Blog #6: Queen Nefertari

The Armana period brought many important changes. Evidence of Queen Nefertari is proof of the increasing religious role of the queen. She was the first wife of Ramses the Great, and although he had eight principle wives in total and over a hundred children, he always described Nefertari as the most beautiful and perhaps was his most beloved. The queen’s birth parents are a mystery to this day but it has been concluded that her family was a noble one. In 1312 B.C., her and Ramses married, and soon after she gave birth to their first son. In total, she had 11 children, a mix of boys and girls.

Nefertari’s importance goes far beyond being adored by Ramses. The abundance of images of the queen throughout Egypt as well as her noted titles are evidence of her role in religious and state affairs. It cannot be said for sure whether her personality had a major influence or strictly her title and affiliations but her importance is obvious despite the reasons. The most inspiring feature we have discovered is a temple located in the Valley of the Queens, west of the Nile and south of Thebes. Carved into the cliffs are two tombs, a smaller one for her and the larger for her husband. Ramses dedicated the temple to, “the Chief Queen Nefertari…for whom the sun shines,” and paid to cover its costs, according to an inscription.The inside is decorated with elaborate paintings of various colors, as well as relief carvings, a more difficult art in which the carvings pop out from the wall when the rest is cleared away.

The temple wasn’t all romance though. Another proposed function of the temple was propaganda. Ramses needed to stress his power and make it known. He did this by having four large statues of himself built at the front, surrounded by smaller statues of Queen Nefertari. The intimidating but magnificent structures provide an instant visual of the King’s political power, which is probably exactly what he was going for.

Sources:

KingTutOne.com, (2005). Nefertari queen of Egypt. Retrieved from: http://www.kingtutone.com/queens/nefertari/

McDonald, John K., (1996). House of eternity: The tomb of Nefertari. Los Angelos: The J. Paul Getty Trust.

PBS, (Mar 15, 2006). Egypt’s golden empire: Nefertari. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/empires/egypt/newkingdom/nefertari.html

 

 

1 thought on “Blog #6: Queen Nefertari

  1. While largely a male dominated society, there was still room for a number of powerful women throughout Egypt’s history. There are a number of women who rule as Pharaohs for various lengths of time and to various debatable degrees of success. Interestingly, these female rulers use the same title as their male counterparts which leads one to wonder if they were attempting to overcome their societal status as women to reinforce their political position of power or if Pharaoh is meant to be a more genderless term than how we typically envision it today. There are also several women who are remarkable in the minds of Egyptologists without having ruled themselves; Nefertari, as is mentioned here is one example. Another remarkable woman of the New Kingdom is Nefertiti. While she is still generally depicted as lesser than her husband, she is placed in a powerful role as part of the new religious focus on the Aten than many of the queens before her. Sometimes described as a triad in its own right, Nefertiti is frequently depicted along with her husband and Aten as an extension of the divine family. While the Pharaoh is often seen as semi-divine, the high status afforded Nefertiti as being one of the few individuals who is able to act as a direct liaison to the Aten puts her in a position of enormous power and gives her a cult status that is not normally accorded to other Egyptian queens.

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