Friday, September 10, 2010

Nefertiti, Queen of Ancient Egypt

12th Century B.C.

Nefertiti reigned in Ancient Egypt between 1351 and 1331 B.C. She was the chief wife of the "heretic" Pharaoh Akhenaten. Akhenaten desperately wanted a male heir and Nefertiti tried hard to provide him with one. Instead, she presented him with six daughters. It was Queen Kiya, his lesser wife, Kiya, who provided him with male heirs - Smenkhkare and Tutankhamun, a fact which inflamed Nefertiti’s jealousy and wrath.

Pharaoh Akhenaten loved both his wives, but it was Nefertiti to whom he exalted to a prominnent role in the religious and political life of Egypt. He bestowed upon her with such titles as Mistress of Happiness, Endowed with Favors, Chief Wife of the King, Beloved, Lady of the Two Lands, and May she live for Ever and Always".

(Ahkenaten, Nefertiti, and their children)

She helped her husband initiate a massive religious and cultural revolution and represented the feminine aspect of the god, Aten. Renowned for her beauty, Nefertiti dressed to enhance her best features. She is often depicted wearing a close fitting sheath. As Akhenaten´s chief wife, she wore the crown of Hathor that resembled cow horns with plumes or the crown of Mut, the vulture goddess. But the crown she is most often associated with, is the blue war crown with its flat top.

Nefertiti vanished around year fourteen of Akhenaten´s reign. Rumours abound about her mysterious disappearance. Her name was struck from numerous inscriptions. Some say it was because she and her husband fell into discord and he banished her in disgrace to her palace, Aten’s Castle. Others believe that she disguised herself as a man and assumed a new identity as Smenkhkare so that she could rule as co-regent with her husband. It is even speculated that she simply died from the plague and her death was so painful for Akhenaten that he did not wish to be reminded of her.

Whatever the circumstances, however, Nefertiti simply disappeared and there is no record of her death nor has her mummy or place of burial been confirmed. Her husband, Akhenaten died about several years later under circumstances just as mysterious. His mummy has not been found either.

Famed throughout the ancient world for her outstanding beauty, Akhenaten's queen Nefertiti remains the one of the most well known and mysterious queens of ancient Egypt.
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