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Ancient Egyptian Queens
Ancient Egypt. A place of wonder and amazing mystery. The land of the pharaohs and the Nile, gods and pyramids. Much of the history books and documentaries on ancient Egypt cover the pharaohs' lives in great detail, but what about the ancient Egyptian queens? Were there any powerful or beautiful queens in ancient Egypt?
Let's find out who were the most noteworthy ancient Egyptian queens and why. With the number of pharaohs being in the thousands over a span of hundreds of years, it is obvious that there had to have been queens in the thousands. It is unfortunate that not as much is told about these queens, but I am trying to change that. Let's begin with Nefertit's life and times.
Nefertiti The Beautiful
In the 14th century BC, Nefertiti was known as the Lady of the Two Lands, Hereditary Princess, Sweet of Love, and Lady of All Women. She reigned as Queen of Egypt alongside of her husband Akhenaten. If you've ever heard of Akhenaten, you'll know that his reign was quite controversial for ancient Egypt in that he tried to establish a new religion for the land. This new religion threw out the polytheistic ways of the Egyptians and placed one god at the forefront which angered many Egyptians of that time.
Nefertiti supported her husband's decisions and is depicted in many tombs and ancient artifacts as standing beside her husband in worship of the one sun god Aten. Nefertiti and Akhenaten were thought to have had six daughters, one of which would go on to be the Queen of Tut. This ancient Egyptian Queen is one shrouded in great mystery, as her mummy has never been found. Two mummies came into question as being Nefertiti, but both have been ruled out following extensive DNA testing.
Although Nefertiti wasn't the only wife of Akhenaten, she is the most famous ancient Egyptian queen next to Cleopatra. Her realistic and beautiful bust is on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin (upper right). From this piece of artwork, we can see that Nefertiti really was a gorgeous ancient Egyptian queen.
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Hatshepsut might be the most controversial ancient Egyptian queen in ancient Egyptian history. And perhaps that makes her the most interesting. In the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut ruled as pharaoh for almost twenty two years. She is said to have been the most successful female ruler in ancient Egyptian times.
But where is the controversy? Hatshepsut is said to have sort of taken over the throne from her stepson, a young and sickly pharaoh at the time. She ruled for fifteen years, most of the time dressing as a male pharaoh would and constructing images of herself as a male pharaoh. This was most definitely to gain the favor and utmost respect of the kingdom. She also built a temple in the Valley of the Kings dedicated to herself, and she claimed to be a literal daughter of the god Amon-Re.
Little is actually known as to how Hatshepsut died, but we do know that her stepson took the throne after her fifteen years on it. Some believe that he might have had her killed so that he could take his rightful place on the throne. He is said to have tried to erase her rule from Egypt's memory by replacing her name with his on many statues and artifacts. Hatshepsut's mummy has never been found, only one single canopic jar containing the ancient Egyptian queen's liver.
Nefertari was the chief wife and queen alongside of Ramesses the Great (Ramesses II) during the nineteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt. Nefertari is another pretty well-known ancient Egyptian queen for a couple of reasons. One of those reasons is of course because of her marriage to Ramesses the Great, perhaps the most influential and wealthiest ruler of ancient Egyptian times. The second reason is because her image has been immortalized as a large statue at Abu Simbel.
Ramesses the Great actually had a smaller temple built at Abu Simbel in dedication to his lovely wife Nefertari and also honoring the Egyptian goddess of motherhood and love - Hathor. Nefertari was also thought to have been quite diplomatic, as there is evidence of her correspondence and gift-giving with the King and Queen of the Hittites. This woman was apparently of great importance to Ramesses the Great, as you can see by the picture to the right.
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Anytime I read about ancient Egyptians and their enchanting ways, I feel like I am pulled back in time...to a time when the pyramids were built for the rich and powerful pharoahs...to a time when ancient gods and goddesses walked on the earth amongst
Perhaps you're thinking to yourself, what about Cleopatra? I couldn't write an article about the ancient Egyptian Queens without including Cleopatra. Most of us know the basic stories about Queen Cleopatra and the tragedy of her death. Cleopatra, as most of us know her, was actually Cleopatra VII and was the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt. There have been entire 400 page books written on Cleopatra's life and reign of Egypt. She was more than a woman sitting on a throne being fed grapes and fanned all day long. Cleopatra was an extremely busy woman doing everything from playing judge in court to signing laws and official government paperwork.
Cleopatra had a couple pretty famous affairs, even though she was indeed married to her brother (as was the tradition in those days). One of her affairs was with Julius Caesar, and the other affair was with the romantic Marc Antony. In the end, Cleopatra produced no children by her brother but did produce one of whom she claimed was Caesar's son. Julius Caesar denied this son the throne, crushing Cleopatra. Cleopatra ended her life by a poisonous asp bite, probably due to utter heartbreak from the loss of her lover Marc Antony. Though there are some who debate the idea that Cleopatra killed herself, as they say she might have been poisoned instead.
There is much more to cover on the life of Cleopatra, suffice it to say we will leave that for the next ancient Egypt article.
Written and copyright © by Kitty the Dreamer (May Canfield), 2012. All Rights Reserved.