The existence of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti could be dated back to fourteenth century BCE, 18th Dynasty. Nefertiti is the chief wife of the pharaoh, Amenhotep IV and she is most well-known for her emergence in Egyptian art, particularly the prominent bust which was located in 1912 at Amarna, aside from that she is also well-known for the role she most likely played in the religious rebellion focusing on monotheistic worship of Aten. Aten, on the other hand is also a well-known Egyptian sun disk.
Amenhotep IV made use of the name Akhenaten when he took charge of the religious rebellion which situated Aten as the main focus of their worship. Art during that period illustrates a closely knitted family relationship with the royal family. These arts are illustrated in a naturalistic, individualistic, and informal manner, and it comprises of Nefertiti, her husband and their six children. Most representations of the Egyptian queen, Nefertiti also showed her as taking an active part in the Aten cult.
Approximately, fourteen years later, Nefertiti suddenly vanished from the public’s eye and Amenhotep IV was succeeded to the throne by Smenkhkhare, often depicted as his son-in-law. One speculation regarding the sudden disappearance of queen Nefertiti is that she took on a male identity and governed under the name Smenkhkhare, another hypothesis is that she was killed as a piece of the come back to the customary Egyptian religious traditions, there are however, also some speculations that she died a natural death (Akhet Egyptology, 2007).
Nefertiti’s origin is very debatable in that no one knows exactly where she came from, and up to now, it is still argued over by archaeologists and historians alike. There is a probability that she is a foreign princess or the child of a former pharaoh, Amenhotep III which all opened the possibility that Amenhotep IV may not actually be the son of the pharaoh, Amenhotep III, or even that they are married in spite of the fact that Nefertiti may have been Akhentaten’s half-sister (since it is only natural and customary in Egypt to marry half-brothers and sisters). However, there are also possibilities that she is not of a noble or royal blood and that she is the child of Ay (brother of Amenhotep III’s wife).
Ay, in turn, is at times referred to as “the God’s father”, therefore implying the possibility that Ay is Akhenaten’s father-in-law, although there had not been, up to this point in time, no precise references which could be used to back up this particular declaration. Mutnojme, Nefertiti’s sister, on the other hand is presented outstandingly in the adornments in Ay’s tomb, yet, one could not just deduct that Mutnojme and Nefertiti is already Ay’s daughters, since Mutnojme’s presence on Ay’s tomb alone could not be sufficient evidence of their relationship to one another.
There are also some speculations of Nefertiti being an heiress, and it opens the possibility that she may be a progeny of ahmose-Nefertari, although she was never really depicted as God’s wife Amun, on the other hand, Nefertiti never claimed to be the offspring of a pharaoh, and from that one could be certain that Nefertiti is not on the direct line of descent even if it so happened that she is indeed a child of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Also, there are speculations that even if Nefertiti is truly an offspring of ay, it is highly probable that she is not the daughter of Ay’s chief wife, and that her mother met an early death which left her to the care of Tey. On the other hand, there are still a great deal of claims in regard to her origin which only proves how debatable her exact origin really is (Lewis, 2007).
Nefertiti is most celebrated in the ancient times because of her exceptional beauty, and she is ranked, up to this point in time, among the most famous Egyptian queens. The renowned sculpture of Queen Nefertiti, which had been found in a sculptor’s workshop in Akhenaten, is considered as one of the most instantly identifiable images from Nefertiti’s time. It has diverted the excesses which could be found on the Armana artistic style, and it also endured the extensive obliteration wrought by Akhenaten’s memorials after his demise (Drake, 2007).
It appears that Queen Nefertiti have taken up till now unparalleled height of magnitude in the Amarna age art. As could be seen from one of her statues in Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, Nifertiti is usually depicted making some kinds of presents or offerings to the sun god, Aten, and it is even assumed that she equaled her husband’s fame.
Fact is, there are even speculations that Queen Nefertiti’s fame far surpasses that of her husband. It is even speculated that even in the ancient time, her exceptional beauty was widely renowned, and her celebrated statue (the one mentioned earlier which was found in an artists’ workshop), is not simply a renowned and most identifiable icon in all Egypt, rather, it is also a subject of a great deal of debate.
In response to those who think that the only thing which made Nefertiti famous is her exceptional beauty, they ought to know that there is more to this Egyptian queen than meets the eye especially since it appears that up to this point in time, she have an unmatched rank of importance in the Amarna era in the eighteenth dynasty. In numerous work of arts, Nefertiti’s rank is obvious and it denotes that her influence may have equaled, if not surpassed, that of Amenhotep IV. For an instance, Nefertiti is represented almost twice as often as Amenhotep IV, at any rate, during the 1st five years of her husband’s period in office. Definitely, Nefertiti is once even portrayed in the traditional stance of a pharaoh cutting his adversary.
As was the case with her husband, there is also no suggestion or traces of her mummy, some jewels which bears her symbols were located at the royal tomb at Akhenaten. However, there is no real proof or confirmation that Nifertiti was even buried in Akhenaten. According to some existing accounts, it is probable that she fell from favor from her husband or she met her end during her husband’s time in power. In any case, it is probable that her burial had been held anywhere but Akhenaten’s.
As was already mentioned earlier, Nefertiti is the chief royal wife of Amenhotep IV and they have had six offsprings (all of which are females). However, there are claims that it was in all probability, with Amnhotep’s another wife, Kiya, that he was able to father his would successors to his throne. His successors had been Smenkhkare and Tutankhamun. Aside from Kiya, Amenhotep IV have two other wives namely, Mekytaten and Ankhesenpaaten, there are even conjectures that Merytaten (possibly one of Nefertiti’s daughters) was also a wife of Amenhotep IV.
Indisputably, Amenhotep IV really loved his chief wife, Nefertiti in that Nefertiti and Amenhotep IV had been always together on the first reliefs, most of which depicted the royal family in a affectionate, loving and about an almost perfect masterpieces. From time to time, the pharaoh could be seen riding with Nefertiti in a chariot or the pharaoh kissing his chief wife in public, or with Nefertiti sitting on his husband’s lap. One of the eulogies even declared Nefertiti as:
“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” (Dunn, 2005).
Remarkably significant to Amenhotep IV was Femininity which was not simply essential in his personal life, but to his thoughts, philosophies, and convictions as well, as a matter of fact, it is definitely hard to find another founder of a religion on which females have had a similar functions as that of the male of the species. Amenhotep IV had a great number of women which surrounds him (this is evident by the sheer number of his wives), and they are all portrayed in nearly every appearances of a cult ritual performed by the pharaoh at his new capital as a tribute to Aten which proves that Amenhotep IV treated all of his wives in a respectful manner.
Each and every one of Amenhotep IV’s wives was given their very own refuge, which were usually referred to as the sunshade temple. They were often positioned in parkland surroundings of plants as well as water pools, all of which gave emphasis to the significance of these women in the every day restitution of creation impinged on by Aten.
Nevertheless it was the image of Queen Nefertiti that Amenhotep IV had fashioned on the four corners of his granite tomb and it was also Nefertiti who presented the fortification to Amenhotep IV’s mummy, a position customarily played by the Egyptian goddesses Isis, Selket, an Neith.
One thing which may have greatly influenced the royal couple’s relationship was the presence of the pharaoh’s mother Tiye. It is surmised that Tiye holds an important and very exclusive role in Amenhotep IV’s court, and one could only deduce that this may have had affected the relationship of the royal couple.
Tiye, as the “wise woman” of El Amarna was often portrayed in such a way which indicate her old age as well as her life experiences and wisdom which generates awe, reverence, great regard from every one (Yakutchik, 2007).
One could then surmise that the wrinkles or the carvings which indicates old age in Tiye’s face also indicates her position as a “wise woman” whose wisdom she derived through her so many experiences in life. It was basically this reason why when Nefertiti’s face was also depicted in such a way which also signals old age, one could only conclude that by that time, the queen Nefertiti also attained the wisdom Tiye had through her many experiences on Earth. Most of this depictions occurred after Tiye’s death which made some conclude that Nefertiti is the successor of the “wise woman”. This in turn, brought Nefertiti’s position in court a higher status.
Queen Nefertiti is probably best known for the painted limestone bust which portrays her, a large number of people regard it as one of the greatest masterpiece there is in the pre-contemporary world. This bust is at times called the Berlin bust and it had been recently subjected into a great deal of controversy. For so many years, this particular bust had been the most renowned display in Berlin’s Egyptian Museum, drawing an immense number of foreigners because of its sheer beauty and history and defying every endeavor at repatriation (Tyldesley, 1999).
However, a conceptual work of art which involves the Berlin bust and the body of an inadequately dressed female incited a great deal of indignation and anger in Nefertiti’s motherland, along with the allegation that Nefertiti is no longer protected in Berlin, this particular depiction of Nefertiti in an insufficient outfit was made by Little Warsaw. This caused so much outrage, particularly in the part of the Egyptian officials for numerous reasons. One ought to take note of the fact that Egypt is a very conservative country and the putting of the queen’s head to a scantily clad figure is nothing short of an insult to the Egyptians not to mention the fact that such exhibit may cause considerable damage to the bust (Dunn, 2005).
Another controversy and the more recent of the two was the probability that Nefertiti’s mummy had at last been located. Joanne Fletcher, a well-known mummification expert from the University of York, declared the likelihood that Nefertiti’s mummy may at last been discovered. Fletcher pointed out some clues in support of her claim such as the shaven head on which, according to her is needed in order for the crown to fit. However, in spite of this all there are still some debates on whether the mummy was indeed Queen Nefertiti’s or not.
As could be seen, the life of the beautiful and interesting queen Nefertiti is indeed full of controversies and there is a huge probability that things would forever remain as such. One could only hope that there would come a time that a light would be shed to some interesting issues which surrounds the queen and that we would at last be able to ascertain the things which had been linked to her life as well as the issues which surrounds her decades later after her death.
Akhet Egyptology. “Nefertiti”. (2007).
Drake, Nick. Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead. Harper Collins, 2007.
Dunn, Jimmy. “Feature Story Queen Nefertiti.” (2005).
Lewis, Jone Johnson. “Nefertiti”. (2007). <http://womenhistory.about.com/mbiopage.htm>.
Tyldesley, Joyce A. Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen. Penguin Books Ltd; New Ed edition,
Yakutchik, Maryalice. “Who Was Nefertiti?” (2007).