Nefertiti’s place as an icon in popular culture is secure as she has become somewhat of a celebrity. After Cleopatra, she is the second most famous “Queen” of Ancient Egypt in the western imagination. Ironically, there is not much actually known about Nefertiti and she is often referred to as the forgotten queen because she literally vanished from the pages of history. Her story has become more myth than fact. One thing is known for sure – she was amazingly gorgeous and she was one of history’s most powerful queens.
Neferneferuaten Nefertiti lived from 1370 BC to 1330 BC. She was the Great Royal Wife of the 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. Some scholars believe that Nefertiti ruled briefly after her husband’s death and before the accession of Tutankhaman [King Tut], although this identification is a matter of ongoing debate.
Nefertiti had many titles including Hereditary Princess; Great of Praises; Lady of Grace, Sweet of Love; Lady of The Two Lands; Main King’s Wife, his beloved; Great King’s Wife, his beloved, Lady of all Women; and Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt.
She was made famous by her bust, now in Berlin’s Neues Museum which 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.
Egyptological theories thought Nefertiti vanished from the historical record around Year 14 of Akhenaten’s reign, with no word of her thereafter. Explanations included a sudden death, by a plague that was sweeping through the city, or some other natural death. This theory was based on the discovery of several shabti fragments inscribed for Nefertiti located in the Louvre and Brooklyn Museums.
Another theory proclaims she fell into disgrace, was discredited when deliberate erasures of monuments belonging to a queen of Akhenaten were shown to refer to Kiya instead. During Akhenaten’s reign (and perhaps after), Nefertiti enjoyed unprecedented power. By the twelfth year of his reign, there is evidence she may have been elevated to the status of co-regent: equal in status to the pharaoh.
It is possible Nefertiti is 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 is evidence of his return to the official worship of Amun, and abandonment of Amarna to return the capital to Thebes.
This means that Nefertiti was alive in the second to last year of Akhenaten’s reign, and demonstrates that Akhenaten still ruled alone, with his wife by his side. Therefore, the rule of the female Amarna pharaoh known as Neferneferuaten must be placed between the death of Akhenaten and the accession ofTutankhamun. This female pharaoh used the epithet ‘Effective for her husband’ in one of her cartouches, which means she was either Nefertiti or her daughter Meritaten.
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. We must know our history. An that’s my thought provoking perspective…