Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Nefertiti bust has been in the blogs again with Andie Byrnes reporting that 1.2 million people viewed it last year.  So we know what Nefertiti looked like.

Or do we?  I mentioned the papers written in memorial to Bill Murnane some time ago, but I am still working through them.  I recommend the paper by Earl L Ertman on the Images of Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti in the Style of the Previous Reign [Amenhotep III].  Relatively few images of Nefertiti have been identified from the reign of Amenhotep III (or perhaps more precisely, few images showing pre-Amarnan styling), but Ertman still charts changes in the representation of Nefertiti.  The changes in the representation of Akhenaten are well known, but less has been written on the changes in the representation of Queen Nefertiti.  Comparing the images in the paper with the famous bust, there are clear differences for example in the shape of the eyes.  While it is tempting to assume that the bust is a photographic representation of Nefertiti, there are grounds for feeling that Amarna era images are more stylised that faithful portraits.

The portrayal of royalty is often not accurate.  Even portaits of HM Queen Elizabeth are remarkably varied and, in candour, some do not especially look like her Majesty.  In Medieval England portraits of English queens often depicted them with blonde hair because that we the popular feminine ideal, even though they are now known to have had dark hair (for instance some Spanish princesses).

There is no doubt that the bust is a wonderful piece of art, but it may still be an idealised representation.

29 comments:

tim said...

Hi Kate

Lots of interesting articles here.

The beautiful bust in Berlin is certain a compliment of the woman depicted but one wonders if in real life if the woman depicted was ravishingly ugly would the bust be any less beautiful?

The identity of the woman is unknown but is believed to be Nefertiti based on her hat? I would guess that the king of Egypt would have his choice of just about any beautiful woman he wanted of course such a rule may go out the window if his wife is also his big sister.

Thankfully there is no evidence that Nefertiti and Akhenaton were siblings so lets say Nefertiti was more likely to be very pretty.

Her charm on the other hand may be a different matter!

rymerster said...

I took some photos of the replica Nefertiti bust in the Science Museum in London. It looks like an exact replica and includes some of the detail that was noted by the CT scan studies of the real thing (bump on not so straight nose, lines under the eyes etc). From some angles the bust looks very angular, very Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten, also reminiscent of the Karnak talatat depictions of Nefertiti.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rymerster/

John Bright said...

With regard to Nefertiti's appearance, does anyone recall the flurry of interest that Joanne Fletcher created when she hoped she had identified the body of the younger woman in KV35 as that of Nefertiti? I assume that the identification is "non-proven", but is there any further information on this? Since the publication of Doctor Fletcher's book and the airing of the television documentary, the idea seems to have been quietly neglected. As to Nefertiti not being Akhnaten's sister, Manetho records that a pharaoh at the end of Dynasty 18 was succeeded by his sister. If Nefertit did indeed become a pharaoh in her own right, as some argue,this might suggest she was related. (I doubt it myself, but as Akhnaten seems to have married one of his own daughters perhaps it is a possibility)

Anonymous said...

John - According to Manetho (a questionable source although not one to be ignored) Akhenaten was followed to the throne by "Akenkeres," who was a "King's daughter," not a sister.

- Rodolfo

Marianne Luban said...

In Manetho's 18th Dynasty, a king named "Orus", reigning for just over 35 years, is followed by his daughter "Akencheres", most certainly form of "Ankhkheperure". It is commonly believed that "Orus" represents Amenhotep III for some reason, the only pharaoh who ruled for more than 36 years at this point in the dynasty. Akhenaten does not seem to be included in the kinglist. Can he and Nefertiti have been brother and sister? I think they must have been because, early in their reign, they styled themselves as the personifications of Shu and Tefnut, a pair of twins, one male and the other female, who formed a sort of "holy trinity" with Ra, they having sprung from the god in the first place. If Nefertiti had not been Akhenaten's sister, I don't know how they could have asserted this--it hardly makes sense if Nefertiti was born of commoners. Furthermore, it also explains why Nefertiti seems to have become a co-regent with Akhenaten in later times. The only reason I can see for this happening is if Akhenaten became a sick man, incapacitated in some way. At any rate, a sister of the king, a king's daughter, becoming a co-regent seems preferable to one of non-royal blood. But, of course, Nefertiti really could not succeed Akhenaten once he died. His children would supplant her in the line of succession, with the males given preference. However, that does not necessarily mean this is what happened. It seems to me that the end of Akhenaten's era saw an Egypt in a shaky condition and so perhaps a male ruler was thought the best plan to lend the impression of stability. Foreign policy was at a very low point and it was likely thought that rulers of other lands would be more impressed by a king instead of a woman-king. Therefore, Smenkhkare became pharaoh, he probably being either a brother or a son of Akhenaten by a lesser wife, who then married Meritaten, the eldest daughter of Akhenaten by the chief queen, Nefertiti. How Tutankhamun fits into all this is hard to know for sure.

John Bright said...

If Akhnaten and Nefertiti were sisters, what becomes of the identification of Ay as her father and therefore Akhnaten's father in law?
As to Akhnaten, Smenkhkare and Tutankhamun being brothers, this was the core of the long co-regency theory which would have all three as sons of Amenhotep III. This idea suggests that it would not be Akhnaten who was unwell but his father. It also means that Akhnaten spent much of his rule as co-regent:- if you accept this theory!
What astonishes me is the size of the Aten temples built at Karnak in the five or so years before the move to Amarna: their combined area rivals that of the contemporary temple of Amun Re itself.

Marianne Luban said...

There is really nothing to prove that Ay was the father of Nefertiti. So it really is only a theory. In Ay's commoner tomb at El Amarna, it says nothing about him being the father-in-law of the king. The only mention of Nefertiti is in conjunction with Tey, Ay's wife, who is styled "nurse of the goddess", meaning Nefertiti. There is also a woman named Mutbeneret, who is called "sister" of Nefertiti elsewhere, but "sAt" could mean "cousin" as well as "sister", so it may be that this girl was the daughter of Ay and Tey and that Ay was the brother of Queen Tiye. For Tey to have been a nurse to a "goddess", it seems unlikely that Nefertiti would have been of commoner origin. In order to get around this, scholars have invented a first wife for Ay, the one who gave birth to Nefertiti, he then marrying her nanny. That is because "God's Father", a title of Ay was construed to mean "father-in-law" of a king, but a recent discussion on the EEF [about two months ago if you can access the archive] demonstrates that this title was a religious one and, if an actual father-in-law of a king happened to hold it--then so be it.

Akhenaten, Smenkhkare and Tutankhamun cannot all have been sons of Amenhotep III. It is mathematically not viable, since Tut was only around 18 when he died, Akhenaten reigned a minimum of 17 years and Smenkhkare at least one. There are no sons depicted at Akhetaten, only girls, until after Year 12 of Akhenaten. Then in a tomb scene at around the time of the death of Princess Meketaten, there is a baby to whom much deference is shown and who is probably the long-awaited heir. I follow Gabolde on this. The newer theory that this depicts Meketaten reborn does not hold much water, IMO.

Marianne Luban said...

Sorry, I meant to write "snt" but see I wrote "sAt", instead.

John Bright said...

Though I do not think there was a long co-regency between Amenhotep III and Akhnate, the theory does support the mathematical possibility that his 3 successors were brothers, especially if Smenkhkare also ruled as Akhnaten's co-regent. In this scenario, Tiye would have borne Tutankhamen at the end of Amenhotep'r reign. As I said, I don't think the theory viable for other reasons, but it does allow for this possibility.

JOhn Bright said...

Ay undoubtedly held much power. How he came by this is unclear. It might have been through his often overlooked army position or it might have been because of his blood ties to the ruling family. There has been conjecture he was a son of Yuya and Tuya, making him a brother of Tiye. It has long been held he was Nefertiti's father, but if this can now be shown conclusively to be untrue, it means his claim to the throne at Tutankhamen's death was through his power base rather than any blood line. In this case, it shows Egypt ruled by three successive unrelated kings, all with army connections.

Stephanie said...

That was my own theory too, but the DNA testing has shown that Tiye cannot have been Tut`s mother. And both their mummies yielded complete DNA-data ( if one can call a data-set with eight markers complete that is).

Still I think there is no reason to completely refute any co-regency on these grounds.
Even when we disregard evidence like the two cartouches of AmenhotepIII and Akhenaten on the fragment of Meketaten`s sarcophagus, Tiye`s supposed age at death which is estimated around 50 calls for an overlapping of the different reigns for at least several years.
Given that AmenhotepIII reigned 39 years, Akhenaten 17, Semenkhkare 1 and Neferneferuaten 3 years makes a total of at least 60 years or at least 56 years if the two last reigns were included in Akhenaten`s reign.
So Tiye wouldn`t even have been born at the start of her husbands reign.

If one wants to push her age up in order to make things possible without co-regency one would have to make her at least 70 years old so that she would have been 10 when she became Great Royal Wife.

The signs of ageing and wear on her mummy did not justify such a high age estimate though, so I`m still going for a co-regency.

John Bright said...

The body of the older woman from KV35 that has been identified as Tiye has an estimated age of 48-50.It has long been assumed that both she and Amenhotep III were children when he became king. The estimates of the age of his mummy at 50 years would tend to support this. The programme shown on British television claimed the body of the younger woman from KV35 was Tutankhamen's mother (This is the body Joanne Fletcher identified as Nefertiti though Nicholas Reeves had proposed it was Sitamen). I gather from some very technical discussions in American medical journals that these findings are disputed.
Tiye is shown alive in Year 12 of Akhnaten's reign. At this time Tutankamen could have been 4 years old: old enough to remember his possible grandmother in later life perhaps and to cherish a lock of her hair???

Stephanie said...

First I must correct my recent comment. I forgot to take into account that Tiye died at some point after year 12, somehow my mind ran away with me.
But still her husband`s 39-year reign together with at least12, probably 14 years of Akhenaten would make her at least 60 years old at death, even if she was not yet 10 at her marriage.

Interesting what John said that the claim that KVYL is Tut`s mother is being disputed. Exactly by whom is it disputed and on which grounds?

I have heard earlier that the sibling relationship between Tut`s parents is also being doubted by some.

I wonder what will remain in the end of all the findings.

John Bright said...

It only makes her 60-ish if you add her possible age at the start of Amenhotep's reign to the length of his period of rule and then add 12 for the year of Akhnaten's rule. This is why the theory of a long co-regency has some merits as it reduces her age to fit that of the KV35 mummy. If I recall correctly, I think the marriage was celebrated by the issue of a commemorative scarab dated to Year Two. It is also conjectured that Amenhotep was still in the care of a tutor at his accession, Given their youth, it is fair to assume that their first child would not have been born immediately.

Anonymous said...

Journal of the American Medical Association has an extensive discussion of the DND findings

Kate Phizackerley said...

The timeframe is problematic. I seem to recall that Tim Reid wrote an article about a year ago on the co-regency betweeb Amenhotep III and IV that was highly persuasuve. I am less convinced of co-regencies involving Akhenaten's successors.

Ay's age is also problematic if he was a child of Yuya and Thuya as is often thought, to the extent that there may have been two Ayes.

Marianne Luban said...

Well, a co-regency of two years between Amenhotep III and Akhenaten is accepted by many on account of a mirror heb-sed. But there are other possibilities that could lower the age of the Elder Lady. First, Akhenaten didn't go to live at his model city until his Year 5 and didn't begin his full-scale persecution of other gods besides the Aten until Year 9.
So that may mean he was not on his own, free to do so, for a full nine years. That lowers the age of Queen Tiye to around 50. I will have to look at a couple of my documentaries to see what the Egyptians got from the CT-scan of the lady's remains.

Kate Phizackerley said...

Indeed as the article from John Samsen highlights, Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) was very busy at Karnak early in his reign.

John Bright said...

If (and there seem to be too many "ifs" in the Amarna Period) Ay was younger than Tiye, assuming for argument's sake by two years, and assuming Tiye died aged about 50 soon after Year 12 of Akhnaten, this would make him 45 to 50 at that time. By Akhnaten's death he would have been 50 to 55. Allow 10 years for Smenkhkare and Tutankhamen, that would make him 60 to 65 at his accession and 64 to 69 at his death. Undoubtedly a good age for an Ancient Egyptian, but not impossible. However, this argument is based on an assumption!
A further intriguing thought concerning Ay, where did he build his new tomb after Tutankhamen left Amarna? If the court was at Memphis, did Ay intend to be buried close to Maya and Horemheb? If so, that would suggest there are remains to be found there, yet to my knowledge, there are no reported finds from the area.

Stephanie said...

It is indeed intruiging that no post-Amarna tomb has been found which could be assigned to Aye, neither in the Saqqara region nor anywhere else.

This is IMO one point in favour for the theory that KV62 was intended for Aye as a commoner, having probably been granted to him due to his closeness (family ties?) to the king.

Officials who held the highest positions such as Maya and Horemheb were "only" allowed to build lavish tombs at Saqqara, but they were not treated to the alleged blessings of a burial among kings.

Stephanie said...

To anonymous:
Can you please say which issue of JAMA you have in mind?
I have read the issue from February in which the findings are presented and another issue (I think from June this year) which contains several critical letters. But in these letters only some of the radiological findings and the methods of carrying out the testing were disputed, not the DNA-test results.

Has someone seriously contended the validity of some of the assumed relationships, maybe based on different data or interpretation of data?

Marianne Luban said...

There are hardly any tombs we know of for the officials of the entire reign of Tutankhamun. There is Horemheb's tomb at Saqqara and that of Maya seems to have been begun in Tut's reign but finished much later, the artistic styles within the structure varying greatly. There is the female Maya, his nurse. At Thebes there is Amenhotep the Viceroy of Kush. Right now I can't think of anybody else at Thebes, although there may be more and others not found. After all, even that of the two Mayas were lost until quite recently.

John Bright said...

Donald Redford lists the tomb of another general, Amenemone, at Memphis, referring to further reliefs of Asiatic captives. Dr. Geoffrey Martin also refers to this tomb along with those of Iny,Ipy, Meryptah, Nia, and Ptahemhet. All of these are listed as "Late 18th Dynasty". While this time scale is not exclusively that of Tutankhamen, it does point to extensive use of the Memphis area in this period with the suggestion of more discoveries to be made. He gives even more late 18th Dynasty tombs from the area of the pyramid of King Teti including Thay, Huy and Merya.

Kate Phizackerley said...

Was Ay a commoner during Tutankhamun's reign? On Tut's death, Ay took over without a coup so far as we know which suggests he could already have been regarded as the heir presumptive. Clearly, even if not of royal birth, his pedigree must have been impeccable. Under the circumstances, is not not possible that Ay would have been granted permission to build a tomb in the Valley of the Kings? It is sometimes suggested that KV62 was intended for Ankesenamun, but might it not have been dug for Ay before Tut died?

John Bright said...

Ay was vizier under Tutankhamen. There is a relief/inscription on an architrave found inside the IXth Pylon on which he is referred to as Tutankhamen's "son". Needless to say this is not to be taken literally, but it indicates that Ay was regarded as far more than a commoner. As for tombs, Tuthmosos IV was king for about 10 years and the workers in The Valley carved a pretty impressive tomb for him. Tutankhamen was ruler for 9 years and was buried in KV62. The contrast is thought provoking. Kv 62 does not approach a royal tomb in its conception. The tomb of Ay in the West Valley, on the other hand has design feature that belong in a royal interment: it is just unfinished, presumably cut short by Ay's death. If it was intended for Tutankhamen, why was work so far behind?
One belated comment on Ay's title of Divine Father or Father of the god, Gardiner refers to this title as a class of priests in his Egyptian Grammar. He makes no mention in the edition I have of it referring to Pharaoh's father-in-law. Where did this interpretation originate?

Stephanie said...

The suggestion that God`s father is a title given to a king`s father-in-law comes mainly from Yuya whowas God`s father as well as father-in-law to AmenhotepIII.
Because ofthis title Aye has tentatively been seen by many as Nefertiti`s father,but AFAIK many holders of this title were no known in-laws to their king such as the Viceroy Amenhotep-Huy, so I think God`s father refers to either a tutor of a prince or a religious office.

Interesting the suggestion that KV62 may have been intended for Ankhesenamun which frankly is new to me.
But was it not more common at that time to bury husband and wife in one tomb?
Aye`s tomb looks like it may have served as his wife`s tomb as well and AmenhotepIII`s tomb likely contained a chamber for Queen Tiye and one for Sitamun as well. A different story is if they were ever buried there.
So maybe Aye`s tomb was originally planned for both Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun?

I do wonder though like John why works on Tut`s tomb had not progressed as far as they should have after 9 or 10 years of reign.

John Bright said...

Quite by chance, I came across a passage in Arthur Weigall's book on Akhnaten. In this, he mentions it was Ludwig Borchardt who first interpreted Ay's title to mean father in law.
As to KV62, there are similarities to KV55, in particular the drop from the entrance corridor into the main chamber.

Kate Phizackerley said...

I haven't come across anybody who believes that KV62 was intended for Tutankhamun so the question was whose tomb was it? Ankhesenamun is one of the potential candidates.

It is thought by some that WV23 was the tomb intended for Tutankhamun and was usurped by Ay. The design though doesn't seem to include an obvious satelite chamber for a queen which casts some doubt on whether it was dug for Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun, but if it was then Ankhesenamun would have needed a separate tomb if no provision had been made for her in the king's tomb. It's just another of the mysteries.

John Bright said...

The tomb of Ay (WV23) follows the traditional 18th Dynasty design except it was never completed. It has two corridors leading to a square chamber which would have been the "well". This is followed by the chamber in which there would have been a hidden stairway in the floor. This was never cut and the chamber was adapted as a makeshift burial chamber off of which opens a room that may have been intended for canopic equipment. The tomb was never cut far enough for a suite of rooms for a queen as in the tomb of Amenhotep III. It is in a very isolated position at the head of the West Valley. Having walked to it from the car park (and back), I wonder how Belzoni came to find it. Clearly, though, this isolation did not save it from robbery.

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