Describe the family and family background of Akhenaten. In your answer refer to: the 18th dynasty pharaohs, his mother, his brother, Akhenaten’s wives, particularly Nefertiti (her origin and roles) and his children. Assess their importance to the pharaoh. In your answer refer to at least four sources, ancient and modern. You can also show diagrams if you wish. (500-550 words)
Akhenaten was the tenth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty; he reigned over New Kingdom Egypt for approximately 17 years. Akhenaten was the son of Amenhotep III and his chief wife, Queen Tiy. Scholars agree that Amenhotep III and Queen Tiy had four known daughters and two sons, Thutmoses and Akhenaten, who was originally named Amenhotep IV. Akhenaten was a sheltered child and appeared to be rejected by his father as he was rarely included in portraits of the family and was never taken to any public events unlike his brother, Thutmoses, as he was not assumed to take the throne. Akhenaten became pharaoh after the death of his father Amenhotep III in 1352BC, as Thutmoses had died prematurely. It is believed that Akhenaten was already married to Nefernefruaten- Nefertiti when he came to the throne. Nefertiti’s origin or parents are unknown, there are two main theories of her origin, and the most accepted is that Nefertiti is the daughter of Ay, vizier to various pharaohs of the 18th dynasty and the assumed brother of Queen Tiy. This is believed as Nefertiti’s nurse was the wife of Ay, as well as references that Nefertiti’s sister, Mutnojme, is prominently featured in the reliefs of Ay’s tomb. Another theory is that Nefertiti was the Mitannian princess sent to Egypt for a diplomatic marriage, referred to as ‘Tadhukhipa’, this is supported as Nefertiti means “the beautiful woman has come”. Nefertiti was Akhenaten’s chief wife and it is clear that Akhenaten valued his beloved wife, in his tomb he referred to her as ‘the mistress of his happiness’, and according to C. Alfred on one of the boundary stelae at Amarna he describes her as “Fair of Face, Joyous with the Double Plume, Mistress of Happiness, Endowed with Favour, at hearing whose voice one rejoices, Lady of Grace, Great of Love, whose disposition cheers the Lord of Two Lands”. In Akhenaten’s tomb and in tombs of the nobles, Nefertiti is depicted as equal to the pharaoh, in Akhenaten and the Amarna Bradley states “she’s is treated as the king’s partner not only in their family life but in religious and political life as well”, unlike other pharaohs there are also many family reliefs depicting Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their six daughters making offerings to the Aten; no son was ever depicted in reliefs. Akhenaten and Nefertiti are accepted to have had six daughters together. They were Meritaten, Meketaten, Ankhensenpaaten, Nefernefruten-tasherit, Nefernefure and Setepenre. Meritaten ‘beloved of Aten’, married Akhenaten’s successor, Smekhkare. Around year 15 of Akhenaten’s reign, Meritaten was given the rank of ‘Mistress of the House’ and favourite of the King, at this time she was depicted performing certain religious rituals in the temple of the Aten. Meketaten ‘protected of Aten’ possibly died at childbirth (Alfred) or at the age of eleven (Redford), mourning scenes of Akhenaten and Nefertiti are depicted in the king’s tomb. Ankhensenpaaten ‘her life is in the Aten’, married Tutankhamun and became Ankhensenamun. Nefernefruaten-tasherit ‘Nefernefruaten Junior –after Nefertiti’, Nefernefrure ‘beautiful as the beauty of Re’, and Setepenre ‘chosen of Re’. What happened to the youngest three daughters is unknown. In addition to Nefertiti, Akhenaten had many other minor wives that he inherited from Amenhotep III’s harem as well as those he would have selected himself. Of particular importance is Kiya, one of Akhenaten’s minor wives. Her full origin is unknown, but she seems to have come from an official family with links to the royal household. In Akhenaten’s inscriptions Kiya was described...
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