Kennedy Kelly-Hooks Period: 5 October 20th, 2012 Tyldesley, Joyce A. Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen. London: Viking, 1998. Print. In the times of Ancient Egypt women did not have a prominent role in society. Women rarely had power and most systems were patriarchal. Queens in Ancient Egypt were mainly observers and supporters of their husband. In Joyce A. Tyldesley’s Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen the wife of Amenhotep IV and Queen of Egypt, Nefertiti, played a more dominant role in her marriage as well as in society.
Nefertiti was seen as an equal to her husband as the women who came before her had not been seen before. The book Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen covered a time p of 1386 BCE to about 1330 BCE. The book begins by explaining the royal family history of Egypt before Nefertiti and Amenhotep IV. It gives background on the parents of Amenhotep III the father of Amenhotep IV, which helps to explain ideas discussed later on in the book. Amenhotep’s III mother supposedly at that time had an affair with the god Amen-Re a sun god who requested the son be named after his grandfather.
After explaining the family dynamics and how Queen Tiy also was a woman of power who gave Amenhotep IV the view that women were equal, it begins to peace together the life of Nefertiti. There are no records of her childhood but that was typical in that time period for there to be no knowledge of a consorts childhood. Her parents remained unknown although they do have likely theories on who her parents were and who Nefertiti’s sister was. But since the term sister was so loosely used back then nobody can be sure.
The book describes the changes that Amenhotep IV who was later called Akhenaten and Nefertiti made in Egypt and how other people may have viewed them to the mysterious death of Nefertiti. Nefertiti and Amenhotep IV created a new religion which is one of the first monotheistic religions and created a new capital Armana. But after their deaths their monuments and drawings were destroyed. The author of this story created the first biography of Nefertiti through archeological and textual evidence. Joyce Tyldesley who is originally from England has written many iographies on women from Ancient Egypt. In the story she provides many views on the life of Nefertiti. Nefertiti in the story is described as the first woman to be seen equally to an Egyptian king. Nefertiti was seen as a power figure just as much as her husband was. She was even apart of Akhenaten’s religion with the main god being Aten. Also Akhenaten and Nefertiti were seen as two halves of one whole. The two completed each other as seen in statues. Nefertiti was also the same size as her husband in pictures and statues which had never been done before.
Queen’s were usually women who just supported their husband and gave him children, as well as observing what he does. But Nefertiti played an active role in making decisions and could perform sacrifices just like a man. In some pictures she is even seen in a clothing that a king would wear. Akhenaten’s mother had also played a major role and had a larger handle on Egypt than Amenhotep III who had easily let his wife take over his role. But even Queen Tiy was not seen as a complete equal as Nefertiti was.
The author of this biography provides many different views that some scholars might have had about Nefertiti’s life. There are theories surrounding the death of Nefertiti that have changed over time. Some people believe that she never died around the time that she was replaced as Queen and just moved on to a different location. But some have said there was a golden coffin that was moved from the kings home and was never seen again. There is writing that appears to be hers that was written to a Hittite king after her death supposedly happened.
Some say she was banished possibly from her husband after he realized she could give him no sons to inherit his throne. But that theory is highly improbable. Also the fate of Nefertiti’s sister after leaving the court is she either died or that she was sent somewhere else to be married. Nefertiti’s parents were believed by some to be a Royal family because in their tomb there is a drawing of Nefertiti and Akhenaten giving the couple gold. However others believe her mother was one of the kings wives or that Nefertiti was a orphan. But she was definitely not the daughter of a king.
Scholars may have a problem accepting this book because although most of the story is supported by likely facts there is no way to be completely sure of all the book because so much about Nefertiti’s life was either destroyed or unknown. We know she was the powerful wife of Akhenaten and gave him six daughters. But we do not know of her death or origin. Archeologists have yet to find her body. The descriptions of her are strictly based of drawings and texts written in other people’s tombs. Scholars would say this book is not very reliable and you cannot trust every word from it.
There is evidence that some of the information in the book is true but the rest is just like pieces being put together on what we believed to have happened. Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun God was an interesting read and gave a lot of detail along with evidence on Nefertiti’s life. However the book was very dry and hard to get into. It would describe the elements of Egyptian housing and some temples prior to their time which was not relevant to the story which made it that much harder to read. Some information was thrown into the book without a thought on how it would completely fit in.
But the book had an interesting way of telling the story of Nefertiti which helped me form my own individual opinion about her. The book explained the events that lead to the ideas that pushed Akhenaten and Nefertiti to create a monotheistic religion and move the capital to Armana. It gave good background that helped me piece together Nefertiti’s life and what a big deal her achievements of being worshipped and respected by many in that time was. The book was overall a good read for those who really want to learn about Nefertiti in a way that was not completely based off of theories.
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