Tuesday, November 30, 2010


via Wikipedia
There are five Tuesdays this November? Hmmm.

Coherence may be difficult for me today because I'm suffering from some kind of crud my kids brought home. But I went and dug up (not literally) another interesting woman for the Notable Eastern Women series.

I had some great choices. Cleopatra was tempting because she and Antony visited Tarsus, which is not far from where I lived in Mersin. The only thing left there is the "Cleopatra Gate" and it's not very interesting.  Plus everyone already knows her story, venomous snakes and all. Hatshepsut is another Egyptian woman and pharaoh, but a fellow blogger is the expert on her...and I really liked the story of Nefertiti.

Nefertiti was erased from history. Her name was scratched out and where possible, her statues were credited to Kiya, King Tut's mother instead. That tells me two things: 1) She must have been interesting. 2) I should write a post about it!

So, if somebody tried hard to eliminate her from memory, what do we know about her? Enough to write an interesting piece of historical fiction. (Esther Freisner already has: Sphinx's Princess.)

  • She was co-regent with Akhenaten.
  • Her name means ""Beauty has come", so she must have been easy on the eyes. Iconic even.
  • She and Akhenaten supported a monotheistic religious revolution to the sun god, Aten.
  • She only had daughters, so she and Akhenaten were succeeded by the son of Kiya and Akhenaten, Thutankhaten - who eventually changed his name to Thutankhamun.
The mummy of Nefertiti has never been found. Recently, there was an excavation of a small tomb located in a larger, already excavated site. Two women found there were thought to be Nefertiti, but DNA and CT scans were inconclusive. One mummy is supposedly Kiya and the other Queen Tiye. What was interesting about the find, was that Kiya's body seemed to have been desecrated after mumification. The floating theory is that the mummy is indeed Nefertiti, but someone had gone to the trouble of making the body unidentifiable. And inaccesible to the afterlife.

Maybe the key to the story is King Tut.  The biggest clue was his name change from Thutankhaten, "Living Image of Aten", to Thutankhamun, "The Living Image of Amun". He abandoned not only the name, but his father's great city of Amarna, with it's temples honoring the sun god. Did he view Nefertiti as a heretic and order her "disappearance" from every monument and temple? Or was it the priests who finally regained power under an impressionable boy king? A boy king who preferred the memory of his mother to the queen his father adored...

Grey places...I love it!

Next month I'm posting a series called "Western Tales with Eastern Roots". You might be surprised by what I've found.

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Unknown said...

Wow, that's so cool. I love learning new things like this. It makes you wonder what she could have done that was so bad she's been erased. Hope we find out someday.


Jules said...

It seems we have similar tastes in historical women. I watched the excavation you speak of on the history channel. She was fascinating. I want to believe she grew bigger than the King and thus the erasure. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Old Kitty said...

And beautiful she is too!! Look at those amazing cheekbones!! I'd love to have cheekbones like that! :-)

Thank you for such an interesting piece about one of Ancient Egypt's (the world's!) most intriguing and mysterious powerful woman!!!

I wonder what sin she committed to be so erased systematically from her history? Fantastic!

Take care

Golden Eagle said...

I always found Nefertiti interesting . . . thanks for the post!

I'm looking forward to the next series, too. :)

LTM said...

super interesting Carolyn! Thanks--I love stories like this, and I never knew there was so much mystery surrounding Nefertiti. Isn't there a movie coming out...?

I hope you feel better soon. :o\ <3

Danette said...

I love this. I've been staling your blog for a bit but hadn't caught your Noble Eastern Women Series. I have a Egyptian collection at home but haven't really blogged on it. I appreciate the time it took to do this! Great post and I will be back!!!

Laura Pauling said...

I love interesting people from the past like that! Great find.


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