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Ancient Egyptians Queens: Arsinoe II and Nefertiti

Some ancient Egyptian queens were known for their beauty, while others were known for their influence regarding important matters of the country. In the case of Nefertiti, she was recognized for both her appearance and the role she played in changing ancient Egyptian religion by shifting the way the people worshipped. In this article, Egyptian queens Arsinoe II and Nefertiti are discussed.

Arsinoe II

Berenice and Ptolemy I had a daughter named Arsinoe II around 316 BC. The child would later become the queen of Thrace and Egypt. Arsinoe’s father was the founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty in ancient Egypt. During her lifetime, Arsinoe had two husbands and would later conspire to make sure her own son took the throne of Egypt.

First, she took Lysimachus, the king of Thrace, as her husband. They married around 300. In 277, she became the wife of her brother, king Ptolemy II. When Arsinoe was a Thracian queen, she had plans to make one of her sons heir to the throne. In the end, she sparked a war and caused the death of her husband. When she was married to Ptolemy, she was considerably powerful and was most likely deified as a result.

Facts About Arsinoe II

Arsinoe was only 15 years old when she married King Lysimachus. Together, the pair had three sons: Ptolemy, Lysimachus and Philip. To make sure that one of her sons would take the throne, Arsinoe claimed Lysimachus’s first son, Agathocles had committed treason and had him poisoned.

When Lysimachus died in battle, the queen fled to Cassandrea, where she married her half-brother. This marriage was built upon political ambitions and the two both claimed the throne of Macedonia/Thrace. By the time Lysimachus had died, he was ruling both of the regions and his power was acknowledged in south Greece and Asia Minor.  

Arsinoe lived until 270 BC and after her death, Ptolemy II continued to make reference to her on official documents. Coinage was also made in her honor and the king supported a cult devoted to her.

Nefertiti

As wife of the pharaoh Akhenaten/Akhenaton, Nefertiti was the queen of Egypt during 14th century BCE. She was referred to as the Great Royal Wife (or chief consort). The exacts origins of the queen are unknown, but some believe she was a Mitanni princess or the daughter of Ay, who was the brother of Akhenaton’s mother, Tiy.

Nefertiti gave birth to three daughters when living in Thebes before Akhenaten relocated the royal family to Tell el-Amarna. It was there that Nefertiti produced three more daughters.

Facts About Nefertiti

Nefertiti and her husband were known for pushing a religious revolution that established the worship of only one god. The god was Aten , also known as the sun disc.

Nefertiti was also known for her beauty. Her name actually meant “a beautiful woman has come.”

Nefertiti is one of the most recognizable of ancient Egyptian queens because of her bust, which now resides in the Neues Museum in Berlin. The bust has become one of the most copied works associated with ancient Egypt.