Akhenaten (Box, Carter Archive 001K)

Mar 2019
208
Peterborough, Ontario Canada
This post is kind of ‘off thread’, even though, at a deeper level, it’s very relevant to to the whole issue of inquiry in my view.

I have had cause in the last day to stop and take a long look at myself and how I conduct myself. Which is IMO not a bad thing to do now and then. Anyhow, in doing a bit of research - rather than relying too heavily on my own inner workings - I found this really fascinating talk. And, yes, I see myself as both soldier and scout. If anyone cares to watch the YouTube clip I cite below, you’ll understand what I mean.

TEDx talk: Why you think you’re right - even when you’re wrong - Julia Galef.
Don’t be too hard on yourself—we’re all guilty of this at times.

That’s why the ‘think-tank’ nature of this thread is so lovely. We can rebound ideas off of one another and try to inch closer to the truth, without having to convince one another of our version of the truth.

We’re all in this together.
 
Likes: Ayrton
Mar 2019
208
Peterborough, Ontario Canada
I would like to break down the religious significance attributed to Nefertiti as Akhenaten's wife in order to give a clearer picture of her deified status that far surpasses the corresponding status of any other royal woman before and after her. To get a deeper understanding of this, one must go back a long way in the history of religion.

From the beginning, the decisive criterion for divinity was the capacity of fertility, which, according to a widespread opinion that can hardly be refuted, was attributed exclusively to women in Palaeolithic times, whereas man's contribution to reproduction was most probably only recognized in the Neolithic (in the context of cattle breeding). The consequence was that the first prototypes of deities had a female gender (the so-called Primal Mother) and, like their earthly models, the human women, were considered capable of parthenogenesis, i.e. fertility without male contribution.

When the first male gods appeared in the Neolithic, they were, according to the above logic, pure fertility gods symbolized either as bulls or, if anthropomorphic, in ithyphallic manner (erect phallus). The Egyptian god Min, who goes back to this archaic type of god, is a well-known example of this. Still Yuya, the founder of the Yuya House and father of Queen Tiye (and probably of Ay), was a Min priest in Akhmim, where Min was the dominant god.

The oldest Egyptian goddesses known to us, Neith and Hathor, go back to the parthenogenetic Primal mother type, i.e. they originally have no husband and produce their offspring out of themselves (Horus, son of Hathor = Hat-Hor = house/womb of Horus). The oldest historically handed down goddess (since Dynasty I) is Neith, who was worshipped as creator of the world and mother of the sun god Ra. In our context the goddess Hathor plays a special role, because she was as mother of the king god Horus and also of the sun god Ra closely connected with the pharaonic ideology. As the mother of Horus, she was automatically regarded as the divine mother of the pharaoh identified with Horus.

In her first years as queen Nefertiti wore a headdress made of cow horns and a sun disk (symbols of Hathor) and feathers. The first queen with a Hathor headdress was Tiye, the mother-in-law (or mother?) of Nefertiti. This is a further indication for the assumption that Nefertiti - especially since she was very young at the beginning of her queenship - was ideologically controlled by the king mother Tiye, which becomes even more understandable when one interprets her as the daughter of Tije (and sister of Akhenaten), as for example Marianne Luban does, who doubts the genetic findings of 2010 (Nefertiti & Akhenaten = cousins) as understated. But no matter whether daughter of Tije or, as daughter of Ay, a niece of Tiye, Nefertiti remains a scion of the house Yuya and thus, as I still believe, an important instrument of this house for the acquisition of the royal power in Egypt, which Nefertiti then (possibly) fully exercised after Akhenaten's death for a few years and which Ay also nailed down after the Tutankhamun reign for three years.

But the actual point of Nefertiti's divine status lies elsewhere, namely in her identification with the goddess Tefnut, who followed her identification with Hathor and is of much greater importance because of its connection with the Aten cult.

The first beginnings of an Aten cult date back to the time of the Middle Kingdom. In the New Kingdom some predecessors of Amenhotep III took up the idea and developed it further. Amenhotep III then had the first actual temple of Aten built and appointed priests who specialized in the cult. As an epithet, Amenhotep III chose the name ´Dazzling Aten´. So it is clear that the Aten cult was already strongly pronounced before Akhenaten got the opportunity to imprint his own note on it.

Amenhotep III´s emphasis on the Aten cult had also (or predominantly?) power-political reasons. The Amun priesthood had accumulated so much wealth in his eyes that it seemed advisable to put an alternative cult in the foreground in order to cut the ground from under Amun´s feet (i.e. of his priests). For this purpose the Aten cult seemed suitable. In order to understand how this cult is related to Nefertiti's Tefnut identification, it is again necessary to go back in religious history.

Since the time of the Old Kingdom, there have been two important creation myths that have rivalled each other: the story of the Ogdoad and of the Ennead. In short, the Hermopolian Ogdoad consists of eight primordial gods who bring forth the sun god Ra. In the Heliopolitan Ennead the god Atum is the only primal god who brings forth the other gods .The first pair of gods created from Atum´s seed by masturbation are the air god Shu and the fire goddess Tefnut. For a long time it was assumed that Tefnut was associated with humidity, but now the view is established that Tefnut was originally a goddess of fire. The following generation of gods, produced by the siblings Shu and Tefnut, are the earth god Geb and the sky god Nut, which in turn produce the four deities Osiris, Isis, Nephthys and Isis.

I would just like to briefly point out that Atum, as a single-procreating primordial god, is a patriarchal inversion of the older motif of the single-procreating mother goddess. The priesthood of the myth poets could not help but describe this process of procreation as masturbation. For our connection with Nefertiti, however, the composition of his offspring, Shu and Tefnut, is decisive.
...In this view she surpassed Akhenaten in religious significance.
Very informative Tammuz!
I agree with Nefertiti’s importance and her role as a fertility goddess (Tefnut/Hathor hybred like Tiye—see attached photo of Tiye as Tefnut); I’d be interested in any thoughts you have regarding the attached depictions and that red sash depicting the royal heiress which I’ve been researching (eldest daughters of the Pharoah this period).
This brings me to my main question for you—what are your thoughts concerning who Nefertiti is?
Do you think she was:
1. Daughter of AIII and Tiye (if so, which one?);
2. Daughter of AIII and Sitamun (or of AIII and another daughter made into GRW);
3. Daughter of Crown Prince Thutmosis and Princess Sitamun;
4. Daughter of Ay and first wife with his second wife Tiy as nurse;
5. Daughter of Huya and Tuya’s son Anen
6. A foreign princess from Mitanni;
7. Kiya (Kiya could be Sitamun, another daughter of AIII and Tiye, a princess from Mitanni or one of her entourage, or another person altogether;
8. A royal personage born as ‘Nefertiti’ whose early life we have yet to uncover (or which was destroyed due to the counter-revolution and damnatio memorai);
9. Another theory than any of the above which I’d love to hear more about.
So far in my research (and I’m just an amateur enthusiast), I believe she was Sitamun—or the daughter of Sitamun. Although she doesn’t carry the King’s Daughter nomenclature neither was Akhenaten denoted King’s son; as well it may have been out of deference to Tiye who was not a King’s daughter that this title was dropped during this generation;
she was, however, denoted as royal heiress (and therefore had to be eldest daughter of Pharoah or daughter of an eldest daughter of Pharoah), and wielded unprecedented power, and, in my opinion, only the daughter of formidable Tiye and AIII, or a beloved granddaughter could have had the support so early on to have been styled as a goddess.
Anyone else care to share their two cents’ worth?
 

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Likes: Ayrton
I'm on the fence about who Nefertiti was, I feel it is possible that she is one of Akhenaten's sisters as we know they existed, we just don't know exactly which one she was. I would propose that given the estimated ages of the mummies KV55 and KV35YL (if that is Nefertiti) that she is one of the younger named ones e.g. Nebetah; not known as a queen under Amenhotep III. I don't think she is Sitamun; that princess/queen seems to be too old to fit the profile, and acted as the deputy for Tiye effectively. Nebetah, as one of the younger daughters fits best for me. I know this is a very slight argument but there is some similarity in their names - the goddess / female symbol. As for her as Nefertiti not being called a king's daughter, this is not a problem because once she was queen her relationship as GRW outstrips any king's daughter rank. Ankhensenamun was only called a king's daughter when she was a princess at Amarna, likewise kings were never called king's son after they became king themselves. Given Nefertiti's prominence not just as a queen but as a likely co-ruler, this is consistent with the way Akhenaten and other kings are presented.

The second possibility, because of the depictions of Ay, Tey and Mutenberet at Amarna, is that she is a close relative of Tiye and via Yuya of Amenhotep III as well (noting the relationship that science suggests, whether she is KV35YL or not). Either way she was of the highest status prior to becoming queen. Mutenberet is a curious figure in this - was she actually Nefertiti's sister, or perhaps an adopted sister (rather, Nefertiti and her raised together by Tey).

The third possibility, that she is a daughter of Sitamun could work if she is also the daughter of Amenhotep III or a daughter of Crown Prince Tuthmose. This seems uncomfortable but the science would seem to fit this scenario (if Nefertiti is KV35YL), and if as I believe Sitamun was born in the very early years of AIII's reign, the dates line up too. Her being a daughter of Sitamun and Tuthmose could explain why she is associated with Ay and Tey, and also explain Mutenberet. Father deceased, mother GRW, it seems quite natural that the girls would be raised in the family. This third scenario, if the daughter of Tuthmose and Sitamun, would also explain why she never has the King's Daughter title.
 
KV55 - the only Tiye related item I'm aware of is the shrine. As this shows the aten and Akhenaten, it may have just been left in KV55 and her mummy need never have been there at all. For whatever reason the shrine was left in pieces near the entranceway of KV55 - perhaps dumped there after the KV55 mummy.
 

Ayrton

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,141
Bendigo
I'm on the fence about who Nefertiti was, I feel it is possible that she is one of Akhenaten's sisters as we know they existed, we just don't know exactly which one she was. I would propose that given the estimated ages of the mummies KV55 and KV35YL (if that is Nefertiti) that she is one of the younger named ones e.g. Nebetah; not known as a queen under Amenhotep III. I don't think she is Sitamun; that princess/queen seems to be too old to fit the profile, and acted as the deputy for Tiye effectively. Nebetah, as one of the younger daughters fits best for me. I know this is a very slight argument but there is some similarity in their names - the goddess / female symbol. As for her as Nefertiti not being called a king's daughter, this is not a problem because once she was queen her relationship as GRW outstrips any king's daughter rank. Ankhensenamun was only called a king's daughter when she was a princess at Amarna, likewise kings were never called king's son after they became king themselves. Given Nefertiti's prominence not just as a queen but as a likely co-ruler, this is consistent with the way Akhenaten and other kings are presented.

The second possibility, because of the depictions of Ay, Tey and Mutenberet at Amarna, is that she is a close relative of Tiye and via Yuya of Amenhotep III as well (noting the relationship that science suggests, whether she is KV35YL or not). Either way she was of the highest status prior to becoming queen. Mutenberet is a curious figure in this - was she actually Nefertiti's sister, or perhaps an adopted sister (rather, Nefertiti and her raised together by Tey).

The third possibility, that she is a daughter of Sitamun could work if she is also the daughter of Amenhotep III or a daughter of Crown Prince Tuthmose. This seems uncomfortable but the science would seem to fit this scenario (if Nefertiti is KV35YL), and if as I believe Sitamun was born in the very early years of AIII's reign, the dates line up too. Her being a daughter of Sitamun and Tuthmose could explain why she is associated with Ay and Tey, and also explain Mutenberet. Father deceased, mother GRW, it seems quite natural that the girls would be raised in the family. This third scenario, if the daughter of Tuthmose and Sitamun, would also explain why she never has the King's Daughter title.
Paragraph 1: I agree that a sister of Akhenaten seems to tick the most boxes. I keep coming with Sitamuns age as a problem even though otherwise I think she ticks a lot of boxes. When I talk about maths all the time, it is Sitamun as Nefertiti that causes me the most headaches. I’m with you, she just seems too old. Akhenaten could have been one of Tiye’s last borns along with a Beketaten IMO. If, as some say, he was as young as ten or twelve on accession, then it would help with the sums regards him, I think. Mutbenret as foster sister or milk sister seems reasonable, but I make no guesses.

Paragraph 2: Yuya had royal blood, seeing he was related through DNA to Amenophis III. So Nefertiti may well have had Royal blood through him. Tey, too, as I have seen theorised.

Paragraph 3: Sitamun as Nefertiti’s mother might well help with the sums. Sitamun is registered as GRW in Year 30, but who knows if she was not GRW long before that? This would seem to make Amenophis III a plausible candidate for Nefertiti’s father. Prince Thutmose died in the 3rd decade of his father’s reign, apparently between Year 20 and 30 approximately. Would Sitamun have born a daughter with her brother before becoming or while being their father’s GRW? I personally find that hard to fathom, but who knows?

If Amenophis was father of Nefertiti, we would be thinking that Sitamun was around 14 years old when it happened. So if Amenophis was 12 at accession (or even a few years older, if one of Corvidius’ hunches is correct, but I’ll stick with 12 for this example) then if we posit 16 for him to produce children with Tiye, we are looking at Year 4 (say) for Sitamun’s birth. This would put her in Year 18 (at 14) old enough to bear a daughter for her father. If we go even later, we could go to Year 25 with no Coregency, say, (AIII Year 39 minus 14 years). If Akhenaten was born around Year 25 himself (to Tiye) then he and Nefertiti’s ages would match up quite well. We might allow for a few years discrepancy either way for both Nefertiti and Akhenaten. All sums here are very rough, I know. As I said, I can’t help thinking a match up of Sitamun and Prince Thutmose might be put in doubt by the fact Sitamun became GRW to her father.

Anyway, that’s my contribution to the think tank. 😎
 

Ayrton

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,141
Bendigo
KV55 - the only Tiye related item I'm aware of is the shrine. As this shows the aten and Akhenaten, it may have just been left in KV55 and her mummy need never have been there at all. For whatever reason the shrine was left in pieces near the entranceway of KV55 - perhaps dumped there after the KV55 mummy.
I find it kind of compelling evidence that Tiye would go where her shrine went. But who knows? All I can say is it’s my best guess for at least the next five minutes.
 
I don’t think Akhenaten was as young as 12 when he became king - he can be as old as 15/16 for the dates and KV55 to line up. The reason I think he was young but not too young is what he did in his lifetime. Although a boy king would have power, there is some intellect and political experience at play here. That’s not to underestimate what young people are capable of - but clearly he was operating as a mature individual by year 4, and had 6 daughters before year 12.

Tutankhamun was shown as a boy when king; later depictions show him as an adult - I’d expect the same for Akhenaten if he had been a boy king. Teenage king fits yes, not a boy.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,744
Crows nest
In this view she surpassed Akhenaten in religious significance.
I'll add my take on this.
As Tefnut, or Hathor or Sekhmet, and there are still those 730 statues to be explained, Nefertiti, in the context of Atenism, could be seen as representing the Sun. This is because Atum-Ra is not the physical Sun, despite how Ra's journey through the Duat is depicted. Atum created himself within Nun, and Ra was created within Nun. Neither was the Sun we see in the sky as this was created as the solar eye, of which Tefnut, Hathor and Sekhmet are personifications of. It is not Atum-Ra who gives light and life, but the Solar eye, the Sun. Ra does not wield the power of the Sun, he has to act via the eye goddesses, and here specifically Sekhmet, who could be said to be "Effective for Ra". It is Nefertiti who has a smiting scene, not Akhenaten, it is Nefertiti who appears at the Hwt-bnbn, not Akhenaten, and it is Nefertiti who, after the move to Akhetaten, has a presence outside the city, unlike Akhenaten. He may direct, just like Ra, but it seems that it is Nefertiti who, just like Sekhmet, carries out these actions. I'm emphasizing Sekhmet here because while Tefnut is part of the Atum-Shu-Tefnut trinity, it was Sekhmet who we see as the only eye goddess who actually wields the power. It's what her name is all about, power. It could be that as the Aten is to Ra, so Sekhmet is to Tefnut, and by that I mean that the Aten is the visible indicator of the existence of Ra, and Sekhmet may be, if not visible, the more earthly manifestation of Tefnut in that she is the wielder of the power of the solar eye/Aten/Ra. Sekhmet gets no mention, only Hathor in connection with Queen Tiye, and Tefnut with Nefertiti. I would say that Sekhmet simply does not fit in with what is being presented, Tiye as "first female and mother of the nation", Nefertiti to theologically bind her in the Atum-Shu-Tefnut trinity. Sekhmet is "scary", but she is the power. It may be that she was shoehorned into the Memphite theology as wife of Ptah in order for a sun to exist in that theology, otherwise it is a bit dark.
 
Likes: Tammuz

Ayrton

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,141
Bendigo
I don’t think Akhenaten was as young as 12 when he became king - he can be as old as 15/16 for the dates and KV55 to line up. The reason I think he was young but not too young is what he did in his lifetime. Although a boy king would have power, there is some intellect and political experience at play here. That’s not to underestimate what young people are capable of - but clearly he was operating as a mature individual by year 4, and had 6 daughters before year 12.

Tutankhamun was shown as a boy when king; later depictions show him as an adult - I’d expect the same for Akhenaten if he had been a boy king. Teenage king fits yes, not a boy.
I tend to lean that way too. I have no view as yet in his old Akhenaten was at accession. I just repeated an age I encountered very recently. But he could have been several years older than Nefertiti. It might well fit better. Nefertiti also seems to have made a rapid progress too. But girls, as age real rule of thumb, mature quicker than boys IMO.
 

Ayrton

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,141
Bendigo
I'll add my take on this.
As Tefnut, or Hathor or Sekhmet, and there are still those 730 statues to be explained, Nefertiti, in the context of Atenism, could be seen as representing the Sun. This is because Atum-Ra is not the physical Sun, despite how Ra's journey through the Duat is depicted. Atum created himself within Nun, and Ra was created within Nun. Neither was the Sun we see in the sky as this was created as the solar eye, of which Tefnut, Hathor and Sekhmet are personifications of. It is not Atum-Ra who gives light and life, but the Solar eye, the Sun. Ra does not wield the power of the Sun, he has to act via the eye goddesses, and here specifically Sekhmet, who could be said to be "Effective for Ra". It is Nefertiti who has a smiting scene, not Akhenaten, it is Nefertiti who appears at the Hwt-bnbn, not Akhenaten, and it is Nefertiti who, after the move to Akhetaten, has a presence outside the city, unlike Akhenaten. He may direct, just like Ra, but it seems that it is Nefertiti who, just like Sekhmet, carries out these actions. I'm emphasizing Sekhmet here because while Tefnut is part of the Atum-Shu-Tefnut trinity, it was Sekhmet who we see as the only eye goddess who actually wields the power. It's what her name is all about, power. It could be that as the Aten is to Ra, so Sekhmet is to Tefnut, and by that I mean that the Aten is the visible indicator of the existence of Ra, and Sekhmet may be, if not visible, the more earthly manifestation of Tefnut in that she is the wielder of the power of the solar eye/Aten/Ra. Sekhmet gets no mention, only Hathor in connection with Queen Tiye, and Tefnut with Nefertiti. I would say that Sekhmet simply does not fit in with what is being presented, Tiye as "first female and mother of the nation", Nefertiti to theologically bind her in the Atum-Shu-Tefnut trinity. Sekhmet is "scary", but she is the power. It may be that she was shoehorned into the Memphite theology as wife of Ptah in order for a sun to exist in that theology, otherwise it is a bit dark.
I won’t try to contribute to the religious aspects of this discussion, as I get lost quickly, but is there something in all this that might hint Nefertiti was older than Akhenaten, more mature at the outset, more in control of things than one would imagine a young girl/woman to be? Was she already involved in the ritual side of things? I am going to beat a dead horse here, but humour me: what if Sitamun as daughter of Amenophis III was not married off to anyone, but was GRW to her father in the ritual sense, a priestess (?), someone learning the trade; but when it was thought Akhenaten was old enough, she became wife to her somewhat younger brother? The Hereditary Princess to whom Akhenaten was joined?

The issue always for me, the thing that sticks in my mind, is how prominent she seems to be from the very first. She just seems to stride onto the stage, a full blown personality, very early on. I think any theory about who she was needs to take this into account. She was someone, and seemingly, a very important someone, from the outset in Akhenaten’s reign. And, yes, I am suggesting something probably which is the polar opposite of what I was raising in my last post responding to rymerster.
 

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