Nefertiti, the Great Royal Wife of the Amarna Period

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,023
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I begin to think that there was a motivation for this: Ancient Egypt was a Kingdom [not an "Empire", we say that, but an Empire is something else] where not only the Sovereignty belonged to the Monarch, but also the order of the universe. Akhenaten, despite the Aten dismissed the other deities, was living in Truth [actually if we look at the hieroglyphics we can say that he was living with Ma'at].

The Two Crowns were the Order [not the order, but the Order with capital letter].

This aspect of Ancient Egyptian culture required the possibility [reality is that usually the Monarch transferred duties of Royal activity to representatives like High Priests in the other towns] of the presence of the Horo here and there. Akhenaten dismissed this possibility. No way: you will never see the Horo at Elephantine. Period.

What about to see, at least, just to make the people happy, his Great Royal Wife?

I would consider this possible scenario.
 
Apr 2019
184
UK
Yes, and looking at the role King's Mother's played - evidently important - is interesting. Tuthmosis IV and Amenhotep III's mothers were shown prominently in their son's reigns. Tiye dies maybe Year 14 and then Neferneferuaten Nefertiti seems to have yet more importance, as the grand dame of the family. These things can't be a coincidence. Looking further back it seems like Amenhotep II was pretty unusual in that he did not promote one queen above any other - possibly a reaction to his father's experience with Hatchepsut - unless we are lacking crucial evidence to the contrary. Meritaten's treatment, as I keep on banging on about, is very interesting indeed - she was clearly favoured and being groomed as a future GRW in the mould of her mother and grandmother. That Tut has no named mother is a conundrum, unless she was hiding in plain sight (Nefertiti). The whole thing of Nefertiti being so important does play into the idea that she was an equal to Akhenaten and therefore a Royal Princess. Tut's lineage as proven by science also supports that idea. What were are missing are references to Nefertiti prior to her marriage, so she could still have been promoted just because the king wanted her to be (who would say no except Tiye?). It is possible that as GRW and eventually a king any mention of her parentage is irrelevant. People at the time will have known, but as her status exceeded that of a princess there was no point stating it in stone.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,023
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I would go on paying a visit to the tomb of Meryra [not Meryra II], the High Priest of the Aten [and also Prince, as for we can read in the inscriptions, even if this title appears really rarely, like he renounced to it or he preferred to be known as High Priest, Fan Bearer and Royal Chancellor [also "Sole Companion", he was in some way similar to Ay].

In that tomb we can see something which has generated not a few discussion, even including astronomers, to explain a way to depict the Aten which is substantially an unicum.

What's happening to the Aten here?

what.JPG

The fact that the High Priest of the Aten decided to represent it in a not standard way is quite interesting.

An eclipse, an effect of diffraction of the atmosphere, the Aten with necklaces [why? Rewards?]. Whatever this is, Meryre put it here and only here.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,023
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Furthermore, in the tomb of Meryre [The Rock Tombs Of El Amarna. Part I. The Tomb of Meryra : Davies, Norman de Garis, 1865-1941 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive] we see, like in not a few other tombs, that the Royal Couple had accompanied by a not little escort. This continuous presence of military patrols has made some Egyptologists wonder if Akhenaten needed protection, to be escorted more than we could expect for a chief of state. May be there is a reason why he hired foreign mercenaries. The conditions of life at Akhetaten [the study of the skeletons in the cemeteries has told us this] weren't exceptional[1]. The population probably obtained less food than the temple. It's not impossible that Neferkheperure had seen like an evil Monarch. They had no alternative about this: the Horo was the Horo. Anyway, in case he died ...

Among other details about the life of Nefertiti, in this tomb we see a scene where Akhenaten [with a stick] and Nefertiti are rewarding the owner of the tomb not staying at the Window of Appearance [2]. In this scene [The Rock Tombs Of El Amarna. Part I. The Tomb of Meryra : Davies, Norman de Garis, 1865-1941 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive] the Royal Couple looks similar to Smenkhkare and Meritaten rewarding Meryre II. A curious coincidence.

Note:
[1] This essay gives an idea of how they lived at Akhetaten. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjnn5yIp9HkAhUKzKQKHQDcBqoQFjAAegQIABAC&url=https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3282/cb947769035d96ae871c5263aa095c9606ea.pdf&usg=AOvVaw0W1kUh6jz3XFUSfmQG1D5R
[2] As we have seen, the Window of the Appearance was a kind of context, an architectural structure where the Royal Couple "appeared" in public occasions, usually to reward a noble, a officer ...
 
Apr 2019
184
UK
I think the necklaces could relate to the Shebyu collar that older deified kings received. It must relate to the Aten having cartouches and therefore being regarded as a ruler above the king, his intermediary. This may relate to one of the Aten's jubilee celebrations. A jubilee may also account for the parades of military, which may be just that, a parade to celebrate the big event.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,023
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I think the necklaces could relate to the Shebyu collar that older deified kings received. It must relate to the Aten having cartouches and therefore being regarded as a ruler above the king, his intermediary. This may relate to one of the Aten's jubilee celebrations. A jubilee may also account for the parades of military, which may be just that, a parade to celebrate the big event.
Meryre, High Priest of the Aten did this only one time, as for we can know. It may be it was a symbolic representation. About soldiers, I was just following a TV program on Nat Geo when they were saying just that [I wasn't making reference to that picture in particular but to the not rare presence of soldiers around].
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,023
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Tey, Nefertiti's nurse.

I start quoting my self from the other thread.

Now, we have discussed in this thread also about how Tey is presented in Ay's tomb [1][where she carries also the title of Khekeret-nisut ... Royal Adorner ... usually carried by the leading woman of the Harim, as for I have understood]. [I post a link to the inscription in the tomb of Ay where she is presented The rock tombs of El Amarna : Davies, Norman de Garis, 1865-1941 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive]. There is no doubt she was an important woman [so important that I suspect Ay took advantages getting married with her ... I'm not persuaded Ay was a high rank noble himself].

She is an important figure from a historical perspective since she is a bit decontextualized regarding the theory that Ay carried the title "It-ntr" [God's Father][2] because he was father-in-law of Akhenaten being Nefertiti's father. If Ay was her father it would be curious that Tey [potentially her mother] would have been her nurse. Here, to keep Tey on the scene, we have to add a further hypothesis: that Nefertiti was the daughter of Ay and an other, may be earlier mother. Usually I don't like to add hypotheses to hypotheses.

NOTE:
[1] Tey was Ay's wife. Ay was a courtier of Akhenaten who saw an interesting career starting as commander of a rank of Royal Charioteer. He became also Monarch after the death of Tutankhamen.
[2] the matter of the title "it-ntr" is quite complicated. On a side we've got a confirmation of the idea that it indicated kin, in fact also Yuya, Tiye's father, was "Divine Father" [or God's Father]. Yuya was in the same potential condition of Ay, if Ay was the father of one of the wives of Akhenaten. Nefertiti or Kiya. Or, if we limit the field to the GRW, father of Nefertiti. Anyway we've got a counter evidence: we've got already a problem, despite the presence of an inscription which is an autobiography, Ahmose Pen Nekhbet, father of Sathia, Great Royal Wife of Thutmose III, wasn't a "God's Father".
https://mathstat.slu.edu/~bart/egyptianhtml/kings and Queens/Ahmosepennekhbet.html
https://mjn.host.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk/egyptian/texts/corpus/pdf/urkIV-009.pdf
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
I think the scenes in tomb walls showing Akhenaten with soldiers may be misleading us into thinking that he needed protection more than other kings. Of course the religious turmoil is going to make enemies, so I'm not discounting that he did indeed need extra protection, but the scenes need to be seen in the context of a religion that has no gods other than Aten and no journey through the Duat or judgement. When there is no longer the scope to decorate your tomb with traditional scenes, what scenes then do you use. It's clear that as Akhenaten has usurped the role of Osiris, and that your afterlife consists of perching at an Aten temple during the day, and so, even if unseen, in the company of the Aten, Akhenaten and the life of the temple, only scenes of the Aten, Akhenaten and his family and what they do are now needed in the tomb.

In the normal religion the scenes were a mix of scenes from the Duat, judgement being a favourite, and of how your "life" will be, for instance ploughing the fields in your finest clothes or fowling in the marshes, with the belief that these scenes will ensure that magically this will occur. With Atenism this afterlife so much like real life has gone, so it could be said that the scenes are the ba's view of what it is they will witness for eternity. If they have been honoured by Akhenaten then of course they will depict this, though it is the depictions of the Aten and royal family that are of importance, and while we see a moment of the tomb owners life frozen in time, the Aten and royal family, that's their successors as well, will endure for eternity for you to worship.

So, while there is reason to suspect Akhenaten needed extra protection, the tomb scenes may, due to change in religion, simply be showing normal scenes of how a king went about his affairs, details that are missing from previous tombs as there is no place for such scenes in the tomb. They are there because there was nothing else to depict in Atenism.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,023
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I think the scenes in tomb walls showing Akhenaten with soldiers may be misleading us into thinking that he needed protection more than other kings. Of course the religious turmoil is going to make enemies, so I'm not discounting that he did indeed need extra protection, but the scenes need to be seen in the context of a religion that has no gods other than Aten and no journey through the Duat or judgement. When there is no longer the scope to decorate your tomb with traditional scenes, what scenes then do you use. It's clear that as Akhenaten has usurped the role of Osiris, and that your afterlife consists of perching at an Aten temple during the day, and so, even if unseen, in the company of the Aten, Akhenaten and the life of the temple, only scenes of the Aten, Akhenaten and his family and what they do are now needed in the tomb.

In the normal religion the scenes were a mix of scenes from the Duat, judgement being a favourite, and of how your "life" will be, for instance ploughing the fields in your finest clothes or fowling in the marshes, with the belief that these scenes will ensure that magically this will occur. With Atenism this afterlife so much like real life has gone, so it could be said that the scenes are the ba's view of what it is they will witness for eternity. If they have been honoured by Akhenaten then of course they will depict this, though it is the depictions of the Aten and royal family that are of importance, and while we see a moment of the tomb owners life frozen in time, the Aten and royal family, that's their successors as well, will endure for eternity for you to worship.

So, while there is reason to suspect Akhenaten needed extra protection, the tomb scenes may, due to change in religion, simply be showing normal scenes of how a king went about his affairs, details that are missing from previous tombs as there is no place for such scenes in the tomb. They are there because there was nothing else to depict in Atenism.
Listen, here we would need other "names" [Egyptologists]. I'm noting that in academic Egyptology there is a present developing persuasion about the conditions of life at Akhetaten and they talk openly and plainly about starvation, malnutrition ... excessive exploitation of the workforce. Usually this means a diffused popular availability for rebellion, they just needed someone like Moses ... I keep on noting these contextual coincidences.

So, it's not a persuasion of mine. I've begun to think to this after following a program on Nat Geo. This why I'd like to get in touch with Egyptologists who are working now on the field, because archaeology is persuading the Egyptologist community about this.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
There is not a single military scene in tombs before Akhenaten like we see in that depiction, the greatest, Thutmosis III, decorated his tomb with the Amduat, not scenes of his victories, which belong on temple walls, and quite likely the walls of the palace.

I can perfectly well see that Akhenaten will have infuriated many people, and that conditions for the bottom rung of society at Akhetaten were not good, but to say that the only explanation of soldiers in some tombs scenes is that Egypt had become a fearful police state is a big leap.

Let's look at it this way. How do you think the retinue of a king of the richest and most powerful state of the time, a state founded on military prowess, will look. I suspect that the retinue behind Thutmosis III on his travels within Egypt, let alone outside, will have looked like a military parade on river and land. Why are there no scenes depicting this? Because there is no scope for such depictions in the tomb, which is a resurrection machine, not a parade ground. Remove the religious and magical reasons for normal tomb decoration and what is left to depict. You could say that fowling scenes as we see in the tomb of Nebamun can still exist, but they are not biographical scenes, they are magical scenes to ensure that this is how his afterlife will be. As the religious foundation for such scenes has been removed, they have no purpose and we do not see such scenes at Akhetaten, only of the Aten and the royal family, with the tomb owner sometimes playing at bit part. So, as I wrote before, what we see is not the afterlife of the tomb owner, but the daily religious and ceremonial life of the royal family.

If somebody today had a private tomb and decorated the walls with scenes of the Queen's birthday parade at Horseguards, will in 3,400 years a discoverer of this tomb then decide that the UK monarch lived in fear and was surrounded by large numbers of troops? Egypt had some pomp and ceremony, and I really don't see anything in these scenes that I would not expect to see in such a militaristic society as was not just the 18th Dynasty, but all societies down to our own age.

Also, why would any tomb owner want to show a repressive and fearful king, subjugation of foreigners is one thing, and normal for them, but of your own people as a scene in your tomb for eternity, really.