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The Mysterious Disappearance of Nefertiti, Ruler of the Nile

The Mysterious Disappearance of Nefertiti, Ruler of the Nile



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Nefertiti was the chief consort of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten (formerly Amenhotep IV), who reigned from approximately 1353 to 1336 BC. Known as the Ruler of the Nile and Daughter of Gods , Nefertiti acquired unprecedented power, and is believed to have held equal status to the pharaoh himself. However, much controversy lingers about Nefertiti after the twelfth regal year of Akhenaten, when her name vanishes from the pages of history.

In Akhenaten's new state , religion centred on the sun god, he and Nefertiti were depicted as the primeval first couple. Nefertiti was also known throughout Egypt for her beauty . She was said to be proud of her long, swan-like neck and invented her own makeup using the Galena plant. She also shares her name with a type of elongated gold bead, called nefer, that she was often portrayed as wearing.

Long forgotten to history, Nefertiti was made famous when her bust was discovered in the ruins of an artist's shop in Amarna in 1912, now in Berlin's Altes Museum. The bust is one of the most copied works of ancient Egypt.

The iconic bust of Nefertiti, discovered by Ludwig Borchardt, is part of the Ägyptisches Museum Berlin collection, currently on display in the Altes Museum. Image Source: New World Encyclopedia

Nefertiti is depicted in images and statuary in a large image denoting her importance. Many images of her show simple family gatherings with her husband and daughters. She is also known as the mother-in-law and stepmother of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun .

Nefertiti's parentage is not known with certainty, but it is generally believed that she was the daughter of Ay, later to be pharaoh after Tutankhamen. She had a younger sister, Moutnemendjet. Another theory identifies Nefertiti with the Mitanni princess Tadukhipa.

Nefertiti was married to Amenhotep IV around 1357 BC and was later promoted to be his queen. Images exist depicting Nefertiti and the king riding together in a chariot, kissing in public, and Nefertiti sitting on the king's knee, leading scholars to conclude that the relationship was a genuine one. King Akhenaton's legendary love is seen in the hieroglyphs at Amarna, and he even wrote a love poem to Nefertiti:

…And the Heiress, Great in the Palace, Fair of Face, Adorned with the Double Plumes, Mistress of Happiness, Endowed with Favors, at hearing whose voice the King rejoices, the Chief Wife of the King, his beloved, the Lady of the Two Lands, Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti, May she live for Ever and Always…

The couple had six known daughters, two of whom became queens of Egypt: Meritaten (believed to have served as her father's queen), Meketaten, Ankhesenpaaten/Ankhesenamen (later queen to Tutankhamun), Neferneferuaten Tasherit, Neferneferure, and Setepenre.

A "house altar" depicting Akhenaten, Nefertiti and three of their daughters; limestone c. 1350 B.C.E., Ägyptisches Museum Berlin. Image source: New World Encyclopedia .

New Religion

In the fourth year of Amenhotep IV's reign, the sun god Aten became the dominant national god. The king led a religious revolution closing the older temples and promoting Aten's central role. Nefertiti had played a prominent role in the old religion, and this continued in the new system. She worshiped alongside her husband and held the unusual kingly position of priest of Aten. In the new, virtually monotheistic religion, the king and queen were viewed as "a primeval first pair," through whom Aten provided his blessings. They thus formed a royal triad or trinity with Aten, through which Aten's "light" was dispensed to the entire population.

During Akhenaten's reign (and perhaps after) Nefertiti enjoyed unprecedented power, and by the twelfth year of his reign, there is evidence that she may have been elevated to the status of co-regent, equal in status to the pharaoh himself. She is often depicted on temple walls in the same size as him, signifying her importance, and is shown alone worshiping the god Aten.

The Wilbour Plaque, Brooklyn Museum. Nefertiti is shown nearly as large as her husband, indicating her importance. Image source: Brooklyn Museum

Perhaps most impressively, Nefertiti is shown on a relief from the temple at Amarna smiting a foreign enemy with a mace before Aten. Such depictions had traditionally been reserved for the pharaoh alone, and yet Nefertiti was depicted as such.

Akhenaten had the figure of Nefertiti carved onto the four corners of his granite sarcophagus, and it was she who is depicted as providing the protection to his mummy, a role traditionally played by the traditional female deities of Egypt: Isis, Nephthys, Selket and Neith.

Nefertiti’s Disappearance

In the regal year 12, Nefertiti's name ceases to be found. Some think she either died from a plague that swept through the area or fell out of favour, but recent theories have denied this claim.

Shortly after her disappearance from the historical record, Akhenaten took on a co-regent with whom he shared the throne of Egypt. This has caused considerable speculation as to the identity of that person. One theory states that it was Nefertiti herself in a new guise as a female king, following the historical role of other women leaders such as Sobkneferu and Hatshepsut. Another theory introduces the idea of there being two co-regents, a male son, Smenkhkare, and Nefertiti under the name Neferneferuaten (translated as "The Aten is radiant of radiance [because] the beautiful one is come" or "Perfect One of the Aten's Perfection").

Some scholars are adamant about Nefertiti assuming the role of co-regent during or after the death of Akhenaten. Jacobus Van Dijk, responsible for the Amarna section of the Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, believes that Nefertiti indeed became co-regent with her husband, and that her role as queen consort was taken over by her eldest daughter, Meryetaten (Meritaten) with whom Akhenaten had several children. (The taboo against incest did not exist for the royal families of Egypt.) Also, it is Nefertiti's four images that adorn Akhenaten's sarcophagus, not the usual goddesses, which indicates her continued importance to the pharaoh up to his death and refutes the idea that she fell out of favour. It also shows her continued role as a deity, or semi-deity, with Akhenaten.

On the other hand, Cyril Aldred, author of Akhenaten: King of Egypt, states that a funerary shawabti found in Akhenaten's tomb indicates that Nefertiti was simply a queen regnant, not a co-regent and that she died in the regal year 14 of Akhenaten's reign, her daughter dying the year before.

Some theories hold that Nefertiti was still alive and held influence on the younger royals who married in their teens. Nefertiti would have prepared for her death and for the succession of her daughter, Ankhesenpaaten, now named Ankhsenamun, and her stepson and now son-in-law, Tutankhamun. This theory has Neferneferuaten dying after two years of kingship and being then succeeded by Tutankhamun, thought to have been a son of Akhenaten. The new royal couple was young and inexperienced, by any estimation of their age. In this theory, Nefertiti's own life would have ended by Year 3 of Tutankhaten's reign. In that year, Tutankhaten changed his name to Tutankhamun and abandoned Amarna to return the capital to Thebes, as evidence of his return to the official worship of Amun.

A gold plate found in Tutankhamun’s tomb depicting Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamen together

As the records are incomplete, it may be that future findings of both archaeologists and historians will develop new theories vis-à-vis Nefertiti and her precipitous exit from the public stage. To date, the mummy of Nefertiti, the famous and iconic Egyptian queen, has never been conclusively found.

The article ‘The Mysterious Disappearance of Nefertiti, Ruler of the Nile’ is adapted from the article: Nefertiti. (2008, December 2). New World Encyclopedia .


Nefertiti: The Mysterious Disappearance Of The Egyptian Queen

Nefertiti, the wife of King Akhenaten and Queen of Egypt, is a mystery to Egyptologists and represents a true legend to the public. The famous bust found by archaeologists and exhibited at the Neues Museum in Berlin contributed to the myth that surrounds Nefertiti: her beauty is renowned beyond the millennia.


7 Unsolved Mysteries of Ancient Egypt

From how King Tut died to hidden rooms in the Great Pyramid, we count 7 unsolved mysteries of Ancient Egypt.

7. The Forgotten Shoes

When people think of mysteries that surround ancient Egypt, they may think about the pyramids or the pharaohs. Chances are, they don’t think about something as mundane as shoes.

The shoes that archaeologists found in a temple in Luxor are a different story. Seven were found in a jar and seemed to have been forgotten by their owners, even though analysis of the shoes determined that they would’ve been expensive at the time because they were foreign-made. Two pairs were children’s, which were seven inches long. The single shoe, meant for an adult, was tied to them. Another pair of shoes were nine inches long and were worn by a limping adult. Made of leather, the shoes weren’t sandals that were the most common form of footwear in ancient Egypt.

Perhaps the biggest mystery isn’t that the shoes were found in a jar in a temple, or that they weren’t the more traditional sandal for the time, but that these very expensive shoes were just abandoned by the owners.

6. Dendera Light

We know that electricity didn’t exist during ancient times, which makes what this carving depicts even more of a mystery.

Discovered in the Hathor temple at the Dendera Temple complex, this wall in a crypt has a carving which appears to show a light bulb. In actuality, Egyptologists believe it’s really a bunch of symbols from various pieces of Egyptian mythology. If you look closely, you will see a lotus flower emitting the Djed pillar, where instead of a filament you’ll see a snake. In Egyptian culture, the Djed pillar symbolizes stability, while the snake coming out of the flower symbolizes fertility.

Even though the idea of the wall depicting various Egyptian symbols is a lot more realistic than the idea of electricity being around at that time, we can’t help but think how much that looks like a light bulb. These are also ideas, which means nobody really knows.

5. Nefertiti’s Disappearance

Known throughout Egypt for her beauty, Egyptian queen Nefertiti was the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten and was known as the Ruler of the Nile and Daughter of Gods.

Then, in the twelfth year of Akhenaten’s rule, there is nothing about Nefertiti. It’s like she suddenly vanished. Theories about this disappearance range from falling into disgrace – which has since been proven wrong – to ruling under a completely different name, Neferneferuaten. She would have then died after just two years of ruling, only for her stepson, Tutankhamen, to become pharaoh. There hasn’t been any conclusive evidence to support some of the theories of her appearance.

To add to the mystery, Nefertiti’s mummy has never been found.

4. King Tut’s Death

Speaking of Nefertiti, her stepson has a little mystery surrounding him as well. Unlike his stepmother, Tutankhamen’s mummy was found, but the circumstances surrounding the pharaoh’s death are a mystery.

Tutankhamen, better known as King Tut, has many theories as to how he died. While some speculate that his death was from that of an assassin, most believe his death was accidental. There are also theories that King Tut suffered from various diseases, but most were proven wrong. In 2005 scientists gave King Tut’s mummy a CT scan, which revealed a leg fracture that had later become infected. Further tests also showed that he had malaria and a bone disorder, all of which could be fatal especially when combined.

However, the mystery of King Tut’s death continues to baffle scientists as evidence about how he really died remains inconclusive.


Our mirror universe where time runs backwards…

In a new model of the Big Bang, scientists produced two universes: One a mirror of the other. In one universe, time appears to run forwards. In the other, time runs backwards…

In a mirror universe, from our perspective, time may run backwards from the Big Bang.

“Why does time seem to move forward? It’s a riddle that’s puzzled physicists for well over a century, and they’ve come up with numerous theories to explain time’s arrow. The latest, though, suggests that while time moves forward in our universe, it may run backwards in another, mirror universe that was created on the “other side” of the Big Bang.

Two leading theories propose to explain the direction of time by way of the relatively uniform conditions of the Big Bang. At the very start, what is now the universe was homogeneously hot, so much so that matter didn’t really exist. It was all just a superheated soup. But as the universe expanded and cooled, stars, galaxies, planets, and other celestial bodies formed, birthing the universe’s irregular structure and raising its entropy…”

Emily K. Editor on 24 Apr 2015 | Ancient Wonders &Audio & Video &Mysterious News &Science & Research | Comments Off on Our mirror universe where time runs backwards…


Images of Nefertiti

Tracing Nefertiti’s appearance in history showcases that some of the earliest depictions of the Egyptian queen began in the context of her public appearance with her husband. The foremost images appear on the Theban tombs, of Parennefer, a royal butler and Ramose, an important vizier. In terms of the images themselves, Nefertiti is found riding a chariot with King Akhenaten, her husband, embracing him as well as sitting on his knee, which scholars believe to be a sign of the genuine nature of their relationship. Historians have also unearthed hieroglyphs, such as those found at Amarna, containing love poems written by King Akhenaten for Nefertiti. Nefertiti is often seen depicted as a mother and wife who is well loved by her family, who gave birth to six daughters.

Nefertiti’s images seem to appear more powerful in the King Theban temple called Hwt-Benben (“Mansion of the Benben Stone”) where she had privileges similar to the king as she appeared to serve in the role of a priest and make offerings to the Aton. A few more individual representations of Nefertiti reveal the power and beauty she has been associated with. For example, Nefertiti, appearing in her special tall blue crown, is seen in the smiting ritual against female enemies of Egypt on a set of blocks from Luxor and Al-Ashmunayn. Legend has it that Nefertiti improvised her own form of makeup with the use of the Galena plant. Queen Nefertiti was also noted as being proud of her long neck.

However, perhaps the most iconic image of Nefertiti, which we associate her with today, is that of a painted sandstone bust discovered around 1912, among the ruins of sculptor Thumtose’s workshop in Amarna. Housed today in the Altes Museum in Berlin, the bust is considered widely recognized and perhaps the most recreated and copied work of ancient Egypt. Nefertiti’s bust is iconic in modern times- even if you don’t immediately recognize the image as Nefertiti herself, Nefertiti’s bust is something that you’ve definitely seen- as lampshades, posters, on keychains and just about anything else. Historically as well, the bust is of great significance as Nefertiti somewhat remained lost in history until the German archaeological mission led by Ludwig Borchardt, who discovered the bust.


She May Have Reigned As Pharaoh

Wikimedia Commons Akhenaten and Nefertiti were depicted together with such frequency that many believe the two held equal power over Egypt.

The idealized imagery of earlier pharaohs was done away with. Depictions of Akhenaten included rather feminine hips and highly exaggerated features, while the imagery of Nefertiti slowly progressed into being virtually indistinguishable from Akhenaten.

This was a clear departure from her earlier imagery as a stereotypical young woman. Her final depictions during Akhenaten’s reign returned to a more realistic version, albeit far more regal than her pre-royal depictions, which suggested that she held equal power over Egypt.

The walls of temples and tombs constructed during Akhenaten’s rule showed Nefertiti alongside the pharaoh with such frequency that Egyptologists and historians believe they ruled side by side. No other Egyptian queen has been depicted alongside her pharaoh as frequently as Nefertiti.

Flickr In 1912, the bust of Nefertiti was discovered in Amarna, Egypt by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt.

Numerous depictions showed Queen Nefertiti in positions of power, from defeating an enemy in battle, to leading the worship of Aten, to commanding a chariot. She was even explicitly depicted in numerous reliefs wearing the crown of a pharaoh.

After she gave birth to six daughters, Akhenaten took other wives — including his own sister, with whom he fathered King Tutankhamen. King Tut would eventually take Nefertiti’s third daughter, Ankhesenamun, as his wife.

But despite affecting such substantial changes in religious and cultural worship and potentially co-ruling Egypt, Nefertiti suddenly vanished.


7 Unsolved Mysteries of Ancient Egypt

From how King Tut died to hidden rooms in the Great Pyramid, we count 7 unsolved mysteries of Ancient Egypt.

7. The Forgotten Shoes

When people think of mysteries that surround ancient Egypt, they may think about the pyramids or the pharaohs. Chances are, they don’t think about something as mundane as shoes.

The shoes that archaeologists found in a temple in Luxor are a different story. Seven were found in a jar and seemed to have been forgotten by their owners, even though analysis of the shoes determined that they would’ve been expensive at the time because they were foreign-made. Two pairs were children’s, which were seven inches long. The single shoe, meant for an adult, was tied to them. Another pair of shoes were nine inches long and were worn by a limping adult. Made of leather, the shoes weren’t sandals that were the most common form of footwear in ancient Egypt.

Perhaps the biggest mystery isn’t that the shoes were found in a jar in a temple, or that they weren’t the more traditional sandal for the time, but that these very expensive shoes were just abandoned by the owners.

6. Dendera Light

We know that electricity didn’t exist during ancient times, which makes what this carving depicts even more of a mystery.

Discovered in the Hathor temple at the Dendera Temple complex, this wall in a crypt has a carving which appears to show a light bulb. In actuality, Egyptologists believe it’s really a bunch of symbols from various pieces of Egyptian mythology. If you look closely, you will see a lotus flower emitting the Djed pillar, where instead of a filament you’ll see a snake. In Egyptian culture, the Djed pillar symbolizes stability, while the snake coming out of the flower symbolizes fertility.

Even though the idea of the wall depicting various Egyptian symbols is a lot more realistic than the idea of electricity being around at that time, we can’t help but think how much that looks like a light bulb. These are also ideas, which means nobody really knows.

5. Nefertiti’s Disappearance

Known throughout Egypt for her beauty, Egyptian queen Nefertiti was the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten and was known as the Ruler of the Nile and Daughter of Gods.

Then, in the twelfth year of Akhenaten’s rule, there is nothing about Nefertiti. It’s like she suddenly vanished. Theories about this disappearance range from falling into disgrace – which has since been proven wrong – to ruling under a completely different name, Neferneferuaten. She would have then died after just two years of ruling, only for her stepson, Tutankhamen, to become pharaoh. There hasn’t been any conclusive evidence to support some of the theories of her appearance.

To add to the mystery, Nefertiti’s mummy has never been found.

4. King Tut’s Death

Speaking of Nefertiti, her stepson has a little mystery surrounding him as well. Unlike his stepmother, Tutankhamen’s mummy was found, but the circumstances surrounding the pharaoh’s death are a mystery.

Tutankhamen, better known as King Tut, has many theories as to how he died. While some speculate that his death was from that of an assassin, most believe his death was accidental. There are also theories that King Tut suffered from various diseases, but most were proven wrong. In 2005 scientists gave King Tut’s mummy a CT scan, which revealed a leg fracture that had later become infected. Further tests also showed that he had malaria and a bone disorder, all of which could be fatal especially when combined.

However, the mystery of King Tut’s death continues to baffle scientists as evidence about how he really died remains inconclusive.


The Disappearance & Controversy of Queen Nefertiti

Around the year 14 of Akhenaten and Nefertiti’s reign, their daughter Mekitaten died in childbirth at the age of 13. An image in relief from the time shows the couple standing over their daughter’s body in mourning. Shortly after this, Nefertiti vanishes from the historical record. There have been many theories offered to explain her abrupt disappearance and, among these are:

  1. She fell out of favor with her husband because she could not produce a male heir and so was replaced by Kiya.
  2. She abandoned the religion of Aten and was banished by Akhenaten.
  3. She committed suicide in grief over the loss of her daughter.
  4. She continued to rule under the name of Smenkhkare until her step-son, Tutankhamun, was old enough to assume the throne.

Of these theories, none of them can be substantiated but the fourth, and even that, many argue, is uncertain. The leading proponent of the Nefertiti-as-Smenkhkare theory is Zahi Hawass who writes:

This king [Smenkhkare] is shown as a male in the company of Meritaten as `his’ queen however, his throne name was virtually identical to that of Akhenaten’s coregent, now convincingly identified as Nefertiti. Whether this king was Nefertiti herself or an otherwise unattested son of Akhenaten’s (or Amenhotep III’s) he or she died only two years after ascending the throne, and left Egypt in the hands of a young boy named Tutankhaten [later Tutankhamun].

The problems with the other theories are that Akhenaten already had a male heir in Tutankhamun and so would not have deserted his wife on that account (theory one) there is no evidence to support Nefertiti leaving the cult of Aten (theory two) she was still living after the death of her daughter and the throne name of Akhenaten’s successor is the same as hers (theory three). The reason why theory two has long remained popular is because of evidence that the worship of the old gods began to revive toward the end of Akhenaten’s reign and, it is thought, this could not have happened without some kind of royal support or encouragement.

Since it is considered impossible that Akhenaten would have abandoned the religion he created, it is speculated that it was his coregent who was behind this. The revival of the old religious practices, however, could easily have been a grassroots movement by the people of Egypt who had grown tired of being forced to neglect the traditional faith of the land. The Egyptians held that their actions were intimately tied to celestial balance and that their relationship with the gods was of vital importance. In abandoning the old gods of Egypt, Akhenaten would have thrown the universe out of balance and it is quite likely that the former priests of Amun, and those of other cults, finally decided to try to restore harmony to the land on their own, without consulting their ruler. Since it is known that Nefertiti was a devotee of Aten prior even to Akhenaten’s conversion, and that she regularly took part in religious services, as well as the fact that no images or inscriptions give any evidence that she forsook the cult, it is highly unlikely that she would have led a return to the traditional religious practices of Egypt.

The hatred the people had for the new monotheistic religion of their pharaoh is exemplified in its complete eradication after the death of Akhenaten’s successor Tutankhamun. Tutankhamun himself, upon taking the throne, abandoned the religion of Aten and returned Egypt to traditional practice. His successor, Ay, (possibly the same man suggested as Nefertiti’s father) continued his policies but the last pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, Horemheb, went further than either of them. Horemheb, claiming he had been chosen by the gods to restore the true religion of Egypt, tore down Akhenaten’s temples, defaced his stele, and tried to eradicate all evidence that the heretic king and his family had ever ruled Egypt. It is because of Horemheb’ s decrees that so little is known of Nefertiti, and other royals linked with the Amarna Period, in the present day. The wonder, really, is not that so little is known but that, considering Horemheb’s hatred of Akhenaten’s reforms, and his dedication to the mission of erasing the king and his family from history, that modern day scholars have any information on the Amarna Period at all.

Unfinished bust of Nefertiti

The Controversy, Modern-day Controversy

Nefertiti was the subject of controversy, between Egypt and England, when the British archaeologist, Joann Fletcher, claimed to have found the queen’s mummy in 2003 CE. Fletcher’s claim was based on details of a mummy, known by Egyptologists as the “Younger Lady”, which she felt matched depictions of Nefertiti. The Discovery Channel aired Fletcher’s theory as though the mummy of the queen had been positively identified when, in fact, this was hardly the case. As a result, Fletcher was banned from working in Egypt because of an alleged breach in protocol which requires all archaeologists working in the country to first report their findings to the Supreme Council of Antiquities before releasing anything to the international press. Although this ban was later lifted, and Fletcher returned to Egypt, the controversy surrounding the mummy is unresolved. Fletcher’s supporters claim that the “Younger Lady” is Nefertiti while those who side with Hawass maintain the opposite. The very same details are used by both sides to support their claim and it seems unlikely there will be any resolution until some future discovery is made which lends more weight to one side than the other.

Nefertiti has also caused an on-going dispute between Egypt and Germany over the famous bust presently residing in the Egyptian Museum (Neues Museum) of Berlin. Nefertiti’s face is one of the most instantly recognizable images from antiquity, perhaps, only second to her step-son Tutankhamun. Even if one does not know the queen’s name, statuettes and posters of the famous bust have been reproduced world-wide. Even so, when it was discovered in 1912 CE, no one knew who Nefertiti was. The bust would have been remarkable for its beauty, of course, but not for the individual it represents. Because of the decrees of Horemheb, the royal family had been forgotten. Inscriptions from Horemheb’s reign show him as the successor of Amenhotep III, completely erasing the reign of the `heretic king’ and his successors. The bust was created c. 1340 BCE by the court sculptor Thutmosis as a model for his apprentices in their representations (whether sculpture or painting) of the queen. Because it was a model, and never intended for display, only one eye is completed. The Egyptian Museum of Berlin describes the Bust of Queen Nefertiti as “one of the first ranking works of Egyptian art mostly due to the excellent preservation of the colour and the fine modeling of the face…the bust is made of limestone which is covered with modeled gypsum. The eye is inlayed with crystal and the pupil attached with black coloured wax. The second eye-inlay was never carried out” (1).

The bust is housed in Room 2.10 of the Egyptian Museum of Berlin in Germany where it was taken after its discovery at Amarna. Hawass writes, “One day in the winter of 1912 CE, a German archaeologist named Ludwig Borchardt was excavating at Tell al-Amarna when he found a beautiful bust of Nefertiti in the workshop of a sculptor named Thutmosis” (39). What happened after this discovery is an ongoing, often heated, debate between Egypt and Germany.

Since the enforcement of the rules governing antiquities in Egypt was fairly lax in the early 20th century CE (as, in some areas anyway, were the rules themselves) it does not seem there can ever be any way to resolve the dispute. The Germans claim that Borchardt found the bust, made a legal declaration of his find, and then brought the piece back to Germany. The Egyptian claim (as articulated by Hawass) argues that “the German mission covered the head with mud to disguise its beauty so that during the division of antiquities at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo the curator did not notice its remarkable features. Therefore, the bust was allowed to go to the Berlin Museum” (39). The Egyptians, then, claim the bust was obtained illegally and should be returned to Egypt the Germans, of course, argue it is their legal property and should remain in the museum. Hawass notes that, “Plans were made to return [the bust] to Egypt just before World War II, but Hitler asked to see it before it left the country, fell in love with it, and refused to let it out of German hands” (41). This claim has also been disputed by the German government and the former, and current, director of the Egyptian Museum of Berlin.

In 2003 CE this controversy became more heated when the museum allowed two artists, known as Little Warsaw, to place the bust on a bronze body of a naked woman in order to show what the queen may have looked like. This very poor decision resulted in Egypt renewing its efforts for repatriation of the bust but, as the Little Warsaw exhibit lasted only a few hours, the controversy cooled and the bust remains where it has been since 1913 CE and where it continues to be one of the most popular pieces of art, if not the most popular, in the permanent collection.


Nefertiti, Queen of Ancient Egypt

Nefertiti
12th Century B.C.
Queen

Nefertiti reigned in Ancient Egypt between 1351 and 1331 B.C. She was the chief wife of the "heretic" Pharaoh Akhenaten. Akhenaten desperately wanted a male heir and Nefertiti tried hard to provide him with one. Instead, she presented him with six daughters. It was Queen Kiya, his lesser wife, Kiya, who provided him with male heirs - Smenkhkare and Tutankhamun, a fact which inflamed Nefertiti’s jealousy and wrath.

Pharaoh Akhenaten loved both his wives, but it was Nefertiti to whom he exalted to a prominnent role in the religious and political life of Egypt. He bestowed upon her with such titles as Mistress of Happiness, Endowed with Favors, Chief Wife of the King, Beloved, Lady of the Two Lands, and May she live for Ever and Always".

She helped her husband initiate a massive religious and cultural revolution and represented the feminine aspect of the god, Aten. Renowned for her beauty, Nefertiti dressed to enhance her best features. She is often depicted wearing a close fitting sheath. As Akhenaten´s chief wife, she wore the crown of Hathor that resembled cow horns with plumes or the crown of Mut, the vulture goddess. But the crown she is most often associated with, is the blue war crown with its flat top.

Nefertiti vanished around year fourteen of Akhenaten´s reign. Rumours abound about her mysterious disappearance. Her name was struck from numerous inscriptions. Some say it was because she and her husband fell into discord and he banished her in disgrace to her palace, Aten’s Castle. Others believe that she disguised herself as a man and assumed a new identity as Smenkhkare so that she could rule as co-regent with her husband. It is even speculated that she simply died from the plague and her death was so painful for Akhenaten that he did not wish to be reminded of her.

Whatever the circumstances, however, Nefertiti simply disappeared and there is no record of her death nor has her mummy or place of burial been confirmed. Her husband, Akhenaten died about several years later under circumstances just as mysterious. His mummy has not been found either.

Famed throughout the ancient world for her outstanding beauty, Akhenaten's queen Nefertiti remains the one of the most well known and mysterious queens of ancient Egypt.


Watch the video: The Mysterious Disappearance of Nefertiti, Ruler of the Nile (August 2022).