As a result of the strong influence of women
figures in religion, Nubia and its Kushite rulers gave way to a
number of strong queens during its history. Ten sovereign ruling
queens are recognized from the period. Additionally, six other
queens who ruled with their husbands were considered significant
to the history of Nubia . Many of these rulers were immortalized
in statuary; it was unheard of for non-ruling queens or
princesses to be immortalized in art . These queens were often
portrayed as being very rounded; this portrayal was all part of
the queen-mother model. These queens were called both gore,
meaning ruler, and kandake, meaning queen mother . This last
term has been corrupted to the English form Candace.
Subsequently, there has been much confusion; some Western
scholars muddle the actions of queens together under the general
The emergence of the queen as a viable player in the politics of
the day has its roots in the earliest Kushite tradition. Kushite
rulers married and then passed more royal power into the hands
of the queen . The perfect example of the expanded powers of the
queen is Kushite Queen Amanirenas. In 24 B.C., she was
threatened by the Roman Empire. Egypt was under the subjugation
of Rome and the frontier of the Kushite/Nubian empire was
seventy miles south of Syene (Assuan) . The Nubians were
constantly raiding their Egyptian neighbors. On one of these
journeys, the Kandace Amanirenas went along. When confronted,
she led her armies into battle and defeated three Roman cohorts.
In addition, the Kandace defaced a statue of Emperor Augustus
Ceasar; bringing the head back to Nubia as a prize. This head
was buried in the doorway of an important building as a final
act of disrespect
THE NUBIAN QUEENS The "Candake: 'candace' "The Nubian Woman who
got the Roman Emperor to his KNEES!"
"Nubian princess could also become the sole rulers of the
Kingdom of Meroe. the name of these rulers-queens was Candake(or
Candace). the word survives today in ENglish as the woman's name
"Candace". One of the most famous of all the Candakes was the
Nubian woman generally identified as Amanirenas, who lived
shortly after 30 B.C."
"Marching at the head of her army, Amanirenas reached the
strategic city of Qasr Ibrim, south of the Egyptian city of
Aswan. There she confronted the Roman general Petronius, who
told her that Emperor Augustus was willing to lay aside the arms
if Amanirenas would negotiate a settlement with him. The Candake
agree. She sent her ambassadors to the Greek Island of Samos to
meet with the representatives of Rome.
During battle, the Kandace lost an eye; but this only made her
more courageous (. "One Eyed Candace," as then Roman governor
Gaius Petronius referred to her, was chased by the Romans far
into her own territory to Pselkis (Dakka) (. After a three day
truce, the Romans struck back. The Kandace and her armies made
another stand at Primis (Kasr/Brim), but there were soundly
defeated. Although Rome destroyed the religious capital of
Napata, there was still the danger of retaliation by the
Kandace's armies. At this point, the leaders negotiated a treaty
that she was to break in a few years . A historian of the period
remarked "This Queen had courage above her sex" . On a broader
level, this is a telling example of a European civilization
unprepared for the "fierce, unyielding resistance of a queen
whose determined struggle symbolized the national pride of a
people who, until then, had commanded others"
Furthermore, these queens of the Nubian/Kushite Empire were
given the special distinction of assuming a priestly role in the
divine succession of kings . In other societies of the period,
the divine right of the king passed from god to ruler, there was
no room for a maternal figure. However, Nubian queens are often
portrayed at the event of the divine birth. A fine example of
this is the representation of Queen Amanishakheto appearing
before Amun. The Queen is pictured with a goddess (possibly
Hathor - a goddess of fertility) and is wearing a panther skin.
This signifies her priestly role in the birth of the successor
to the throne . This piece is one of a series. In the first, the
Queen is elected by god - this establishes her position as
rightful ruler. Soon after, the divine child is conceived out of
a meeting between the god and the Queen. Finally, the child, and
heir to the empire, is delivered to the Queen by the god This
complex and important role does not seem to have an equivalent
in other cultures .
Additionally, by the beginning of the twenty-fifth dynasty - the
Egyptian dynasty governed by Nubian rulers - the Queen was given
the additional role of being a priestess of Nut (Nuit). This
would place the Queen in the role of trusted servant to the
goddess known as the eternal mother . Nut is also the mother of
Isis, Osiris, Nephthys, and Set. The close association of the
Queen with this figure is significant. Nut is, in the Nubian and
Egyptian religions, the mother from which all the current gods
and goddesses came. She plays the role of female initiator; the
Queen is her trusted confidant on earth.
Also at this time, the Queen is beginning to be represented in
royal art with the cowrie shell This shell was often used for
currency and trade. In art, the shell was thought to symbolize
the vulva and, by extension, verbal communication The use of the
cowrie shell, either real or representative, was reserved only
for women and their ornaments . A possible explanation for this
could be that women were allowed to speak freely (and often). In
any case, it shows that the artisans of the period connected the
art of verbal communication with the ruling Queens and other
influential women of the period.
Women tend to dominate the culture of present day Nubian life
due to sheer numbers alone (. The importance of women in culture
is just as great; but the roles have changed. Today's Nubian
woman has no great Queen to look to; nor do they have a religion
based on the worship of the all-knowing mother figure. But, what
Nubian women do have is a chance that there ancestors never had.
With the last period of resettlement, some Nubian women have
decided to move to the cities of Egypt and the Sudan . Of
course, their standard of living may not increase, but this
shows an independence unheard of among the common women of the
Expecting all Nubian women to live up to the strong Queens
their past is a bit much. Nevertheless, there must be an impact
on the lives of the descendants of these Queens. Perhaps the
small steps toward independence by the Nubian woman of today
shows a courage beyond their sex. In any case, the unique roles
of the women of ancient Nubia revel a unique and startling
strength in both the women and the culture
The Queens of Egypt
Neithotpe: Mother of 'Aha, her husband is unknown but might
possibly have been Na'mer. She had no apparent heirs.
Berenib: She was the wife of 'Aha Probably the ranking Memphite
royal woman of her time.
Hent: She was a lesser wife of 'Aha and the mother of Djer.
Herneith: She was the wife of Djer.
Merneith: She was the wife of Wadj and the mother and Regent of
Betresh: She was the wife of Adjib and the mother of Semerkhet.
Hapnyma'at:She was the wife of Kha'Sekhemwy and the mother of
Heterphenebty: She was a consort of Djoser and daughter of
Kha'Sekhemwy, the 1st ruler of the 2nd dynasty.
Meresankh I:She was a lesser ranked
consort of Huni and the mother of Snofru,who was the heir and
founder of The 4th
Hetepheres I: She was a wife of Snofru and the mother of Khufu.
Her burial treasures are among some of the most beautiful ever
discovered. They consist mostly of furnishings and toilet
articles including razors made of layers of pure gold.
Nefertkaw: She was both the daughter and wife of Snofru. Her son
was Prince Neferma'at.
Meritites:She was a wife of Khufu and the mother of Prince
Kewab, and the Princesses Hetepheres II, Hardedef and
Baufre'.Prince Kewab was murdered by Ra'Djedet, who assumed the
Henutsen: She was a wife of Khufu and mother of Prince
Khufu-Khaf. She also may have been the mother of King Khephren.
A small pyramid was built in her honor beside Khufus' great
pyramid in Giza. There is speculation that she may have been
Khufus' daughter.Kentetenka:She was the wife of Ra'djedef.
Hetepheres II:She was the wife of Prince Kewab, who was the
rightful heir of Khufu. Kewab was murdered by Ra'djedef who took
the throne and then Hetepheres II became his wife. She was also
the mother of Meresankh III.
Per(Senti?): She was the wife of Khephren and the mother of
Menkaure' and Prince Nekaure'.
Hedjhekenu: She was a lesser ranked wife of Khephren and the
mother of Prince Sekhenkare'. She was buried in the pyramid
complex of Khephen.
Meresankh III:She was a wife of Khufu and the daughter of Prince
Kewab and Hetepheres II. She was the mother of Prince Nebmakhet.
Her beautifully sculptured and painted rock cut tomb was
prepared for her by her mother and is located at Giza. Her son
was buried nearby.
Khamerernebty I: She was the wife of Khephren and probably the
mother of Khamerernebty II. She was buried in a large tomb east
of Khephrens' pyramid at Giza.
Khamerernebty II: She was the wife of Menkaure' and the mother
of Prince Khunere'. A statue of her was discovered in the Kings'
Khentkawes:She was the wife of Shepseskhaf and possibly of
Userkhaf. She was the mother of Kakai and possibly the mother of
Sahure'. She was the daughter of Menkaure and was buried in an
unfinished tomb at Giza that is shaped like a sarcophagus and
its' faced with limestone.
Bunefer:She was a wife of Shepseskhaf.
Neferhetepes: She was the mother of Userkhaf. Her husband is
Reputneb: She was the wife of Izi (Niuserre')
Khentikus: She was a wife of Izi (Niuserre')
Nebet: She was a wife of Wenis and the mother of Prince
Khemut:She was a wife of Wenis.
Ipwet:She was the wife of Teti and the mother of Pepi I. She is
also believed to have been a daughter of Wenis. She was buried
Khuit:She was a wife of Teti.
Amtes: She was a wife of Pepi I. She was involved in a harem
plot to overthrow Pepi, but apparently was caught before she
succeeded, Acording to records, an official by the name of Weni
was ordered to investigate and the case went to trial. There are
no documents however that tell us what the outcome of the trial
was, or if there was a punishment.
Ankhnesmery-Re'I: She was a wife of Pepi and the daughter of an
official named Khui.She had a brother named
Djau and a sister
named Ankhnesmery-Re'II. She died giving birth to her son,
Nemtyemzaf who was Pepi's heir.
Ankhnesmery-Re' II:She was a wife of Pepi I. She was also the
mother of Pepi II. When he succeeded the throne after his
brother Nemtyemzaf, he was very young and Ankhnesmery became his
Co-Regent. She and her brother, Djau raised the young heir and
kept Egypt stable until he was old enough to rule on his own.
Nit:She was the wife of both Nemtysemzaf and Pepi II.
Ankhnes-Pepi: She was the wife of Pepi II. She was actually
buried in a storage chamber, and entombed in a sarcophagus that
was borrowed for the occasion by a family friend!Iput: She was a
wife of Pepi II. She was either the daughter of Pepi I or
Nemtyemzaf. She was buried close to Pepi II at Saggara and her
tomb contains a version of the pyramid Texts.
Could not find information from the 7th through 10th Dynasties
Neferukhayet: She was the wife of Inyotef II.
Aoh: She was a consort of Inyotef III. The mother of Mentuhotpe
II. She was depicted with her royal son on a stela.
Henite:She was the wife of Inyotef III.
Henhenit: She was the wife of Mentuhotpe II and was buried in a
vast mortuary complex of the King at Deir El-Bahri.
Neferu: She was the Chief wife of Mentuhotpe II.
Kawit: She was a royal companion of Mentuhotpe II. Her royal
tomb contains beautiful and elaborate scenes of her toilet
rituals! Her sarcophagus describes her as the "Sole Favorite of
Tem: She was a wife of Mentuhotpe II and believed to be the
mother of Mentuhotpe III. Her tomb is one of the largest female
grave sites ever found.The sarcophagus in her burial chamber was
made of alabaster and sandstone.
Sadek:She was a lesser wife of Mentuhotpe II.
Ashait: She was a wife of Mentuhotpe II. She was buried with the
King in his eleborate mortuary complex at Deir El-Bahri. Her
tomb reliefs identify her as an Ethiopian. On her coffin, there
was a beautiful hymn inscribed about the four winds which were
brought to Egypt by mythical maidens.
Nubkhas: She was a consort of Mentuhotpe II. Her tomb was
discovered at Deir El-Bahri enclosed by boulders and rubble,
probably the result of a landslide in ancient times.
Kemsit: She was a royal companion of Mentuhotpe II. She was
buried in the Kings' mortuary complex and was described on her
sarcophagus as 'Sole Favorite of the King" she shared this title
with many other consorts that were buried there.
Neferukayt: She was a wife of Mentuhotpe II and the daughter of
Princess Nebt who was the heiress of the Elephantine (an island
in the Aswan). She was a highly educated woman and kept and
extensive library of papyri and artworks in a huge museum.Imi:In
some records, she is called Yem. She was a wife of Mentuhotpe
III and the mother of his son, Mentuhotpe IV.
Amunet: In some records she is also called Amuniet. She was a
consort of Mentuhotpe II, and was buried in his royal mortuary
complex at Deir El-Bahri.
Nefret:She was the mother of Amenemhet I.
Nefrutoten: She was a wife of Amenemhet I and the mother of
Dedyet: She was both the wife and sister of Amenemhet I. They
were both actually commoners and of Nubian descent. She was not
considered the Queen consort nor the Great wife of the King.
Nefrusobek: She was a wife of Amenemhet I.
Neferu: She was a consort of Amenehmet I. She may have been a
Princess of royalty, since Amenehmet I was a commoner, he would
have had to marry someone in the royal family in order to claim
the throne. She was buried in a small pyramid buried near the
Nerusheri: She was the wife of Senwosret I and the mother of
Mereryet I: She was a wife of Amenemhet II.
Kemanub: She was a wife of Amenemhet II.
Hent: She was a wife of Senwosret and was buried near the king
at Lahoun. She was not the mother of his heir.
Sebekshedty-Neferu: She was a wife of Senwosret II and the
mother of Amenemhet III.
Mereryet II: She was a wife of Senwosret III.
Merseger: She was a wife of Senwosret III.
Neferkent: She was a wife of Senwosret III.
Merysankh: She was a wife of Senwosret III.
Neferu: She was a wife of Senwosret III.
A'at: She was a lesser ranked wife of Amenemhet III. She is
reported to have died at the age of 35, and was buried in a
granite sarcophagus at Dashur, close to the King.
Nefruptah: She was a wife of Amenemhet III.
Kemanut: She was a wife of Amenemhet III.
Nefru-Sobek: She was a Queen-Pharoah and the eighth ruler of the
12th Dynasty. She was probably the daughter of Amenemhet III and
the half sister of Amenemhet IV, whom she succeeded. She was
mentioned in the Karnak, Saggara and Turin Kings' list. Three
statues of her and a sphinx were discovered in the Delta.
Ana: She was a wife of Sobekhotep I.
Senebsen: She was the wife of Neferhotep I.
Could not find information for 14th through 16th Dynasties
Sobekemsaf: She was the wife of Inyotef V.
Tetisheri: She was the wife of Ta'o and the mother of Ta'o II
and Princess Ahhotep I. She was a commoner and is referred to as
the "Mother of the New Kingdom" because she had a very strong
influence over both her son (Ta'o II) and her grandsons (Kamose
and 'Ahmose). She lived to the age of 71 and decrees were issued
concerning her great service to the nation of Egypt. 'Ahmose
gave her a great estate and a tomb with priests and servants to
conduct rituals in her honor. A cenotaph (mortuary complex) was
also built for her at Abydos. There is a beautiful statue of her
in the British Museum.Ahhotep I: She was both the wife and
sister of Sekenenre'-Ta'o II, who died in a battle against the
Hyksos. She was the mother of A'hmose, Kamose and
'Ahmose-Nefretiry, and was the daughter of Sekenenre'-'Ta'o and
Queen Tetisheri. Ahhotep I lived to be 90 years old and was
buried beside Kamose at Thebes.
'Ahmose Nefretiry: She was the wife of 'Ahmose I and the mother
of Amenhotep I, Prince "Ahmose Sipar, Ahhotep II and four
daughters. She was the daughter of Sekenenre'-Ta'o II and Queen
Ahhotep. There is a possibility that she was also married to
"Ahmoses's predecessor, Kamose. She is mentioned on an
inscription depicting honors to her grandmother, Queen
Tetisheri. Her son, Amenhotpe I, gave her many honors. When she
died, she shared a mortuary temple and a tomb with him.
Inhapi (Thent Hep): She was a lesser wife of 'Ahmose I and the
mother of Princess Ahmose Hent-Tenemu.
Kasmut: She was a wife of 'Ahmose I.Ahhotep II: She was both the
wife and sister of Amenhotep I and his ranking Consort
throughout her life. The royal records list her as "King's
Daughter", King's Wife and King's Mother. She had two daughters,
but no male heir to the throne. However, the mummified body of a
baby boy found at Deir El-Bahri had insignas claiming him to be
the son of Queen Ahhotep II and King Amenhotep I. The boy's name
was Prince Amunemhat and he was only 1 or 2 years old when he
died. His tomb was violated and priests of the 20th dynasty
reburied him near the body of his aunt, Princess Ahmose
'Ahmose Merytamon:She was a wife of Amenhotep I and the daughter
of 'Ahmose I. Her mummified remains were among those discovered
at Deir El-Bahri that were re-wrapped and buried by 20th dynasty
priests. She appears to have died in her early thirties and had
arthritis and scoliosis.
Senisonbe: She was the mother of Tuthmosis but her husband is
'Ahmose: She was a wife of Tuthmosis I and the mother of
Hatshepsut and Princesses Amonmose, Wadjmose and
was the daughter of 'Ahmose I and the sister of Amenhotep I. She
was celebrated in the reliefs of Deir El-Bahri as a Consort of
the god Amon, giving birth to Hatshepsut. These inscriptions
were later used by Hatshepsut to legitimize her usurpation of
the throne. 'Ahmose died young and was buried at Thebes.
Mutnofret: She was a lesser ranked wife of Tuthmosis I and the
mother of Tuthmosis II. Although she was not a "Royal Wife", she
still appears to have had some royal titles in her own right.
Hatshepsut:(Queen-Pharoah) She was the wife and half sister of
Tuthmosis II. She was the daughter of Tuthmosis I and Queen
'Ahmose and also the mother of Princess Neferu-Re'. Tuthmosis II
was very young when he came into power and Hatshepsut ruled
jointly with him for a number of years before assuming the
throne herself. Eventually taking on the role of "Pharaoh". Her
body has never been found, although there is speculation that a
female mummy found in the tomb of Amenhotep II may be hers.
Isis: She was a lesser wife of Tuhthmosis II. She was a commoner
and member of his harem. After giving birth to
(the heir) she was elevated to the rank of "Royal Mother".
Meryt-re-Hatshepsut: She was a wife of Tuthmosis III. She was
also a Memphite with no royal claims, but when she become the
mother of Amenhotep II, who was Tuthmosis II's heir, she was
honored. She outlived her royal husband and was buried at
Ahset: She was a royal Consort of Tuthmosis III. Nothing is
known about her except that she was of royal blood. She did not,
however, hold the title of Queen.
Teo: She was a wife of Amenhotep II and the mother of Tuthmosis
Mutemwiya:She was a wife of Tuthmosis IV and considered by some
to have been a Mitanni Princess that was given to the King in
tribute. She was also the mother of Tuthmosis' heir, Amenhotep
III. She was buried at Thebes.
Tiy: She was a wife of Amenhotep III. Her parents were: Yuia, a
provincial priest of Akhim, and Tuia a servant of the Queen
Mother, Mutemwiya. She is believed to have married Amenhotep
while he was still a prince and was only about 12 years old at
the time. She was the first Queen to have her name put on
official acts, including the announcement of the Kings' marriage
to a foreign Princess. She was the mother of Akhenaten and a
number of royal daughters. One of her daughters, Princess
Sitamun also married Amenhotep. She was widowed at the age of
Sitamun: She was a princess, the daughter of Amenhotep III and
Queen Tiy, but became Amenhotep III's Consort. Records indicate
that her mother, Tiy, was the one who arrainged this union in
order to ensure the birth of future royal heirs. She is also
believed to have been the mother of Tutankhamun and his brother,
Smenkhkare'. She was buried at Thebes.
Nefertiti: She was the Royal wife of Akhenaten and gave birth to
six daughters. Her famous bust is one of the most known of all
Egyptian treasures. Her name actually means "The beautiful woman
has come". Her body has never been discovered.
Kiya: She was a lesser ranked wife of Akhenaten and is listed as
"The favorite". She was possibly a foreign princess named
Tadukhipa that was also married to Amendotep III. She had
considerable power in the royal court, even during Nefertitis'
reign. She died a short time before Akhenaten and was buried
with a royal treasurey. So far, her body, along with her
childrens',( a daughter and possibly 2 sons) have not been
Meryt-Amon: She was the wife of Smenkhare' and the daughter of
Akhenaten and Nefertiti. When Nefertiti either left the palace
to retire, or died, Meryt-Amon took her place as the Queen, even
though she was married to Smenkhare'. Upon Akhenatens' death,
Smenkhare become King, however within one year of his rule, he
was dead and Meryt-Amon disappeared.
Ankhesenamon: She was the royal wife of Tutankhamun and the
daughter of Queen Nefertiti and Akhenaten. She was 12 years old
and Tutankhamun was only 8 when they became the royal couple.
When Tut died, she wrote to a King of the Hittites asking him to
send one of his sons to Egypt to become her husband. He did so,
but at the border of Egypt, he was murdered. She then had to
marry Tuts' successor, Aya, who may also have been her
grandfather. It is not known what happened to her afterwards, as
a short time later, she disappeared from history.
Tey: She was a wife of Aya.
Mutnodjmet: She was a Consort of Horemhab and was mentioned in
the Armana reliefs. She must have had some sort of royal
connection. She was also depicted on Horemhabs' coronation
reliefs. There is a beautiful statue of her with Horemhab in
Sitre: She was the wife of Ramses I and the mother of Seti I.
They were married long before Ramses I was proclaimed Horemhabs'
Tuya: She was a wife of Seti I. She was a commoner and had
married Seti I before he was elevated to royal status. Setis'
father, Ramses I was bequeathed the throne by Horemhab when he
died without having any children to succeed him. She had a son
who died in infancy and then Ramses II, who became one of
Egypts' greatest rulers. She lived long enough to see her son
rule and was buried at Thebes in a pink granite
sarcophagus.Nefertari: She was the Royal Wife of Ramses II and
the mother of Prince Amonhirwonmef, Prince Prehirwonmef,
Princess Merytamon and Princess Meratum. Ramses II built a
temple dedicated to her and the goddess Hathor at Abu Simbel,
next to his own. Her tomb which is located in the valley of the
Queens, is one of the largest and most beautifully decorated
grave sites ever discovered.
Isnofret: She was a second ranked wife of Ramses II. She bore
him several sons and daughters, including his heir, Merneptah.
She replaced Nefertari after either her death or retirement to
Ma'at Hornefrure': She was a wife of Ramses II.
Bint-Anath: She was both the daughter and wife of RamsesII and
assumed royal status after both her mother, Nefertari and
Isnofret were gone.
Merytamon: She was both the wife and daughter of Ramses II. Her
mother was also Nefertari and her sister was Bint-Anath. She was
the eldest daughter of the royal couple.
Nebt-tawy: She was a minor wife of Ramses II and was buried in
the Valley of the Queens.
Isetnofret: She was both the wife and sister of Merneptah.
Ramses II was the father to both of them. She was the mother of
Seti II and is buried at Thebes.
Takhaet: She was the wife of Amunmesse.
Baktweret: She was a wife of Amunmesse.
Tia: She was a wife of Amunmesse and possibly the mother of
Twosre: She was a Queen-Pharaoh. The widow of Seti II. She first
served as regent for the heir, Siptah, but after 4 years, he
disappeared and she took over as ruler of Egypt. However, her
rule did not last long and the Ramessids later struck her name
from the royal rolls. She had a tomb in the Valley of the Kings,
but it was unsurped by Sethnakhte. Several reliefs and seals of
her reign exist, but she left no other monuments of her rule.
Tiye: She was a wife of Ramses III. She was involved in a harem
plot to assassinate him and place her son on the throne. The
plot was discovered and the Queen and other members of the harem
were tried in a royal court. Nothing is known of her fate.
Ta-Opet: She was a wife of Ramses IV and the mother of Ramses V.
Nubkhesed: She was a wife of Ramses V.