BlackFacts Details

Biography of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti

Egyptian queen - chief wife of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV who took the name Akhenaten

Known for: appearance in Egyptian art, especially the famous bust discovered in 1912 at Amarna; part she probably played in the religious revolution centering on monotheistic worship of the sun disk, Aten

Dates: 14th century BCE, Eighteenth Dynasty.

Name: Nefertiti has been translated as "The Beautiful One Is Come"

Nefertiti was the chief wife (queen) of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep IV who took the name Akhenaten when he led a religious revolution which put the sun god Aten at the center of religious worship. Art from the time shows a close family relationship, with Nefertiti, Akhenaten, and their six daughters depicted more naturalistically, individualistically, and informally than in other eras. Images of Nefertiti also depict her taking an active role in the Aten cult.

For the first five years of Akhenaten"s rule, Nefertiti is depicted in carved images as being a very active queen, with a much more central role in ceremonial acts of worship.

Akhenaten was succeeded first by one Pharaoh, Smenkhkhare, usually described as his son-in-law, and then by another, Tutankhaten (who changed his name to Tutankhamen when the Aten cult was abandoned), who is also usually described as Akhenaten"s son-in-law.

Nefertiti"s Rival?

Tutankhamen"s mother is noted in records as a woman named Kiya.  She may have been a lesser wife of Akhenaten.  Her hair was styled in the Nubian fashion, perhaps indicating her origin. Some images -- a drawing, a tomb scene -- point to the pharaoh morning her death in childbirth.  Images of Kiya were, at some later time, destoyed.

After about fourteen years, Nefertiti disappears from public view.  One theory is that she died about that time.

Another theory of Nefertiti"s disappearance is that she assumed a male identity and ruled under the name Smenkhkhare after her husband"s death.

Another theory is that Nefertiti advocated returning to worship of Aten when Akhenaten and Tutankhamen had turned back to worship of