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Ancient Egyptian Queens

Ancient Egypt has produced an array of queens that still capture the attention of people today. With their regal headdresses and eye-catching makeup, some of the women were pretty powerful in their day and age. In this article, you will learn about three female rulers from ancient Egyptian times, including Queen Hatshepsut.

Nefertari

Sharing in the power over Egypt, Nefertari watched over the people with Ramesses the Great during the 19th Dynasty. While she was one of his many wives, she was consistently his favorite companion. While she was born into a family of royalty, not much is known about her parents. However, Nefertari was quite important in history, as the number of monuments erected in her honor is great. Most of the time, she is depicted as standing with Ramesses II. Many believe she was a force in the political arena during her day.

Her husband dedicated a temple in her honor, which was called Abu Simbel. The structure was situated south of Aswan , close to the second Cataract of the Nile. The temple design included four large statues of Ramesses II with a handful of smaller figures at his side. The temple was also dedicated to the goddess Hathor.  

Nefertari was also mother to two sons (Amonhirwonmef and Prehirwonmef), as well as two daughters (Merytamon, and Mertatum).

Nefertiti

With a name that translates into “a beautiful woman has come,” Nefertiti was queen of Egypt and the wife of pharaoh Akhenaten (or Akhenaton). Her husband, who ruled from the middle of the 14th century, was once known in earlier years as Amenhotep IV before he underwent a religious change. Where Nefertiti came from is largely unknown. It is thought that she was a Mitanni princess or the daughter of Ay, who was the brother of Akhenaton’s mother, Tiy.

When her husband embraced a new religion, Nefertiti played a significant role. She became a part of a triad that included Akhenaten’s god Aton and Akehenaten. Before Akhenaten moved the royal family to Tell el-Amarna, they were parents of three daughters when they lived in Thebes. After they relocated, she gave birth to another three daughters.

When depicted in ancient imagery, the queen wore a unique blue crown. Although she is often shown as a beautiful woman, it’s often difficult to tell her and her husband apart in other artistic renderings.

Hatshepsut

One of the most accomplished of queens was Hatshepsut, who was much more than the wife of an Egyptian ruler. Queen Hatshepsut was not only a wife to a pharaoh, but also ruled Egypt as a pharaoh herself. When she undertook this position, she embraced the insignia of a pharaoh, including the beard. She also showcased athletic skill by participating in the pharaoh’s ceremonial race at the Sed festival. During the first half of the 15th century, Hatshepsut began her rule, which lasted for around two decades. If you would like to learn more about Hatshepsut, read the article titled, “Who was Queen Hatshepsut.”