It is 1563 BCE and Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao has died a violent death. Whether on the battlefield or by assassination, he receives an axe to the head only a few years into his reign. As Pharaoh Kamose is crowned his successor, Tao’s widow and sister takes charge of her children.
Ahhotep I (meaning the Moon is satisfied) was one of the most influential of the Great Royal Wives, the first dominant consort of Egypt. She also bore the titles Associate of the White Crown bearer and King’s Mother. Pharaoh Kamose did not live much longer than his predecessor, and five years after the death of her husband, Ahhotep saw her son Ahmose ascend to the throne along with her daughter, Ahmose Nefertari, who became his wife.
It is likely that Ahmose was very young, and that Ahhotep served as regent for her son during his childhood. It is evident that Ahmose had a great respect for his mother, whom he describes as a powerful woman and fearless leader on a stela in Karnack:
“She is the one who has accomplished the rites and taken care of Egypt… She has looked after her soldiers, she has guarded her, she has brought back her fugitives and collected together her deserters; she has pacified Upper Egypt and expelled her rebels.”
These statements appear to describe a time at which Ahhotep rallied troops and played some important role in the defense of Thebes – perhaps following the death of her husband.
It is not clear when these events took place, but it is known that she was buried with a ceremonial axe, golden dagger and military medals. These items are unusual in the grave of a queen, and may be there to commemorate Ahhotep’s successful campaign.
Queen Ahhotep is mentioned as living during the reign of Amenhotep I, her grandson, and again during the reign of Thutmose I, her great grandson. This indicates that she lived much longer than many other Egyptians of the time, outliving almost all of her children.
Tausret: Forgotten Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt – Richard H. Wilkinson
Hatshepsut: from Queen to Pharaoh – Metropolitan Museum of Art
Daughters of Isis: Women of Ancient Egypt – Joyce Tyldesley