Mummy Monday: Sesheshet

This week we are going to take a look at a burial from the Old Kingdom! Let’s look at the mother of King Teti, Sesheshet.


Very little is known about Sesheshet, sometimes known as Sesh. We do know that she was the mother of King Teti, the first pharaoh of the 6th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Her husband’s name is unknown, but it unlikely that he was of royal blood. The last king of the 5th Dynasty, Unas, most likely died without an heir. But one of his daughters, Iput, married Teti, who them succeeded his father-in-law. It has been implied that Sesheshet had a significant role in arranging this marriage and thus enabled her son to gain the throne.

Very little is known about Sesheshet, sometimes known as Sesh. We do know that she was the mother of King Teti, the first pharaoh of the 6th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Her husband’s name is unknown, but it unlikely that he was of royal blood. The last king of the 5th Dynasty, Unas, most likely died without an heir. But one of his daughters, Iput, married Teti, who them succeeded his father-in-law. It has been implied that Sesheshet had a significant role in arranging this marriage and thus enabled her son to gain the throne.

She is also referred to in the Ebers Papyrus, currently at the University of Leipzig, in Germany. In this papyrus, there was a medical recipe to cure baldness.

“Another remedy to make the hair grow, prepared for Shesh, the mother of his Majesty, The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Teti the justified.”

It is unclear if this recipe was made because the Queen was losing her hair or if the recipe was created at her request. For those curious, the cure for baldness is apparently, the claw of a dog, the hoof of a donkey and some boiled dates, though it is unclear what you were supposed to do with those ingredients!

For several other Egyptian cures for baldness, click here.

According to Manetho, a Late Egyptian priest who wrote about the history of the Egyptian pharaohs, Teti was murdered by his bodyguards in a harem plot, possibly by the usurper and next pharaoh Userkare. Though there is little evidence to back up this story, some have speculated that Sesheshet would have helped her son against the conspirators, but after her death, they defeated Teti.


Again, we know very very little about Sesheshet. But remarkably her tomb and burial have been found.

On November 8th, 2008, the Supreme Council of Antiquties announced that they found Sesheshet’s pyramid in Saqqara. It was a subsidiary pyramid of her son Teti’s complex. The site had been excavated since 2006 and the pyramid was found in September 2008 under 7 meters of sand, a small shrine and mudbrick walls from later periods. The pyramid was not entered until January 2009.

A picture of the excavation. The pyramids in the distance are those of Teti, Userkaf, and the Step Pyramid of Djoser in the far back.

I will note that there is some conflicting data on whose pyramid this was. The Council announced that the pyramid was Sesheshet’s, but there are no inscriptions in the pyramid to prove this to be so. Some other articles mention that there was evidence within the pyramid, but do not elaborate. I believe that Sesheshet is the most likely candidate, as two other pyramids have already been identified as those of Teti’s wives.


The pyramid is now topless (currently 5 meters or 16 feet tall) but was most likely 14 meters or 46 feet tall when complete. It may have actually been Saqqara’s most complete subsidiary pyramid, as many of these were not completed. The base was 22 meters or 72 feet on all sides and the walls sloped at a 51 degree angle. The substructure of the pyramid was 19 meters underground.

Although I could not find a complete consensus from my sources, I believe the pyramid was found next to Teti’s Pyramid and the pyramids of his wives, Iput and Khiut. The other pryamids were found around 100 years ago and in 1994.

Sesheshet’s Pyramid is most likely north of #8, the Pyramid of Queen Iput. No map that included the new pyramid could be found.

The burial chamber was 22 meters long and 4 meters wide and a large granite sarcophagus was found inside. It had no inscriptions and the lid had two pinholes to secure it. The lid may have been around 6 tons (though other sources say the entire sarcophagus was that much). It took five hours for the lid to be lifted by the excavators.

Unfortunately, there was a vertical shaft from the top of the pyramid that was made by tomb robbers, so the excavators were not expecting much. The pyramid was mostly looted, but some treasures lay within the chamber and the sarcophagus.

According to some sources, the following items were found in the tomb: vessels made of alabaster and red clay, tools lacquered in gold, and canopic jars, possibly still holding the organs of the King’s Mother.


Within the sarcophagus were the presumed remains of Sesheshet. Although her body may have been properly mummified when she died, the looters and time had tainted the body. A skull, legs, and pelvis were found, with bits of linen. Looters most likely took off the linen in search for gold or precious stone amulets or jewelry.

Though they were not able to take everything, as gold was found that would have covered the fingers of the deceased. If only I had a picture!

I know this wasn’t the most interesting Mummy Monday, but I wanted to try and move away from the later portion of Egyptian history, when the majority of the preserved mummies date to.


Photo Sources

Photos of the excavation – Mohamed Magahed

Picture of Teti Pyramid – Wikimedia Commons (Wknight94)

Teti Pyramid plan – Wikimedia Commons (Malyszkz)

Map of area –

Other Map –

Ebers Papyrus, Mummy photos – Judith Weingarten Blog

Women Crush Wednesday: Sobekneferu

This week’s Women Crush Wednesday is a special one! She is the first woman for whom there is confirmed proof that she reigned as Pharaoh over all of Egypt. Her name is Sobekneferu and she ruled at the end of the 12th dynasty of the Middle Kingdom.


The royal titulary of Sobekneferu

Sometimes her name is written as Neferusobek, instead of Sobekneferu. That is because her name is written with the nefer sign in front of the name of the crocodile god Sobek. In the Egyptian language, even if the name of a god is at the end of a word or phrase, it must always be pronounced first out of respect for the god. Her full name means “The Beauty of Sobek.”

Sobekneferu was the daughter of Amenemhat III. She may have also been the sister of Amenemhat IV, but this claim was from Manetho’s Aegyptiaca, which is not a complete or accurate source. Amenemhat IV was the son and heir of Amenemhat III, and he apparently died without a male heir.

There has been some speculation of how she was related to Amenemhat IV by scholars. Since the majority of her monumental works associate her with Amenemhat III, scholars believe she was only the stepsister of Amenemhat IV. Sobekneferu also never adopted the title of “King’s Sister,” which further supports this theory.

Sobekneferu had an older sister named Neferuptah, who was next in line after their half-brother. Her name was enclosed in a cartouche and she had her own pyramid at Hawara. But she died at an early age, probably before she even rose to the throne. This put Sobekneferu as next in line for the throne.


Sobekneferu probably ruled for about four years, circa 1806 to 1802 B.C.E. As I said before, she is the first confirmed female ruler of ancient Egypt. Some earlier Egyptian women are known to have ruled (for example, Neithotep and Merneith of the 1st dynasty), but there is no definite proof that they ruled in their own right. According to the Turin Canon Papyrus, which is a New Kingdom primary source that lists the rulers of Egypt and their reign lengths, Sobekneferu ruled for 3 years, 10 months, and 24 days.

During her reign, she made additions to the funerary complex of Amenemhat III (her father) at Hawara. Multiple fragments of the mortuary temple are inscribed with her name, including this piece of a column which included the end of the text saying, “…monument to her for her father, forever.”

Another column was found that depicted the serekhs of Amenemhat III and Sobekneferu. A serekh is a Predynastic and Old Kingdom version of a cartouche that depicts a falcon bird. This associated the king with the god Horus. Here, the serekh of Amenemhat III is giving an ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life, to Sobekneferu, implying that she was a legitimate ruler through him. It is especially interesting because she is labeled as the female Horus.

Sobekneferu may have also built a sanctuary at Heracleopolis Magna, though she most likely added onto a previous structure of Senusret III.

Graffito from Semna

There is also a Nile graffito at the Nubian fortress of Semna that dates to her reign. It states that the Nile flood, or inundation, rose to a height of 1.83 meters in Year 3 of her reign. And finally, an inscription found in the Eastern Desert records, “Year 4, second month of the Season of the Emergence” of her reign.

Four cylinder seals have been found bearing her name and her royal titulary. They are all located at the British Museum (one being EA 16581). Cylinder seals are small cylinders that are engraved with either inscriptions or figurative scenes. These can be rolled in wet clay to create an impression, such as signing a document. Here her Horus name, Nebty name, Gold Horus name, and nomen are listed with an epithet of Sobek, Lord of Shedyt.

She died without an heir and her death concluded Egypt’s 12th dynasty and the Middle Kingdom.


Only a few of her monuments have been discovered. Many headless statues of her have been preserved.

Three statues of her were found in 1941 in Tell el-Dab’a in the Delta. They were all headless. The first depicts Sobekneferu kneeling, offering something to a god. The second and the third depict her sitting on a throne, though the second was in much better condition. In this statue, her feet are seen crushing nine arches, which represent the nine enemies of Egypt. (Click through the photos to read more about them and their surviving inscriptions.)

This fragmented statue of her is located in the Louvre (E 27135). It is made out of red sandstone and depicts the chest and waist of the Queen. There is a pendant around her neck that looks very similar to pendants carved on statues of Senusret III and Amenemhat III. Her cartouche is carved on her belt, which helps identify this fragment. This statue also shows a mix of male and female characteristics. She wears both a female sheath dress and a male kilt overtop of it. She is also clearly wearing a nemes headdress. This is not to suggest that she was pretending to male, because is always uses female suffixes on her title. This may have just been a way to pacify critics of her rule or as a desire to represent herself as a traditional pharaoh.

One statue of her head is known. It was purchased by the Egyptian Museum Berlin (no 14476) in 1899, but it was lost in WWII (it is unclear if it was stolen, destroyed, or literally lost). It is now only known from photographs and plaster casts. It was 14 cm high and made of greywacke. The face of the woman shows signs of age, which helps date it stylistically to the Late Middle Kingdom.

Recently, it has been concluded by Egyptologist Biri Fay that this head would have fit on a lower part of a royal statue discovered in the Temple of Taharqa in the Nubian fortress in Semna.

This piece is currently located at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (24.742) and is 21.4 cm tall. The chair that Sobekneferu sits on contains a sema -tawy sign. This is a motif of a lotus and a papyrus plant being tied together and it a symbol of the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. This sign is typically only used with Egyptian royalty, particularly the pharaoh, so it can be presumed to depict Sobekneferu.


Now, unfortunately, even though Sobekneferu is the first confirmed female ruler, this is all we really know about her. Her reign was short and thus she probably did not have time to build a pyramid or funerary complex, as was typical of Middle Kingdom royalty.

There is some speculation that she may have planned or been buried in a pyramid complex in Mazghuna, south of Dahshur. There are the ruins of two pyramids here, both of which are of similar layout and completely uninscribed. Since the southern complex has been tentatively attributed to Amenemhat IV, the northern pyramid could have belonged to Sobekneferu. A papyrus from Harageh dating to her rule mentions a place called Sekhemneferu, which could have been the name of her pyramid.

The remains of the Northern Mazghuna Pyramid

The North Mazghuna Pyramid was either built in the late 12th or early 13th dynasty. It was unfinished and no royal inscriptions have been found. It was rediscovered in 1910 by Ernest Mackay and excavated the following year by Flinders Petrie.

Plan of the North Pyramid of Mazghuna

The superstructure of the pyramid was never started, but it was most likely intended to be larger than the Southern Mazghuna pyramid. The substructure of the pyramid, otherwise called the hypogeum, is a twisting path, changing direction six times. The entrance is on the north side of the pyramid and has a staircase leading down to a square chamber. This then leads to another staircase and the first quartzite blocking stone. These stones were intended to fend off tomb robbers, but many of these stones were not put into place, probably because construction was abandoned.

Substructure or hypogeum of the Northern Mazghuna Pyramid

After that two other chambers are connected by a passage with another blocking stone. After the third chamber, there is a stairway and an antechamber. This room leads to the burial chamber, which was partially covered by an inverted V-shaped ceiling. The chamber was entirely filled by a huge sarcophagus lid, made out of a 42-ton quartzite slab. This was never fitting into the chamber. There was another room behind the burial chamber, whose function is unknown.

All exposed quartzite had been painted with red paint and sometimes decorated with vertical black stripes. Typically pyramid complexes had a few associated buildings, including a mortuary temple, a causeway, and a valley temple, none of which were found in this case. One portion of the causeway has been discovered, but again construction may have been abandoned early on in the building process.

Though we do not know much about Sobekneferu or her burial, she is still extremely important to our understanding of Egyptian history and the role of ancient Egyptian women!


Photo Sources

Statue at the Louvre – Wiki Commons Public Domain

Statue at Berlin – Wiki Commons (Hedwig Fecheimer)

Cylinder seal, drawn by Flinders Petrie – Wiki Commons (Flinders Petrie)

Interior of Pyramid – Wikimedia Commons (I, Bakha)

Drawing of the pyramid – Wikimedia Commons (Lespsius)

Inscription –

Plan of Pyramid –

Ruins of Pyramid -

Column, inscriptions, statues – Flickr (Juan R. Lazaro)

Royal Titulary –

Women Crush Wednesday: Ahhotep (I and II?)

This week for Women Crush Wednesday, we are going to talk about a Queen of the late Second Intermediate Period. Or maybe two Queens?

Which Ahhotep?

Like some of the other women we have talked about, there is a bit of confusion about who Ahhotep was. There have been a few theories over the years, but I’ll only be talking about the most recent theory, though it is not fully accepted by all scholars.

The main confusion lies in two separate coffins that have been found labeling a Queen Ahhotep. One was found in the royal cache in Deir el-Bahri (DB320) while the other was found in a tomb in Dra Abu el-Naga. I’ll talk about those below.

Tentative family tree of the late 17th and early 18th Dynasty

According to Dodson and Hilton (2004), Ahhotep I has been labeled as the wife of Seqenenre Tao II, a king in the late 17th Dynasty, and mother of rulers Kamose and Ahmose I. Then, Ahhotep II would be labeled as the wife of Kamose, the last ruler of the 17th Dynasty. This would make the relationship between the Ahhoteps, mother-in-law, and daughter-in-law, or mother and daughter (as Egyptian royal siblings married each other).

Ahhotep’s name means “Iah is satisfied” or “The moon is satisfied.”

Let’s talk about each Ahhotep’s life from what little information I could gather.

Ahhotep I, wife of Sequenenre Tao II

Ahhotep I was probably the daughter of Senakhtenre Ahmose, the 7th king of the 17th Dynasty, and Tetisheri. This Ahhotep would have lived circa 1560 to 1530 B.C.E. She was titled as the Great Royal Wife and an Associate of the White Crown Bearer. She was probably the sister and wife of Sequenenre Tao II, whose mummy was famously found with wounds to the face. It is believed that he died in battle against the Hyksos. This painting by Winifred M. Brunton from Hutchinson’s History of Nations (1915) is very interesting and shows the hypothetical retrieving of the Pharaoh’s body.

Winifred M. Brunton painting of Ahhotep I mourning the death of her husband on the battlefield.

Because of the early death of her husband, it is believed that she became a regent for her son, Ahmose I. She was probably also the mother of Kamose, but it is unclear if she was also regent for him as he inherited the throne from his father and ruled before his brother, Ahmose I. Nonetheless, she was an important figure in the court during this time.

This is mostly recorded in a stela of Ahmose I in Karnak. He describes his mother as one who makes important decisions. She was,

“one who cares for Egypt. She has looked after her (ie. Egypt’s) soldier; she had guarded her; she had brought back her fugitives and collected together her deserters; she has pacified Upper Egypt, and expelled her rebels.”

It is unclear if she actually conducted or organized military engagement in Upper Egypt as this stela states. Ahhotep was probably also the mother to Queen Ahmose Nefertari. Ahmose-Nebetta, Ahmose Henutempet, and Ahmose-Tumerisi.

Interestingly the coffin and inscribed items found in the tomb in Dra Abu el-Naga used an early form of the Iah glyph. Iah is a lunar deity in the ancient Egyptian religion and the word means “Moon.” According to scholars the representation of the hieroglyph changed between years 18 and 22 of Ahmose I. Because these items used the early form of the word, it has been suggested that Ahhotep (at least the one buried in Dra Abu el-Naga) died sometime before year 20 of Ahmose I. In general, this would suggest that she is not the mother of Ahmose I.

Ahhotep II, wife of Kamose

She may be the daughter of Seqenenre Tao II and one of his consorts, possibly Tetisheri. She is thought to be the mother of Queen Ahmose-Sitkamose. It is unclear if she was the sister of Kamose or just his wife.

Kamose apparently died in battle, which allowed his brother Ahmose I to rise to power. Because in this theory, she was the sister/sister-in-law of Ahmose I, it doesn’t exactly support the claims of the king on the stela in Karnak.

There is very little known about the Ahhotep that might have been married to Kamose. This confusion proves to become even more difficult when we compare the two coffins and the tomb of Ahhotep. To continue with this theory of two sperate Ahhoteps, the coffin of Ahhotep I is thought to be the one found in Deir el-Bahri, and the coffin and tomb of Ahhotep II was found in Dra Abu el-Naga.

Coffin found in Cache in Deir el Bahri (DB320)

The coffin (CG 61006) found in DB320 in Deir el-Bahri depicts a Queen with a tripartite wig and a modius, which is a flat-topped cylindrical headdress or crown. The body of the coffin is yellow and covered in a rishi-design, otherwise known as feathers. The titles inscribed on the coffin include sAt-nsw. snt-nsw, Hmt-nsw-wrt, Xnmt-nfr-HDt, mwt-nsw or “King’s Daughter, King’s Sister, King’s Great Wife, Associate of the White Crown Bearer, and King’s Mother.”

If you remember from my discussion of DB320, this was a cache of many different mummies and sarcophagus that were reburied here during the 3rd Intermediate Period. The priests who did this didn’t keep the best records of which mummy was buried in which coffin. So, the mummy of High Priest of Amun, Pinedjem I was found in Ahhotep’s coffin. The original tomb for this coffin is not known, as no mummy of Ahhotep was found in that tomb.

Coffin found in Tomb in Dra Abu el-Naga

This tomb was rediscovered in 1859 by workmen employed by Auguste Mariette, who was the first Director of Egyptian Monuments. This tomb was not well recorded as Marinette was in Cairo at the time. Unfortunately, the coffin was immediately opened by the workers and the local governor, and the mummy was removed and unwrapped to search for jewelry and precious objects. The bandages and the mummy were then unfortunately lost.

The collection of finds were about to be transported to Qena to the Egyptian viceroy. Mariette was furious and technically highjacked the collection before it arrived. Theodule Deveria, an eyewitness, stated,

“… we saw the boat containing the treasures taken from the pharaonic mummy coming towards us. At the end of half an hour, the two boats were alongside each other. After some stormy words, accompanied by rather lively gestures, Mariette promised to one to toss him overboard, to another to roast his brains, to a third to send him to the gallery, and to a fourth to have him hanged. At last, they decided to place the box containing the antiquities on board, against a receipt.”

The coffin is heavily covered in gold leaf. It had a partially destroyed uraeus on the forehead and eyes were set in gold. The titles on this coffin included Hmt-nsw-wrt, Xnmt-nfr-HDt, or “King’s Great Wife and Associate of the White Crown Bearer.” Interestingly, this coffin was too large to have fit inside the coffin found in Deir el-Bahri, which helps support the theory that there are two Ahhoteps.

Contents of the Dra Abu el-Naga Tomb

Besides the coffin and the mummy, several pieces of jewelry and weapons were found within the tomb. Many of the items bore the name of Kamose, but more were inscribed with the name of Ahmose I.

Some of the items found in the tomb in Dra Abu el-Naga

An inscribed ceremonial ax blade was made of copper, gold, electrum, and wood. It was decorated with a Minion style griffin. Some of the scenes on these axes may depict the liberation of Egypt from the Hyksos. There is also an image of a smiting motif, which depicts the king holding the hair of an enemy about to strike him.

Three gold and bronze daggers found were made out of gold, electrum, enamel, and semi-precious stones. The name of epithets and Ahmose are inscribed on both the faces of the gold handle. One of these daggers was inscribed the names and epithets of King Ahmose, “Son of Ra, from his body, Ahmose, like Ra,” and may have been a gift from him.

A model of a boat (JE 4682) made out of gold and silver may be the most unique item found in the tomb. Boat models themselves are not unique, as the Egyptians believed that these were essential to the deceased for their journey in the afterlife. This boat was found on a miniature cart with wheels. It is less detailed than other models, but it is unique in the materials it is made out of, as most of these models were made out of wood. Below is an article about the boat.


Three golden flies attached to a chain were also found and are now in the Luxor Museum. These were awards that were usually given to people who served and acquitted themselves well in the army. These have been dubbed the “Order of the Golden Fly” and appeared in the early New Kingdom. Multiple versions of these necklaces have been found, and Ahhotep’s are the largest and finest. These were supposedly originally found around the neck of the mummy. These flies help support the theory that she was the mother of Ahmose who helped with the unification struggles. Two other smaller flies made out of electrum were also found.

A large wesekh or broad collar (JE 4725A) was also found, though it has been reconstructed today. It is made out of small golden elements representing baboons, quadrupeds, birds, crosses, bells, and geometric motifs. The clasps are in the shape of two hawk or falcon heads.

Similar to the pectorals of Psusennes I that we talked about on Monday, Ahhotep was also found with a pectoral (JE 4683). It is in the shape of a shrine with wavy lines on the bottom representing the primordial waters. King Ahmose I is shown standing on a boat with the gods Ra and Amun while being protected by two falcons. The gods are pouring water on the king, which represents the purification process during a coronation ceremony. Some scholars have speculated that this was made for the coronation of Ahmose I based on the representation.

A scarab pendant on a chain is inscribed with the name of Ahmose. The gold chain is formed out of wire closely plaited together and is very flexible. The ends terminate with the head of a waterfowl and small rings to secure the pieces together. The scarab in the center is made out of solid gold and inlaid with lapis lazuli.

A gold drop in the shape of a fig was apparently also found in the tomb, but I could not fin a modern photo of it. It was apparently inlaid with turquoise or blue paste.

This beaded bracelets (JE 4685) were found containing the names and titles of Ahmose I. They are composed of 30 rows of gold beads and semi-precious stones that alternate in a special design to form triangles and squares. The clasp is made out of two gold sheets that slide within each other to close the bracelet tight.

Hinged armlets (JE 4679) in the form of the vulture goddess Nekhbet were also found but they were not made with the best craftsmanship. They are inlaid with lapis lazuli and carnelian. These bear the name of Ahmose I and show some damage from use.

This last bracelet (JE 4784) is gold with lapis lazuli inlays. It was formed from two semicircles. One half depicts Geb, the god of the earth, wearing a double crown and seated on a throne. His hands rest on a sign of protection on the shoulder and arm of king Ahmose who is kneeling before him. This represents him being crowned and thus recognized as a descendant of divine pharaohs. The other half is engraved with a falcon and jackal-headed figure representing the souls of Pe and Nekhen, the mythical ancestors of the rulers of Egypt before unification.

There is also an armlet in the form of an archer’s bracer. This was originally thought to be a diadem as it was found on the mummy’s head in her hair. But it was probably worn on the upper arm as an armlet. Some scholars speculate that it actually belonged to Ahmose himself, as the diameter is wider than the other bracelets of Ahhotep. The vertical projection of the armlet means that it took the form of an archer’s bracer, protecting the inner wrist from the bowstring as it was released.

The burial collection suggests that this royal woman, closely associated with Ahmose and Kamose, was being commemorated for her military role, possibly her participation in an actual battle.

Though it is still unclear if there was two Queen Ahhoteps or just one, the evidence surrounding both of them indicate that they were powerful women in their own right.


Photo Sources

Ceremonial Axe – Wikimedia Commons (Jesse)

Jewelry and weapons, Axes – Wikimedia Commons, Album du musée de Boulaq (1896)

Black and white photos – Wikimedia Commons, Théodule Devéria

Illustrated drawing of silver boat – Wikimedia Commons (Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Émile Brugsch)

Silver boat image – Musee de Boulaq (1881)

Face of coffin – Wikimedia Commons (Hans Ollermann)

Pharaoh Ahmose I slaying a Hyksos on the axe – Wikimedia Commons (Georges Émile Jules Daressy)

Axes – Flickr (Heidi Kontkanen)

Axe – Flickr (Jesse)

Axe – Wikimedia Commons (Ebers, Georg Moritz, 1837-1898)

Bracelet, Diadem, Gold Chain, drop – Wikimedia Commons (Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.), v. 15, 1911, “Jewelry,” p. 364, Figs. 7, 3, 6, 5.)

Rings and Little Lion –

Coffin face –

Full Coffin –

Armlet/Diadem –

Scarab Necklace – Alamy Stock Photo

Coffin –

Coffin –

Family Tree –

Boat model –’Ahhotep%20or,%20argent%20XIIe%20Dynastie,%20Egypte%20Antique%20.jpg

Boat model – Wachsmann 2013

Mummy Monday: Nodjmet

This week we are going to be looking at an intriguing mummy of an older woman named Nodjmet or Nedjmet found in a cache in Deir el-Bahri. She was definitely a high ranking noble lady married to the High Priest of Amun, Herihor, but she could have also been considered royalty!

Identity Crisis

There is some debate as to if there was only one Queen Nodjmet or two. Some scholars believe that Herihor’s mother may have also been named Nodjmet, and may have been the mummy that we are going to talk about later. This is based on two separate Book of the Dead fragments that were found with the body. She is mentioned as the King’s Mother in both papyri, but never as King’s Wife.

Because of this, some scholars believe that the mummy is of Herihor’s mothers and prefer to call her ‘Nodjmet A,’ and then call the wife of Herihor, ‘Nodjmet B,’ who’s mummy has not been recovered. Unfortunately, there is very little known about the mother of Herihor. She may have been the daughter of Hrere and thus the wife of the High Priest Amenhotep. Read the article below to learn more about this confusion.

The following biography is for the wife of Herihor, who was originally identified as the mummy we’re going to talk about today.

Life of Nodjmet B

She lived in the late 20th to early 21st dynasties in the New Kingdom. She may have been a princess, daughter of the last Ramesside pharaoh, Ramses XI. She was first married to the High Priest of Amun of Thebes, Piankh. He carried the titles of King’s scribe, King’s son of Kush, Overseer of the foreign countries to the South, Overseer of the granaries, and Commander of the archers of the whole of Upper Egypt.

They had at least five children, Heqanefer, Heqamaat, Ankhefenmut, Faienmut (female), and the future High Priest of Amun/Pharaoh Pinedjem I. Interestingly, it appears that Nodjmet was her husband’s most trusted confidant. When he went on a trip to Nubia, it seems that the management of Thebes was under her control. Piankh died around 1070 B.C.E. and his role was replaced by a man named Herihor, who then married Nodjmet.

 Herihor is an interesting figure in Egyptian history because he was most likely an Egyptian army official before becoming High Priest of Amun. It is thought that his parents may have been Libyans, but this is not proven. Herihor was also labeled as a vizier under Ramses XI before he seemingly claimed “kingship.”

Nodjmet and her husband Herihor on her Book of the Dead

Though Herihor held the titles of Lord of Two Lands, Son of Ra, Lord of Appearances, and Son of Amun – all of which are typical titles of a pharaoh – he most likely only assumed some royal power after the death of Ramses XI. His kingship was limited to a few relatively restricted areas of Thebes, around the Temple of Amun at Karnak, as Ramses XI’s name was still used on official documents elsewhere.

Because of this, Nodjmet effectively became a queen! Her name was written in a cartouche and she was given the titles of Lady of the Two Lands and King’s Mother. She ended up outliving her second husband as well, and most likely died during the first few years of the next pharaoh, Smendes.

So, let’s talk about the mummy that was found in Deir el-Bahri cache. Even if we don’t know which Nodjmet we’ll be talking about!


Tomb TT320, previously known as DB320, is known as the Royal Cache. It is located in Deir el-Bahri in the Theban Necropolis, opposite the Nile of Thebes/Luxor. This tomb is also above the famous Middle and New Kingdom funerary temples of Mentuhotep II and Hatshepsut. The tomb was originally intended for another High Priest of Amun, Pinedjem II, and his wife Nesikhons.

Location of the tomb above the Deir el-Bahri complexes

Sometime during the 21st dynasty, the tombs of the Theban Necropolis needed a “renewing.” These included the tombs of Ramses I, Seti I, and Ramses II, which had already been looted. These royal mummies were moved multiple times to protect them from looters. The mummies were labeled with dockets stating when they were moved and where they were reburied. When the last of the mummies were placed in TT320, it seems that the opening of the tomb was naturally covered with sand and possibly other debris.

An image of some of the mummies found in TT320

Here is a list of those who were buried in the tomb:

  • Tetisheri
  • Seqenenre Tao
  • Ahmose-Inhapi
  • Ahmose-Henutemipet
  • Ahmose-Henuttamehu
  • Ahmose-Meritamon
  • Ahmose-Sipair
  • Ahmose-Sitkamose
  • Ahmose I
  • Ahmose-Nefertari
  • Rai
  • Siamun
  • Ahmose-Sitamun
  • Amenhotep I
  • Thutmose I
  • Baket (?)
  • Thutmose II
  • Iset
  • Thutmose III
  • Unknown man C
  • Ramesses I
  • Seti I
  • Ramesses II
  • Ramesses III
  • Ramesses IX
  • Pinedjem I
  • Duathathor-Henuttawy
  • Maatkare
  • Masaharta
  • Tayuheret
  • Pinedjem II
  • Isetemkheb D
  • Neskhons
  • Djedptahiufankh
  • Nesitanebetashru
  • Unknown man E
  • 8 other unidentified mummies; funerary remains of Hatshepsut

The tomb was found around 1881, by the Abd el-Rassul and his family. They may have actually discovered it around 1871, but that is unclear. The family plundered this tomb for years and sold many of the items found on the antiquities market in Luxor. Canopic jars and funerary papyrus from this tomb were showing up on the market as early as 1874. The local authorities interrogated and tortured two brothers until they gave up the location of the tomb. Apparently, they discovered the tomb because one of their goats had fallen down the tomb shaft.

Emile Brugsch and Ahmed Kamal were the first Egyptologists to investigate the tomb. All the contents were removed from the tomb within 48 hours. The quick removal protected the contents of the tomb from possible looters, but the archaeologists did not document anything. The locations of the mummies and other contents were never recorded, and even when Brugsch went back, he was not able to document it reliably by memory.

Many of the items were also damaged before and after removal. Fragments of coffins were found in the tomb by later archaeologists, indicating that they were damaged during the quick emptying of the tomb. But ten of the coffins were missing the footends which were not found in the tomb, indicating that they were damaged before placing in the tomb. Obviously, the only reason the mummies were in this tomb was that their original tombs had already been looted, so the bodies are not in great condition. Some of the heads and limbs had been removed to find precious amulets or jewelry that the deceased wore.

Since the excavation in 1881, the near-vertical shaft was left open, which allowed debris and rocks to fill the hole. The tomb was reinvestigated in 1938 and then later in 1998 by a Russian and German team. This team cleared the passageways and were able to find fragments of coffins and other small items. After clearing debris away from the walls, they were also able to find some paintings on the walls, which helped them conclude that the tomb was originally owned by a family from the 21st Dynasty.

Watch this Youtube video or read these articles to learn more about the royal cache!

Coffin and Papyrus Fragments

The mummy of Nodjmet was nested in two coffins (CG 61024), made of cedar wood with sycamore wood faces. The coffins had been originally fashioned for an unidentified man and had either been usurped from the original owner or were perhaps donated by him. They probably had the original gender markers commonly used on men’s coffins, such as stripped wigs, face masks depicting ears, and clenched hands. If this was the case, the coffin was probably completely reworked as the ears were replaced with disc-shaped earrings and the wigs represent finely braided hair. The hands were removed sometime in antiquity, but the outlines indicate that they were originally gilded and clenched.

On both of the coffins, the gliding has been completely adzed off and the eye inlays have been removed. The outer coffin’s surface has been almost completely removed, indicating that it was probably lavishly decorated with a thick gold foil. This was hacked off with an adze, which is an ancient cutting tool similar to an ax, in a very crude and hurried fashion.

But the inner coffin was handled with greater care. The inscriptions and religious symbols remain intact, indicating that the coffins had been stripped by necropolis officials and priests rather than thieves. They probably didn’t want to completely violate the coffin of one of their royal ancestors, so they left the inscriptions intact.

As I said earlier, two separate Books of the Dead were found with the name of Nodjmet. One of these was taken from the tomb by the El-Rassul brothers and sold on the antiquities market. The two pieces are located in the British Museum.

Papyrus EA 10541 is richly decorated with colorful images of Nodjmet, Herihor, and the gods. I one scene, Nodjmet’s heart is being weighed against Maat, the goddess of truth and justice. While this scene is very popular in the New Kingdom, the symbol of the heart is usually used. In this scene, a small figure of a woman is used, presumably to represent Nodjmet. This is supervised by the god Thoth in the form of the baboon.

Papyrus EA 10490 is split into five sections. It is not nearly as colorful, but it is still in excellent condition featuring multiple depictions of Nodjmet with the gods Osiris and Amun-Re. This is the papyrus where she is mentioned as the daughter of Hrere.

Her Mummy

The mummy, currently located at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (CG 61087) was probably found in side room D of the tomb. The mummy was first unwrapped by Gaston Maspero on June 1st, 1886. G.E. Smith continued the unwrapping but only removed the remaining wrapping from areas of the body that were of special relevance to his study of ancient Egyptian embalming practices.

Some reports state that she was between 30 to 35 years old, while others claim she was an older woman. The mummy was in pretty bad shape after being presumably looted in antiquity. There were gashes on her forehead, cheeks, and nose, which were probably caused by thieves cutting the wrappings. Her legs, wrists, and left humerus were all badly broken. Impressions of jewelry were found on her right arm indicating that they had found and stolen some of the objects. But, several pieces were still found including several bracelets composed of tiny carnelian beads carved into the shapes of spheres and lotus buds, lapis lazuli beads, and gold cylinders.

X-rays of her body reveal that there was a heart scarab placed inside her chest, along with the figures of the four sons of Horus. Her viscera were not reinserted within the body like in late 21st Dynasty mummies, so it was probably placed in canopic jars which are now missing. The Osiris shroud that was covering her mummy was also damaged by looters. She was also reportedly found with an Osiris figure and a wooden canopic box.

Her original burial probably occurred around Year 1 of pharaoh Smendes, possibly in the tomb of Inhapi, the location of which is unknown. She was then probably reburied in TT320 after Year 11 of Pharaoh Shoshenq I. Three linen labels or dockets were found over the body. The first was found on the bandages on the sole of her foot and stated “High Priestess of Amon.” The second was found on the bandages on the right side of the body with her name written in a cartouche. The final docket had the date Year 1 of Smedes/Pinudjem I.

This mummy is also one of the first examples of a new mummifying technique. There was no attempt to insert materials under the skin via incisions, as was in the care of the later 21st dynasty mummies. The embalmers applied padding, wax, and other cosmetics directly to the surface of the skin to give the mummy a more lifelike appearance. To fill in her face, her mouth was packed with sawdust and her nose filled with resin. Artificial eyebrows made out of hair were attached to her face with some type of adhesive, probably resin. A wig was added on her head, which conceals a few remaining gray hairs. And finally, artificial eyes were placed within her eye sockets. This is the earliest known use of artificial eyes made of stone.

Even though we aren’t exactly sure which Nodjmet this mummy is, she represents a unique period of time where the power of the pharaohs was declining and mummification practices became more experimental.


Photo Credits

Color photo of mummies, canopic box –

Photos of Coffins –

More Photos of the Coffins (NEED TO DOWNLOAD) –

Full length photos of the mummy –

Photos of Papyrus (10541 – really pretty one) – British Museum

Photos of Papyrus (10490,1 ,2 ,3 ,4 ,5) – British Museum

Location of tomb – Ancient Origins

Isometric view of tomb –

View of shaft, other mummies –

Women Crush Wednesday: Tiye

For this week’s Women Crush Wednesday we are going to talk about Amenhotep III’s Great Royal Wife, Tiye. She was quite influential during the rule of her husband and her son Akhenaten.

Her Life

Tiye was born sometimes around 1398 B.C.E. to Yuya and Tjuyu. Her father was a wealthy landowner from the Upper Egyptian town of Akhmin. He served as a priest, superintendent of oxen, and commander of the chariotry. It has been speculated that he may be of foreign origins because his name has various spellings and could be originally non-Egyptian. Her mother Tiuyu was involved in many religious cults as the singer of Hathor and chief entertainers of both Amun and Min. These titles suggest that she may have been part of the royal family in some way, but this is not clear. Tiye also had a brother named Anen, who was the second prophet of Amun. Pharaoh Ay, who was pharaoh after her grandson King Tutankhamun, may have also been her brother as he was also from Akhmin and he inherited most of the titles Yuya held while in the court of Amenhotep III.

Tiye was most likely married to Amenhotep III in the second year of his reign. She could have been either 11 or 12 when she married. Their marriage was a unique case as Egyptian pharaohs usually married their sisters or half-sisters to keep the power in the family. As Amenhotep III was born to a minor wife of Thutmose IV, he may have needed a stronger tie to a royal lineage, which is why some scholars think that Tjuyu may have been of royal blood.

In the 11th year of Amenhotep III’s reign, he released several commemorative scarabs, including one that has been dubbed the marriage scarab. Here he announced that she was elevated to Great Royal Wife, which meant that she technically had a higher rank than Amenhotep III’s mother. On these scarabs, her name is actually written within a cartouche, which was a long oval with one line on the side. These cartouches are usually only reserved for the king’s name. Here is the text on the back of the Marriage Scarab:

Scarab Commemorating the King’s Marriage to Queen Tiye, ca. 1390–1352 B.C. Egyptian, New Kingdom Glazed steatite; L. 8 cm (3 1/8 in.); W. 5.4 cm (2 1/8 in.); H. 2 cm (13/16 in.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Helen Miller Gould, 1910 (10.130.1643)

“Year 11 The Living Horus Strong Bull Appearing in Truth. He of the Two Goddesses Establishing Laws, Pacifying the Two Lands. The Golden Horus, Great of Valour, Smiting the Asiatics. King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands, Neb-Maat-Re  Son of Re, Amenhotep Ruler of Thebes, given life. The Great Royal Wife Tiye, may she live. The name of her father is Yuya, the name of her mother is Tuya. She is the wife of the mighty king whose southern boundary is as far as Karoy, whose northern is as far as Naharin.”

Her Children

She and Amenhotep III had several surviving children. Her eldest daughter Sitamun was elevated to the position of Great Royal Wife by her father around the 30th year of his reign. She had her own apartments in the royal city of Malqata, across the hall from her father. She also may have intended to be buried in Amenhotep III’s tomb, but it not clear if she was ever buried there. Another daughter Isis or Iset was also a Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep III. Two more daughters are known named Henuttaneb and Nebetah, although the latter may have been renamed Baketaten during her brother’s reign. Baketaten is frequently seen seated next to Tiye in Amarna reliefs so it is not clear if this was a daughter, granddaughter, or someone else. Finally, the “Younger Lady of KV35” who was found with the body of Tiye, has been identified through DNA to be the daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye and the mother of King Tutankhamun. Presumably, the body is of one of the already known daughters, but as the body was not labeled, we may never know which daughter she was.

Tiye and Amenhotep III had at least two sons. Crown Prince Thutmose was a High Priest of Ptah before he predeceased his father. Their second son was originally known as Amenhotep IV. After his father’s death and when he took the throne, he changed his name to Akhenaten and moved the capital city to a new site in Middle Egypt, which was also called Akhenaten. Tiye and Amenhotep III may have had another son named Smenkhkare, who was the successor of Akhenaten, but this is just one of the many theories about the identity of Smenkhkare.

Famous Monuments and Depictions

Queen Tiye pictured as two sphinx at her temple in Segeinga, Nubia

Throughout his rule, Amenhotep III built various structures for his Queen Tiye. He devoted several of his shrines to her and also constructed a temple dedicated to her in Segeinga, Nubia. Here she was worshipped as the goddess Hathor Tefnut and she was also displayed as a sphinx. Her temple was the female counterpart to the larger temple of Amenhotep III.

Most importantly, Amenhotep III gifted her a pleasure lake at the city of Djaruka, which supposedly was near Akhmin. Her husband sent out another commemorative scarab detailing the lake. This lake may have been similar to the lake that was built at the royal city of Malqata. Here is a translation of the Pleasure Lake Scarab:

Pleasure Lake Scarab, Liverpool Museum, M12400

“Year 11 under the majesty of Horus: Strong bull, appearing in truth; two ladies: Who establishes laws and pacifies the two lands; Golden Horus: Great of Strength, smiter of the Asiatics; king of Upper and Lower Egypt, lord of the two lands, Nebmaatre; son of Re: Amenhotep, ruler of Thebes, given life; and the great royal wife Tiye, may she live. Her father’s name is Yuya; her mother’s name is Tuya. His majesty commanded the making of a lake for the great royal wife Tiye, may she live, in her town Djarukha. Its lengths is 3700 (cubits) and its width is 700 (cubits). (His majesty) celebrated the festival of opening the lake in the third month of inundation, day 16. His majesty was rowed in the royal barge Aten-nefru in it.”

Colossal Statue of Amenhotep III, Tiye and their daughters, Egyptian Museum, Cairo

There are a variety of statues of Tiye, but none is as impressive as the colossal statue of Amenhotep III and his wife in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (M610 & JE 33906). It originally stood in Medinet Habu. It is 23 feet or 7 meters tall and depicts the couple and three of their daughters. Interestingly, Tiye is pictured the same size as her husband, which is not typically done in Egyptian art. Usually, women are always portrayed slightly shorter than their husbands. No other Queen has ever figured so prominently in her husband’s lifetime. This emphasizes her role as the king’s divine and early partner.

Statue of Tiye and Amenhotep III, Louvre Museum, E 25493

This blue-green statue of Tiye used to include her husband, but that half has since been lost. It was made out of steatite and embellished with bright green enamel. The lower half of this statue was in the Louvre Museum (N2312) when it was stolen during the revolution of July 1830. It was then mysteriously returned to its place a few months later. Then in 1962, the upper part of this statue turned up on the art market and the Louvre purchased it to piece the two halves together (E25493).

But this bust is by far the most famous image of Queen Tiye. It was found in Medinet el Ghurab, which is an ancient site near the Faiyum Oasis. It is currently located at the Egyptian Museum in Berlin (AM21834 & AM1752). It is thought that this bust was created towards the end of the rule of her husband, as she is shown in advanced age. After her husband’s death, this piece may have been reworked. Using computer scan technology, Egyptologists have discovered that the Queen originally wore a silver headscarf with a gold uraeus. This headscarf was called a Khat headdress and was traditionally worn by the four funerary goddesses, Isis, Nephthys, Selket, and Neith. Then the piece was covered in several layers of linen and decorated with faience beads, a few of which are still preserved.

Computer rendering of the original design of the bust of Tiye
Reconstruction of the three different phases of the bust of Tiye

The crown which was added separately was actually lost within the Berlin Museum. This crown consists of a sun disc, cow horns, and a pair of features. This crown is typically worn by goddesses or deified kings. It seems that Akhenaten raised his mother, while she was still alive, into the realm of a goddess.

Her Power

This is a list of all of the titles that she held throughout her life:

  • Hereditary Princess (iryt-p`t)
  • Great of Praises (wrt-hzwt)
  • Sweet of Love (bnrt-mrwt)
  • Lady of The Two Lands (nbt-t3wy)
  • King’s Wife (hmt-nisw)
  • Great King’s Wife (hmt-niswt-wrt),
  • King’s Wife, his beloved (hmt-nisw meryt.f),
  • Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt (hnwt-Shm’w-mhw)
  • Mistress of the Two Lands (hnwt-t3wy)

During her husband’s rule, she was able to wield a lot of power, probably more than a typical Queen. She became her husband’s trusted advisor and confidant. She was especially known for gaining the respect of foreign dignitaries, who were willing to deal directly through her. Tiye was the first Egyptian queen to have her name recorded on official acts.

In Akhenaten/Amarna

After Amenhotep III died in either his 38th or 39th regnal year when Tiye was about 48 or 49, their son Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten continued to rule out of Memphis for a few years. Then he decided to move away from Memphis and the religious cult of Re to create a new city in Middle Egypt. This city was called Akhenaten and is currently located in Amarna. His reign triggered a switch from a polytheistic (multiple gods) religion to a monotheistic (one god) religion focusing on the Aten. There is a slight possibility that Tiye had a short co-regency with her son when he came to the throne.

Tiye lived for about 12 years after her husband died, so she was closely involved with her son’s rule in both Memphis and Amarna. She most likely continued to advise her son about foreign relations. A large cache of letters between the Egyptian administration and foreign nations was found in Amarna and several of the letters mentioned Tiye herself. In one letter the king of Mitanni told Tiye directly that he remembered the good relations when her husband ruled and hoped that they will continue to be on friendly terms with her son.

Banquet scene from the tomb of Huya, steward of the Mother of the King, Depicting Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tiye, and children feasting

Tiye also had a house in Amarna as well as a steward named Huya. In Huya’s tomb in Amarna, Tiye is depicted at a dinner table with Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and their family and then being escorted by the king to her sunshade. The last time that Tiye is mentioned dates to the 12th year of Akhenaten’s reign. She is depicted with her granddaughter Meketaten.

Where was She Buried?

Tiye may have died around 1338 B.C.E. around the age of 60. There is a theory that she may have died in a widespread epidemic that occurred in Amarna and may have taken the life of her granddaughter Meketaten.

She was most likely originally buried in the royal tomb at Amarna. Because Amarna was only occupied for about 14 years, the tomb was never completed. Two northern plinths of the incomplete pillared hall were removed to accommodate a sarcophagus plinth and pieces of her smashed sarcophagus were found in the burial chamber. There is also a destroyed decoration that may indicate Tiye was buried there. In a depiction that closely resembles the mourning of Meketaten, a figure stands beneath a floral canopy while the royal family grieves. The figure wears a queenly sash but cannot be Nefertiti as she is seen with the mourners, so she could be Tiye.

Tomb Relief from the Royal Tomb of Amarna depicting the mourning of Meketaten (Note: this is not the same scene where Tiye may be under a canopy)

Akhenaten did have one or a series of golden shrines built for his mother. The shrine is thought to have looked similar to the second and third shrine of King Tutankhamun. It resembled a large box with a lintel, doors, and a cornice along the top. It was entirely gilded and decorated by large scenes of Akhenaten and Tiye making offerings to the Aten, with a focus on the king rather than his mother. I’ve provided the surviving text on the shrine below. In one instance the House of Aten in Akhenaten is mentioned, which seems to imply that the shrine was made for Tiye’s burial in the royal tomb in Amarna.

But, after the death of Akhenaten, his son King Tutankhamun moved the capital back to Thebes, so he removed the burials of his family to the Valley of the Kings. It is unclear if Tiye was buried with her husband in KV/WV22 or with her son Akhenaten in KV55. Her shabtis were found near her husband’s tomb while the surviving pieces of her shrine were found in her son’s tomb.

The Shrine of Queen Tiye found in KV55

i. Door Post, left: Long live the father Heka-Aten, given life forever continually; (and) the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, who lives of Maat, Neferkheperure-Waenre, and the King’s Mother Tiye, may she live forever.

ii. Door Post, right: King of Upper and Lower Egypt, who lives of Maat, Lord of the Two Lands, Nebmaatre; The King’s Chief Wife, his beloved, King’s mother of Waenre, the Mistress of the Two Lands, [Tiye], may she [live] forever.

iii. Upper traverse, left: Long live the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands, Nebmaatre; (and) the King’s mother, King’s Chief Wife, Tiye, [may she] live. forever.

iv. Upper traverse, right: Long live the King of Upper and Lower Egypt who lives of Maat, Neferkheperure-Waenre, what he made for the king’s mother, the King’s Chief Wife, Tiye

v. Door leaves: Heka-Aten, given life forever continually; Great living Aten. Lord of jubilees, lord of everything [Aten] encircles, lord of heaven, lord of earth in the House of Aten in Akhet-Aten.

vi. Other Side: Nebmaatre, given life forever; [King of Upper and Lower Egypt] Amenhotep III, long in [his] lifetime; [King’s] mother, Tiye, living forever continually.

vii. Side panel of the Canopy: Akhenaten offers to the Aten, followed by Queen Tiye.

Invocation addressed to Tiye: When the Aten appears in his horizon, his rays lift you up at dawn in order to see him every [day]. May you live on the Ka of the living Aten, may [you] breathe the air with finest incense (?).

viii. Lateral Panels: [Long live Heka-] Aten, given life forever continually; (and) the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, who lives of Maat, the Lord of the Two Lands, Neferkheperure-Waenre, the Son of Re, who lives on Maat, Akhenaten, great in his lifetime: what he made for the King’s mother, the King’s Chief Wife, Tiye, may she live. forever.

(Murnane W.J., Texts from the Amarna Period in Egypt)

Her Mummy

Only the mummy of Akhenaten was found in KV55, so it was still unclear where Tiye was buried. In 1898, the tomb of Amenhotep II, KV35, was found with two large caches of royal mummies. You can see the full list in my blog post about Amenhotep III. Priests during the 21st dynasty took many of the royal mummies from their looted tombs and resealed them in the tomb of Amenhotep II. In one of the side chambers of the tomb, three mummified remains were discovered unwrapped. These were an older woman, a younger woman, and a young boy. As I mentioned before the “Younger Lady” was identified as the daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye and the mother of Tutankhamun. The young boy may be Webensenu or Prince Thutmose.

The “Elder Lady” was proven by DNA to be of Tiye. She was found to be anywhere from 40-50 years old at her death and 4 ft 9 in (145 cm) tall. She had long brown hair attached to her scalp. Her mummy was unwrapped and had been badly damaged. The whole front of the abdomen and part of the thorax were damaged. Her right arm was extended at her side with her palm on her thigh while her left hand was across her chest and gripping something.

A very unique artifact relating to Queen Tiye was found in the tomb of her grandson Tutankhamun. It was a gilded coffin set with four coffins inscribed with her name. Inside the smallest coffin was a small lock of hair that was presumably Tiye’s. In 1976, a microbe analysis was conducted on the hair sample and the hair on her mummy and it proved to be a near perfect match! This may have been seen as a memento from a beloved grandmother.


Photo Credits – Images of wall paintings with Tiye in it and one from Sedinga – Images of Tiye’s bust – Louvre Statue – Computerized tomography image of Queen Tiye head showing the Khat-headress (actual source Arnold, ed., 1996, 32)

Pinterest (Ria Bytes) – Color photo of the mini sarcophagus found in Tut’s tomb

A.M. v. Sarosdy/SC Exhibitions – Color photo of the mini sarcophagus found in Tut’s tomb standing

Flickr (Hand Ollermann) – Black and white (and one color) photos of the mini sarcophagus found in Tut’s tomb – Color photo of the mini sarcophagus found in Tut’s tomb sitting in each other – Funerary Mask thought to be that of Tiye – Reconstructions of Tiye’s bust – Mummy photo – Monumental Statue – New Statue – Scarab (10.130.1643) – Scarab (10.130.99) – Mummy Color Photo

Flickr (Aidan McRae Thomson) – Fragments of the Shrine of Tiye

Flickr (Merja Attia) – Fragments of the Shrine of Tiye

Global Egyptian Museum – Pleasure Lake Scarab

The Ancient Egypt Blogspot – Yuy and Tjuyu photo

Wikimedia Commons – Banquet scene from tomb of Huya