The Mysterious Story of a Powerful Egyptian Queen Who Suddenly Vanished
When we talk of Egypt, we talk of a time that is ancient and yet does not fail to impress and affect us today. We marvel at the fact that they managed to reach the height of civilization and managed to construct gigantic pyramids with ingenious methods when the rest of the world was extremely backward and technologically crippled.
The true sense of feminism also developed in Egypt, the only place in ancient history to have a solid basis for it. The wife of the Pharaoh was as respected and revered as the Pharaoh himself, and we all know the story of Cleopatra, the infamous and beautiful Queen of Egypt who achieved heights of power that were impossible for any other woman to achieve until the modern world order came. However, there is another female figure that is often neglected, and it is Nefertiti.
Nefertiti was a powerful queen who was the Queen of the 18th dynasty and she ruled with her husband, Pharaoh Akhenaten. It is mentioned in the book “Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen” that this was one of the wealthiest periods in Ancient Egypt, and the rulers brought much progress to the region. Nefertiti came under the scrutiny of researchers when one of her busts was discovered in a rundown Armenian shop in 1912. It bore the countenance of a strong and beautiful woman and prodded the researchers to look further into her story.
The Origins of Nefertiti
Nefertiti’s name means “The Beautiful Woman Has Come,” mentioned in the book “Amarna Sunrise: Egypt from Golden Age to Age of Heresy.” Her name is an apt tribute to her beauty. Nefertiti’s parentage has often been a source of conflict between scholars, but it is generally accepted that she was the daughter of Ay and Luy. Although the exact year of her marriage to Akhenaten is unknown, it is established that the couple had six daughters and there is credible proof that the marriage was not merely a contract, but was formed through the existence of genuine love.
Akhenaten constructed various temples as a tribute to his wife, and there is a lot of depiction of Nefertiti in them, and her appearance is almost two times more than that of the Pharaoh. She is also seen fulfilling roles that are usually that of the Pharaoh, and certain depictions show her in battle, destroying her enemies and her throne is decorated with captives as depicted in the book “Akhenaten, The Heretic King.” Akhenaten also started the cult of Aten and gave birth to a religion that was more monotheistic in nature, with the Sun God as the main figure of worship and Akhenaten and Nefertiti being depicted as the first humans.
Rise to Power
Pharaohs, just like Kings, had a multitude of wives. But some of these wives had more importance than the others. Nefertiti was promoted to the role of the Great Royal Wife by Akhenaten, which explains her various powers and the influence she had during her reign. The depictions in Ancient sites often show Nefertiti as a warrior Queen, thus it suggested that at one period of time she ruled as Pharaoh under the guise of Neferneferuaten. It is theorized that she disguised herself as a man or employed some kind of an alter-ego to rule Egypt, and she also tried to undo the damage the new religion promoted by her husband had done. She reinstated the old Gods and made sure that the future emperor Tutankhamun was indoctrinated in the same principles to avoid further discord.
Questions Surrounding Nefertiti
The thing that really puzzles scholars is the disappearance of Nefertiti from records in the 12th year of Akhenaten’s reign. Although there are theories that she adopted the new name of Neferneferuaten, they are still only theories that cannot be really proven. Other theories say that she either died of a plague or fell into disgrace, but it has been proven that there is not much truth to these theories.
However, a popular new theory appeared in 2012 after the discovery of an inscription that was dated into the year 16, month 3, and day 15 of Akhenaten’s reign, published in the book “In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti discovery.” The inscription mentions the presence of “Great Royal Wife, His Beloved, Mistress of the Two Lands, Neferneferuaten Nefertiti.” This is proof of the fact that Nefertiti most surely changed her name, the reason why it is not mentioned anywhere else, and that she ruled for a period between the death of her husband and the maturity of Tutankhamun.
A consequent effort has been made to look for the burial site of Nefertiti both in Akhenaten’s tomb and in Tutankhamun’s tomb. However, no concrete evidence was found and the research is still ongoing in that field. The Egyptians religiously kept records of the reigns of their rulers, so the ambiguity in the case of Nefertiti confuses and befuddles scholars, and is an area of much theorizing and research to find possible answers to the question. Nefertiti was an exceptional ruler, and the various capacities that she assisted her husband in as well as her creations like her makeup, which she made using the Galena plant, make her stand out amongst the women of Ancient Egypt. The Pharaoh’s love for his wife can be best described by the poem he wrote for her:
“…And the Heiress, Great in the Palace, Fair of Face, Adorned with the Double Plumes, Mistress of Happiness, Endowed with Favors, at hearing whose voice the King rejoices, the Chief Wife of the King, his beloved, the Lady of the Two Lands, Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti, May she live for Ever and Always…”
All we can do is hope that one day the mysteries surrounding Nefertiti will be answered and we will have a clearer picture of what truly happened to Nefertiti, and how did her highly interesting story end.