Nefertiti, the Great Royal Wife of the Amarna Period

Mar 2019
398
Ogden, Utah
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.
I believe 100% that Akhetaten was not a good place to live except for the royal family and the elite among the courtiers. Even Barry Kemp, who had dug at El Amarna for so long, had to finally admit this. The number of dead there, mainly children and teens, is staggering when one recalls the few years of habitation. Just 11 years under Akhenaten and thousands of poor burials. Up to a couple of years ago, before all these dead young people came to light, it was taken for granted that Akhenaten was so unpopular due to his religious heresy but now that may not have been his worst legacy in the eyes of those Egyptians who lived close to the time of his reign. Yes, of course, Akhenaten's persecution of Amen was important to future kings who were devoted to that god, but he may have been, in sum total, viewed as the worst kind of tyrant. Even ordinary people did not wish to mention his name. In the Memphite tomb of Mes, he was referred to as "the enemy of Akhetaten". Mes lived late in the reign of Ramesses II. That's why, in much later times, he came to be referred to as the ugly king "Bocchoris" or "pA xrw"--the way the name is written in the tomb. [Not to be confused with a different "Bocchoris" or King Bakenrenef of a later dynasty.] The earlier Bocchoris really was associated with an exodus or expulsion. Manetho, himself, mentions a revolt by people persecuted by a ruler called "Amenophis". It was led by a priest of Heliopolis named Osarseph, who was later called Moses. Josephus, who relates this, doesn't trust the tale at all. And a real difficulty lies in the fact that Manetho referred to a king named Amenhotep and another named Merneptah both as "Amenophis" due to what he deemed as a similar pronunciation of their names--which was probably more the case than meets the eye. Anyway, since Manetho lived at Heliopolis, himself, he may have been familiar with some folk tale there--and Josephus expressed a wish that the Egyptian would have kept away from such tales. Someone else from antiquity wrote that Moses had erected pillars--which were "iwnw" in Egyptian--also the Egyptian name of Heliopolis.

But where there's smoke some sort of fire usually exists. In the era of Akhenaten, the most important worship center next to Akhetaten really was Heliopolis. If some priest there had fallen out of favor--or for some other reason--he may have led a revolt against the king like Osarseph did. Only his name wouldn't have been Osarseph then. Wsir-m-sAf would have been a strange name at any period. What kind of name incorporates the god of the underworld? The main point is "Bocchoris", according to Lysimachus, sent some people into the desert to die [although it looks like he needed to send them no father than Akhetaten] but through some miracles they survived.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
The issue I've posted about is not what the quality of life, or lack of, was at Akhetaten, but that it is a leap to say that the troops depicted in tomb scenes are proof of repression, when there is another explanation for these scenes. In everything I have read about Akhenaten, when these scenes are mentioned it is in the context that they show repression, and I have never read any other explanation for them, or of what else is supposed to be in the tomb when everything that used to be there has been banished. What was normal, scenes of the Duat, judgement and the hoped for afterlife of the tomb owner, have been replaced by scenes of the royal family and their daily and ceremonial lives. Last I checked rulers of countries like a bit of a show, and that often includes their military. I'll ask again, what does anybody think ceremonial life was like under a king like Thutmosis III, organized displays of flower arranging, poetry readings perhaps, or maybe, just maybe, a display of armed force, not for repression, but because that's what kings do, even to this day, whether king, dictator or elected weasel.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,011
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I heard about the excess of presence of troops yesterday night in a program on National Geographic and I have still to evaluate this. The main problem about this is that without traditional mythology at Akhetaten they represented something else in their tombs. This could be the matter for an other spin-off.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
It ties in directly with what replaced normal conventions regarding death and what texts and images are shown in the tomb. As I wrote in a previous post, Meryre describing himself as "Justified in Akhetaten" shows that everything within the boundary stelae has become the new Duat, which is no longer a Duat but a parallel existence occupying the same temporal and physical space, but "just out of sight" to the living. But it is of course a complicated subject with precious little hard evidence, probably due in part to this entire thing not being a finished product, hence otherwise out of place scenes, troops for instance, appearing in the tomb.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,011
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Regarding Nefertiti, we cannot avoid to spend again some words about a representation of her and the husband in the tomb of Apy[1]. The version of the cartouches of the Aten is still the early one[2] and the Royal Couple does something curious ... Akhenaten and Nefertiti are offering the Aten on trays where we can see two figures in the case of Akhenaten and ... Nefertiti herself in the case of Nefertiti.

offering.JPG

There are three daughters and as usual Akhenaten is simply introduced by the Aten, while Nefertiti Neferneferuaten enjoys a long and quite remarkable introduction.

Something like ...

Hereditary Princess, great in favor, Lady of grace[3], provided of joy,
the Aten rises to give favor to her and to multiply her love,
the Great Royal Wife, beloved of him, mistress of the sedge and the papyrus,
Lady of the Two Lands, Nefertiti Neferneferuaten, Living in the Future,
Forever in the Eternity.


We are still in the transition phase and the presence of the two "entities" on the tray handled by Akhenaten is quite interesting.

Note:
[1] Or transliterated as Ipy, he was Steward of Memphis, so a quite important figure.
[2] See previous note.
[3] Or "elegance".
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,011
Italy, Lago Maggiore
In an other tomb, the one belonging to Mahu, the chief of what we would call "police" we see something quite rare: may be Mahu had the intention to show how he was able to ensure the safety of the Royal Family, anyway we see one of the rare representation of Nefertiti acting, in daily life, like a tender wife [Great and Royal].

mahu.JPG

The Royal Couple is so safe that a daughter, Meritaten is with her [Mahu is next to Nefertiti's head in this scene].
Also here we see the same behavior: The rock tombs of El Amarna : Davies, Norman de Garis, 1865-1941 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive.

Meritaten is present, but not visible [this can generate confusion looking at the picture].
Meritaten.JPG
 
Apr 2019
184
UK
Something that religion has always offered the poor in society is the hope of a better future in the afterlife, if you behave. That was taken away largely by Akhenaten, which must have been demotivating to those who were at all religious. I have no doubt that there was hardship for some people in society throughout pharonic history, but the amount of construction done at pace, and the use of smaller talatat shows a need to use younger people of both genders to complete work in time. If there was a coregency there was a lot of work also going on at the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III at the same time Akhetaten was being constructed, so presumably a lot of the regular workers were engaged by that king. Last week I watched "Who Do You Think You Are?" which showed an example of how poor Irish people were encouraged by false advertising to make the trip to the US to work in cotton mills. They were promised wide open spaces, good housing and regular work. Well, they got the latter but had to live in appalling conditions leading to a very high infant and child mortality rate (whole families worked in the mills). In a similar way, unless they were taken by force, young poor families were sold a vision of a new life at Akhetaten, only to get there with no infrastructure, back breaking work and no hope of a better afterlife. All of those children died, but there will have been survivors who will have voted with their feet. In the case of the US surviving members of families often went back home, or moved elsewhere. We know the Egyptians were capable of withholding their labour and protesting. Perhaps there was no violent confrontation, but people just left. I expect that they also spoke to members of the nobility or military about the problems, and if any of these people had sense they would have seen trouble coming, so Akhenaten will have had some opposition either overt or by stealth. There must have been factions in the court who cared about people's problems and that will have played into what happened at the end of the reign. Interesting isn't it that work on the tombs appears to have stopped? None of the tombs is complete as far as I am aware.
 
Apr 2019
184
UK
In the second picture above you can see the back of Meritaten's head between her parents / in front of Nefertiti's body. You can't see a face due to the fold in the pages but you can make out the sidelock and the back of her head protuding, touching her father's stomach.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
On a tangent, but a cause of death put forward for Tutankhamun is a chariot accident, the cause of the wound to KV35YL is speculated on but not known, and the KV35 prince has injuries that may well have been caused by falling, either from or within a building, or from a chariot. Looking at this scene we see multiple traffic violations. Engaging in activity in the chariot that takes attention away from driving, so driving without due care and attention, and endangering the life of a child by letting them hang out of the chariot and exert some control over the horses while their parents are "cavorting". So an inhabitant of Akhenaten not only had to content with hard work, if a peasant, or endure standing out in the full heat of sun in an Aten temple if higher up the social scale, but also needing to avoid dangerous loonies careering around the city in a chariot.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,011
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Something that religion has always offered the poor in society is the hope of a better future in the afterlife, if you behave. That was taken away largely by Akhenaten, which must have been demotivating to those who were at all religious. I have no doubt that there was hardship for some people in society throughout pharonic history, but the amount of construction done at pace, and the use of smaller talatat shows a need to use younger people of both genders to complete work in time. If there was a coregency there was a lot of work also going on at the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III at the same time Akhetaten was being constructed, so presumably a lot of the regular workers were engaged by that king. Last week I watched "Who Do You Think You Are?" which showed an example of how poor Irish people were encouraged by false advertising to make the trip to the US to work in cotton mills. They were promised wide open spaces, good housing and regular work. Well, they got the latter but had to live in appalling conditions leading to a very high infant and child mortality rate (whole families worked in the mills). In a similar way, unless they were taken by force, young poor families were sold a vision of a new life at Akhetaten, only to get there with no infrastructure, back breaking work and no hope of a better afterlife. All of those children died, but there will have been survivors who will have voted with their feet. In the case of the US surviving members of families often went back home, or moved elsewhere. We know the Egyptians were capable of withholding their labour and protesting. Perhaps there was no violent confrontation, but people just left. I expect that they also spoke to members of the nobility or military about the problems, and if any of these people had sense they would have seen trouble coming, so Akhenaten will have had some opposition either overt or by stealth. There must have been factions in the court who cared about people's problems and that will have played into what happened at the end of the reign. Interesting isn't it that work on the tombs appears to have stopped? None of the tombs is complete as far as I am aware.
It's out of doubt that the stop of the works at the tombs is a signal of a situation of economical difficulties: sculptures, artisans, scribes ... they were all persons who worked if paid [usuall with food, beer, wine, something valuable, cloths, a place where to live ...]. But this professionals did something really important and appreciated. In case of economical crisis at Akhetaten they would have moved [like in case of an outbreat of plague]. Jar labels tell us that the agricultural production didn't diminished in a tremendous way in those years, but we should keep in mind that good part of the products went to the Temple.

The stop of the works didn't coincide with the end of the reign of Akhenaten [the latest event represented is from year 12[1], than there is the death of Meketaten and then a hole ... and we cannot date the draft showing Smenkhkare and Meritaten]. Did the artisans go on strike? Was Akhenaten no more able to pay them like they were used to be paid, so that they left him to his destiny in his holly land?

Such a situation could have played a role in the appearance of Ankheperure Neferneferuaten [a Monarch who, as we will see, got in touch again with the traditional cults]. Were they realizing that Akhenaten's dream was going to know a dramatic failure?

NOTE:
[1] it's the schene of the tributes coming from far lands [from the tomb of Meryre II The rock tombs of El Amarna .. : Davies, Norman de Garis, 1865-1941 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive].