The Queens of Nuba and Egypt

Nefertari Nubian Queen of Egypt
(1292 - 1225 B.C.)
One of many great Nubian queens, Nefertari is heralded as the queen who wed for peace. Her marriage to King Rameses II of Egypt, one of the last greatest Egyptian Pharaohs, began strictly as a political move, a sharing of power between two leaders. Not only did it grow into one of the greatest royal love affairs in history, but brought the hundred years war between Nubia and Egypt to an end. It was an armistice, which lasted over a hundred years.
Even today, a monument stands in Queen Nefertar's honor. In fact, the temple, which Rameses built for her at Abu Simbel, is one of the largest and most beautiful structures ever built to honor a wife, and to celebrate peace

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 name.
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 ancient period.
Expecting all Nubian women to live up to the strong Queens of 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
First Dynasty
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 Den.
Betresh: She was the wife of Adjib and the mother of Semerkhet.
Second Dynasty
Hapnyma'at:She was the wife of Kha'Sekhemwy and the mother of Djoser.
Third Dynasty
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 Dynasty.
Fourth Dynasty
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 throne.
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' mortuary complex.
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.
Fifth Dynasty
Neferhetepes: She was the mother of Userkhaf. Her husband is unknown.
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 Wenisankh.
Khemut:She was a wife of Wenis.
Sixth Dynasty
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 at Saqqara.
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
Eleventh Dynasty
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 the King".
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.
Twelfth Dynasty
Nefret:She was the mother of Amenemhet I.
Nefrutoten: She was a wife of Amenemhet I and the mother of Senwosret I.
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 Kings' tomb.
Nerusheri: She was the wife of Senwosret I and the mother of Amenemhet II.
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.
Thirteenth Dynasty
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
Seventeenth Dynasty
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.
Eighteenth Dynasty
'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 Merytamon.
'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 unknown.
'Ahmose: She was a wife of Tuthmosis I and the mother of Hatshepsut and Princesses Amonmose, Wadjmose and Neferukheb. She 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 Tuthmosis III (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 Thebes.
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 IV.
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 48.
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 discovered.
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 Turin.
Nineteenth Dynasty
Sitre: She was the wife of Ramses I and the mother of Seti I. They were married long before Ramses I was proclaimed Horemhabs' heir.
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 the harem.
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 Siptah.
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.
Twentieth Dynasty
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.


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