Queens played great roles during the period of New kingdom Egypt. They were known as the Great Royal Wife’s of the pharaohs and contributed politically, religiously and diplomatically influencing the roles of women during this period, and even future queens. Queen Tiye was an important influence on new kingdom Egypt and was the key wife of Amenhotep III and they ruled a peaceful reign. Tiye was the daughter of Yuya which was a officer in the chariotry, priest of min and Tuya (chief of harem of Amun and min) which both had Nubian royal blood origins.
Married at a young age, one year after he became pharaoh and gave her the title Great royal wife. Also gave birth to arkhenaten and other children. She greatly shaped foreign relations, religion and politics at the time. She also was greatly altered depictions of the queen in art. She was well educated, competent and complementary rather than dependant on her spouse Amenhotep III impacting the role of women during the period. Historian Robins highlights that the “king could renew himself through female principle… important ritual roles” proving the queen was of key importance to the pharaoh.
Tiye was Represented as the same size as her husband Amenhotep III and was considered to be a traditional queen. She was a leading figure in solar theology however more untraditional inclined changes came with iconography during her time as Great Royal Wife becoming increasingly equal to that of her husband. This proposed the idea that the role of the queen was becoming progressively more important, therefore the depiction of her in equal proportions to her husband suggests that the roles were becoming split between the pharaoh and the queen.
Unlike other queens she was also frequently present in his monuments. She was besides her husband amenhotep III colossal statue in the Medinet Habu temple located in Western Thebes and was also the same size representing her equality. The cobra depicted them as powerful gods. She was glorified and praised by Amenhotep III which is proven by him building her the largest man-made pleasure lake in history, erecting a beautiful palace at one end. Art also depicted her in family scenes which previously were regarded as too intimate such as being Arm in arm(statues).
Through the roles of Tiye, future queens Nefertiti and Nefertari we are able to observe the changing roles of queens influenced them and clearing path for them. The kings built temples to honour them and depicted them as goddesses. Queen Tiye played a great religious role and according to Historian Nicholas Grimal she was the personification of Maat goddess of justice and truth. She was also depicted as goddess ta weret in statues representing fertility and motherhood (mother of Egyptians). A temple was also dedicated to her in Sedianga(Nubia) meaning she was worshiped as a goddess.
Commemorative and marriage scarabs were made for her publicising their marriage and promoting the pharaonic cult as everyone that attended received one meaning they would be remembered. She also participated in religious festivals such as the Sed festival. She also served as a priestess within Amun-Re suggesting that her religious roles were not extensive yet they were still an increase on the contributions to that of her predecessors. A Khan Academy Documentary by Beth Harris shows a headdress worn by Tiye that included horns solar disk, referring to the religion Atenism which is monotheistic and regal promoting the god Aten.
Horns and Feathers on headdress also related to the goddess Hathor. Tiye Served for 50 years as queen advocating political stability, which was widespread and when Amenhotep III was ill she also maintained this stability. She was portrayed as the Sphinx in a pharonic stance which is evident in Tefnut. Meaning similar to the Sphinx Tiye hunts and protects people Egypt. A Steven Khan academy documentary highlighted Tiye’s stable ruling and the fact that she was important and knowledgeable, therefore her son Akhenaten depended on her and respected her, having her actively participate in politics and the affairs of royal court.
She was respected and depended on, and in order to have her actively participate in politics and the affairs of the royal court, he elevated her to a goddess which is shown by the headdress she wore. (Same headdress mentioned above). Armana letters show her foreign and diplomatic power and that she conversed with hittites and mittani addressing diplomatic affairs which were a integral part of Tiye’s role and contribution.
Evidence has made it clear that at least one foreign ruler wrote to her personally concerning matters of state and requesting her support. “Tushratta king of Mitanni” wrote to her personally(Amarna Letters) following death of her husband and other foreign rulers also wrote to her concerning matters of state or asking for support in requests for gold. Tushratta also wrote a letter to Queen Tiye after Akhenaten came to the throne, and in a later letter to Akhenaten, a reference to his mother is made in the opening paragraph outlining her importance to him.
This illustrates the realisation of foreign powers regarding the growing importance and involvement of the queen concerning decision making in relation to Egypt, it also shows the power the queen was beginning to obtain over the pharaoh. She was also the first queen in Egypt to have name on official acts and announcement of the kings marriage to a foreign princess. The achievement, contributions and influence during the New kingdom period of Tiye differed according to their respective influences. Through the roles of Tiye, we are able to observe the changing roles of queens over time.
Tiye was considered to be a traditional queen who greatly influenced queens to come by the power she held mainly politically and diplomatically. Over the time we are able to see that the roles had evolved . The roles contributions of queen Tiye during the new kingdom periods were defiantly an increase on that of queens before them, as they gained vital positions and roles as the Great Royal Wife and also achieved considerable increases in power over Egypt. Another influential Queen during this period was the wife of Akhenaten Nefertiti.
She had a enormous influence on religion and politics in Egypt at the time. She was also depicted in art and played a vital role in her husbands reign and was given pharonic attributes. Nefertiti was seen to be more military minded, wearing the war crown and military skirts in images of her. She had a great religious role during the time while polytheistic tradition changed to a monotheistic ones. She supported the new monotheistic religion to such an extent that she changed her name to ‘Nefertieferuaten Nefertiti’.
Many also believe she was the ‘brain’ behind the religious revolution. She Fully participated in religious ceremonies as seen in relics such as the Hewet-Benben temple in East Karnak. She made offerings to Aten like her husband and prayers were even offered to her. Nefertiti was the female principle of the trinity which the Egyptians prayed to, proving she was regarded as a god alongside Akhenaten and Aten. According to historian Anna Capel, Nefertiti wasn’t only a high priestess but acted as liaison between the people and Aten.
Jimmy Dunn described them as the “primeval first pair” as Aten accessed through them influencing religion. Images of her as a goddess were found on the tomb of Akhenaten to protect him in the afterlife. In art depictions Nefertiti considered age of truth in natural state. Reliefs showed her in her natural state including her imperfections and showing her age. A new form of art by her also showed her in her natural state and allowed reveals of intimacy and informality, even affection and family scenes in which other queens had never been shown before.
Her pharaonic power was shown as she was seen wearing crown of pharaohs which was regarded as controversial and contributed to the developing image of women in the royal family at the time which is a new form of art as highlighted by historian Jimmy Dunn. Politically Nefertiti was very powerful and had a great pharaonic role. Akhenaten stressed regalty by making her of equal power during processions. She was also depicted wearing the royal regalia and smiting enemies which proved her pharaonic role and was usually a symbol associated with the pharaoh.
This influenced the image of women and queens during the time, impacting the traditional roles of queens, giving them more power. Many Historians such as John Harris agree that she shared a co-regency with Akhenaten towards the end of his reign, as the pharaoh Neferneferuaten as his equal. This is depicted by images of her Adjacent to Akhenaten as they received gifts. Historians also have a belief that her political role was so powerful that she was the successor Smenkhare. Nefertiti also had a diplomatic influence and was involved in political issues.
This was shown through the letters of Amarna displaying communication with foreign kings and queens. She also received foreign tributes and envoys. This proves that she had the political power to interact and make vital diplomatic decisions influencing Egypt. In conclusion both Queens, Tiye and Nefertiti had vital contributions and impacts to New Kingdom Egypt as they played enormous religious, political and foreign roles and enhanced the equality between pharaohs and their queens and even women during the period.
Courtney from Study Moose
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