertain. However, the couple had six known daughters. This is a list with suggested years of birth:

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

-1. Meritaten: Before year one or the very beginning of year one.(1356 BC).

-2. Meketaten: Year 1 or three (1349 BC).

-3. Ankhesenpaaten, also known as Ankhesenamen, later queen of Tutankhamun

-4. Neferneferuaten Tasherit: Year 6 (1344 BC)

-5. Neferneferure: Year 9 (1341 BC).

-6. Setepenre: Year 11 (1339 BC).

In Year 4 of his reign (1346 BC) Amenhotep IV started his worship of Aten. The king led a religious revolution, in which Nefertiti played a prominent role. This year is also believed to mark the beginning of his construction of a new capital, Akhetaten, at what is known today as Amarna. In his Year 5, Amenhotep IV officially changed his name to Akhenaten as evidence of his new worship. The date given for the event has been estimated to fall around January 2 of that year. In Year 7 of his reign (1343 BC) the capital was officially moved from Thebes to Amarna, though construction of the city seems to have continued for two more years (till 1341 BC). The new city was dedicated to the royal couple's new religion. Nefertiti's famous bust is also thought to have been created around this time.

In an inscription estimated to November 21 of year 12 of the reign (approx. 1338 BC)[citation needed], her daughter Meketaten is mentioned for the last time; she is thought to have died shortly after that date. Circumstantial evidence which shows that she predeceased her husband at Akhetaten include several shabti fragments of the Queen's burial which are now located in the Louvre and Brooklyn Museums.[3] A relief in Akhenaten's tomb in the Royal Wadi at Amarna appears to show her funeral.

During Akhenaten's reign (and perhaps after) Nefertiti enjoyed unprecedented power, and by the twelfth year of his reign, there is evidence that she may have been elevated to the status of co-regent[4]: equal in status to the pharaoh himself. She was often depicted on temple walls the same size as the king, signifying her importance, and shown worshiping the Aten alone. Perhaps most impressively, Nefertiti is shown on a relief from the temple at Amarna which is now in the MFA in Boston, smiting a foreign enemy with a mace before the Aten. Such depictions had traditionally been reserved for the pharaoh alone, and yet Nefertiti was depicted as such.


Further information: Amarna succession

About Year 14 of Akhenaten's reign (1336 BC), Nefertiti herself vanishes from the historical record, and there is no word of her after that date. Theories include a sudden death by a plague that was sweeping through the city or another natural death. A previous theory that she fell into disgrace is now discredited since the deliberate erasures of the monuments belonging to a queen of Akhenaten have now been shown to refer to Kiya instead.[5] Regardless, the verifiable knowledge of this episode has been completely lost to history.

The Coregency Stela may show her as a co-regent with her husband, who possibly ruled after his death. It is thought by some scholars that Nefertiti changed her name, first to Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten and later to Ankhkheperure Smenkhkare and that she enjoyed a brief sole rule under the latter name. it is also believed that, as her husband's co-regent and successor she might have attempted to reconcile the Atenist and Traditional religions[6] Nefertiti would have prepared for her death and for the succession of her daughter, now named Ankhsenamun, and her stepson, Tutankhamun. They would have been educated in the traditional way, worshiping the old gods. This theory has Neferneferuaten dying after two years of kingship and was then succeeded by Tutankhamun, thought to have been a son of Akhenaten. He married Nefertiti's daughter Ankhesenpaaten. The royal couple were young and inexperienced, by any estimation of their age, and Ankhesenpaaten bore two stillborn (and premature) daughters whose mummies were found by Howard Carter in Tutankhamen's tomb. 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, as evidence of his return to the official worship of Amun, and his abandonment of Amarna to return the capital to Thebes.

As can be seen by the suggested identifications between Tadukhipa, Nefertiti, Smenkhkare and Kiya, the records of their time and their lives are largely incomplete, and the findings of both archaeologists and historians may develop new theories vis-à-vis Nefertiti and her precipitous exit from the public stage.


No concrete information is available regarding Nefertiti's death, but the location of Nefertiti's body has long been a subject of curiosity and speculation. There are many theories regarding her death and burial.

The "Younger Lady"

In the most recent research effort led by Egyptian archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities, a mummy known as the "The Younger Lady" was put through CT scan analysis and researchers concluded that she may be Tutankhamun's biological mother, Queen Kiya, not Queen Nefertiti. Fragments of shattered bone were found in the sinus, and blood clots were found, so the theory that the damage was inflicted post-mummification was rejected and a murder scenario was deemed more likely. Another reasoning to support Kiya's placement in KV35 is that after Tutankhamun returned Egypt to the traditional religion, he also moved his closest relatives, father, grand mother, and biological mother, to the Valley of the Kings to be buried with him (matching the list of figurines and drawings in his tomb). Nefertiti may still be in an undiscovered tomb.

Previously, 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 one of the anonymous mummies stored in tomb KV35 in the Valley of the Kings known as "the Younger Lady". However, an independent scholar in the field of Egyptology, Marianne Luban, had already made the same speculation as early as 1999 in an article posted on the Internet, entitled "Do We Have the Mummy of Nefertiti?"[7]

Luban's points upholding the identification are the same as those of Joann Fletcher. Furthermore, Fletcher suggested that Nefertiti was in fact the Pharaoh Smenkhkare. Some Egyptologists hold to this view though the majority believe Smenkhkare to have been a separate person. Dr. Fletcher led an expedition funded by the Discovery Channel that examined 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 features the team used to support their claims 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.

However most Egyptologists, among them Kent Weeks and Peter Locavara, generally dismiss Fletcher's claims as unsubstantiated. They claim that ancient mummies are almost impossible to identify with a particular person without DNA; and 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 exclusively to pharaohs; this was also used for other members of the royal family. The wig found near to 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, and a female royal mummy could be any of a hundred royal wives or daughters from 18th dynasty's more than 200 years on the throne.

In addition, there is controversy about both the age and gender of the mummy. On June 12, 2003, Hawass also dismissed the claim, citing insufficient evidence. On August 30, 2003, Reuters further quoted Hawass as saying, "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."[8] Hawass has claimed that the mummy is female and male on different occasions.[9]

The Elder Lady?

This section does not cite any references or sources.

Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (August 2008)

A KMT article called "Who is The Elder Lady mummy?" suggests that the elder lady mummy may be Nefertiti's body [10]. This may be possible due to the fact that the mummy is around her mid-thirties or early forties, Nefertiti's guessed age of death. Also, unfinished busts of Nefertiti appear to resemble the mummy's face, though other suggestions include Ankhesenamun and, the favorite candidate, Tiye. More evidence to support this identification is that the mummy's teeth look like that of a 29-38 year old, Nefertiti's most likely age of death. Due to recent age tests on the mummy's teeth, it appears that the 'Elder Lady' is in fact Queen Tiye and also that the DNA of the mummy is a close, if not direct, match to the lock of hair found in Tutankhamun's tomb which bears the inscription of Queen Tiye is the hairs coffin. To date, the mummy of this famous and iconic queen has not been found.

Forrás / Source:

Magyarul, in Hungarian:

Nefertiti: (pronounced at the time something like *nafratiːta) (c. 1370 BCE – c. 1330 BCE) was the Great Royal Wife (or chief consort/wife) of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. She was the mother-in-law and probable stepmother of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Nefertiti may have also ruled as pharaoh in her own right under the name Neferneferuaten briefly after her husband’s death and before the accession of Tutankhamun, although this identification is doubted by the latest research. Her name roughly translates to “the beautiful (or perfect) one has arrived”. She also shares her name with a type of elongated gold bead, called “nefer”, that she was often portrayed as wearing.

NEFERTITI AS QUEEN Nefertiti may have been the daughter of Ay, a top adviser who would go on to become pharaoh after King Tut’s death in 1323 B.C. An alternate theory suggests she was a princess from the Mittani kingdom in northern Syria. She was her husband’s Great Royal Wife (favored consort) when he ascended the throne in Thebes as Amenhotep IV. In the fifth year of his reign, he displaced Egypt’s chief god Amon in favor of Aten, moved the capitol north to Amarna and changed his name to Akhenaten, with Nefertiti taking on the additional name “Neferneferuaten”—her full name meaning “Beautiful are the beauties of Aten, a Beautiful Woman has come.”

Did You Know? The beauty of the iconic Nefertiti bust may only be skin deep. CT scans in 2009 revealed that underneath the surface of smooth painted stucco is the sculptor Thudmose's more realistic limestone carving of a woman with wrinkled cheeks and a bump on her nose.

Akhenaten’s transformation of religion brought with it radical changes in artistic conventions. Departing from the idealized images of earlier pharaohs, Akhenaten is sometimes depicted with feminine hips and exaggerated features. Early images of Nefertiti show a stereotypical young woman, but in later ones she is a near mirror image of Akhenaten. Her final depictions reveal a regal but realistic figure.

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.

After Nefertiti had given birth to six daughters, her husband began taking other wives, including his own sister, with whom he fathered the future King Tut (Tutankhamen). Nefertiti’s third daughter Ankhesenpaaten would eventually become her half-brother Tutankhamen’s queen.

NEFERTITI AS A POSSIBLE RULER Nefertiti disappears from the historical record around the 12th year of Akhenaten’s 17-year reign. She may have died at that point, but it is possible 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 polices that would reach fruition during the reign of King Tut. At one point Neferneferuaten employed a scribe to make divine offerings to Amun, pleading for him to return and dispel the kingdom’s darkness.

THE BUST OF NEFERTITI On December 6, 1913, a team led by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt discovered a sculpture buried upside-down in the sandy rubble on the floor of the excavated workshop of the royal sculptor Thutmose in Amarna. The painted figure featured a slender neck, gracefully proportioned face and a curious blue cylindrical headpiece of a style only seen in images of Nefertiti. Borchardt’s team had an agreement to split its artifacts with the Egyptian government, so the bust was shipped as part of Germany’s portion. A single, poor photograph was published in an archaeological journal and the bust was given to the expedition’s funder, Jacques Simon, who displayed it for the next 11 years in his private residence.

In 1922 British Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered King Tut’s tomb. A flurry of international attention followed, and the image of Tut’s solid gold funerary mask was soon a global symbol of beauty, wealth and power.

A year later the Nefertiti bust was put on display in Berlin, countering the “English” Tut with a German appropriation of ancient glamour. Throughout the 20th century’s upheavals, the bust remained in German hands. It was revered by Hitler (who said, “I will never relinquish the head of the Queen”), hidden from Allied bombs in a salt mine and coveted by East Germany throughout the Cold War. Today it draws more than 500,000 visitors annually to Berlin’s Neues Museum. May 3, 2011 Egypt’s Most Wanted: An Antiquities Wish List By Jennie Cohen

Egypt plans to make a formal request to Germany for the return of a magnificently preserved bust of Queen Nefertiti, the Egyptian minister for antiquities announced on Tuesday. Exhibited in a series of German museums since its discovery in 1912, the 3,400-year-old statue is one of five high-priority artifacts scattered across the globe that Egypt hopes to repatriate. Find out more about the famous bust as well as the other leading items on Egypt’s antiquities “wish list.” Nefertiti BustThe Nefertiti Bust Unearthed nearly a century ago by the German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt in Amarna, Egypt, this painted limestone bust of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s wife Nefertiti is considered one of the finest examples of ancient Egyptian sculpture. It was identified as a depiction of the fabled beauty because of the unique crown that she was known to wear. In addition to her good looks, Nefertiti is remembered as a major influence on the culture and religion of her time, and some scholars believe she may have ruled for a period after her husband’s death. Currently on display at Berlin’s Neues Museum, her bust was hidden in a German salt mine during World War II; the U.S. army found the precious artifact in 1945 and ultimately returned it to West Berlin. Despite multiple requests for the bust’s return, Germany has declined, maintaining that it was acquired legally and may be too fragile to move.

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Nefertiti, queen of Egypt's Timeline

(The oldest) Princess of Egypt 18th D
Age 39