Smenkhare and Merytaten?
King’s Daughter of his body, his beloved (s3t-niswt-nt-kht.f-meryt.f), Great
King’s Wife (hmt-niswt-wrt)
Full title on some Amarna monuments:
King’s Daughter of his body, his beloved Merit-aten, born of the
great royal wife, his beloved, Lady of the Two Lands (Neferneferuaten)|
may she live (s3t-niswt-nt-kht.f-meryt.f-mr-t-itn-ms-n-hmt-niswt-wrt-meryt.f-nbt-t3wy-(itn-nfr-u-nfr-tyit)| anx-s)
Early years as Princess Meritaten.
Meritaten was the eldest daughter
of Akhenaten and
Nefertiti. Meritaten already appears in the very early monuments at
Karnak. She is the only princess who appears in these early scenes and
is shown accompanying her mother Nefertiti.
Meritaten is depicted on all the boundary stela in Akhenaten (Tell
El-Amarna). She must have been a small girl when she moved with her
parents to this new city.
Princess Meritaten stands
behind her parents Akhenaten and Nefertiti.
She is followed by her younger sisters Meketaten and Ankhesenpaaten.
Meritaten, Meketaten and Ankhesenapaaten wait in the wings of the
while their parents hand rewards to the priest Parennefer.
Left: Meritaten stands between
Akhenetn and Nefertiti and offers something to her father.
Right: A scene showing Meritaten and Meketaten shaking sistra behined
their mother (Nefertiti)
Sculptures of Amarna
Princesses. These princesses are not identified and
could represent Meritaten or one of the other royal
Meritaten as Queen.
Meritaten is raised to the position
of Great royal wife sometime during the later years of Akhenaten's
reign. It is even possible that she served as Akhenaten's Queen, but
this is by no means certain. During the later years of Akhenaten's
reign Nefertiti disappears from the scene and it seems that Meritaten
took over the role as leading royal lady at court. The Maru-Aten was
rededicated. This sunshade / temple used to belong to the royal beloved
Kiya, but her image was everywhere adapted for Meritaten. This could be
a sign that Kiya had suffered some disgrace, but it's aso possible that
this lady died and that others took over her monuments in an act of
usurpation we often see in Ancient Egypt. Due to the adaption of the
monuments it's not entirely clear if young girls by the name of
Meritaten-tasherit ("Meritaten-junior") and Ankhesenpaaten-tasherit
("Ankhesenpaaten-junior") are daughters of Kiya or if these girls are
possibly the children of Meritaten.
From a scene in the tomb of Merire we do know that Meritaten married
the elusive successor of Akhenaten, named Smenkhare. In the tomb of
Merire we see Smenkhare and his great royal wife Meritaten handing out
rewards to Merire. The scene is raather non-standard in the fact that
the royal couple is depicted standing before the window of appearance.
They seem to be standing at the same level as the court official
instead of the more traditional depiction where they appear in the
window and are shown handing down gifts.
It is not known what happened to Meritaten. There are no known funerary
goods inscribed with her name that have ever surfaced. She seems to
have disappeared from the scene at roughly the same time as her husband
Smenkhare. This has lead some to speculate that both Meriaten and
Smenkhare may have died due to a plague that seems to have been
ravaging the region at that time.
Others believe that Meritaten did survive and took the throne as
Ankh(et)kheperure Neferneferuaten and either ruled until her death or
served as regent for the young Tutankhamen.
The last evidence of this royal lady seem to appear however in the tomb
of Tutankhamen. Between the paws of the statue of Anubis lay a scribal
palette that had once belonged to Meritaten (Griffith
Institute). Her name also appears on a box along with the name of
Some of the
inscriptions/scenes mentioning Meritaten as Queen are:
Inscription in the tomb of Meryre II in
Amarna, showing Smenkhare with Great Royal Wife Meritaten.
Smenkhare and Meritaten are shown before the window of appearance while
awarding Meryre with the golden collars often seen in these types of
scenes. The position of Smenkhare and Meritaten with the palace with
the window of appearance shown behind them is rather peculiar.
2. An Amarna Block reused in
Hermopolis. No (surviving) image, but the
names of Smenkhare and Meritaten appear together on this block.
3. A wooden box with inscriptions mentioning Smenkhare, Akhenaten and
Meritaten. It should be noted that the inscriptions actually never
mention the name Smenkhare (see photographs and transcripts from the
Griffith Institute). The box mentions Neferkheperure-Waenre Akhenaten,
Ankhekheperure-mr-waenre, Neferneferuaten-mr-waenre and Meritaten.
The box was meant to contain linnen garments. (Griffith