Nefertiti: Queen of Egypt

Today, Nefertiti is one of the most well known queens of Egypt, famed throughout the ancient world for her beauty. There is little known about the background of Nefertiti but many believe that she was not of royal bloodline. Her father was believed to be a high official of Amenhotep III and Akhenaten. It is said that Nefertiti was chosen by her Father and her Aunt, the Pharaoh’s mother, because of her strong personality that it was believed she could reign in the Pharaoh so her family would hold the real power behind the throne.
She was not rivaled only by her power but also by her beauty. Her face has become one of the most recognizable images in the world since the founding of her bust in 1912. She was an independent woman and thinker centuries before her time (Fletcher, 2004). But the question that many people wonder is “Who was Queen Nefertiti and how much power did she have? ” Nefertiti first rose to prominence in Egyptology in 1912, when a three-thousand-year-old bust of the queen was unearthed and quickly became a recognizable artifact around the world.
But pieces of Nefertiti’s life remained missing (Fletcher, 2004). The beginning of her existence starts with her breaking through the sex barrier to rule as a co-Pharaoh alongside her husband, Akhenaten. Nefertiti parents are not known and she was probably of non-royal birth, most historians say. Most believe she was 12 years old when she became queen and that Amenhotep IV was around the same age (Englar, 2009). Nefertiti married Amenhotep IV who took the name “Akhenaten”, who ruled over Egypt for approximately 17 years during the 18th Dynasty around 1357 B.
C. E. She had six daughters but no sons with Akhenaten, who also had other wives. But neither of them were carved into the sculptures except Nefertiti, so many people believed he loved her most. She appeared with her husband Akhenaten on all major monuments. She even assisted in offerings. There has been no other queen who appears so frequently in Egyptian history as Queen Nefertiti. Many images of her show simple family gatherings with her husband and daughters. She is also known as the mother-in-law and stepmother of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen.
Nefertiti and her husband defied ancient custom by practicing monotheism and by elevating Nefertiti far above the role of subservient consort previously played by Egyptian queens (Tyldesley, 1999). Upon her fourth year of being queen, she left the capital of Thebes where a new city to honor their chosen god, Aten was built. He believed that the Aten, a minor sun god, was the most important god so Nefertiti being his wife followed suit. The religion in the country was then transformed so their new god, Aten, may be held up above all others.
Neferitti and her husband designed the new city and more than 50,000 Egyptians moved to Akhenaten to serve the king and queen in their new city. This is the first time that Egyptian religion accepted one god rather than many gods. Nefertiti’s new religious duties gave her more power than most previous Egyptian queens. Nefertiti was perhaps the most influential person on Akhenaten, at that time one of the most powerful rulers on earth. Many people do not know that Nefertiti and her husband changed their names to honor their God.
Nefertiti meaning “the beautiful woman” had come to be known as Neferneferuaten which means “beautiful are the beauties of Aten. ” The reason for this change is so “Aten” would be included in her new name to honor their god. During the Amarna period, Nefertiti was seen as almost equal to a Pharaoh. Nefertiti soon became enamored with her new found power and her popularity with the people and is somewhat swept up along with her husband in his dreams of glamour, power, and immortality (Moran, 2007). Upon his death she took control of Aten.
The Egyptian people loved her and celebrated her beauty in art, but the priests did not feel the same way. Historians say that priests who, upon Nefertiti’s death, had her name erased from all public records. This led to her being left out of history for over three thousand years. Very little is known of Nefertiti, her death is not recorded, and her tomb has not been found. Her beauty is renowned from the masks found at Amarna by archaeologists early in this century, having been lost for millennia.
It is unusual that a queen like Nefertiti, death would not be recorded in the culture of Egypt. Even to this day monuments to those who ruled and played a major part in Egypt have pyramids and tombs bestowing their importance. It is very sad that Akhenaten and Nefertiti’s family was all but destroyed. Three thousand years after her death, Nefertiti’s beauty still captivates thousands of visitors each year. It was her mysterious smile and powerful gaze that attracted many men to her making them wonder who she had been and how she’d become a dominant figure in ancient Egypt.
However, tragedy eventually calls, and everything Nefertiti worked so hard to achieve hangs in the balance (Englar 2009). Some historians believe she died from a plague or even ruled Egypt under a new name, Smenkhkare. Yet there has, over time, been a great deal of controversy on all these facts. It would seem that Smenkhkare became co-regent shortly after the death of Akhenaten’s principle wife, Nefertiti. Speculation at times have run rampant, including one theory that Nefertiti herself had actually disguised herself as a male in the custom of Hatshepsut, becoming co-regent (Dunn, 2003).
Nefertiti will always hold a mysterious history, her remains and the location of her body has long been a subject of curiosity and speculation. Her place as an icon in popular culture is secure and she has become somewhat of a celebrity due to the rare find of her bust. After Cleopatra, she is the second most famous queen of Egypt in the Western imagination and her image has influenced, through photographs, and changed standards of feminine beauty of the twentieth century, and is often referred to as “the most beautiful woman in the world” (Dunn, 2003).
Her most important legacy, though, may be that she and Pharaoh Akhenaten tried to establish a monotheistic religion in Egypt, which, if it had survived, would have created a very different history for the Middle East, with important ramifications for the current religious/political turmoil of the area (Weller, 2008). She will always be held as one of the most influential and most powerful queens to ever rule Egypt. References Dunn, Jimmy. (2003). Smenkhkare: An obscure pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. Retrieved from ttps://ww. touregypt. net/featurestories/smenkhakare. htm Englar, Mary. (2009). Nefertiti of Egypt. Capstone Publishing Company. Fletcher, Joann. (2004). Search for Nefertiti: The true story of an amazing discovery. Harper Collins Publishers. Moran, Michelle. (2007). Nefertiti. New York: Crown Pub. Tyldesley, Joyce A. (1999). Nefertiti: Egypt’s sun queen. Viking Adult. Weller, Doug. (2008). Nefertiti. New world encyclopedia. Retrieved (2010, February 25) from http://www. newworldencyclopedia. org

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