Nefertiti is one of the most fascinating Egyptian rulers in history. She was queen, but she was also a priestess and might have even been a pharaoh. Because she and her husband, Amenhotep IV (aka Akhenaten), tossed out all of the old gods and set up the sun as god in the form of Aten. This didn’t make the couple very popular, but it did give them absolute power over their subjects.
In her 12 years of rule, Queen Nefertiti was held in high regard by her husband, her royal subjects, and Thutmose, the sculptor who captured her face of a great beauty. Nefertiti was depicted as wearing the crown of a pharaoh and may have ruled as one after her husband’s death and as King Tut prepared to rule.
When she vanishes from scrolls, inscriptions, and other depictions, historians have varying views on what happened to Queen Nefertiti. Did she change her name and become Djeserkheperure Smenkhare or Smenkhkare Ankhetkheperure, a co-regent ruling singularly or alongside King Tut? Or did she simply die? History was erased in part due to the angry successors to Akhenaten’s reign. And artifacts may have been looted or moved.
Archaeologists have been searching for Nefertiti’s tomb for decades and just may have found it behind King Tut’s. A University of Arizona archaeologist, Dr. Nicholas Reeves, might have found the tomb of Nefertiti, hiding in plain sight. Signs that Nefertiti was a ruler in her own right may explain why the tomb next to King Tut’s is so large and one reserved for a higher position.
Over three thousand years later, Queen Nefertiti still holds historians and history buffs spellbound. Who was Nefertiti? Wife, mother, queen, beauty icon, punisher, or pharaoh? Read below to learn more about this fascinating Egyptian female leader and vote up the Nefertiti facts you were most surprised to learn.
Nefertiti Was More Powerful Than Previous Egyptian Queens
Nefertiti and Akhenaten: Power Couple
The power couple changed Egypt drastically by designating the sun as god, Aten, and making the sun the center of political and religious structure, replacing the god Amun. They created a new capital, Akhet-Aten, over 100 miles north of Thebes. This didn’t exactly sit well with the people, but they didn’t have a choice. Defying the pharaoh could get you killed as the couple also made themselves priests through which all citizens had to go to access Aten.
Just like any celeb power couple, they changed their names. Amenhotep became Akhenaten and Nefertiti (whose original name was “The Beautiful One Is Come”) became Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti or “Beautiful Are the Beauties of Aten, Beautiful Woman Has Come.” Much longer than Yeezus, but with the same intent.
Nefertiti’s Tomb Possibly Hidden Behind King Tut’s
The discovery could reveal Nefertiti’s true place within Egyptian history. The size of the tomb Dr. Reeves discovered suggests that King Tut was buried in his mother’s tomb, as Nefertiti may have been Tut’s mother or stepmother and, most importantly, the royal with the higher pedigree. Perhaps the burial logistics revolved around Nefertiti ruling as the boy king’s co-regent after the death of Akhenaten. Reeves posits that Nefertiti may have been interred first, with the door to her chamber plastered and painted over. The ghost door was found in Tut’s tomb. “If I’m wrong, I’m wrong,” Reeves said. “But if I’m right, the prospects are frankly staggering.”
Some historians suggest that Nefertiti’s tomb and trappings were used for the burial of King Tut or that she was hidden in Tut’s tomb so that enemies of her husband Akhenaten wouldn’t find her.
As well, statues depicting a female ruler were found in Tut’s tomb.
Queen Nefertiti Had Her Own Temple
In the third year of their reign, Nefertiti and Akhenaten are depicted as having thrown an elaborate festival in the temple. An inscription shows the ruling couple, along with their daughters and royal court, viewing the entertainment and crowds from their special viewing spot at the palace.
Her Rule Was Both Tumultuous and Lucrative for Egypt
The Nefertiti Bust Is Still a Point of Contention Between Egypt and Germany
Nefertiti’s bust ended up in Berlin in 1913, displayed at the New Museum. When the Nazis came to power, they took possession of the majority of antiquities and hid many valuable and historic works of art from all over the world. Hitler said, “I will never relinquish the head of the Queen.” The bust was discovered in a salt mine by American forces during the occupation. Nefertiti was displayed in a museum in West Berlin and later moved back to the New Museum in 2009.
Egypt considers Germany’s possession of Nefertiti’s statue as looting as its removal was done under nefarious conditions as far as they are concerned.
Nefertiti and Akhenaten Constructed Their Own City
Nefertiti Had Many Titles During Her Reign
– Hereditary Princess– Great of Praises– Lady of Grace– Sweet of Love– Lady of the Two Lands– Main King’s Wife– Main King’s Wife, his beloved– Great King’s Wife– Great King’s Wife, his beloved– Lady of all Women– Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt
Ay Was Possibly Nefertiti’s Father
Was Nefertiti an Enforcer?
Despite Her Husband’s Philandering, Nefertiti Was Thought to Be Faithful
A Partial Tomb Figurine of Nefertiti Offers Conflicting Clues About Her Role
The shabti is on display at the Louvre.
Nefertiti Had Six Daughters
Did Nefertiti Die of the Plague?
Uncommon Love for Children Is Depicted in Nefertiti and Akhenaten’s Inscriptions
Was Nefertiti’s Mummy Already Discovered?
In 2010, Zahi Hawass, who was Egypt’s minister of state for Antiquities Affairs, wrote in a National Geographic piece that results of DNA from the three mummies prove that The Younger Lady was in fact the sister of Akhenaten, as well as King Tut’s mother.
In 2013, French Egyptologist Marc Gabolde’s DNA evidence disputed Hawass’s claim and revealed that Nefertiti was The Young Lady and not Akhenaten’s sister. Dr. Gabolde also maintained that the mummy was Tut’s real mother.
Statue of Queen Nefertiti Outrages Egypt, Is Removed
As one person tweeted, “I guess this is what she looked like four days after she died.”
Nefertiti’s One Eye Cause For Speculation
By far the most entertaining theory is that the artist who was working to complete the bust fell in love with Nefertiti and, after his advances were rebuffed, left the eye blank as a symbol of here inability to see the true nature of the artist’s love.
Nefertiti Vanished After 12 Years, but May Have Been a Pharaoh
After Nefertiti and Akhenaten’s rule, many artifacts and information were destroyed by the couple’s successors. The idea was to wipe out the record of the pharaoh and his queen.