Queen, Wife, Mother ... Goddess?

From the #HistoryOfUs series: Tiye (1398–1338 BCE)

Statue head of Queen Tiyi (Amenophis (Amenhotep) III.) by Artist unknownNeues Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Queen Tiye was a strong woman. As Queen to Pharaoh Amenhotep III, diplomat and advisor she was worshipped in the realm. Her husband built her shrines and palaces and even created a lake for her.

How did it happen? He may have really fallen in love with her. Amenhotep III raised Tiye, the daughter of an official and so not of royal descent, to the position of his Great Royal Wife. This had never been done before. Energetic, imperious and clever, she stood at his side almost as his equal. In official cult ceremonies she took the female part in divine roles.

Here, making reference to the goddess Hathor, Tiye is wearing a helmet (once) covered in shimmering blue faience, surmounted with a sun disc, horns...

... and crowning it all two large, golden feathers.

It may have been Amenhotep IV (later Akhenaton) who reworked the queen’s headdress, originally adorned with golden Uraeus cobras, and placed these opulent accessories on his mother’s bust. The son succeeded his father to the throne and could have been dangerous for Tiye, since a new pharaoh often banished his mother.

But this one did things differently. Instead of sending her away, he showed that Mum’s the Best! Did Akhenaton even declare his mother to be a goddess so that her larger-than-life influence could carry on for the rest of her days? That was the interpretation for a long time. Whether it’s actually true or not will have to remain one of history’s secrets.

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Credits: Story

#HistoryOfUs series

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz


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