Em Hotep Digest vol. 02 no. 02: Egyptian Queens
14
Jan

Em Hotep Digest vol. 02 no. 02: Egyptian Queens

   Posted by: Shemsu Sesen   

Categories: Em Hotep Digest

000 - digest 0201Do you have a favorite Egyptian queen?  Or would you like to learn a little more about what queenship meant in ancient Egypt, and how it differed from other types of monarchies?  Of if you are just looking for some really nice photography, yet again the crew at Em Hotep BBS delivered the goods.

A selection of queens plus three queens who were kings, the wives of Mentuhotep II, cats and queens, Picton’s Petrie Pieces, recommended reading, and lots of interesting fun Egyptological facts – Just the thing for a cold winter night!

 

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Contributors:  Gwyn Ashworth-Pratt, Merja Attia, Jeffrey Ross Burzacott, Yvonne Buskens, Amy Calvert, Ia Georgia, Carolyn Graves-Brown, Dennis van Hoorn, Jemma Isis Johnson, Heidi Kontkanen, Vicky Metafora, Richie O’Neill, Keith Payne, Jan Picton, and Jean Smith.  Very special thanks to The Petrie Museum Unofficial Page and The Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities (SSEA/SEEA).

Would you like to contribute to the Em Hotep Digest?  Your quest begins with a participant-observation assignment—report to Em Hotep BBS on Facebook and join in.

 

The Concept of Queenship in Ancient Egypt

 

Queens, From The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson

“Although kings’ wives were often important individuals with considerable political influence, the ancient Egyptian language had no word for ‘queen’.  Rather, royal women were generally designated according to their relationship with the reigning monarch: as a ‘great royal wife’ (principal queen, a title introduced in the late Twelfth Dynasty), ‘royal wife’ (secondary queen), or ‘king’s mother’.  Particularly in the New Kingdom, the great royal wife played a role in politics and religion second only to the king.

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/9697455/

“Some holders of the office, such as Nefertiti and Nefertari, were powerful figures in their own right.  As in other African monarchies, the king’s mother enjoyed high status in ancient Egypt, beginning with Merneith in the First Dynasty and including such figures as Ahmose Nefertari and Tiye in the Eighteenth Dynasty.  However, most royal spouses are less well attested.  Secondary wives, including those from diplomatic marriages, may have lived in the harem, with their own courtiers and servants” (p. 199).

Queen Tiye, by Prisse d’Avennes

Queen Tiye, by Prisse d’Avennes

 

Egypt’s Queens

From Joyce Tyldesley’s “Foremost of Women: The Female Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt” in Tausret: Forgotten Queen and Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, edited by Richard H. Wilkinson

“In the English language a ‘king’ is always a male ruler, while a ‘queen’ can be either the wife or widow of a king, or a monarch ruling in her own right.  But in ancient Egypt, where royal titles invariably stressed relationships to the pharaoh, the queen’s title ‘hmt nswt, which was used from the Fourth Dynasty onward, literally meant ‘king’s wife.’  So an Egyptian queen was by definition a woman who was, or had been, married to a king.  Women who ruled Egypt in their own right classed themselves as female pharaohs, or kings.

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/9696491/

“As pharaohs maintained increasingly large harems, there were many, many king’s wives; it is difficult to give precise numbers, but it is likely that the three hundred or so pharaohs generated several thousand women entitled to use the title queen.  The most important of these were the queen-consorts:  the queens at the heart of the royal family whose sons were expected to inherit the throne.  These women were distinguished from lesser queens by an increasingly elaborate series of crowns and titles.  They had a recognized political and religious role, were represented in official writings and artwork, and were buried in splendid tombs.  From the Middle Kingdom onward, they wrote their names in cartouches.  Eventually they would become the next ‘king’s mother’.  They might even rule Egypt, temporarily, on behalf of an absent husband or an infant son.

“In some periods, many queen-consorts were the full- or half-sister of the king.  To a people unaware of hereditary diseases, these unions brought several practical benefits.  They ensured that the queen was well prepared for her role and that she was loyal to her husband rather than her birth family.  They reduced the number of potential claimants to the throne by restricting the number of royal grandchildren, and they provided a link with the gods who had enjoyed incestuous marriages.  However, brother-sister marriages were by no means compulsory.

“The king’s lesser wives spent much of their lives in harem palaces—communities built to house the king’s female dependants plus their children and servants.  These harem queens were by no means of equal status.  Some were the daughters of Egyptian kings, some were foreign princesses sent by their fathers to make diplomatic marriages, and some were women of relatively humble birth” (pp. 7-8).

 

‘She for Whom Anything She Says is Done’

From Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz

“At all periods the queens of Egypt were the First Ladies of the land.  In the First Dynasty there were tombs as big and elaborate as those of the kings of that distant period which were designed for the royal wives.  The pyramid builders made little pyramids for their queens—and the relative sizes of the monuments suggest that, however important the queen might be with regard to other women, by that time she was distinctly smaller than the king.  The queen’s titles of this period are indicative of high rank and power; one of them is almost impossible to translate literally, but a reasonable compromise between sense and grammar might go like this:  ‘She for Whom Anything She Says is Done.’  Impressive, if true!

Queen Nebtawy, by Prisse d’Avennes

Queen Nebtawy, by Prisse d’Avennes

“Though kings might have, and clearly did have, a number of wives, one of them was preeminent.  By the Eighteenth Dynasty she held the title which is translated ‘Great Royal Wife,’ or ‘King’s Great Wife.’  It is, perhaps coincidentally, at this period that we see an increase in the prominence of the queen.  The royal women of the Theban house that united Egypt after the Hyksos invasion must have been must have been remarkable individuals; they were cherished by their husbands and sons, and even grandsons, and they sometimes exercised real power” (p. 72).

 

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Sign at the entrance of the Valley of the Queens (Photo by Amy Calvert)

Sign at the entrance of the Valley of the Queens (Photo by Amy Calvert)

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Ankhenespepy II (Ankhenesmeryre II)

 

From The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton

Yvonne Buskens, contrib.

Wife of Pepy I and mother of Pepy II.  Named on a stela of Djau; a decree relating to a statue-cult at Abydos; a rock-text in the Sinai; a statue in Brooklyn showing her with her son on her lap; and at her pyramid.  A decree regarding her cult and that of Neith A was found at the latter’s pyramid.

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Yvonne adds:  “Queen Ankhenesmeryre II and her son Pepy II (Dynasty VI).  Instead of Pepy II, she is the most important person in this statue.  She acted as his regent as he was only six when he became king.  As a queen she wears the queenly vulture headdress (with outspread wings) only worn by queens (originally worn by Nekhbet, the vulture goddess of Southern Egypt) and became a standard part of queens regalia.

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Nefret II

 

From The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt by Aiden Dodson and Dyan Hilton

“The relationship between Amenemhat II and Senwosret II is nowhere stated.  However, two statues show that Nefret II was one of [Senwosret II]’s wives; her title of King’s Daughter indicates that she was also a daughter of Amenemhat II…Daughter of Amenemhat II and wife of Senwosret II; owner of two statues, from Tanis and now in Cairo.  Possible owner of the small pyramid in the complex of Senwosret II at Lahun” (p. 94; 97).

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Ahmose-Nefertari

 

From The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton

Heidi Kontkanen, contrib.

“Queen Ahmose-Nefertari (Ahmes-Nefertiry) was the daughter of Taa II and sister-wife of Ahmose I. One of the most important figures of the period (New Kingdom), prominent in both the regin of her husband and her son. As well as her queenly titles, she was also the first God´s Wife (of Amun), a title which effectively made her the nominal female opposite number of the High Priest. After her death she became, with Amenhotep I (her son), a patron deity of the Theban Necropolis. Buried at Dra Abu el-Naga, and later reburied in tomb TT320, her mummy is now in the Cairo Museum.”

Ahmose-Nefertari, mother of a dynasty (Photo by Heidi Kontkanen)

Ahmose-Nefertari, mother of a dynasty (Photo by Heidi Kontkanen)

 

From Lives of the Ancient Egyptians by Toby Wilkinson

“The three generations spanning the end of the Seventeenth Dynasty and the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty were a remarkable period in ancient Egyptian history in many ways, not least in the unusual prominence of royal women in affairs of state.  Tao II had been supported and encouraged by his powerful mother Tetisheri and his sister-wife Ahhotep.  His son, Ahmose, had the support of his own sister and wife, Ahmose-Nefertari, whose influence continued into the reign of her son, Amenhotep I.

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“Ahmose-Nefertari was born into the Theban royal family during the reign of her father, Tao II.  She witnessed his death on battle against the Hyksos, the ascension of her brother-husband and his eventual victory against the Asiatic invaders.  She played a central role in overseeing Egypt’s transition from war to peace, and her own family’s elevation from Theban to national dynasty.

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“Ahmose-Nefertari outlived both her husband and her son, surviving into the reign of her son-in-law Thutmose I.  Her remarkable lifetime thus spanned five, perhaps six reigns.  Her death, when it came, was an occasion for national mourning.  One private stela described it thus: ‘The God’s Wife Ahmose-Nefertari, justified before the great god, Lord of the West, flew to heaven.’  Gone but not forgotten, Ahmose-Nefertari was to be the inspiration for at succession of powerful women at key moments in the dynasty of which she was the undoubted founder.”

 

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Ahmose-Meritamun

 

Heidi Kontkanen, contrib.

Queen Ahmose-Meritamun was the daughter of Ahmose I and Ahmose Nefertari, and both sister and wife of king Amenhotep I.   She, as her mother, had the title God´s Wife of Amun.  She was buried in tomb TT358 at Deir el Bahri and her mummy is now in Cairo Museum.   The photos are taken at the British Museum.

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The info card text reads: “Limestone bust of queen Ahmose-Meritamun.  This is the upper half of a seated statue inscribed for Ahmose-Meritamun, the wife of Amenhotep I. The lower half is still in situ before the south face of the Eight Pylon in the temple of Karnak. The queen wears the so-called Hathor-wig. 18th Dynasty, Karnak.  (Acc. No. EA93)”

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Tiye

 

From The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson

012 - ccc“Principal wife of the late Eighteenth Dynasty ruler Amenhotep III. Her father [Yuya] was a chariot officer and her brother, Anen, rose to the position of Second Prophet of Amun.  She seems to have exerted considerable influence both on her husband and on her son Akhenaten.

After the death of Amenhotep III, for instance, the correspondence from Tustratta, the ruler of Mitanni, was addressed directly to Tiye.  She was regularly portrayed alongside her husband in sculptures, and her titles were listed on one of a series of commemorative scarabs issued by the king” (p. 290-1)

 

The photos of the statuette head of Tiye with a double feather crown, found from Medinet el Gurob, is from the Neues Museum, Berlin (ÄM21834, photo by Heidi Kontkanen)

The photos of the statuette head of Tiye with a double feather crown, found from Medinet el Gurob, is from the Neues Museum, Berlin (ÄM21834, photo by Heidi Kontkanen)

 

From The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton

Heidi Kontkanen, contrib.

“Queen Tiye, wife of Amenhotep III. She´s known for multiple monuments, which unequivocally describes her as the King´s wife. Her parents were Yuya and Tuya and Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) was her son.

Tiye and Amenhotep III, from the tomb of Kheuref—TT192—taken in 2008 (Photo by Heidi Kontkanen)

Tiye and Amenhotep III, from the tomb of Kheuref—TT192—taken in 2008 (Photo by Heidi Kontkanen)

“Sculptures of her together with her husband Amenhotep III include a colossus from Medinet Habu and the Colossi of Memnon.  Individual heads from particularly fine statuettes of Tiye are in Cairo Museum (from Sinai) and Berlin Neues Museum (from Gurob).  Tiye is also depicted in the tombs of Userhat (TT47), Kheuref (TT192) and Huya (TA1), the last suggesting that she may have resided at Amarna later in her son´s reign.  Shabtis of hers were found in Amenhotep III´s tomb(WV22), but a broken sarcophagus made for her was found in the Royal Tomb at Amarna, and a gilded funerary shrine (showing her with Akhenaten).  Ultimately found its way to tomb KV55 in the Valley of the Kings.  A lock of Tiye´s hair was found in a nest of miniature coffins in the tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62), it seems very unlikely that her mummy could be so-called `Elder Lady´ in the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35).”

Cartouche of Tiye from the tomb of Kheuref—TT192—taken in 2008 (Photo by Heidi Kontkanen)

Cartouche of Tiye from the tomb of Kheuref—TT192—taken in 2008 (Photo by Heidi Kontkanen)

Heidi further adds regarding these photos..  “Evidence cited to support this view includes examinations stating that the Elder Lady’s teeth look as if they Photo of statuette head of Tiye, is taken in Petrie Museum, it´s a plaster cast of a statuette of Queen Tiye. The original is in Cairo. The photos of the statuette head of Tiye with a double feather crown, found from Medinet el Gurob, is from the Neues Museum, Berlin (ÄM21834, ÄM17852). Photo of Tiye and Amenhotep III depicted on the wall, is from the tomb of Kheuref (TT192) as the cartouche with the name of Tiye (taken in 2008).

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Regarding the below photo of Queen Tiye by Heidi Kontkanen, Jeffrey Ross Burzacott explains:

“In this wonderfully expressive head of Queen Tiye – chief wife of King Amenhotep III and grandmother of Tutankhamun, she can be firmly identified by her cartouche on the front of the diadem.   The head was found in 1905 in the temple of Hathor, protective goddess of the turquoise mountain at Serabit el-Khadim in the Sinai.  It is now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.”

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Jeffery Ross Burzacott provided the above photo of a statue of Queen Tiye with this description:

“A small statue of Queen Tiye holding a floral sceptre. c 1350 BC.   Tiye was the Great Royal Wife of 18th Dynasty king Amenhotep III, who, we can presume is the owner of the arm to her right.   Here she wears a stunning vulture feathered dress, decorated with the wings of the vulture goddess, Nekhbet.   Her almond shaped eyes are characteristic of portraiture from the reign of Amenhotep III.   The statue is now in The Louvre, Paris.”

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Richie O’Neill recommended Anneke Bart’s page on Tiye.

 

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Bintanath

 

From The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton

“Eldest daughter of Ramesses II and Isetnofret A.  Served as one of her father’s Great Wives following her mother’s death and was represented on a number of monuments throughout Ramesses II’s reign.  Survived into the reign of her brother, Merneptah, when she was depicted on a statue usurped by him, and buried in tomb QV71 in the Valley of the Queens” (p. 170).

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Jeffrey Ross Burzacott provides the above photo of a statue of Bintanath with this:

“Along with the Avenue of Sphinxes and the Great Hypostyle Hall, Princess Bintanath is probably the most photographed sculpture at Karnak Temple.  Bintanath was the Great Ramses II’s first daughter – and later became his Great Royal Wife.  This statue is in the first courtyard at Karnak, fronting the Second Pylon.  She is portrayed standing before a colossal granite statue of her father, wearing a crown topped with ureai (royal cobras) and holding a flower.”

 

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Cleopatra VII Philopator

 

After The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton and An Introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt by Kathryn A. Bard

Heidi Kontkanen, contrib.

Cleopatra IV Philopator, was born in 70 / 69 BC., daughter of Ptolemy XII and probably by Cleopatra VI. Cleopatra VI was the mistress of Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony (whom she may have married), and probably nominal wife of successively Ptolemy XII and XIII. She became co-ruler alongside her brother Ptolemy XIII in spring 51 BC., but he expelled her from Egypt in mid 48 BC. Her place was restored by Julius Caesar late August 48 BC. Ptolemy XIII died in a battle against Julius Caesar and Cleopatra VII was made co-ruler with her brother Ptolemy XIV late January 47BC. But after the assassination of Julius Caesar in Rome, she had Ptolemy XVI murdered. So she became co-ruler with her son, Ptolemy XV Caesarion in September 44BC.  Cleopatra VII, committed suicide in Alexandria 12 of August 30 BC.   With the defeat of the last Ptolemaic queen, Cleopatra VII, Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire.

Marble portrait of Cleopatra from ca. 40-30 BC which may have been in a private villa south of Rome (Altes 1976.10, photo by Heidi Kontkanen)

Marble portrait of Cleopatra from ca. 40-30 BC which may have been in a private villa south of Rome (Altes 1976.10, photo by Heidi Kontkanen)

 

From Lives of the Ancient Egyptians by Toby Wilkinson

“Despite the myths, Cleopatra was no beauty; her coin portraits show her with a hooked nose and jutting chin.  But she was intelligent and sharp witted, and she had at her disposal the greatest prize of all: Egypt.  For an ambitious man like Caesar, that was an irresistible combination.  At his invitation, she visited Rome in 46 BC, with her brother-husband, her retinue, and her young child by Caesar, whom she had named Ptolemy Caesarion.  The royal party stayed for more than a year.  Cleopatra’s departure was prompted by Caesar’s assassination on the Ides of March, 44 BC.  She left the city immediately and was back in Alexandria by July.  Two months later, Ptolemy XIV was also dead.  Although Cleopatra’s guilt cannot be proved, the finger of suspicion points clearly at her, since she had the most to gain.  She adopted her young son as her co-regent (Ptolemy XV), not least to secure his future, for Caesar’s will had named his great-nephew Octavian as heir.

From the southern exterior wall of the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, Cleopatra VII and her son Ptolemy XV (Photo by Heidi Kontkanen, 2007)

From the southern exterior wall of the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, Cleopatra VII and her son Ptolemy XV (Photo by Heidi Kontkanen, 2007)

“Caesar’s death had prompted a chain of events that ensnared Cleopatra in the power politics of the Roman world.  She was courted by his friends and murderers alike, eventually throwing in her lot with Mark Anthony who had inherited control of Rome’s eastern provinces.  History repeated itself as Cleopatra became the lover of a second powerful Roman leader.  She offered Mark Anthony funds for his Parthian campaign in return for his political support—which even extended to the murder of the sole surviving sister and dynastic rival, Arsinoë.  In 40 BC, now in her late twenties, Cleopatra bore Mark Anthony twin children, a boy named Alexander Helios and a girl, Cleopatra Selene.  In Egypt, a period of relative peace and prosperity followed, during which a third child (Ptolemy Philadelphus) was born.  Meanwhile, Mark Anthony’s military adventures turned from disaster—against the Parthians—to victory against the Armenians.  The latter was celebrated with a spectacular ceremony, the Donations of Alexandria, in which Mark Anthony proclaimed Cleopatra ‘Queen of Kings and of her Sons who are Kings’, made symbolic grants of land to their three children, and publicly recognized Ptolemy XV as Caesar’s true heir.  His clear intention was to see all Roman lands ruled by his lover and her children, with himself as the puppet-master.”

Detail of Cleopatra VII from the exterior wall at the Temple of Hathor at Dendera (Phot by Heidi Kontkanen, 2007)

Detail of Cleopatra VII from the exterior wall at the Temple of Hathor at Dendera (Phot by Heidi Kontkanen, 2007)

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/9697214/

 

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023b - z8 - queen assassination ram iii

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Three Queens Who Were Kings

 

Yvonne Buskens, contrib.

Since there was, technically speaking, no such thing as an ancient Egyptian queen in the sense of a female monarch with sovereign power,  women who did find themselves in the position of absolute authority became, in both essence and effect, kings.  Here are three (and possibly a fourth) Egyptian queens who were also kings.

 

Sobeknefru

From The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton

“Daughter of Amenemhat III; later female king, and probably the owner as a princess of a statue-base from Gezer, and perhaps a bowl from Lisht” (p. 99).

Yvonne Buskens provides additional information on Sobeknefru:

Four of the royal names of Sobeknefru are inscribed on a seal now in British Museum (EA 16581) (see photo below). Her name is in a cartouche followed by her Horus name “The female Hawk, beloved of Re” written in a serekh topped with a falcon and her titles Mistress of the South and North.  The fifth is known from other monuments.  She was the first ruler to compound a name with that of the god Sobek.

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The Turin canon gives her a reign of just 3 years, 10 months and 24 days. Three headless statues are found. This one below is now in the Louvre (E27135).

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“Remarkable here is the (obviously) female torso dressed in a conventional (female) shift dress, but with a male king’s kilt worn over the top, and a male king’s nemes head cloth on her now vanished head. Sobeknefru and her artists are here struggling to conform to many centuries of tradition extending back to the time of the Narmer Palette.  A king should always look, dress and act like every other king:  tall, muscular, kilted, fit, capable of killing enemies and undeniably male.” (From The Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley, 2006 )

*****

 

Hatshepsut

From The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton

“Daughter of Thutmose I, wife of Thutmose II and later king.  A range of monuments date to her reign as queen, and also as regent for Thutmose III.  These include inscriptions from Karnak, Nubia and Sinai, and an (unused) tomb and sarcophagus in the Wadi Siqqat Taqa el-Zeide at Thebes” (p. 138).

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From Lives of the Ancient Egyptians by Toby Wilkinson

“The death of [her father] Thutmose I must have come as a crushing blow to Hatshepsut, who already identified herself very much with her father.  Moreover, she was now the wife of the new king, Thutmose II—even if she had to share his affections with a secondary consort, Iset, who had already born him a son and heir.  Nonetheless, Thutmose II’s formal inscriptions gave Hatshepsut prominence, as the King’s Daughter, King’s Sister, God’s Wife and King’s Great Wife.  One senses a growing awareness in the young woman of her own dynastic importance.  Little wonder then, that when her husband died after a brief reign of two years, Hatshepsut seized the moment.  And inscription records the new status quo: ‘His son (Thutmose III) arose on the throne as the King of the Two Lands and ruled on the seat of the one who begot him.  His sister, the god’s wife Hatshepsut, controlled the affairs of the land.’

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“It was partly a question of practical politics: since both the designated heir, Thutmose III, and his half-sister, Neferure, were children, a co-regency was essential.  At the start, Hatshepsut continued to refer to herself as King’s Great Wife, or as God’s Wife, acknowledging that her status as regent derived from her dead husband.  But after only a short while, she began to adopt more explicitly kingly titles, such as Lady of the Two Lands, an ingenious female version of one of the traditional monikers of kingship.  The calculated use of epithets to enhance her position was accompanied by acts traditionally associated with the royal prerogative, such as the erection of a pair of obelisks at Karnak and temple reliefs showing her making offerings directly to the gods.  At some point after seven years as regent, Hatshepsut made her bid for ultimate power, abandoning the pretence of the regency in favor of full kingly status.  She adopted the traditional five-fold titulary of an Egyptian monarch and had herself depicted in reliefs wearing the male costume of a king” (p. 146).

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Hatshepsut as sphinx (Photo by Keith Payne)

 

From Hatshepsut: The Female Pharaoh by Joyce Tyldesley

“The young dowager queen [Hatshepsut] was called upon to act as regent on behalf of her even younger stepson…this in itself was not an unusual situation, and it was accepted Egyptian practice that a widowed queen should rule for her minor son…No one, therefore, could have objected to Hatshepsut being appointed regent on the grounds of her sex and, as the daughter, sister and wife of a king, there was unlikely to be any member of the royal family more qualified to undertake the role.  However, in one respect the situation was unprecedented:  Hatshepsut was being called upon to act as regent for a boy who was not her son…

“Whatever her private feelings, Hatshepsut accepted her new role with good grace.  Throughout the first couple years of her stepson’s rule she acted as a model queen regent, claiming only those titles to which she entitled as the daughter and widow of a king and allowing herself to be depicted standing behind the new king in traditional queenly fashion…However, only five years later there had been a profound political change.  By the end of Year Seven, Queen Hatshepsut had advanced from being the mere ruler of Egypt by default to becoming an acknowledged king” (pp. 97-8).

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/9696686/

*****

 

Tausret

From The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton

“Wife of Seti II, regent for Siptah and later king.  Jointly provided jewelry for Sety II to a burial in tomb KV56 in the Valley of the Kings; depicted during the regency with Chancellor Bey in the Temple of Amada, and also on various small items.  Assumed full pharaonic titles around the time of Siptah’s death and ruled for two years—continuing Siptah’s numbering sequence—until apparently overthrown by Sethnakht.  Owner of tomb KV14 in the Valley of the Kings, apparently begun in the second regnal year of Sety II, enlarged during the regency, and then once again during Tausret’s reign; the tomb was later usurped for Sethnakht.  Nothing is known about the fate of the queen’s body, although her original sarcophagus was later used for the burial of Amenhirkopshef D in tomb KV13 under Ramesses VI” (p. 183).

Tausret, by Prisse d'Avennes

Tausret, by Prisse d’Avennes

Yvonne shared the below photograph of an item of jewelry from the above mentioned tomb, KV56, with this description from the museum info card:

“The cornflower and ball beads in this necklace were made by soldering wire rings of several different diameters into the desired forms. The piece is an early example of the technique known as filigree. Discovered with a cache of jewelry in the Valley of the Kings, the necklace is thought to have belonged to Tausret, wife of the Seti II and regent for her husband’s successor Siptah. Tausret, who reigned Egypt in her own right for several years at the end of Dynasty Nineteen”

Necklace in Gold Filigree of Queen Tausret (Yvonne Buskens, contrib.)

Necklace in Gold Filigree of Queen Tausret (Yvonne Buskens, contrib.)

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The Wives of Mentuhotep II

 

Nefru—from The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton

“Daughter of Inyotef [Intef] III and Iah, and wife of Mentuhotep II; buried in tomb TT319 at Deir el-Bahri” (p. 89).

Queen Nefru and the Hairdresser Henut

Queen Nefru and the Hairdresser Henut

 

From “Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven” by Anne K. Capel and Glenn E. Markoe

“Nefru was the wife of Nebhepetra Mentuhotep, the Eleventh Dynasty Theban ruler who succeeded in reuniting Upper and Lower Egypt, thus inaugurating the Middle Kingdom.  Along with her title ‘Wife of the King’, Nefru bore the title of “Daughter of the King”…In several of the surviving fragments, Queen Nefru’s hair is being dressed by the hairdressers Henut and Inu…In this scene, Henut, whose name and title are carved above her figure, holds a lock of Nefru’s hair.  Perhaps Henut is preparing to twist the strand and pin it out of the way with another hairpin like the one depicted, or to fasten it to a lock of false hair” (p. 105).

 

However, concerning the other queens of Mentuhotep II, Carolyn Graves-Brown, author of Dancing for Hathor, dropped by and offered this from her book:

“On the west bank of the Nile at Thebes, Mentuhotep II (Mentuhotep Nebhepetre) built an impressive temple tomb and incorporated within it tombs and chapels for at least eight women [some tattooed but that's another story]. ….These women are often said to be wives of the king, that is, his harem. The reality, yet again, is a little more complicated. What is clear is that a number of these women were priestesses of Hathor and that the king had some special relationship with them.

Queen Kawit, a wife of Mentuhotep II - from her limestone sarcophagus found at Deir el Bahri (Jean Smith, contrib.)

Queen Kawit, a wife of Mentuhotep II – from her limestone sarcophagus found at Deir el Bahri (Jean Smith, contrib.)

Egyptologists have discussed these ladies and their titles. One argues that Mentuhotep does appear to have had more than one wife at the same time, perhaps three or four. Another points out that evidence for these women as consorts comes not only from their titles, but also from iconography from the chapels where the king embraces the women. That the king embraces the women Ashayt and Sadeh is particularly unusual, with these cases being among the very few . However this intimacy is not unique; a Fifth Dynasty fragment from the mortuary temple of King Sahure shows the king embracing his wife . Embracing can also show power relations but in such cases embracing is carried out by the lesser partner.

One scholar, however, makes a convincing case that the only actual wife was Neferu, while Tem was the mother of the king. The title Hmt-nsw (‘King’s Wife’) is held by six of the women, but importantly this title only occurs in their chapels and temple relief scenes, not in their funerary structures. Furthermore, the depictions of the king embracing them do not occur in their funerary structures. It seems that these women were king’s wives only for the purpose of cult, as shown in chapels and temple scenes. They were all priestesses of Hathor and their chapels were designed to show the king’s special relationship with the goddess. A special relationship between this king, the founder of a united Middle Kingdom, and Hathor is also attested by inscriptions at Thebes and elsewhere , where, for example, the king chose to identify himself with Harsomtus, the son of Hathor, and the goddess is shown suckling the king. It is possible that he used his connection with Hathor to legitimize his claim to the throne.

DDC Another queen of Montuhotep II - Ashayet. The scene is carved in the outside of her sarcophagus and a similar scene inside - the lotus blossom she is smelling was believed to have powers of rejuvenation.  From Deir el-Bahri (Jean Smith, contrib.)

DDC Another queen of Montuhotep II – Ashayet. The scene is carved in the outside of her sarcophagus and a similar scene inside – the lotus blossom she is smelling was believed to have powers of rejuvenation. From Deir el-Bahri (Jean Smith, contrib.)

We need not assume that Hmt-nsw means wife in the sense of secular sexual relations. The title Hmt-Mnw (Min’s Wife) applied to priestesses of the god Min, is, for example, attested from the Old Kingdom. Mentuhotep, in at least one inscription, calls himself ‘The Living God’ and thus would be assumed to have had wives/priestesses, in the same way that other gods had.”

Mentuhotep and wife (Carolyn Graves-Brown, contrib.)

Mentuhotep and wife (Carolyn Graves-Brown, contrib.)

 

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Of Cats and Queens

 

Carolyn Graves-Brown shares again from her wonderful book, Dancing for Hathor, with this bit about cats and queens:

“Kings are often associated with lions, but many of the goddesses who are the Eye of Re may be depicted as fearsome lionesses, or as cats (sometimes it is difficult to know which is meant). There is speculation that the Middle Kingdom increase in feline links with royal women may have been due to the domestication of cats in the First Intermediate Period, though royal women had been associated with the lion in the Old Kingdom. By the Middle Kingdom, queens are shown in sphinx form, as lions with human heads, and during the same period, cat and lion-like qualities of royal women were also emphasized by their wearing of cat or lion claw amulets. By the New Kingdom, the lion is associated with the queens, Tiy and Hatshepsut; however, Hatshepsut is often portrayed in lion form as a sphinx when she ruled as a king. Giant granite statues of her as a sphinx have been found at Deir el-Bahri, complete with kingly nemes-headdress. Of course, one might argue that the feline association of royal women was not simply due to their association with the Eye of Re. In our own culture, women tend to be associated with cats and it is popularly said that women prefer cats and are cat-like. It is possible that women in ancient Egypt were more generally associated with cats. Several canopic jars belonging to the women of Amenhotep’s harem were purchased in 1904 by George Legrain. Besides their titles, the jars display their nicknames, such as ‘the much sought after one’, ‘the catlike one’, or ‘she hot-tempered like a leopard’.”

Queen Tiye depicted as Sphinx, by Prisse d’Avennes

Queen Tiye depicted as Sphinx, by Prisse d’Avennes

 

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Picton’s Petrie Pieces

 

Jan Picton of the Petrie Museum Unofficial Page stopped by and shared three pieces from the Patrie Museum related to queens, and which are often overlooked.

“The first two are the sort of thing Petrie bought because of the important information they contained, not for aesthetic reason. Piece UC55668 is just a puzzle piece from his Lahun excavation and interpreted with his usual incontrovertible certainty!  There’s a lot more in the collection but I thought these are interesting because most people miss them.”

Fragment from calcite (Egyptian alabaster) canopic jar of Queen Nebetnehet, repaired in modern times from two pieces. Nebetnehet may be one of the wives of king Amenhotep III, perhaps buried in the Valley of the Queens. Acquired at Sotheby's sale 1.11.1922 as part of lot 221. Thebes Dynasty Eighteen.  (Jan Picton, contrib.)

Fragment from calcite (Egyptian alabaster) canopic jar of Queen Nebetnehet, repaired in modern times from two pieces. Nebetnehet may be one of the wives of king Amenhotep III, perhaps buried in the Valley of the Queens. Acquired at Sotheby’s sale 1.11.1922 as part of lot 221. Thebes Dynasty Eighteen. (Jan Picton, contrib.)

Fragment from pink limestone canopic jar of the king's daughter Tiaa, perhaps buried in the Valley of the Queens. Acquired at Sotheby's sale 1.11.1922 as part of lot 221. Thebes Dynasty Eighteen (Jan Picton, contrib.)

Fragment from pink limestone canopic jar of the king’s daughter Tiaa, perhaps buried in the Valley of the Queens. Acquired at Sotheby’s sale 1.11.1922 as part of lot 221. Thebes Dynasty Eighteen (Jan Picton, contrib.)

Fragment of limestone with painted relief from the Lahun pyramid complex: red and blue pigment surviving: vulture wing over hieroglyphs, with the title "mistress of the complete two lands", attested for queens in the Middle Kingdom. The element tm "complete" was first interpreted by Petrie as part of a name which he suggested reconstructing as Atum[neferu]. Lahun, Dynasty Eleven?  (Jan Picton, contrib.)

Fragment of limestone with painted relief from the Lahun pyramid complex: red and blue pigment surviving: vulture wing over hieroglyphs, with the title “mistress of the complete two lands”, attested for queens in the Middle Kingdom. The element tm “complete” was first interpreted by Petrie as part of a name which he suggested reconstructing as Atum[neferu]. Lahun, Dynasty Eleven? (Jan Picton, contrib.)

 

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Recommended Reads

 

Dennis van Hoorn recommends Arsinoë of Egypt and Macedon: A Royal Life by Elizabeth Donnelly Carnes.  Dennis quotes the book description:

“Despite the fact that Arsinoë was the pivotal figure in the eventual evolution of regnal power for Ptolemaic women, and despite a considerable body of recent scholarship across many fields relevant to her life, there is no up-to-date biography in English on the life of this queen. Elizabeth Carney, in sifting through the available archaeological and literary evidence, creates an accessible and reasoned picture of this royal woman. In describing Arsinoë’s significant role in the courts of Thrace and Alexandria, Carney dicusses the role of earlier Macedonian royal women in monarchy, the institution of sibling marriage, and the reasons for its longstanding success in Hellenistic Egypt. Ultimately, this book provides a broader view of an integral player in the Hellenistic world. Despite the fact that Arsinoë was the pivotal figure in the eventual evolution of regnal power for Ptolemaic women, and despite a considerable body of recent scholarship across many fields relevant to her life, there is no up-to-date biography in English on the life of this queen. Elizabeth Carney, in sifting through the available archaeological and literary evidence, creates an accessible and reasoned picture of this royal woman. In describing Arsinoë’s significant role in the courts of Thrace and Alexandria, Carney discusses the role of earlier Macedonian royal women in monarchy, the institution of sibling marriage, and the reasons for its longstanding success in Hellenistic Egypt. Ultimately, this book provides a broader view of an integral player in the Hellenistic world”.

 

Gwen Ashworth-Pratt recommended Carolyn Graves-Brown’s Dancing for Hathor:  Women in Ancient Egypt with the following description:

“The fragmentary evidence allows us only tantalising glimpses of the sophisticated and complex society of the ancient Egyptians, but the Greek historian Herodotus believed that the Egyptians had ‘reversed the ordinary practices of mankind’ in treating their women better than any of the other civilizations of the ancient world . Carolyn Graves-Brown draws on funerary remains, tomb paintings, architecture and textual evidence to explore all aspects of women in Egypt from goddesses and queens to women as the ‘vessels of creation’. Perhaps surprisingly the most common career for women, after housewife and mother, was the priesthood, where women served deities, notably Hathor, with music and dance. Many would come to the temples of Hathor to have their dreams interpreted, or to seek divine inspiration. This is a wide ranging and revealing account told with authority and verve.”

 

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Friends from the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities (SSEA/SEEA) paid a visit and had some wonderful online recommendations.

Silke Roth’s book (in German) on the King’s Mother, Die Königsmütter des Alten Ägypten von der Frühzeit bis zum Ende der 12 Dynastie.

Silke Roth’s entry on Queens in the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology.

Maria Nilsson’s dissertation The Crown of Arsinoë II: The Creation and Development of an Imagery of Authority.

Lyn Green’s dissertation Queens and Princesses of the Amarna Period:  The Social, Political, Religious, and Cultic Role of the Women of the Royal Family at the End of the Eighteenth Dynasty.

Heather Lee McCarthy’s dissertation Queenship, Cosmography, and Regeneration: The Decorative Programs and Architecture of Ramesside Royal Women’s Tombs.

Also by Heather Lee McCarthy, Rules of Decorum and Expressions of Gender Fluidity in Tawosret’s Tomb.

 

Vicky Metafora suggests The Tomb of Queen Tiyi by Theodore Davis, also online.

 

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Jemma Isis Johnson found an online copy of Hatshepsut:  Wicked Step Mother or Joan of Arc? By Peter F. Dorman.

 

Richie O’Neill recommended several pages from our mutual friend, Anneke Bart, namely:  Anneke’s pages on Merytre-Hatshepsut, Queen Kiya, Mutemwiya, Ankhesenamun, and Sitamun.

 

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shemsutag

Copyright by Keith Payne, 2013.  All rights reserved.

All photography is copyrighted by the original owners and is used with the expressed permission of the owners, with the following exceptions: museum photography and other copyrighted photography are used in conformity with the Fair Use provisions of copyright law.

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 14th, 2013 at 6:43 pm and is filed under Em Hotep Digest. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 comments so far

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 1 

Thank you for another excellent bolg! And for the downloads – though, in trying to open Heather Lee McCarthy’s dissertation, I got a ’404′ message… Can be reentered? merci.

January 15th, 2013 at 2:22 am
Susan Leogrande Alt
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 2 

This is facinating and more needs to be written about it. Has their been any realistic information regarding the DNA testing to prove the relationship of Tut to the women thought to be his Grandmother and perhaps, Mother?

January 16th, 2013 at 8:30 am
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 3 

Bonjour, Diana :-)

Thank you for your comment and for reading Em Hotep! I apologize for the broken link, the link to Heather Lee McCarthy’s dissertation has been repaired. Thank you for bringing the problem to my attention.

Cheers!
–Keith

January 16th, 2013 at 5:11 pm
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 4 

Hi Susan,

Thank you as always! :-) I agree that more needs to be done in terms of the DNA testing, the study has fallen under criticism. But to my knowledge this has not been done, and I am unaware of any plands to do so in the near future. Genetic testing was one of Zahi Hawass’ passions, and now that he is gone, who knows? Then again, now that he is gone there may be less politics involved, so that could be a good thing. We will have to wait and see…

Have a good evening!
–Keith

January 16th, 2013 at 5:14 pm
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 5 

Thanks for repairing the link and I’m going now to check it out! merci!

January 17th, 2013 at 12:21 am

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