also called Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti
Photo by Yuti (From museum in Berlin)
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 (hmt-niswt-‘3t)
Main King’s Wife, his beloved (hmt-niswt-‘3t meryt.f)
Great King’s Wife (hmt-niswt-wrt)
Great King’s Wife, his beloved (hmt-niswt-wrt meryt.f)
Lady of all Women (hnwt-hmwt-nbwt)
Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt (hnwt-Shm’w-mhw)
Nefertiti with her husband Pharaoh Akhenaten and her three
(Painting based on a stela)
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
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
Two depictions of daughters of Nefertiti. Maybe Meritaten and
Meritaten seved as Great Royal Wife
towards the end of the reign of Akhenaten and into the reign of the
Smenkhare. Ankes-en-pa-aten would be the longest surviving daughter of
Nefertiti. She married the boy-king Tutankhamen and changed her name to
A princess eating a duck on the left, and some of the younger
princesses at a banquet.
Nefertiti depicted in the "Amarna Style". Here shown with the modius
and double plumed head-dress instead of the flat topped crown she is
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
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
and appearing at the palace’s “window of appearance” waving at the
Nefertiti and Akhenaten rewarding the priest Parennefer
Behind the royal couple we see
Princesses Meritaten, Meketaten, Ankhesenpaaten, their nurses and the
Queen's Sister Mutnodjemet.
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.
A trial piece showing Nefertiti.
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
Around roughly the same time Akhenaten’s mother Queen Tiye also dies,
several of the younger daughters of Nefertiti also disappear from the
Nefertiti depicted in a Hem-Hem crown behind Akhenaten.
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
A royal lady seems to have disappeared from the scene and her place was
by Meritaten, but the lady in question was the secondary Queen named
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
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
There is also a partial shabti of Queen Nefertiti
found in Amarna. The experts do not agree on the implications of that
find. Some think it means that Nefertiti was buried as a queen, not a
pharaoh, while others think that it could have been a votive figure
donated at the time
of one of the other royal burials.
A partial royal shabti of Queen Nefertiti from the Louvre.
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.
Some of the illusttrations courtesy of Jon Bodsworth http://www.egyptarchive.co.uk/index.htm