David Tee - AncientPages.com - Was Queen Tiye the first super mother? Some would say she was.
Queen Tiye filled a variety of roles in her life including being a Queen. She also was the wife of a Pharaoh, the mother to their children, as well as being her husband’s closest advisor and representative to other lands. But who was she?
Was Queen Tiye Egyptian Or Nubian?
This is the question that has provoked many searches into her background. The famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass claimed that queen Tiye was not Nubian and that there was little evidence to support that claim.
Yet other researchers are not so sure. Queen Tiye’s father was the commander of the pharaoh’s chariots, a high priest, and his name has ties to Nubian name styles. Then her mother Thuya was the Chief of the Entertainers of Amun and Min.
Left: Statue of Queen Tiye, Louvre Museum. Credit: Public Domain, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr - Right: Bust of Queen Tiye. Credit: Public Domain
Both parents had ties to Nubian culture. Then Queen Thiye’s personality and style of leadership have led some scholars to link her to the Nubian style of women’s activities. But as Dr. Hawass has said, little concrete evidence has been unearthed to support these allegations.
Queen Tiye Married Pharaoh Amenhotep III
Given her parents' high positions in Egyptian society, Tiye would have been around the palace and grew up within its boundaries. She would probably have known her first husband earlier in life but that is hard to say as well.
Records show that when Pharaoh Amenhotep III saw her as an adult, he was captivated by her beauty and wisdom. His attraction to Tiye was so great that he made her his spouse during his second year on the throne.
Other researchers say that Tiye was only 12 when she married Amenhotep who was only a prince. She became Queen when he succeeded his father as Pharaoh.
The union seemed to be a good one as Tiye helped Pharaoh Amenhotep III stay on the throne for 40 years.
After their wedding, Queen Tiye seems to have become a mother to a rather large family. The exact number of children she and Amenhotep had is unknown, but scholars suggest that besides Akhenaten, she gave birth to several other children. Some of their names are Sitamun, Henuttaneb, Nebetiah, Isis, and Thutmosis.
Akhenaten was made heir to the Egyptian throne when Thutmosis died early.
She was the grandmother of Tutankhamun, the boy Pharaoh whose tomb left behind so many untouched treasures that make the world marvel. Her duties as a mother did not stop her from being very influential politically.
Her husband relied on her a lot for insight, counsel, and other important matters concerning the state of Egypt.
Queen Tyie's Royal Influence
We can see Queen Tyie’s influence in the Amarna letters uncovered in the 20th century. Her reputation was very great, and she was spoken of quite highly by the rulers of other nations who took the time to write those pieces of correspondence.
This influence and counsel did not stop with the death of her husband. Her son Akhenaten also used her as an advisor and her reputation was well known throughout his brief reign.
Examples of “The Amarna Letters”, were discovered in 1887. There are 382 known clay cuneiform tablets, whose contents shed light on Egyptian relations with Babylonia, Assyria, Mitanni, the Hittites, Syria, Palestine, and Cyprus. They are important for establishing both the history and chronology of the period. Read more
Her reputation seemed to be well earned as she was the first Egyptian queen to have her name placed on official acts and is prominently included in her husband’s monuments. Her name is also recorded in a cartouche written in the style of a Pharaoh’s name.
It is also said that she was able to amass wealth independently of that of her husband’s money. This is no small feat as women did not necessarily enjoy such pursuits or were granted the freedom to do so in the ancient world.
Queen Tiye also was given many titles throughout her life. They were Hereditary Princess, Lady of the Two Lands, King’s Wife, or Great King’s Wife, Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt, and Mistress of the Two Lands.
Queen Tiye And Akhenaten’s Reforms
Akhenaten was originally named Amenhotep IV at birth. But, when he assumed the throne he changed his name to the former. This was just one sign of the things to come. It wasn’t until the fifth year of power that Akhenaten made some drastic changes.
He closed the old temples, did away with the old religion, and instituted a new belief system following only one god. Queen Tiye is not known to have adopted her son’s new religion but it is said that she did support her son’s changes.
There was a good reason for her support. The priests of the old religions and temples had gotten too wealthy and powerful. Something had to be done to curtail their rise in wealth and power. Her son’s actions were just the right moves.
Pharaoh Akhenaten said he was a direct descendant of Aten and considered himself to be of divine nature and was treated like a god. Read more
It is not known who came up with the idea to make these changes. It may have been Akhenaten’s original plan, which he carried out after the encouragement and counsel given by his mother. Or she may have placed the thoughts in her son’s head and let him carry out the changes.
How the idea came to be is not that important. What was important was to increase the power and wealth of the throne at the expense of the old religious order.
Queen Tiye is last mentioned in roughly 1338 BC in a painting in Huya’s tomb. Her death seems to have hit Akhenaten quite hard for it is about this time that he lost any interest in foreign affairs.
His reign went into a steep decline at this time as well. Akhenaten started to lose outside territory and influence. The Hittites were on the rise at this time and took advantage of this lack in Egyptian leadership and expanded their own territorial holdings.
Queen Tiye used her position well. Once she was made Queen she did what she could to help her husband be a strong leader. She then used her wisdom and political talents to help her son.
They say that behind every great man lies a woman. Queen Tiye may have been the ancient embodiment of that sentiment.
Written by – David Tee AncientPages.com Staff Writer
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