Ancient Egyptian Queens - Ahmose Nefertari

Updated on May 20, 2017
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Cynthia is an administrator, has a degree in Business, Economics, & History and is a qualified Hypnotherapist. She loves to write & travel.

Queen Ahmose Nefertari and Amenhotep I
Queen Ahmose Nefertari and Amenhotep I | Source

The Second Intermediate Period and the Hyksos Invaders

Was Queen Ahmose Nefertari the mother of Ancient Egypt's glittering 18th dynasty? The 17th dynasty in Ancient Egypt was a time of turmoil and conflict. It was a time in Egypt known as the Second Intermediate Period when Lower Egypt was ruled by a group of invaders called the Hyksos, who were an Asiatic people. They were also known as ‘the Shepherd Kings" or "Desert Princes." It was the Hyksos that introduced the chariot and the horse into Egypt. The Hyksos had initially infiltrated the Eastern Delta and created their capital at Avaris. They extended their rule as far as Middle Egypt, but never gained control of Lower Egypt which remained under the control of the Kings in Thebes. It was the last couple of these Theban Kings of the 17th dynasty who went to war and expelled the Hyksos invaders. But one of the truly remarkable things about this period is some of the strong and talented women who helped to rule the country and defeat the invaders,

Birth & Family of Ahmose Nefertari

One of these women was Queen Ahmose Nefertari, who was known as the mother of the 18th dynasty. She lived between 1550-1525 BC and was the daughter of Pharaoh Sequenenre Tao II and Queen Ahhotep I. Her father Sequenenre Tao II was probably killed in battle as his mummy has evidence of severe head wounds. Sequenenre Tao II and Queen Ahhotep I also had two sons who both became Pharaohs, Kamose and Ahmose I.

Ahhotep I assumed the Regency on the death of Kamose as Ahmose I was still too young to rule alone. She was celebrated as a warrior as is shown by the golden flies of honour found in her tomb, and helped Kamose and then Ahmose to finally drive the Hyksos out of Egypt. Ahmose Nefertari married her brother Ahmose I, as was customary in the Egyptian Royal Family at that time.

Titles of Queen Ahmose Nefertari

The royal couple had several children including the future Pharaoh Amenhotep I, and the Princesses Mutnofret, Ahmose Meritamen and Sitamen. Ahmose-Nefertari and her husband Ahmose I ruled together for twenty-five years and Ahmose I is the first Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty.

Ahmose Nefertari was lauded on inscriptions throughout Egypt from Sai to Tura. She held many important titles and her husband Ahmose I bought for her the title of Second Prophet of Amen and gave it to his wife along with lavish gifts.

The title of Second Prophet of Amen carried with it responsibility for all of the temple properties, administration of the estates, the administrative staff, workshops, and treasuries. This is known from the so-called ‘Donation Stela’ at Karnak, but there is debate as to whether or not the queen ever accepted the title. However, she kept the gifts and these endowments may then have been passed on to her title of God’s Wife. She set up a college of temple musicians and singers with some of the land and the staff.

The title of God’s Wife was the most important one that she held, and she was the first living woman to be known as ‘Gods Wife of Amen’. This title of God’s Wife went on to be a hereditary title only held by Royal women and the Gods Wife was the highest ranking priestess in the temple of Amen at Karnak. The God’s Wife wielded considerable political influence and would have closely worked with Pharaoh in temple rituals and festivals. Of all her titles, God’s Wife seems to be the one Queen Ahmose Nefertari preferred to use the most.

Ahmose-Nefertari and Amenhotep I
Ahmose-Nefertari and Amenhotep I | Source

Queen Ahmose Nefertari and Pharaoh Ahmose I

She is also thought to have been involved with Ahmose I’s building projects and her name appears at the alabaster quarries of Assiut and the limestone quarries at Memphis. In addition on a stele found at Abydos, the inscription states that Ahmose I asked for her approval before he erected it in honour of his grandmother Queen Tetisheri.

She was also prolific in giving offerings to temples and the listed ritual offerings at the temples by Queen Ahmose Nefertari have been found in the temples of Karnak, Abydos, Deir-el-Bahri and Serabit-el-Kadim in Sinai.

When her husband Ahmose I died, she became Regent and ruled with her young son Pharaoh Amenhotep I. Ahmose I had probably been around 10 when he succeeded to the throne and reigned for 25 years, which is corroborated by his mummy which shows him to be around 35 years old when he died.

During her regency with Amenhotep I, they inaugurated the workman’s village at Deir el-Medina on the West Bank of the Nile at Luxor. There is a temple at Deir el-Medina dedicated to Amenhotep I and Queen Ahmose Nefertari. It stands on the terrace above the Ptolemaic temple enclosure.

Statue of Amenophis I in the British Museum, London
Statue of Amenophis I in the British Museum, London | Source

The Deified Queen Ahmose Nefertari

Both were deified by the villagers after their deaths, and were the focus of the religious life of the village. Amenhotep I was known a ‘Lord of the Village’.

The joint cult of Ahmose Nefertari and Amenhotep I lasted until the late Ramesside period and more than 50 tombs of private individuals in the Theban necropolis have inscriptions that include the queen's name.

The deified king had many feast days during the year when the temple priests would carry his statue in procession.

The deified Amenhotep I was called upon to resolve disputes particularly those involving property. The King’s statue responded either positively or negatively to the question presented. Little remains of the original, small temple and many of the surrounding walls are later additions. Numerous statutes of the royal mother and son have been found at the site.

Ahmose Nefertari is almost always depicted with black skin. This could be for several reasons, one of which was that she was actually of Nubian origin. However, it could also be that she was shown in images with dark skin as a symbol of her fertility and to emphasise her position as the mother of Egypt.

Egypt was also called Kem ‘the black land’ and the colour black in Egypt was associated with fertility, rebirth, death, and Egypt herself. Also, the god Amen was often shown with black skin. The colour black represented new life to the Egyptians. She is generally depicted wearing the vulture headdress of Nekhbet.

The Workman's Village at Deir el-Medina
The Workman's Village at Deir el-Medina | Source

The Death of Queen Ahmose Nefertari

She lived to be a very elderly woman by Ancient Egyptian standards where the average age of death was 25. She appears to have outlived her son Amenhotep I, who ruled alone for a further 21 years after the end of the Regency period. She is known to have still been alive in the first years of Amenhotep I’s successor Thutmosis I.

Queen Ahmose Nefertari was probably buried in the royal cemetery of the 17th Dynasty at Dra Abu el-Naga on the West Bank at Luxor, although the exact position of her tomb is unknown. Her mummy and gigantic outer coffin found its way into the royal mummy cache tomb DB 320 and is now located in the Cairo museum.

The mummy of Queen Ahmose Nefertari shows that she was around 65 when she died. Her mortuary temple, known as the ‘men-set’, was built in the vicinity of Dra Abu el-Naga and was probably not too far from her tomb. The ‘men-set’ contained a statue of the queen that was covered in black bitumen and was designed to be carried in procession by the priests. This seems to be the image that inspired all the other black images of Queen Ahmose Nefertari from that time on.

Her mummy does not confirm that she actually did have black skin, although she did have well-worn teeth and a balding scalp at the time of her death. In death, she was worshiped as ‘Lady of the West’ and ‘Mistress of the Sky’. Her high status in death was equal to her unusually high status in life, and she was revered by the Ancient Egyptians for generations.

Ancient Egypt - Ahmose Nefertari Quiz

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      • CMHypno profile imageAUTHOR

        CMHypno 

        6 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

        Thanks for your kind compliments on the hub Jangaplanet, and I'm glad that you enjoyed reading about Ahmose-Nefertari

      • Jangaplanet profile image

        A James Di Rodi 

        6 years ago

        This is a great hub. Loved it! Egyptian history is fascinating. Egypt is a wonderful country and such a dazzling civilization! i'm so fascinated about ancient Egypt, and also the myth of the bride of the Nile.

        Thanks for sharing. It's always good to learn something new and Im glad I found you.

      • CMHypno profile imageAUTHOR

        CMHypno 

        8 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

        Happy that you think that Ahmose-Nefertari is cool! Thanks for the read and the comment.

      • profile image

        chase holdman 

        8 years ago

        omg how cool

      • CMHypno profile imageAUTHOR

        CMHypno 

        8 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

        Thanks for reading the Hub, magnoliazz, glad you enjoyed reading about Ahmose-Nefertari

        Glad you find reading about Ancient Egypt,dreamreachout, there's lots of good Ancient Egypt Hubs on HubPages

      • profile image

        dreamreachout 

        8 years ago

        Egyptian history is always interesting to read and more here because of the wonderful details!! Thumbs up!!

      • magnoliazz profile image

        magnoliazz 

        8 years ago from Wisconsin

        A lot of work and research went into this hub. Thank you!

      • CMHypno profile imageAUTHOR

        CMHypno 

        8 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

        Hi Arthur, I agree with you about the lifespans in ancient times issue. There were some very long lived pharoahs (both Ramsses II and Pepi II are supposed to have made it into their 90's) and some dying young. I think that the average well-nourished ancient Egyptian probably could expect to live until their 40s. As you say the infant and child mortality rate was high and the very poor and mal-nourished would not have such a good life expectancy.

        Will pop along to the blog and read your comment!

      • Arthur Windermere profile image

        Arthur Windermere 

        8 years ago

        Very interesting hub, CMHypno. I like your historical hubs and I must admit I was hoping your jewelry series would soon give way to them. :D

        I'm always suspicious of claims about average lifespan in ancient societies, however. 25 seems very young. The problem with averages is they take child-deaths into account. But surely those who made it to adulthood lived to old age?

        By the way, when I was googling my own hubpages articles, I came across a blog referencing my Lost Books hub and I left a comment. At the time I didn't make the connection with the 'hypno' part, but I believe that's actually your blog. Sorry about that. I'm not "cyber-stalking" you; it's just a coincidence.

      • CMHypno profile imageAUTHOR

        CMHypno 

        8 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

        Thanks Hello,hello. Glad you liked the Hub on Ahmose-Nefertari. I find that researching Egyptian queens and their history and accomplishments is very interesting - it can't all be about the boys!

      • Hello, hello, profile image

        Hello, hello, 

        8 years ago from London, UK

        That is a very comprehensive hub. I enjoyed reading and learning from it. Thank you so much.

      • CMHypno profile imageAUTHOR

        CMHypno 

        8 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

        Hi WriteAngled, glad you enjoyed the Hub - I think that people tend to see women in the ancient world as being passive figures, but especially in Egypt women could gain a lot of religious, political and administrative power.

        As to the headress, at the time of Ahmose-Nefertari the title of 'Great Royal Wife' was still a relatively new one and evolving, so probably the tradition of which headress to be depicted in hadn't be so firmly established at that time. Also she doesn't strike me as the type of woman who did what she was told! LOL!

      • WriteAngled profile image

        WriteAngled 

        8 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

        Good to see information on powerful women from Egypt. If she did take on administration of the Temple of Amun, this would have been a huge job for one person!

        Just one small query: I always thought the Great Royal Wife wore the vulture headress of Mut, being seen as the "mother of the land". Or was that a later development? On the other hand, Mut was eventually fused into the triple form Mut-Isis-Nekhbet...

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