Nefertiti - HISTORY
One of the most mysterious and powerful women in ancient Egypt, Nefertiti was queen alongside Pharaoh Akhenaten from to B.C. and may have. Akhenaten was best known for abolishing ancient Egypt's pantheon in favor of records do not indicate that Nefertiti and Akhenaten were related. the young pharaoh's body—the oldest known genetic proof of the disease. Akhenaten was a pharaoh who made religious reforms, built a new capital at Akhenaten: Egyptian Pharaoh, Nefertiti's Husband, Tut's Father . of the adults had degenerative joint disease, likely from hauling heavy loads.
Long forgotten to history, Nefertiti was made famous when her bust was discovered in the ruins of an artist's shop in Amarna innow in Berlin's Altes Museum. The bust is one of the most copied works of ancient Egypt. New World Encyclopedia Nefertiti is depicted in images and statuary in a large image denoting her importance. Many images of her show simple family gatherings with her husband and daughters. She is also known as the mother-in-law and stepmother of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun.
Nefertiti's parentage is not known with certainty, but it is generally believed that she was the daughter of Ay, later to be pharaoh after Tutankhamen. She had a younger sister, Moutnemendjet. Another theory identifies Nefertiti with the Mitanni princess Tadukhipa.
Images exist depicting Nefertiti and the king riding together in a chariot, kissing in public, and Nefertiti sitting on the king's knee, leading scholars to conclude that the relationship was a genuine one.
Akhenaten: Egyptian Pharaoh, Nefertiti's Husband, Tut's Father
King Akhenaton's legendary love is seen in the hieroglyphs at Amarna, and he even wrote a love poem to Nefertiti: A "house altar" depicting Akhenaten, Nefertiti and three of their daughters; limestone c. The king led a religious revolution closing the older temples and promoting Aten's central role. Nefertiti had played a prominent role in the old religion, and this continued in the new system. She worshiped alongside her husband and held the unusual kingly position of priest of Aten. In the new, virtually monotheistic religion, the king and queen were viewed as "a primeval first pair," through whom Aten provided his blessings.
They thus formed a royal triad or trinity with Aten, through which Aten's "light" was dispensed to the entire population. During their rule, Egypt ruled an empire that stretched from Syria, in west Asia, to the fourth cataract of the Nile River in modern-day Sudan.
They note that while previous Egyptian kings would likely have launched a military expedition into west Asia as a result of these acts, Akhenaten appears to have done nothing. Montserrat notes that at Karnaka temple complex near Luxor that was devoted to Amun-Ra, the king would have a series of Aten temples built, their construction beginning perhaps in his very first year of rule.
Even at this early stage, he appeared to have a dim view of the god Amun, whom Karnak was dedicated to. Montserrat notes that the axis of the new Aten complex was built facing to the east, toward the rising sun, whereas the rest of Karnak is oriented towards the west, where ancient Egyptians believed the underworld to be.
Egyptologist James Allen notes in his book "Middle Egyptian: Archaeologist Barry Kemp, who leads modern-day excavations at the site of Amarna, notes in his book "The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti" Thames and Hudson, that researchers have found figures depicting other deities, such as Bes and Thoth, at Amarna.
Grotesque art In addition to his radical religious changes, Akhenaten also unleashed a revolution in the way art was drawn. Before his time Egyptian art, especially those portraying royalty, tended to show a stiff, structured, formal style. The royal family was even drawn in a way that conveyed intimate moments. Nor is it hard to understand why he should want a city like this, if one looks at things from his perspective.
To start with, desolate locations like el-Amarna have a long history of attracting religious sectarians of Akhenaten's sort—environments like that certainly appealed to the desert fathers of early Christianity and various groups of American pioneers—all of whom have also felt at home in places distant from traditional communities and accepted practices of government and worship. Furthermore, from Akhenaten's viewpoint, Akhetaten was not without certain charms.
Lodged in a recess in the highlands flanking the Nile, the site provides spectacular dawns, and indeed, at certain times of year the sun appears to rise from a yoke in the mountains which embodies beautifully the solar iconography seen in much of the artwork created during the Amarna period.
All in all, it's not hard to imagine the morning Akhenaten awoke on his royal barge as he was sailing down the Nile, looking for a place to build a new city, and saw this sight, a site so suited to his solitary nature and obsession with the sun. Akhenaten's Early Reign BCE How that obsession developed and, in general, the path which led to this point in his career are not difficult to reconstruct, either.
Although the earliest stages of Akhenaten's life reveal few overt signs of the religious revolution on the horizon, there are several significant hints as to the radical changes about to sunburn Egypt. Even if the clarity of hindsight sometimes makes things look predictable when they're not, these omens are truly telling.
By all appearances, it was a smooth transition of power and, even though he had not always been the heir apparent—his older brother had been groomed for the kingship but had died several years earlier—the young Akhenaten was not unprepared to wield the crook-and-flail because, to judge from his last portraitshis father suffered a lingering malady of some sort which slowly killed him, so it would make sense that, as his health declined, he handed at least some of the reins of government to his chosen successor, even if one chosen largely by default.
None of that, however, would have helped Akhenaten feel part of or indebted to the traditional structures of Egyptian government and religion in the day. Almost as soon as Akhenaten became the sole ruler of Egypt, he began to alter the traditional presentation of the pharaoh and the ways state business was conducted.
For instance, he took on a new title, "Prophet of Ra-Horakhte" "Ra of the Horizon" —note no Amun, the god of mysteries and hidden truth whose name appears in so many Egyptian appellations, e. Amunhotep and Tutankhamun—"Prophet of Ra-Horakhte" hints at a certain degree of dissatisfaction with conventional religion, especially since by Akhenaten's day Amun had long been seen as the central deity in the extensive pantheon of Egyptian gods whose center of worship was Thebes, the capital city of Egypt.
But soon a new day would dawn and Akhenaten would change all that. The Middle and End of Akhenaten's Reign BCE Just two or three years into his reign, there is clear evidence that a major shift in Egyptian religion has begun.
By now the pharaoh had moved the court and capital away from Thebes to Akhetaten and had adopted a new title, the name we know him by, Akhenaten which means in Egyptian "he is agreeable Akhen- to the sun-disk -aten. And as if that weren't enough, archaeological evidence shows that around this time Akhenaten began closing down Amun temples across Egypt and even had the name Amun erased from some inscriptions.
Later, he went so far as to order the word "gods" removed and changed to "god," wherever it occurred in public inscriptions.
Akhenaten: Egyptian Pharaoh, Nefertiti's Husband, Tut's Father
Whether or not this is monotheism by theological standards, it's certainly grammatical monotheism. But what was Akhenaten's beef with Amun? Why did he dislike this god so intensely? Scholars have suggested it was because Amun as the god of secrets was too obscure a deity, too inaccessible to the public. Indeed, shrines to Amun are invariably situated in the middle of temple complexes, roofed and dark, where priests alone may enter and then only on special occasions.
Perhaps Akhenaten wished to open up Egyptian religion to a wider clientele, not just the clergy, and so he constructed a capital which was the antithesis of Amun worship, exposed as much as possible to the full light of day, as the buildings of Akhetaten are: Indeed, a letter found among the remains of Akhetaten confirms exactly this.
Writing to Akhenaten, the Assyrian king complains that the emissaries he sent to Egypt nearly died of sunstroke when they were attending some royal ceremony at the pharaoh's capital: Why are my messengers kept in the open sun? They will die in the open sun. If it does the king good to stand in the open sun, then let the king stand there and die in the open sun.
The heat of the Egyptian midday is, in fact, torturous through much of the year, but standing in the sun and basking in its brilliance is also a natural extension of Akhenaten's religious revolution, something virtually all the art of Amarna culture demonstrates.
And this is very different from the way Amun was worshiped, surely an advantage in Akhenaten's mind. It may even help to explain Akhenaten's premature death: Art and Iconography in Akhenaten's Reign The religious iconography of Akhenaten's new belief system centered around the aten as a divine presence.
Representing the life-giving force of the universe, the sun-disk is often depicted in either abstract or personified form, occasionally both at the same time. Though it's most often pictured as a mere circle with rays of light radiating downward, the aten also appears sometimes with little hands appended onto the ends of its solar beams holding out to worshipers the ankh, the Egyptian sign of life.
In a few instances, the hands are even shoving the ankh rather unceremoniously up the noses of the blessed, a figurative assertion, no doubt, that the sun offers the "breath of life. Humorous as it may be to some of us, the significance of this symbol is nevertheless profound, indeed probably revolutionary to an Egyptian of the day. The sun-worship Akhenaten was promoting surely reminded many of Old Kingdom theology, by now a millennium old, and its false but pervasive reputation for tyranny see above, Section 5.
More than one Egyptian at the time, particularly those in the Amun priesthood, must have asked themselves, "Sun disks?
In fact, it looked forward more than backwards in time, at least inasmuch as the new religion prefigured a very different conception of godhead. Though the aten is sometimes depicted as having human or animal attributes, their frequent absence stands in strong contrast to standard Egyptian practice.
The goddess Isis, for instance, is often shown as part-woman, part-cow, and the face of her deceased husband Osiris is sometimes painted green to demonstrate that he represents the rebirth of vegetation in the spring. But unlike either of them, Akhenaten's aten is the font of all being, which means by nature he cannot be restricted in form, and thus is almost always presented as the aptly universal and geometric solar circle.
The little hands attached to his sun-rays run counter to this perception of the god and are, no doubt, a reflection of convention and popular taste. Even to say "he" of the aten is perhaps too restrictive for this universalist conception of deity—gender is clearly not relevant to sun-disks—and stranger yet, to say "he" of Akhenaten himself isn't always valid either.
Male and female styles which are usually discrete in traditional Egyptian art blend together in peculiar fashion throughout Amarna culture, extending as far as royal portraiture.
Akhenaten, for instance, is shown in a series of colossi large statues; singular, colossus lacking male genitalia, and in general, his depiction is odd, to say the least.
He's often portrayed as pot-bellied, slouching, thick-lipped, with a big chin and pointed head, which has led scholars to suppose he suffered from some sort of birth defect, resulting in eunuchoidism. But if so, how did he sire a family, for in art he appears with as many as six different daughters?
And those are only the ones he had by his principal wife. That raises another fascinating and enigmatic issue concerning Akhenaten's revolution, the centrality of his family in the public presentation of his regime.
Not only do we have many depictions of the beautiful Nefertiti, Akhenaten's principal wife—more, in fact, than of Akhenaten himself!
Reliefs even show the royal couple playing with the girls. Like no pharaoh before or after him, Akhenaten was family-oriented. Thus, it seems unlikely he was a eunuch, but instead the real father of the children he professes, at least through his art, to adore so fondly.
But the gender-bending portraits of him seem ill-suited for such a family man, by modern standards at least. And Nefertiti's depictions are not immune to cross-gendering, either. She's shown at least once wearing the blue crown, the helmet kings don as they go into battle. She's the only Egyptian queen ever known to have been depicted that way, including Hatshepsut, the woman who ruled Egypt singlehandedly for two decades a century before see Section 9. There's something very odd, by any standard, about the way the Amarna rulers chose to portray themselves.
Indeed, the entire family is depicted with elongated faces and skulls, wide hips and sagging bellies. The tall hat Nefertiti wears in her famous bust is probably covering—perhaps even accentuating—her pointed head beneath, even though surely she was not congenitally deformed, and as the mother of six daughters, certainly not barren. Nor were the girls, which is all the more evidence Akhenaten also was not.
Naturalistic portraiture seems a less likely explanation of the oddities inherent in this family than some sort of stylized rendering. There's doubtless something abnormal about them, but what? That the royal family was the only group ever portrayed this way is surely a clue.
To depict Akhenaten's entire immediate family—and only them—in such an unusual manner must signify something.
Nefertiti - Wikipedia
Perhaps their different look is meant to highlight exactly that, the fact that they're different. Maybe the royal family is supposed to represent something alien, transcendental, not bound to human or earthly distinctions such as gender. It's easy to see why this would appeal to Akhenaten, nor is it hard to understand why Nefertiti might go along with being designated as super-special, and the children would, of course, have been too young to have a choice or even know the difference.
All this concurs well with Akhenaten's religion, where the pharaoh was said to serve as the conduit between humanity and the aten. In other words, it's through and because of him the sun-disk bestows life on the planet. In his own words, a hymn Akhenaten claims to have composed himself about the aten, "There is no other who knows you except your son, Akhenaten.
One way or another, before Akhenaten's day the Egyptians had always considered the sun a god and the royal family was for the most part seen as divine, but as the only divine presence in the universe? That, indeed, was something different. The imagery of Amarna culture with all of its strangeness has attracted not only scholars but a wide range of iconoclasts, revolutionaries and weirdos of every ilk, who have latched onto this radiant, unworldly, rebel pharaoh and more often than not caught the reflection of their own oddity in his slouching, fat-lipped silhouette.
The many answers posited to the riddle of Akhenaten are, in any case, less important than the few, frail realities clinging to his reign and the questions they leave at our feet. Among them, how did he sustain such a bizarre reordering of the celestial kingdom? For more than a decade, we must remember, Akhenaten kept his divine fantasies afloat even as he faced down the Amun priesthood, traditional cults in Egypt and a nation long nurtured on a pantheon of gods numbering by that day in the thousands.
Before we can ask why any of this happened or what happened to it, we must first try to understand how it happened at all. Akhenaten must have had some supporters, besides the usual lunatic fringe and sycophant wing who will follow any maniac into the wilderness.