Women Crush Wednesday: Myrtle Broome

For Women Crush Wednesday, this Egyptologist was more renowned for her illustration work of Egyptian sites. This week we are talking about Myrtle Broome.

Early Life

Myrtle Florence Broome was born on February 22, 1888, in Muswell Hill, London to Eleanor Slater and Washington Herbert Broome. Her father was a music and book publisher. She received her art training at a school in Bushey, which was founded by Sir Hubert von Herkomer.

From 1911 to 1913, she attended the University College London and obtained a certificate in Egyptology. She studied under professors Sir Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray.

From 1911 to 1913, she attended the University College London and obtained a certificate in Egyptology. She studied under professors Sir Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray.

Career in Egypt

In 1927, she was invited to participate in a project in Egypt by the British School of Archaeology. Here they copied tomb inscriptions at Qua-El-Kebi. Apparently, on this trip, she was smitten by the attentions of a local police officer. When he invited her to his family home, the visit was a disaster and Myrtle admitted, “it would never have worked.”

The Temple of King Sethos I at Abydos (complete in 4 vols.) [INCLUDING 231 PLATES] by Calverley, Amice; Myrtle F. Broome; Alan H. Gardiner (ed.)

In 1929, she returned to Egypt as an artist with the Canadian epigrapher Amice Calverley, who was hired by the Egypt Exploration Society to copy the wall scenes in the Temple of Seti I in Abydos, starting in 1927. A year later, the project was fully funded by Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller after they visited the site. The Oriental Institute in Chicago was also involved.

Calverley became the director of the project and hired Myrtle as her assistant. The pair of them did eight seasons together. They were responsible for all the paintings and replications. They also used large photographs to record the reliefs and later penciled over them to become more accurate. The reproductions were mainly watercolor paintings, as black and white photographs were the only ones available during this time. These were published in four volumes with colored plates between 1933 and 1958.

Painting of Amice Calverley and their car

During the projects, Myrtle and Calverley lived in a mudbrick house near the temple with two local servants. They were both actively involved in the life of the village, participating in feasts and ceremonies and often providing medical assistance to the villagers. They also traveled throughout Egypt, taking trains and often driving through the desert in a Jowett car they named Joey. Myrtle’s impressions of Egypt are noted in her letters and illustrations that she sent back to her parents. These archives are kept at the Griffith Institute in Oxford.

Their last season in 1938 and their fifth volume was interrupted because of WWII and it, unfortunately, has yet to be published.

Later Life

Myrtle retired from Egyptology in 1937. She also returned to England because her father was ill. During this time she continued to paint several watercolors of Egyptian villages and the surrounding landscape. She may have become a designer and a craft worker who designed for Liberty, a luxury department store in London. And she also went into business with her father with their business “Designed and Workers in Metal and Enamel.”

Her family home in Bushey is listed with Historic England, which is the government group that protects cultural institutions in the UK. Myrtle has created multiple painted panels and decorations throughout the home. It is now the Bushey Museum, which houses over 70 of her paintings, some of which you can see here and here.

The Bushey Museum, which was Mrytle Broome’s family home

Myrtle Broome died on January 27th, 1978.


  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1933. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume I: the chapels of Osiris, Isis and Horus. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1935. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume II: the chapels of Amen-Rē’, Rē’-Ḥarakhti, Ptaḥ, and King Sethos. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1938. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume III: the Osiris complex. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1958. The temple of King Sethos I at Abydos, Volume IV: the second hypostyle hall. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.





Image Sources

Self Portrait – Wikimedia Commons – WP:NFCC#4

Paintings from the Temple of Seti I – https://www.klinebooks.com/pages/books/42986/amice-calverley-myrtle-f-broome-alan-h-gardiner/the-temple-of-king-sethos-i-at-abydos-complete-in-4-vols-including-231-plates

The Gulf of Suez – https://en.wahooart.com/@@/AQULXT-Myrtle-Broome-The-Gulf-of-Suez

Photo of her – https://archive.griffith.ox.ac.uk/index.php/broome-correspondence

Bushy Museum – https://www.watfordobserver.co.uk/news/14461427.bushey-artist-gets-egypt-bug/

Women Crush Wednesday: Sha-Amun-en-su

This week’s Women Crush Wednesday is a little sad, but I wanted to include her to keep her memory alive. Let’s talk about Sha-Amun-en-su, an Ancient Egyptian mummy lost in the fire at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro.


Sha-Amun-en-su, meaning “The fertile Fields of Amun,” was an Egyptian priestess and singer who lived in Thebes during the 22nd Dynasty. She was probably born around 800 B.C.E. into a wealthy family. She was probably not born into nobility, but her family was wealthy enough for her to be selected and prepared to work in a temple at an early age.

Sha-Amun-en-su belonged to the main group of priestly singers within the temple complex, called a Heset. They conducted ceremonial duties and ritualistic functions by helping the God’s Wife of Amun. This tradition lasted in Thebes between the 9th and 6th centuries B.C.E.

Interestingly, the Heset were not obliged to live permanently in the temple. Many of them only went to the temple when there were ceremonies. But the women had to obey strict codes of conduct. One of the rules was that they had to stay chaste. They didn’t necessarily have to be virgins, but they were considered extremely pure.

It was also common for an older singer to adopt a younger trainee as their tutor. There is a possibly that Sha-Amun-en-su had an adoptive daughter as there is another sarcophagus in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for a singer named Merset-Amun. She is labeled as “the daughter of Sha-Amun-en-su, singer of the shrine of Amun.”

She most likely died around the age of 50 years old, but her death could not be determined as her mummy was never unwrapped.


There is no record of the date or exact archaeological site where the coffin was found, but it is more than likely from Thebes based on the style of the coffin and that she was a priestess at the Temple of Karnak in Thebes. It originally was in the Egyptian Khedivate collection, which was the rulers of Egypt while it was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. In 1876, the Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II visited Egypt for a second time. Dom Pedro II was an amateur Egyptologist and enthusiast. Khedive Ismail Pasha gifted the sarcophagus and the mummy to the emperor, who in return gave him a book.

An image from Dom Pedro II’s trip to Egypt in 1876

The mummy was brought back to Rio de Janeiro and was one of the featured items displayed in the Palace of São Cristóvão. The mummy was part of his private collection and on display in his study. At one point, the sarcophagus was damaged by a storm. It was knocked down by the wind and crashed into the one of the windows in his office. It’s left side was broken, but later restored. There was also a rumor that Dom Pedro II would talk to the mummy while in his study alone.

Because of the Proclamation of the Republic in 1889, the mummy became a part of the Egyptian collection at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro. In 2015, the curator of the Egyptian collection in the National Museum, Antonio Brancaglion Jr. said in regard to the importance and uniqueness of the sarcophagus,

“If you have a mummy, you have a mummy. If you have not, you won’t get one anymore. If we lose it, we will never get anything else remotely similar. We have to keep it to the end.”

An image of the National Museum ablaze on September 2nd, 2018

This quote is especially sad, considering that the tragic end of the National Museum on September 2nd, 2018, where the entire museum burned. Almost the entire collection of the museum was lost.

Recovery Efforts

After the fire there have been multiple recovery efforts to help re-establish the National Museum. Via Google Arts and Culture, you can do an entire virtual tour of the museum pre-fire, which you can view here.

Some of the objects recovered from the fire (note that many of them are stone, which is well preserved in a fire).

Over 300 Egyptian related items have been salvaged from the fire. One of them is the heart scarab of Sha-Amun-en-su, which had never been previously seen because the mummy was never unwrapped. It had been picked up on previous CT scans that I’ll talk about below. But here is a 3D scan of the heart scarab!

This artist did a series of photographs and sculptures for an exhibition titled Museum of Ashes, where he took ashes from the National Museum and recreated some of the lost works, including Sha-Amun-en-su. You can read an interview with him here and see the exhibition pieces here.

And finally there had been multiple contests for artists to recreate something that was lost in the fire. Two artists chose to recreate the face of Sha-Amun-en-su. One is by Gislaine Avila, and the other was by user Rodrigo Avila.


The sarcophagus of Sha-Amun-en-su is carved in polychrome stuccoed wood. Its decoration had references to the Heliopolitan theology. The head of the sarcophagus has a blue headdress with a yellow vulture headdress and red ribbons. There is then an image of the goddess Nut and a ram-headed bird with wings outstretched. There are also two uraeus serpents with the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt and the four sons of Horus.

There was also a representation of the singer’s Ba, which was a part of the Egyptian concept of the soul. On the back of the sarcophagus was a djed pillar which was a sign of stability associated with Osiris.

The first band bore the inscription,

“An offering that the king makes [to] Osiris, Chief of the West, great God, Lord of Abydos – made for [?] The Singer of the Shrine [of Ammon], Sha-Amun-en-su “.

The name of Sha-Amun-en-su and her titles

And the second line of hieroglyphs reads,

 “An offering that the king makes [to] Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, Lord of the [shrine] Shetayet – made for [?] The Singer of the Shrine of Ammon, Sha-Amun-en-su”.[4]


Again, all examinations of the mummy have been made without opening the casket as it had never been unwrapped.

The mummy’s throat was covered in resin-coated bandages. This may indicate that the mummifying priests were protecting a zone seen as vital for a singer with ritualistic functions so that she could use her voice in the afterlife. This was also done to a mummy of an singer of Amun at the University of Chicago, Meresamun. This may indicate that this was a special procedure for the mummies of women who were charge of chanting hymns and songs.

CT scans of Sha-Amun-en-su

The mummy otherwise appears in good condition with no trauma or injuries. Sha-Amun-en-su kept all of her teeth except one. She also went under a 3D laser scan by Jorge Lopes from Tri-dimensional Experimentation Nucleus of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. This scan allows for the construction of a small scale replica of her skeleton.

Several amulets were identified in her wrappings. One was the heart scarab that I mentioned previously. It is made out a oval green stone that was previously set in gold (which probably melted in the fire). This was placed on the heart of the mummy so that it could replace her heart which was removed.









Image Sources

Profile of Mummy – Wikimedia Commons – Gian Cornachini

Mummy – Wikimedia Commons – Dornicke

Inscription of her name and title – Wikimedia Commons – Unknown author

Sarcophagus – Wikimedia Commons – Museu Nacional

X-ray and CT scan, picture of Dom Pedro in Egypt – https://revistapesquisa.fapesp.br/en/emperors-favorite-final-act/

Picture of display – https://english.alarabiya.net/en/life-style/art-and-culture/2018/09/04/Mummy-of-Ancient-Egypt-singer-engulfed-in-Rio-de-Janeiro-museum-fire

Coffin – Wikimedia Commons – Dornicke                       

Image of fire – https://blog.hmns.org/2018/09/what-the-loss-of-the-museu-nacional-in-rio-de-janeiros-collections-means-to-the-world/

Some of the artifact recovered – https://anba.com.br/en/rio-national-museum-egyptian-items-now-viewable-online/

Women Crush Wednesday: Grace Mary Crowfoot

This week’s Women Crush Wednesday is another contemporary woman who was a pioneer in the study of archaeological textiles, otherwise called a Grand Dame of Archaeological Textiles. Although she worked with a wide range of ancient and modern textiles from North Africa, Europe, and the British Isles, she also worked on a very important piece that belonged to one of the most famous Egyptian kings. Meet Grace Mary Crowfoot, nicknamed Molly!

Early Life

Grace Mary Hood was born in Lincolnshire England in 1879 to Sinclair Frankland Hood of Nettleham Hall, and his wife Grace. She was the eldest of six children, two girls, and four boys. Their family were “landed gentry,” meaning they were part of a British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income or at least had a country estate.

Her grandfather Reverend William Frankland Hood collected Egyptian antiquities, which were displayed in a wing added to the main building of Nettleham Hall. Because of her family’s interests, they were able to put her in contact with many early archaeologists, including the illustrious William Flinders Petrie. Grace later became lifelong friends with Hilda Petrie.

She attended a finishing school in Paris when she was younger and was expected to attend Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford. But she did not attend as her mother discouraged it. As Grace was determined to make a useful contribution to society, she trained to become a professional midwife in 1908 at Clapham Maternity Hospital in London. This would prove very useful in her later years.

Her earliest archaeological experience was from 1908-1909. While on vacation in Italy with her family she was able to excavate the prehistoric remains in a cave at Tana Bertrand above San Remo on the Italian riviera. On this excavation, she found over 300 beads and signs of early occupation. These excavations were not published until 1926.

Life in Egypt

John Winter Crowfoot on the right

In 1909, Grace married John Winter Crowfoot, who she had met years before in Lincoln. He at the time was the Assistant Director of Education in Sudan, so she joined him in Cairo. While living in Egypt, their eldest daughters Dorothy, Joan, and Elisabeth were born.

Grace with her daughter Dorothy in 1911

During this period of her life, she began to study different plants in North Africa. She created several botanical volumes that contained photographs and line drawings of the wild plants. Many of these drawings are now located in Kew Gardens in London.

During WWI in 1916, she sent her daughters to England while she and her husband moved to Khartoum, Sudan. (For anyone who doesn’t know, this is where the White Nile and the Blue Nile meet to form the Nile.) Her husband was in charge of both education, as the Director of Gordon College (today Khartoum University), and antiquities in the area. Grace quickly immersed herself in the lives of the local women in a village called Omdurman.

Here is where she took up spinning and weaving. She became proficient on the looms that the Sudanese women used. Grace would later publish two papers on weaving and these looms. At the request of Flinders Petrie, she compared these weaving methods with an Ancient Egyptian model weaver that had been discovered in an 11th dynasty tomb. She found that the techniques and equipment had changed little since ancient times.

Throughout this time in Sudan, Grace was also collecting several locally made handicrafts, a few of which are in the British Museum’s collection as seen below.

By learning the locals’ handicrafts, she also got to know the Sudanese women and understanding their lives. She was introduced to the local tradition of Female Genital Mutilation, which at the time took its most severe form in Sudan. She was very cautious about how the locals would see an outsider intervening, so she founded the Midwives Training School in the early 1920s. They were able to train local midwives, improve conditions of childbirth, and at the same time try and tackle FGM.

Grace riding a camel in Nubia, 1917.

Following the birth of her fourth daughter, Diana, and the end of WWI, she and her husband returned to England and their three older daughters, where they leased a house in Geldeston, Norfolk. This would be their family home for the next 60 years.

All four of her brothers died during and after WWI and Grace was deeply affected. She became a passionate supporter of the League of Nations Union.

Life in Palestine

In 1926, Grace’s husband was offered the Directorship of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. Here he ran major excavations at Samaria-Sebaste in 1931-2 and 1935, the Jerusalem Ophel in 1927, and early Christian churches in Jerash in 1928-1930. Grace was in charge of living and feeding arrangements on-site for the archaeologists. Both of them were admired for their diplomatic and organizational skills in the smooth running of these expeditions. Grace was among the authors and editors for the final three volumes on the excavation on Samaria-Sebaste.

While living in Jerusalem, she gathered folk tales with her friend Louise Baldensperger. They then produced From Cedar to Hyssop: A study in the folklore of plants in Palestine (1932). This was an early work of ethnobotany.


Grace and her husband returned to England in the mid-1930s, in time to see their two eldest daughters married and the arrival of the first of 12 grandchildren.

Grace and her four daughters

A quick note on her absolutely talented children. Her daughter Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was a renowned chemist who won the 1964 Noble Prize for Chemistry. Joan Crowfoot Payne followed in her mother’s footsteps and became an Egyptologist and curator at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. After a short career in acting, Elisabeth Crowfoot helped her mother study archaeological textiles and also became a Grande Dame. Her last daughter, Diana Crowfoot became a geographer.

She took an interest in village activities by setting up a local branch of Girl Guides, serving as a wartime secretary of the New Village Produce Association, and post-war chairwoman of its Labor Party. She also attended the House of Commons in 1949 when questions were raised about the continued prevalence of FGM in Sudan. She informed them about her experience with the subject and told them that an outright ban would just drive the practice underground and undo the two decades of work that the Midwives’ School had done.

Her Work with Archaeological Textiles

Based on her knowledge of weaving, Grace slowly became an expert on Archaeological Textiles and she consulted on a variety of pieces discovered. She also made reproductions of Egyptian finds of Flinders Petrie and other pieces for the British Museum. Her daughter Elisabeth helped her examine and analyze numerous textile samples from a variety of excavations.

Grace published short reports about textiles from the nearby Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. She was invited in 1949 to examine the linen wrappings of the Dead Sea Scrolls and she published two articles about this in 1951 and 1955. You can learn more about these linens here.

She also reconstructed a sword harness that was found in an excavation in Taplow (1883,1214.17a-e). The fabric had not been preserved, but she was able to reconstruct the weave based on the pressure point left by the tread on the gold wire that was preserved. This reconstruction is in the British Museum (1955,1012.1a-b).

Finally, in 1942, she published an article on the Tunic of Tutankhamun. As part of this, she rewove various of the applied bands from the garment in order to see how they were made. One of these pieces is on display in the Textile Museum in Leiden. Download her article and another article about the textiles found in King Tut’s tomb.

Through her work, she trained a generation of textile archaeologists included Audrey Henshall and her daughter Elisabeth (as seen in the photo on the left in 1921). She helped establish a new field of study, ensuring that textile remnants found at any site were henceforth preserved for analysis, instead of being cleared from the metal and other objects to which they remained attached.

During her last few years, she was often bed-ridden as she battled childhood tuberculosis and then leukemia. She died in 1957 and is buried next to the tower of the parish church of St. Michael and All Saints in Geldeston.

You can read these two articles about her life and her contribution to the study of the Sudan.

Grace’s Collections

As I mentioned previously many of her drawings of the flora of North Africa and the Middle East are in Kew Gardens in London, and some of her textile pieces she collected in the Sudan and Palestine are in the British Museum.

Her unpublished papers and photos relating to her time in Egypt, Sudan, and Palestine are held in the Sudan Archives at Durham University Library and the Palestine Exploration Fund Archives in London. More papers along with her collection of textiles and spinning and weaving implements are now held in the Textile Research Center in Leiden, Netherlands.


  • Botany
    • Some desert flowers collected near Cairo (1914). 35 plates.
    • Flowering Plants of the Northern and Central Sudan (1928), 163 line drawings.
    • From Cedar to Hyssop: A study in the folklore of Plants in Palestine (1932). 76 plates.
    • The text of From Cedar to Hyssop (1932) is now available online.
    • Some Palestine Flowers: 64 line drawings (1933)
  • Textiles, other crafts and folk-tales
    • North Africa and Middle East
      • Models of Egyptian Looms (1921)
      • A tablet woven band, from Qau el Kebir (1924). From 6th-century A.D. wrapping of a Coptic body.
      • Methods of hand spinning in Egypt and the Sudan (1931). Earlier versions of this text were published in Sudan Notes and Records, issues 3 (1920) and 4 (1921).
      • Pots, ancient and modern (1932)
      • Ramallah embroidery (1935)
      • Samaria-Sebaste 2: Early Ivories (1938)
      • The tunic of Tut’ankhamun, (1942)
      • Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 1865 to present, online
      • Handicrafts in Palestine, Primitive Weaving I: Plaiting and finger-weaving (1943)
      • Handicrafts in Palestine, 2: Jerusalem hammock cradles and Hebron rugs (1944)
      • Folk Tales of Artas—I (1951)
      • Folk Tales of Artas—II (1952)
      • The linen textiles (1955). Description and analysis of the linen wrappers from the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    • Europe and British Isles
      • Anglo Saxon Tablet Weaving (1952)
      • Textiles, Basketry and Mats (1954). Entry in History of Technology.
      • The braids (1956). Tablet-woven braids from the vestments of St Cuthbert at Durham.
      • The textiles (1983). Finds from Sutton Hoo ship burial by Elisabeth Crowfoot, expanding on earlier joint publications in 1951-2 by her mother and herself.















Image Sources

Photo of her – Courtesy of John Crowfoot (her grandson) https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/people-and-functions/authors-scholars-and-activists/crowfoot-grace-1877-1957

More photos – https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Grace&last=Crowfoot

Family photo – Short Biography pdf

Hand Spinning and Woolcombing book – Abe Books.com

Methods of Hand Spinning in Egypt and the Sudan – Amazon

John Crowfoot with Sudanese notables – Wikimedia Commons – John Crowfoot

Her replica of Anglo-Saxon textiles, relics of St. Cuthbert – https://durhamcathedral.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/shattering-perceptions-archaeology-1/

Possible recreation of the Tunic (At the Swedish Textile Museum)- https://www.reddit.com/r/ancientegypt/comments/ird3rm/syrian_tunic_of_tutankhamun_worn_by_him_as_an/

Images of the tunic – PDF

Women Crush Wednesday: Mayet

This week we are going to talk about a child buried in the Mortuary Temple of Mentuhotep II in Deir el-Bahri. Her relationship to the king is not entirely known, but her name was Mayet, meaning “The Cat.”


Mayet (alternatively spelled Miiut or Miit) probably lived during the rule of Mentuhotep II from 2061 to 2010 B.C.E. in the Middle Kingdom. Her relationship to the royal family is not known, but since she was buried within the mortuary temple, it can be assumed that she was a close family member to Mentuhotep II.

It is generally assumed that she was a young daughter of the king who died unexpectedly, but the Brooklyn Museum cites that she was a wife of the King. This is unlikely as she was probably around five years old when she died, which would be extraordinarily young for the wife of a king. As I said her name means “the cat,” and her name is written with the hieroglyph of a cat!


Map of the series of tombs in the back of the Mortuary Temple of Mentuhotep II. Mayet’s tomb is the first on the right.

Her burial was found intact in the back of a columned structure in the center of the complex. Here there were six burials with shrines, which were discovered in 1921 by the American expedition by Herbert Eustis Winlock. Five of the burials belong to other royal women with the titles of King’s Wives. These were Ashait, Henhenet, Kawit, Kemsit, and Sadeh. Unfortunately, Mayet’s burial did not contain any titles, not even King’s Daughter, which leads to confusion about her relationship with the royal family.

Check out this article about the discovery of the tombs of these Queen’s and Mayet’s tomb!

Her coffins were found at the bottom of Pit 18. She was buried in three coffins, one made of limestone and two wooden coffins. The outer limestone coffin was inscribed with a simple offering formula. It was also much bigger than required, which suggests that it was not originally made for her small size. This implies an unexpected death and the use of someone else’s coffin. The stone sarcophagus was seemingly left in the tomb in Deir el-Bahri.

The outer wooden coffin is located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art ( 26.3.9a-b). This coffin has several offering spells on each of its sides and a pair of magical eyes on one side, which would allow the deceased to see when priests made offerings to them.

The inner coffin (and preseumably her body?) is located in the Brooklyn Museum (52.127a-b) and made of cypress and fig wood. It is also inscribed with a simple offering spell and decorated with a pair of magical eyes on one side. There is also evidence that the names within the offering spells had been altered to spell Mayet’s name. This is direct evidence of the use of someone else’s coffin.

Direct evidence of the removal of a name to replace with Mayet’s name

Within the wooden coffin, the body of the girl was found wrapped in linen and adorned with a mummy mask. The embalmers added substantial padding to her feet and her head to make the mummy look longer and fit within the adult size coffin. It is unclear if the body is currently with the inner coffin in the Brooklyn Museum, as I could not locate any pictures of the mummy or the mummy mask.

Check out these awesome 3D models of her coffin by Indiana University!


There are several linen markers found within the coffin, which are located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (22.3.4-22.38). These are short inscriptions written in ink on the corners of large sheets of linen. Some mention the names or titles of high officials, to whose estate the linen may have belonged to or who were possibly overseeing its acquisition or production. Other marks say nfr meaning good, which refers to the quality of the fabric.

One inscription (Above, 22.3.7), which came from a sheet of linen (22.3.6) that was laid inside her coffin, mentions the steward Henenu, who may have been the same person depicted on a different stela at the MET (26.3.21a,b).

Some of the linen padding found in the coffin MET 26.3.14

There is evidence that the tomb was robbed in antiquity, but the looters did not open the sarcophagus. This is lucky because there are several beautiful necklaces found on the mummy. All of her jewelry are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


Five necklaces were found around the neck of the mummy. Her necklaces are some of the finest jewelry that survives from this period. The drilled stone beads are very tiny, making this a technically brilliant manufacture. The necklaces are made out of beads (22.3323) and amulets (22.3.324), carnelian (22.3.321), and gold (22.3.320 and 22.3.322).












Image Sources

Inner coffin – Wikimedia Commons – Unknown Author

Inner coffin -Brooklyn Museum

Necklaces – MET

Image of mummy in coffin – https://www.klinebooks.com/pages/books/43305/h-e-winlock/excavations-at-dier-el-bahri-1911-1931

Excavation Images – Bulletin of the MET 1921

Women Crush Wednesday: Merneith

After taking about the first confirmed female pharaoh of Egypt, Sobekneferu, I also wanted to mention some earlier women who may have ruled Egypt. So let’s talk about Mereneith from the 1st Dynasty!


Merneith (also known as Meritneith or Meryt-Neith) was a consort or queen during the 1st Dynasty of Egypt. Her name means “Beloved of Neith.” She may have been the daughter of Pharaoh Djer, which would have made her the granddaughter of the first pharaoh of a unified Egypt, Narmer. She was probably married to Pharaoh Djet and mother of Pharaoh Den, as indicated by a clay seal found in the tomb of Den, labeled “King’s Mother, Mereneith.”

She is believed to have ruled after the death of Djet sometime around 2950 B.C.E., although her title is still debated. It is possible that her son Den was two young to rule, so she may have ruled as regent for her son until he was old enough. But is she ruled in her own right, then she may have actually been the first female pharaoh of Egypt, or the second, if an earlier queen Neithhotep ruled in her own right. Her name is not recorded in any ancient king lists.

Merneith’s name can be seen on the far right. The vulture and the plant with shoots is the world for mother, while the three signs below it, spell her name.

She is known from only a select number of artifacts, none of which contain any depictions of her. Her name was found on a cylinder seal from the tomb of her son Den. This seal contains all the Horus names of kings from the 1st dynasty. Mereneith is mentioned here with her title, King’s Mother. Some objects were found with her name in the tomb of King Djer in Umm el-Qa’ab.

Reconstruction of the tomb of Mereneith in Abydos

In an unpresecedneted move, Mereneith may have built two sperate tombs for herself. First we will talk about her confirmed tomb in Abydos and then I will talk about her possible tomb in Saqqara.

Tomb in Abydos

Mereneith’s tomb in Abydos is located in the Umm el-Qa’ab cemetery, particularly in the 1st Dynasty royal cemetery. Her tomb is the strongest evidence that she was a ruler of ancient Egypt, because it is in the middle of the other royal tombs. She is buried in Tomb Y, which is close to the tombs of Djet and Den. Flinders Petrie discovered the tomb in 1900, and he believed that it belonged to a previously unknown male pharaoh. Two stela with her names were found outside this tomb

The tomb is only slightly smaller in scale to the other tombs at 16.5 meters by 14 meters. It was shown to contain a large underground chamber, lined with mud bricks. The actual burial chamber was dug deeper than rooms surrounding it. There were 8 storage rooms that were filled with pottery. This neck of a Levantine jug (UC 17421) which was found is currently at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. A schist bowl was also found labeled as “that which is from Mereneith’s treasury,” which confirms it was an offering from the royal treasury and not her personal property. A solar boat was found in or near her tomb, which would allow her to travel with the sun diety in the afterlife.

The tomb was surrounded by rows of small satellite burials, with at least 40 subsidiary graves for servants. During this period, servants were sacrificed to be buried with their king so that they could assist the ruler in the afterlife. This was significantly less than at her husband and her son’s tombs.

The Levantine jug handle found in the tomb of Merenneith in Abydos located in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (UC 17421)

Tomb in Saqqara

Reconstruction of the supposed tomb of Mereneith in Saqqara

Her name has also been found on inscribed stone vessels and seal impressions in a tomb in Saqqara, Mastaba S3503. This has lead some to believe that this is another tomb of Mereneith. It is 41 meters long and 16 meters wide. The exterior was decorated like a place façade, with nine niches on the long sides and three niches on the short sides. There were 23 chambers on the ground floor, with 20 subsidiary tombs arranged around the structure. Some have speculated that this tomb has features of some of the funerary structures of the 3rd dynasty. Behind the palace façade there is the base of a stepped structure.

Below the ground level there was a large burial chamber in the middle of the building with four side chambers. Although it was probably robbed in ancient times, multiple items were still found in their original locations. There was a large sarcophagus in the center, of which only a few wooden planks were found. They did contain the remains of a skeleton, but they could not be determined to be a man or a woman. Bowls and vessels were found in the remains of a chest, some of which were inscribed with the name of Mereneith. North of the sarcophagus, poles were found which were probably intended for a canopy or tent. There was also a cylinder seal found with her name inside a royal serekh. Interestingly, this serekh had an image of the goddess Neith rather than the typical Horus falcon on top of it.

The only evidence that this tomb does not belong to Mereneith is the tomb in Umm el-Qa’ab. While it is extremely unique that a pharaoh of the 1st dynasty would have two tombs, the presence of one tomb shouldn’t be the evidence against another tomb.

The only evidence that this tomb does not belong to Mereneith is the tomb in Umm el-Qa’ab. While it is extremely unique that a pharaoh of the 1st dynasty would have two tombs, the presence of one tomb shouldn’t be the evidence against another tomb.











Photo Sources

Detail of the tomb stela, Egyptian Museum Cairo (JE 34450) – Wikimedia Commons (Juan R. Lazaro)

Cemetery B, Umm el-Qa’ab – Wikimedia Commons (Jolle~commonswiki)

Plan of the main chamber of the tomb – Wikimedia Commons (Josiane d’Este-Curry)

Funerary enclosure – https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/abydos/abydosforts2.html

Levantine jug – Petrie Museum (UC 17421)

Full stela – Ancient Egypt Fandom (Tomrowley)

Reconstruction of the tomb – http://www.ancient-egypt.org/who-is-who/m/merneith/tomb-y-at-umm-el-qaab.html

Reconstructions of Saqqara tombs – https://www.courses.psu.edu/art_h/art_h201_ejw3/egypt.html

Seal impression from the tomb of Den – http://xoomer.virgilio.it/francescoraf/hesyra/merneith.html

Royal Tombs of Abydos – Wikimedia Commons (PLstrom)

Women Crush Wednesday: Sattjeni

This week’s Woman Crush Wednesday is a female powerhouse in the noble family of the governors of Elephantine in the Middle Kingdom. Her tomb was found only a few years ago near the tombs of her family. Her name was Sattjeni.


Sattjeni (or Sattjeni V to Egyptologists) was the daughter of one governor, wife of another governor, and mother of two governors. Although her family was not explicitly royal, her family practiced royal strategies to hold onto their governing power. They ranked just below the pharaoh’s royal family, but their roles were appointed by the king rather than hereditary. But because Aswan was so far away from the capital in Thebes, a mini-dynasty rose up during this time, keeping the rule within the family. Her family believed that they descended from the god Khnum, who is one of the oldest Egyptian deities. He is depicted as the god of the source of the Nile River and the divine potter, who created all people.

Family Tree of Sattjeni V’s family

She was the second daughter of Sarenput II and had two known siblings. Her brother Ankhu died shortly after their father and there was no other male successor. So Sattjeni and her sister Gaut-Ankhuet technically had the rights of the rule in Elephantine.

The funerary mask of Heqaib III, son of Sattjeni V

Her sister married a man named Heqaib, who became Heqaib II when he became governor. By marrying the daughter of the last governor, it would solidify his rule as governor. They did have a son named Heqaib-Ankh, but Gaut-Ankhuet died soon after, so Sattjeni married her sister’s widower. They had at least two children, Heqaib III and Ameny-Seneb, both of which would become governor of Elephantine, after their step-brother, Heqaib-Ankh.

After her husband died, Sattjeni did marry an official named Dedu-Amen, who may have been of Nubian descent. They had two more sons, Sarenput (after her father) and Amenemhat (after the pharaoh).

Discovery of her Burial

Her burial was found in tomb QH34aa in 2016 in the necropolis at Qubbet el-Hawa across the Nile from Aswan in Upper Egypt by a team from the University of Jaén in Spain, with excavation leader Alejandro Jiménez Serrano.

The series of tombs in Qubbet el-Hawa that belonged to family members of Sattjeni V. She was buried in QH34aa.

Qubbet el-Hawa is one of the most important nonroyal necropolises in Egypt. There are a great quantity and quality of biographical inscriptions in the funerary complexes. It was mainly used to bury the highest officials of the nearby town of Elephantine as this was the capital of the southernmost province of Egypt from 2200 to 1775 B.C.E. These governors are buried together with their relatives, while members of their courts were buried in smaller and less decorated tombs. There are about 100 tombs, with only 80 being completely cleared.

Tomb QH34aa was a small tomb next to the larger QH33 tomb where Hequaib III, Ameny- Seneb, and their half-brother Sarenput were buried. Outside the western wall of the burial chamber of Heqaib III, a votive bowl was found. It once contained a food offering to honor the deaceased. The bowl was inscribed with Sattjeni’s name and title as the Daughter of the Governor in hieratic. It may have been placed here by Sattjeni for the burial of her son.

Archaeological drawing on QH34aa with Sattjeni buried in the double coffin highlighted in blue. I could not find any information about the other body shown here.

The upper part of a chamber of QH34aa was discovered in 2013 and this was most likely a tomb quarried in the Byzantine period (5th century C.E.). It was originally thought that this area was disturbed as there was a Christian prayer painted by the Coptics on the walls.

But the end of the chamber was actually the beginning of a shaft. The shaft was not fully excavated in 2016. A small hole was found in the wall of the burial chamber and through it, archaeologists could see hieroglyphs on the coffin.

Burial and Mummy

Inner coffin of Sattjeni V

Sattjeni was buried in two coffins made of cedar wood imported from Lebanon. The outer coffin had almost completely degraded, but the inner coffin is in excellent condition. The inner coffin was decorated with hieroglyphs and the double Eye of Horus or the Wadjet, which would help protect her soul both in the tomb and in the afterlife. The body would typically be laid on the side so that the face lined up with the eyes. They believed that the deceased could “see” through these eyes and look at the offerings laid out for them. Her mummy was found with its painted mask largely intact.

*There is an image featuring the bones of Sattjeni below*

Her mummy was not that well preserved but she was most likely around 30 years old when she died. But researchers have found remains of a gynecological treatment carried out on Sattjeni. Between her legs, which were originally bandaged, a ceramic bowl with burned remains was found. She had suffered a traumatic injury to her pelvis sometime during her later life. But it is important to note that this injury, which was possibly a fall, did not kill her.

These treatments were described in contemporary medical papyri, but until now no evidence had been found that they were actually carried out. Roast meat, herbs, or rancid milk may have been used in the cup. The presence of the cup in the burial indicates that it was supposed to continue to heal her or at least alleviate her pain in the afterlife.

Feel free to read the article below about Sattjeni, but note that it was written after the discovery of the inscribed bowl, but before the discovery of her tomb.











Photo Sources

Photo of inner coffin, mask, and view of tomb shaft – Alejandro Jiménez Serrano

Photo of a piece of her coffin – https://www.facebook.com/Ministry-of-Antiquities-336764893195328/photos/pcb.495697640635385/495697503968732

Hieroglyphs, bowl, coffin – Judith Weingarten

Women Crush Wednesday: Margaret Murray

This Women Crush Wednesday let’s talk about another woman who helped build the British Egyptological community. Her name was Margaret Murray.

Early Life

Margaret Alice Murray was born on July 13th, 1863 in Calcutta, India, which at the time was a major military city in British India. Her parents were James and Margaret Murray and she had an older sister named Mary. Her family were part of the wealthy British elite as her father managed paper mills in Seramproe and was a member of the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce. Her mother had come to India as a missionary and believed in being a service to others, something her daughters took to heart.

She travelled back and forth between India and Britain several times throughout her young life. In 1870, she and her sister were sent to England to live with their uncle John, who was a vicar. The girls never had any formal education, but their uncle did teach them when they lived with him. Though, he held a very misogynistic point of view, which did not settle well with Margaret. Her interest in archaeology also began during this time, as her uncle would take her to see many local monuments.

In 1873, their mother took the girls to Bonn, Germany. Here the girls learned German, which would later help Margaret a great deal. They returned to Calcutta in 1875 for two years before moving back to England. By 1880, the whole family was back in Calcutta and 17-year-old Margaret became a nurse at the Calcutta General Hospital, though her father disapproved. He believed that women should not have work outside the house, so he only let his daughter be a nurse for three months. By 1887, Margaret moved to England and became a social worker, helping local underprivileged people. She apparently had attempted to become a nurse but was refused because she was considered too short! (She was less than five feet tall.) Margaret later moved in with her father and lived with him until his death in 1891.

Life at University College London

University College London

While visiting her sister and brother-in-law in Madras (now Chennai), India in 1893, her sister saw an advertisement for an Egyptology course. This course was going to be at the newly established Egyptology Department at University College London (created by Amelia Edwards) and taught by Flinders Petrie, an already popular Egyptologist and archaeologist. Mary was always the more academically inclined of the two sisters and would have loved to take the course. But she was newly married with a baby living in India. So she insisted that Margaret should do it.

And Margaret did.

At the age of 30, she enrolled in January 1894 at UCL. Here she took classes on the ancient Egyptian languages by Francis Llewellyn Griffith and Walter Ewing Crum and soon got to know Flinders Petrie. He recognized her talent and passion and she became his copyist and illustrator for his books. He encouraged her to write her first research paper, “The Descent of Property in the Early Periods of Egyptian History,” which was published in the Proceedings of the Society for Biblical Archaeology in 1895. She essentially became Petrie’s assistant.

At the age of 30, she enrolled in January 1894 at UCL. Here she took classes on the ancient Egyptian languages by Francis Llewellyn Griffith and Walter Ewing Crum and soon got to know Flinders Petrie. He recognized her talent and passion and she became his copyist and illustrator for his books. He encouraged her to write her first research paper, “The Descent of Property in the Early Periods of Egyptian History,” which was published in the Proceedings of the Society for Biblical Archaeology in 1895. She essentially became Petrie’s assistant.

Although it seems that Margaret never technically graduated from UCL (although this was the first British university to grant degrees to women), she began to teach Egyptology courses in 1896, only two years after starting! She was appointed as a junior lecturer in 1898 and would go on to teach courses on Ancient Egyptian history, religion, and language. She referred to her students as “The Gang,” who compromised of several future Egyptologists including, Reginald Engelbach, Georgina Aitken, Guy Brunton, and Myrtle Broome. During this time, she also taught evening Egyptology courses at the British Museum.

During the 1902-1903 field season, Margaret joined Petrie and his wife, Hilda Petrie, on their excavations at Abydos. During the winter months when Petrie would excavate in Egypt, she was typically in charge of running the department at UCL. But this year, she joined as a site nurse, but Petrie quickly taught her excavation methods and she was given a senior position. During this season, she helped uncover the Osireion, which was a temple devoted to Osiris by Pharaoh Seti I. She published her site report in 1904 (The Osireion at Abydos)and it was considered groundbreaking.

Margaret returned to Egypt during the 1903-1904 field season where they excavated the Saqqara cemetery. Technically, she did not have permission to excavate here (which is essential today in archaeology and Egyptology), so she worked on tombs that had already been excavated. She transcribed the inscriptions of ten of these tombs and published her results (Saqqara Mastabas) in two parts in 1905 and 1937.

Throughout her career she was invited by several museums to help advise them on their Egyptological collections. She catalogued artefacts owned by the Dublin National Museum, the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and the Manchester Museum. She also donated some items to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, which you can read more about here.

*There is an image of human remains below*

She is well respected at the Manchester Museum, as Margaret unwrapped one of their mummies. (This practice is of course not done anymore for a variety of ethical and conservation reasons.) She unwrapped the mummy of Khnum-Nakht, who was one of the mummies found in the “Tomb of the Two Brothers,” to an audience of about 500. She took an interdisciplinary approach to this unwrapping, which was adopted by later Egyptologists and called “The Manchester Method.” Margaret was the first women to ever publicly unwrap a mummy. To learn more about the recent discoveries regarding these two mummies, click here.

The coffins of “The Two Brothers”

Besides her academic achievements, Margaret was also dedicated to public education. She recognized that solid scholarship could be mixed with Egyptomania. She did multiple lecture series throughout her career. She was also pleased with the increased public interest in Egyptology following Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tut.

Her Feminist Activism

A bust of Margaret Murray in UCL’s Institute of Archaeology’s Library

Margret took an active role in the feminist movement in the early 1900s. She volunteered, donated, and took part in feminist demonstrations, protests, and marches. She was a member of the Pankhursts’ Women Social and Political Union and attended several marches including the Mud March of 1907 and the Women’s Coronation Procession of 1911. Many of her larger actions were concealed from her colleagues in order to retain her image in the male world of academia.

But she successfully campaigned for UCL to open a common room for women, as women were not allowed in the men’s common room. This room was later named after her, although now the room has been converted to an office. Margaret demanded better and more equal facilities and working conditions for the female students and staff at the University.

Her Folklore Research

During WWI, when excavations in Egypt were postponed, Margaret first worked as a nurse in France, before moving to Glastonbury to rest. Here she became interested in the local folklore, in particular the stories of the Holy Grail. She also became interested in the history of European witchcraft.

She began to publish articles and books on witchcraft. Her most popular was The Witch Cult in Western Europe. Based on her research, she believed that there was an ancient pre-Christian religion dating to the Paleolithic period that secretly continued in Europe. These followers worshiped a female deity, before a male horned god was worshiped and eventually represented the Devil.

She began to publish articles and books on witchcraft. Her most popular was The Witch Cult in Western Europe. Based on her research, she believed that there was an ancient pre-Christian religion dating to the Paleolithic period that secretly continued in Europe. These followers worshiped a female deity, before a male horned god was worshiped and eventually represented the Devil.

On a pop culture level, her books were quite popular. But scholars’ have since discredited her work. Much of her work was based on confessions from women in Scotland accused of witchcraft in the 16th and 17th century. These sources are not that reliable considered they may have confessed under threat of torture and Margaret based her thesis on the belief that the secret religion had continued from pagan times. Critics have also said that she used questionable methodology, poor sourcing, and selective quoting.

Regardless of this evidence, her work influenced Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca, which is the modern Pagan religion, along with many other Wicca pioneers. Her theories may have also influenced or derived the use of terms, concepts, and phrases such as “Old Religion,” “coven,” and “Horned God.” Read this article to learn more about if we should completely dismiss her theories of witchcraft.

Later Life

After WWI ended, Margaret returned to UCL in London. She also carried out two more archaeological digs on the islands of Malta and Menorca.

She was made assistant professor at UCL in 1924 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1927 for her work in Egyptology. Although she could have retired from teaching in 1927, she was reappointed each year until 1935, because she was such a popular lecturer. She also assisted Petrie and his wife on excavations in Palestine and Jordan in the 1930s.

After her retirement from UCL, she continued her interest in public education. She taught adult education classes on ancient Egyptian history and religion in the City Library Institute. Her general public book on Egyptian history, The Splendour that was Egypt, was published in 1949.

Margaret Murray and Hilda Petrie in their old age

Continuing her love of folklore, Margaret was elected the president of the Folklore Society in 1953, after joining it in 1927. She was 90 years old!

Margaret Murray being interviewed by the BBC in 1960

“I’ve been an archaeologist most of my life and now I’m a piece of archaeology myself.”

Quoted in The New Scientist, November 1961, when she was 96

In May 1962, Margaret moved to the Queen Victoria Memoiral Hospital for the last 18 months of her life. She published two more books during this time, The Genesis of Religion and My First Hundred Years, her autobiography.

A photo from her 100th birthday party

For her 100th birthday, two birthday celebrations were held; one in Ayot St. Lawerence and another at UCL. Her colleagues, former students, doctors, and friends attended and there was even a cake in the shape of the Egyptian hieroglyph for the number 100.

Four months later, apparently still planning future projects, Margaret Murray died on November 13th, 1963.

Check out these two articles about her life as an Egyptologist and a recipe for meat curry she gave another archaeologist.

Please enjoy this little comic about her life, created by Gabriel Moshenska.







Photo Sources

Unwrapping Mummy – Manchester Museum (Trowelblazer)

Cartoon – Trowelblazers (Gabriel Moshenska 2014)

Bust at UCL library – Wikimedia Commons (Midnightblueowl)

Photograph of her with book – National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG x42538)

Painting of Margaret Murray – Winifred Brunton (her former student) in 1917; currently in the UCL Art Museum

Photo of her on her 100th birthday – UCL Records

Photo when she received her doctorate in 1933 – Petrie Museum https://www.vice.com/en/article/xye9yk/the-forgotten-egyptologist-and-first-wave-feminist-who-invented-wicca

The witch-cult in Western Europe – Amazon

The two Brother’s mummy – https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/ancient-dna-results-end-4000-year-old-egyptian-mummy-mystery-in-manchester/

Her being interviewed by the BBC in 1960 – Wikimedia Commons (Petrie Museum)

Flinders Petrie – https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/03/how-alternative-egyptology-and-scientific-archaeology-were-born-on-the-giza-plateau/3/

Hilda Petrie – Trowelblazers

Margaret Murray and Hilda Petrie – https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Hilda&last=Petrie

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 – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1296207418304473

Coffin face – http://www.cesras.org/coffins/Ahhotep-CG61006.html

Full Coffin – http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/coffins.htm

Armlet/Diadem – https://i.imgur.com/H1z1c5G.jpg

Scarab Necklace – Alamy Stock Photo

Coffin – https://kennethgarrett.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/New-Kingdom/G0000eOLZppqWt00/I0000spR0MJQk5T0/C0000f_Q38au9Ddg

Coffin – http://antikforever.com/Egypte/Reines/Images/Iahhotep6b.jpg

Family Tree – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighteenth_Dynasty_of_Egypt_family_tree

Boat model – http://www.arretetonchar.fr/wp-content/uploads/2013/IMG/archives/Francais/Image/Iconographie/Introduction%20a%20L-art%20de%20l-Egypte%20Antique/-1750%20-1580%20Barque%20d’Ahhotep%20or,%20argent%20XIIe%20Dynastie,%20Egypte%20Antique%20.jpg

Boat model – Wachsmann 2013

Women Crush Wednesday: Amelia Edwards

This weeks Woman Crush Wednesday post, is going to be one of my favorites of all time! Today we are going to talk about Amelia Edwards, an English novelist, journalist, world traveler, and of course Egyptologist. She is also sometimes referred to as the “Godmother of Egyptology.”

Early Life

She was born Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards on June 7th, 1831 in London. Her mother was of Irish descent and her father was a British Army officer turned banker. She was educated at home by her mother and showed early promise in a variety of topics. She was an especially strong writer, and she was able to publish her first poem at 7 and her first story at 12. Amelia also wrote for the Saturday Review and Morning Post.

The English Heritage Blue Plaque being unveiled at Number 19, Wharton Street in Islington, London. This is where she lived with her family in her early years as a writer.

She was also a talented artist, illustrating some of her own writings and painting scenes from other books she had read. At 12, she was offered to be taught by George Cruikshank, who was a British caricaturist and book illustrator, but her parents didn’t let her. They believed that art was not a respectable career. This decision haunted Edwards throughout her early life.

Amelia Edwards’ drawing of the temple of Philae

And if it was hard to believe, Amelia was also a talented composer and singer. But after a bout of typhus in 1849, she quit due to a frequent sore throat. She also enjoyed pistol shooting, horse riding, and mathematics. Actively supporting the suffrage movement, at one time she served as Vice-President of the Society for Promoting Women’s Suffrage.

Her Writing

In the early 1850s, she began to focus more exclusively on being a writer. Her first full length novel was My Brother’s Wife, but Barbara’s History in 1864 helped establish her reputation. She probably spent about two years to fully research and then write all of her books. Her book Lord Brakenbury ran 15 editions! She also wrote several ghost stories which appeared in anthologies, “The Phantom’s Coach,” being her most popular. The background and characters in many of her writings were based on her personal experiences.

Her most famous ghost story, still in circulation today

Here is a list of all of her books, short stories, and poetry:

Histroy and Archaeology

  • A Summary of English History: from the Roman Conquest to the present time, 1856
  • Outlines of English history: from the Roman conquest to the present time: with observations on the progress of art, science and civilization and questions adapted to each paragraph: for the use of schools, c. 1857
  • The History of France; from the Conquest of Gaul by the Romans to the Peace of 1856, 1858
  • The Story of Cervantes, etc., 1862
  • A Thousand Miles Up the Nile London: George Routledge and Sons Ltd, 1877 (1st edition) and 1890 (2nd edition, ISBN 0-9819284-2-0)[32]
  • Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1891


  • My Brother’s Wife. A life–history, 1855
  • The Ladder of Life. A heart history, 1857
  • The Young Marquis, or, a story from a Reign, c. 1857
  • The Eleventh of March. (From a pocket-book of forty years ago), 1863
  • No Hero: an Autobiography, 1863[33]
  • Barbara’s History, 1864
  • Hand and Glove. A tale, 1865
  • Miss Carew (short stories), 1865
  • Half a Million of Money, c. 1868
  • Debenham’s Vow, 1870
  • In the Days of My Youth, 1873
  • Lord Brackenbury, 1880
  • The Phantom Coach, by Amelia B. Edwards, adapted by I. M. Richardson, illustrated by Hal Ashmead, c. 1982


  • Ballads. London: Tinsley, 1865
  • A Poetry-book of Elder Poets, consisting of songs & sonnets, odes & lyrics, selected and arranged, with notes, from the works of the elder English poets, dating from the beginning of the fourteenth century to the middle of the eighteenth century. 1878
  • Translations
  • Manual of Egyptian Archaeology and Guide to the Study of Antiquities in Egypt: for the use of students and travellers by Sir G. Maspero, translated by Amelia B. Edwards

Monsieur Maurice and other stories, 1873; contains the stories:[34]

  • “Monsieur Maurice”
  • “An Engineer’s Story”
  • “The Cabaret of the Break of Day”
  • “The Story of Ernst Christian Schoeffer”
  • “The New Pass”
  • “A Service of Danger”
  • “A Night on the Borders of the Black Forest”
  • “The Story of Salome”
  • “In the Confessional”
  • “The Tragedy in the Palazzo Bardell”
  • “The Four Fifteen Express”
  • “Sister Johanna’s Story”
  • “All Saints’ Eve”

Travel Books

  • Sights and Stories: being some account of a Holiday Tour through the north of Belgium, 1862
  • A Thousand Miles up the Nile, 1877
  • Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys: A Midsummer Ramble in the Dolomites. London: Longman’s, Green and Co., 1873

Click this link to learn more about her life in her own writing!

Her Travels

At the age of 30, following the death of her parents, Amelia Edwards had little reason to stay in England. The proceeds of her writing were sufficient to enable her to live independently and to go where she wished. During this time, male chaperonage was considered socially and physically essential for a female traveler, but Amelia refused. She began travelling with friend and possibly girlfriend (more on that later), Lucy Renshawe.

In 1871, she was on a European tour visiting Munich, Oberammergau, and Rome. She took some art classes in Rome with an Italian artist. A marble bust of Amelia was made during this time by Percival Ball. The bust was in her home until her death, at which point it was donated to the National Gallery in London (NPG 929). A cast was also made and given to University College London. She wrote this in her notebook recording Reminiscences & Notes of a Tour in Germany, Bavaria, Tyrol and Italy,

The bust of Amelia Edwards, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 929

“As life goes on, one’s heart deadens & wearies from many disappointments, & one ceases to look for heart in others.… I go through the world now as one goes through the Hall of Busts at the Capitol, seeing only heads and looking for hearts no longer. To me my fellow-creatures are busts only.… Whether the bust is that of a good or a bad person, a Christian or a Pagan, a man or a woman, matters nothing. To me it is a work of art only, & so are my fellow creatures. Sometimes I feel as if I also were a mere bust – or worse still, a terminal statue – head above and a marble column below. At other times I am scarcely conscious of even my head, & feel like a shadow moving among shadows – emotionless, passionless, unimpressed.…”

She often wrote journals and later published these. Her first was Sights and Stories: A Holiday Tour Through Northern Belgium. Then in 1872, she and Lucy traversed through the Dolomite Mountains in Northern Italy. They hired some mountains guides for certain portions, although the majority of the mountains had not even been documented. She described this journey in two books. They were warned that this trip was too challenging, but Amelia’s attraction of traveling was the challenge of reaching areas that were almost entirely untouched and inaccessible, especially of meeting and overcoming difficulties that others would not face.

Amelia Edwards’ drawing of the Dolomite Mountains during her trip

After being disappointed at the end of their Dolomites trip, Amelia and Lucy traveled to France for a walking tour. Unfortunately, it was ruined by a bout of rain, so the ladies looked south for a new adventure.


They fell upon Egypt, which began Amelia’s career in Egyptology. From 1872 to 1874, they traveled from Cairo to Philae and Abu Simbel on a dahebiyeh, which is a manned houseboat. They were accompanied by Andrew McCallum, an English painter, and eventually another English traveler Marianne Brocklehurst. This Nile voyage was documented in her book A Thousand Miles up the Nile, along with the multiple sketches she made for the book.

Amelia Edwards’ drawing of the looting of a grave in Egypt

They stayed in Abu Simbel for six weeks, where Amelia excavated at the Temple of Ramses II. After this, she was smitten with Egyptology in more ways than one. In the 19th century, the protection of monuments and artifacts had only recently begun. The trade in antiquities was largely illegal and lucrative and the political climate of Egypt was quite unstable because there was tension and colonial rivalry between French and English explorers. Amelia witnessed the illegal destruction of monuments and the threats of tourism and modern developments. She set out to hinder these through public awareness and scientific endeavor.

The Egypt Exploration Fund

When she returned to England in 1882, she co-founded the Egypt Exploration Fund with Reginald Stuart Poole, who was the curator of the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum. It was originally called the Egyptological Society. She attended to the publicity and subscription work, by writing letters soliciting possibly supporters and campaigned for the society. To advance the Fund’s work, she largely abandoned other writing in favor of Egyptology. She also took a strenuous lecture tour of the US from 1889 to 1890, which appeared as a book, Pharaohs, Fellahs, and Explorers.

A newspaper clipping of Amelia Edwards on her lecture in America

She befriended a lot of prominent figures in Egyptian Archaeology at the time, included Flinders Petrie, whose excavations were often funded by the EEF and her marketing. Her Egyptological work was generally respected, especially her translations of a number of works into English. During her lifetime, she received three honorary degrees from Columbia College, New York, Smith College, Massachusetts, and the College of the Sisters of Bethany, Massachusetts. She also received an English civil list pension for her service to literature and archaeology.

Unfortunately her career with the Egypt Exploration Fund would not last. As the field of archaeology became increasingly filled with professional males, her influence in the policies and direction of the EEF decreased. She was not included in decisions and was eventually, Poole and Newton cut her out. Petrie complained about this decision, but it was not changed. Amelia was saddened, but she still continued to dedicate herself to the Fund through letters and lectures.

After a she broke her arm during her 1889-1890 tour in America, her health began to deteriorate. She then caught the flu, and died on April 15ht, 1892 at Weston -super-mare, three months after he partner died.

Her as an Early LGBTQ+ Figure

As I mentioned previously, Amelia Edwards was a lesbian and did not keep a secret. Some modern biographers, and even on Wikipedia, have tried to hide or avoid talking about this aspect of her life, but Edwards never did. Her friend John Addington Symonds, told this to Henry Havelock Ellis, who was the co-author of the first medical textbook in English on homosexuality in 1897. She told both Symonds and Ellis that she had forged a menage a trois with and English woman and her clergyman husband, who were most likely John Rice Byrne and Ellen Bryne. One day the husband had married the women at the alter of the church. And when they moved away from Bristol, it was “like a death blow” to Edwards.

She was most likely in a relationship with Lucy Renshawe while they traveled Europe and Egypt together. Unfortunately, little is known about Lucy. The only other partner of Amelia was Ellen Drew Braysher (1804-1892). They lived for 30 years together in Westbury-on-Trym, near Bristol. There is also little known about Ellen, although she had a daughter named Sarah Harriet Braysher (1832-1864). All three women are buried together in St. Mary the Virgin, Henbury, Bristol, with Ellen labeled as Amelia’s “beloved friend.”

Amelia Edwards, Ellen Braysher, and Sarah Braysher’s grave, embellished with a large ankh and obelisk

In September 2016, Historic England designated the grave as a historic landmark in English LGBTQ+ history.


After her death, she bequeathed her collection Egyptian antiquities and her library to University College London, with a sum of 5,000 pounds to found an Edwards Chair of Egyptology. This chair position was first gifted to her good friend Flinders Petrie. This was the first Egyptology teaching position in England. She offered this to UCL rather than Oxford or Cambridge, because UCL was the only university in England where degrees were given to women.

Image of Amelia Edward’s office, with some of her Egyptian collection on display

She also supported Sommerville College Library, leaving books, papers, and watercolors to Sommerville College, Oxford, along with a small collection of Greek and Roman pots. Check out these links for a list of her collection at Sommerville College.

The copy of Amelia Edwards’ bust in the entrance of the Petrie Museum

Her collection is the core of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian archaeology at the University College London. Edwards typically though that the art of ancient Egypt, should be left in Egypt, but she did have a substantial collection of small finds. She was even quoted to say,

“Dearer to me than all the rest of my curios are my Egyptian antiquities… I have enough to stock a modest little museum.”

In comparison to Petrie’s collection, Edward’s has very little provenance or provenience information. The top of a staute of a man and woman, a small head of a statue of Amenemhat III, a wooden stela of Neskhons, and a fragment of a coffin of Amenemipet are some of the treasures of her collection. Unfortunately the majority of her collection has been confused in the mix of items the museum owns. More research is needed to separate her collection, posthumous additions to the Edwards collection, Petrie’s collection, and other items donated to UCL.

Her legacy is established in her presence in University College London, the Petrie Museum, and even as the namesake of Elizabeth Peters character Amelia Peabody.













Photo Credits

Amelia Photograph – Wikimedia Commons (unbekannt – entweder der Verlag oder eine Zeitung – aus dem Buch von Amelia B Edwards “PHARAOHS, FELLAHS AND EXPLORERS”)

Drawing of the Dolomites, Philae from the South, Digging for Mummies – Amelia Edwards

Amelia in black – https://americanliterature.com/author/amelia-b-edwards

Cover of the Phantom Coach – Barnes and Noble

A Thousand miles up the Nile cover – Amazon

Blue Plaque unveiling – https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about-us/search-news/amelia-edwards-blue-plaque/

Bust and Photographs of Amelia – National Portrait Gallery

Objects from the Edwards Collection, Photo of Newspaper cutting, her office, and bust in Petrie Museum – https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/museums/2015/03/04/the-edwards-museum/#more-40195

Photo of her grave – https://historicengland.org.uk/research/inclusive-heritage/lgbtq-heritage-project/homes-and-domestic-spaces/under-scrutiny-at-home/

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) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/548625

“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

https://mathstat.slu.edu/~bart/egyptianhtml/kings%20and%20Queens/Tiye.html – Images of wall paintings with Tiye in it and one from Sedinga

http://www.egyptian-museum-berlin.com/c52.php – Images of Tiye’s bust

https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/queen-tiye – Louvre Statue

https://egyptianaemporium.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/museum-piece-12-am-21834-am-17852/ – 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

https://www.nilemagazine.com.au/2015-5-june-archive/2015/6/17/a-treasured-heirloom – Color photo of the mini sarcophagus found in Tut’s tomb sitting in each other

https://www.ancient.eu/image/5431/funeral-mask-of-queen-tiye/ – Funerary Mask thought to be that of Tiye

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/02/ancient-artifacts-honor-egyptian-queens-museum-exhibit/ – Reconstructions of Tiye’s bust

https://www.historyofroyalwomen.com/egypt/queen-tiye-elder-lady/attachment/800px-theelderlady-61070-frontview-platexcvii-theroyalmummies-1912/ – Mummy photo

https://id.fanpop.com/clubs/ancient-egypt/images/37472817/title/amenhotep-iii-tiye-photo – Monumental Statue

https://dreamtriptoursegypt.com/king-tuts-grandmother-queen-tiye/ – New Statue

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/548625 – Scarab (10.130.1643)

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/548621 – Scarab (10.130.99)

https://www.facebook.com/AncientEGYPT2017/photos/a.455928327842459/1571326942969253/ – 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