Zenobia – 240 – c.274 – Palmyrene Empire

Ancient Syria


Syrian warrior queen Zenobia was another in a long line of women to cause trouble for the Roman Empire.

Born in Palmyra, her origins are mysterious – the Greeks called her Zenobia, her Roman name was Julia Aurelia Zenobia and in Arabic she is called al-Zabba (الزباء‎). Some historians describe her as having Jewish heritage, others that she was the daughter of a sheikh, or that her father was the Roman Governor of Palmyra.

Wherever she came from, Zenobia had no problem coming up with her own family history. She claimed to be a descendant of the Ptolemies – related to queen Cleopatra herself, as well as Dido, the legendary goddess-queen of Carthage.


Coin featuring Zenobia (Source)

Her lineage is uncertain, but Zenobia definitely did speak the ancient Egyptian language, and may have learnt from her mother who is thought to have been part-Egyptian. Zenobia was also described as very beautiful and highly intelligent, just like Cleopatra. She was well educated and spoke Latin, Greek and Aramaic fluently. In addition, Zenobia was physically strong, being an accomplished horsewoman and huntress.

She was married to the king of Palmyra, Septimus Odaenathus when she was about eighteen. He already had a son from a previous marriage, and in 266 Zenobia gave birth to her own son, Vaballathus.

When Varballathus was only a year old, the king and his eldest son were assassinated. Zenobia became the sole ruler of Palmyra until her son came of age.

She lost no time in securing her power, and immediately began planning conquests to expand the limits of her empire. At this time, Zenobia had the full backing of Rome as a client queen. She was expected to protect her borders and the eastern empire from the neighbouring Sassanid Empire – so it was within her remit to attack on these fronts.

In 269, she went too far.

Queen Zenobia of Palmyra and her General Zabdas marched their army into Egypt, violently defeating the Roman forces. They captured the Roman Prefect in charge of the region and beheaded him, proclaiming Zenobia queen of Egypt.


Zenobia’s empire shown in yellow (Source)


Queen Zenobia’s Last Look Upon Palmyra by Herbert Schmalz (Source)

From there, she pressed on into Anatolia, then Palestine and Lebanon. These were all hugely important trade routes in the classical world, which the Roman Empire depended upon. Zenobia claimed them for herself and for her son.

Emperor Aurelian had finally had enough in 272. His forces clashed with Zenobia’s army in Antioch and defeated the Palmyrenes, who retreated to Emesa, where Zenobia had a treasury. Aurelian was hot on her heals and besieged the city, forcing Zenobia to escape with Varballathus on the back of a camel.

This last desperate attempt at escape failed, and Aurelian’s cavalry captured the Queen before she could get home to Palmyra. Zenobia’s Empire came to an end. She was taken back to Rome in chains and eight year old Varballathus is presumed to have died on the voyage.


The Triumph of Aurelian or Queen Zenobia in front of Aurelian by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1717 (Source)

It’s not clear what happened next for this fierce ruler. One version of her story claims that she either committed suicide or was excecuted in Rome. Another that she happily married a Roman senator and became a prominent philosopher and socialite.

In fiction:

Geoffrey Chaucer gives a short version of the story of Zenobia in The Monk’s Tale.

A number of operas have been written about the life and exploits of queen Zenobia by various authors including: Tomaso Albinoni (1694), Leonardo Leo (1725), Johann Adolph Hasse (1761), Pasquale Anfossi (1789), Giovanni Paisiello (1790), Gioachino Rossini (1819) and Mansour Rahbani (2007).

Lebanese singer Fairuz performed a song called Zenobia in 1977.

Daughter of Sand and Stone by Libbie Hawker is a historical romance novel fictionalising the life of Zenobia.



BBC’s In Our Time featuring a discussion on Zenobia.

Zenobia, Queen of the East, Or, Letters from Palmyra, Volume 2 – William Ware

Empress Zenobia: Palmyra s Rebel Queen – Pat Southern

On Wikipedia:



Arsinoë III – 220 – 204 BCE – Alexandria, Ptolemaic Egypt

Ancient Egypt


Arsinoë III Philopater (father loving) embodied many of the traits common among the women of the Ptolemy family. Strong willed, intelligent, fearless and a born leader, Arsinoë was easily the most powerful woman in the world in her lifetime.

She and her brother Ptolemy IV were the fourth generation of Macedonian Greeks to rule Egypt since Alexander the Great – and things were getting ugly.

After the death of Arsinoë’s father, Ptolemy III, her brother quickly had their mother Berenike killed in order to rid himself of her influence in government. According to Ptolemaic royal tradition, Ptolemy then married his sister, proclaiming Arsinoë queen.

At 26, Arsinoë proved herself a formidable leader. She ruled on equal terms with her brother-husband, taking an active role in government, as her mother had. Arsinoë did not stop there; when Syrian king Antiochus the Great declared war on her family Arsinoë stepped forward.

She dressed for battle and rode at the head of the Egyptian cavalry in the 217 BCE defeat of Antiochus at the battle of Raphias.

Unfortunately, not everyone was impressed with the hands on queen. The reign of Ptolemy IV and Arsinoë III was beset by factions and in-fighting at court.

When Ptolemy IV died in 204 BCE, his two favourite politicians feared that Arsinoë would attempt to claim the throne as regent for her five year old son. Threatened, Agathocles and Sosibus had Arsinoë murdered before she even heard the news of her brother-husband’s death.


The House of Ptolemy: A History of Hellenistic Egypt under the Ptolemaic Dynasty – Edwyn R. Bevan

On Wikipedia:

Bilistiche – fl. 264 BCE – Alexandria, Ptolemaic Egypt

Ancient Egypt


The few pieces of information we have about Bilistiche (sometimes Belistiche) carve a mysterious figure of a complex and interesting woman.

A courtesan and mistress of Pharaoh Ptolemy Philadeplphus (brother-husband to Arsinoë II), she won both the tethrippon (four horse) and synoris (two horse) chariot races in the 264 BC Olympic Games.

She was clearly a wealthy and important figure in the Egyptian court as it was often only the rich who could breed and train horses for racing. Bilistiche also held a truly affectionate place in her lover’s heart – the Pharaoh deified her (made her a goddess) as ‘Aphrodite Bilistiche’.

The truth of who she was and where she came from, however, is uncertain. The historian Pausanias describes Bilistiche as ‘a woman from the coast of Macedonia’, and Athenaeus says she was in fact a Macedonian Princess. Plutarch offers the most intriguing backstory, one of rags to riches, as he calls her ‘a barbarian from the marketplace’. This suggests that she was purchased as a slave, and was not Greek or Macedonian at all.

Though she is mysterious to us, Bilistiche was apparently a celebrity in her own time, a visible member of the Egyptian Royal household and a champion athlete.


Women in Hellenistic Egypt: From Alexander to CleopatraSarah B. Pomeroy

Description of Greece, 5.8.11Pausanias

On Wikipedia:

Arsinoë II – 316 BCE – 270/60 BCE – Ptolemaic Egypt

Ancient Egypt


It’s safe to say that the Ptolemy’s were not like other families. Rulers of Egypt for three hundred years, they were of Macedonian Greek heritage. Every male was called Ptolemy (pronounced ‘toll-uh-mee’) and every woman in the family was named Cleopatra, Berenice or Arsinoë (Ahh-seen-oh-way).

And it wasn’t just names they kept in the family. The Ptolemy’s were notorious for intermarrying.

"ArsinoeII" by PHGCOM - self-made, photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Licensed  via Commons -

“ArsinoeII” by PHGCOM – self-made, photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Licensed via Commons –

Arsinoë II was the eldest daughter of Ptolemy II ‘the Saviour’, founder Greek rule in Egypt. A high ranking princess, she was married to King Lysimachus of Macedonia at the age of fifteen. She had three sons – Ptolemy, Lysimachus and Philip. However, Lysimachus had a son from an earlier marriage, meaning than Arsinoë’s boys were second in line for the throne. To improve their chances, Arsinoë had the first son poisoned for treason.

Lysimachus died in battle in 281, leaving Arsinoë widowed at thirty-five. The queen acted quickly and went to Cassandreia to marry her half-brother Ptolemy Keraunos (Thunderbolt). The couple proclaimed themselves joint rulers of Lysimachus’ territories; Macedonia and Thrace.

The marriage was not a happy one. Displeased with the amount of power her brother-husband was amassing, Arsinoë conspired against him with her sons. Unfortunately, Ptolemy Keraunos found out and had the two younger boys killed.

Arsinoë fled back home to Egypt, while her eldest son escaped to northern Greece. Ptolemy Philadelphus (sibling-loving) was Arsinoë’s brother and King of Egypt. He granted his sister protection and she was soon conspiring again. First, she had her brother’s first wife, Arsinoë I exiled. Then she married him herself.

Now Arsinoë II was co-ruler of Egypt, the wealthiest country in the world at the time. She had all of her brother’s titles and became hugely influential, having towns dedicated to her, her own cult (as was Egyptian custom), and appearing on coinage.

Arsinoë did not rest once she was queen. She contributed to foreign policy,

"Oktadrachmon Ptolemaios II Arsinoe II" by User:MatthiasKabel - Pergamonmuseum Berlin. Licensed via Commons

“Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II” by User:MatthiasKabel – Pergamonmuseum Berlin. Licensed via Commons

including Ptolemy II’s victory in the First Syrian War (274-271 BC) between Egypt and the Seleucid Empire in the Middle East.

According to Posidippus, she won also three chariot races at the Olympic Games, probably in 272 BC.

Even after her death, Ptolemy II continued to refer to Arsinoë on official documents, as well as supporting her coinage and cult. He also established her worship as a Goddess, a clever move, because by doing this he established also his own worship as a god.


Arsinoe of Egypt and Macedon: A Royal LifeElizabeth Donnelly Carney

On Wikipedia:

Arsinoë II

Tausret – d. 1189 BCE – Thebes, Egypt

Ancient Egypt

Ruling during the Trojan wars, Tausret was the last woman to rule Egypt as Pharaoh until Cleopatra VII, over 1000 years later.


The story of Tausret (also known as Twosret or Ta-Usret, meaning powerful one) and her rise to power is in many ways very similar to her predecessors Sobekneferu and Hatshepsut, though she only ruled for a fraction of the time Hatshepsut did – approximately two years.

Like the two female Pharaoh’s who came before her, she was first the wife of a King; Seti II. When Seti died, he left behind only a ten year old boy, named Sitpah, as heir.

“Twosret” by en:User: John D. Croft – English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Like Hatshepsut, Tausret was regent on the behalf of the boy-king. This continued for around six years, before Sitpah died in his mid-teens. At this point, Tausret was the logical choice for Pharaoh, with her royal connections and experience in power. Similarly to Hatshepsut and Sobekneferu, Tausret used both female and male iconography to refer to herself in statues and carvings.

While her reign as an independent Pharaoh lasted around two years (c.1191 – 1189 BCE), there is evidence that she included Sitpah’s reign as her own, making it seem as though she ruled for close to eight years. The reason for this may have been Sitpah’s shaky parentage – which is still disputed. We know that he was not Tausret’s son, nor was he likely to have been Seti’s child. He may have been a nephew or cousin. Sitpah’s apparent illegitimacy may have been the cause of a civil war which marked the end of the 19th dynasty. Tausret’s absorbing his reign into her own might have been a way of asserting her own kingship, as her royal blood was not under question.

We do not know how Tausret’s reign ended – whether she simply died, or was overthrown by Setnakhtre, who founded the 20thdynasty. What we do know is that he really disliked her. He took over her tomb (which she shared with Seti), removed her body and plastered all of the walls, removing any trace of the female king.


Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt: From Early Dynastic Times to the Death of Cleopatra – Joyce Tyldesley

Tausret: Forgotten Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt – Richard H. Wilkinson

Theban Tomb Mapping Project

On Wikipedia:

Puduhepa – fl. c. 1250 BCE – Harpissa, Hittite Empire

Ancient Turkey

A signatory of the world’s first known peace treaty, a priestess, politician, lawyer, judge, midwife and diplomat, Puduhepa ruled for seventy years and is the most influential Queen you’ve never heard of….


In 1274 BCE, General Hattusili was returning home from the battle of Kadesh. He stopped to rest in the city of Lawazantiya, where he was welcomed by the high priest. He also met the priest’s daughter, Puduhepa, a beautiful priestess. Later that night, Hattusili dreamed of the Goddess Ishtar, who instructed him to marry Puduhepa.

The following day he returned to the temple to request the priestess’ hand in marriage, to which she assented. From that day onwards they were partners in all things. They returned to Harpissa as husband and wife, and within a few years Hattusili rose to the throne with Puduhepa as his queen (Tawananna).

“Puduhepa” by Firaktin2Kayseri.jpg: Klaus-Peter Simonderivative work: Zunkir (talk) – Firaktin2Kayseri.jpg. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Hittite empire (now modern day Turkey) is defined by its regular clashes with the Egyptians and Hattusili was often away at war, leaving Puduhepa to run their Kingdom. Even when Hattusili was present, it was made clear that Puduhepa ruled beside him as his primary counsel.

Queen Puduhepa liked to keep busy. She retained her status as priestess of Ishtar, regularly performing rituals and offering prayers for the health of her husband and the strength of her Kingdom. She gave advice to her husband and regularly involved herself with legal cases, becoming supreme judge of the Kingdom.

While many ancient Queens took up some administrative responsibility when it came to the affairs of their kingdoms, Puduhepa also turned her focus outwards to international relations. She brokered a number of political marriages between Hattusili’s many children and the royal families of Babylon and Egypt. She was instrumental in the drawing up of the world’s first written peace treaty between Egypt and Hattusili and formed a strong diplomatic relationship with Great Royal wife Nefertari,

Hittite version of the peace treaty.

Hittite version of the peace treaty.
“Istanbul – Museo archeol. – Trattato di Qadesh fra ittiti ed egizi (1269 a.C.) – Foto G. Dall’Orto 28-5-2006”. Licensed under Attribution via Wikimedia Commons

who sent her gifts and called her ‘sister’.

‘Speak to my sister Puduhepa, the Great Queen of the Hatti land. I, your sister, (also) be well. May your country be well. Now, I have learned that you, my sister, have written to me asking after my health. You have written to me because of the good friendship and brotherly relationship between your brother, the king of Egypt, The Great and the Storm God will bring about peace, and he will make the brotherly relationship between the Egyptian king, the Great King, and his brother, the Hatti King, the Great King, last forever… See, I have sent you a gift, in order to greet you, my sister… for your neck (a necklace) of pure gold… coloured linen maklalu-material, for one royal dress for the king…’

When her husband died and her son Tudhaliya IV became king, Puduhepa did not withdraw, but continued to use her influence under the (badass) title of Goddess Queen.


Historical Dictionary of the HittitesCharles Burney 

A Day in the Life of PuduhepaJudith Starkson for the Unusual Histories blog

PuduhepaJulia Richardson

The Hittites DocumentaryThe Smithsonian Channel

On Wikipedia:

Nefertiti – c.1370 – 1330 BCE – Amarna, Egypt

Ancient Egypt

Her face is one of the most well known in history and her striking beauty has been praised for thousands of years. But Queen Nefertiti was a lot more than just pretty. Together with her husband she instigated a religious revolution, founded a city, modernised Egyptian art, and may have ruled as Pharaoh herself for a time.


As is the case with many Egyptian women, little is known about Nefertiti’s life before her marriage to Amenhotep IV. What is known is that the royal couple were radicals. They put themselves at odds with the Egyptian establishment by worshipping Aten, the sun disk, over all other Gods, turning their backs on Egypt’s polytheistic religion. Five years into Amenhotep’s reign, they both changed their names becoming Akhenaten and Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti (perfect are the beauties of Aten, the beautiful one has come).

“Nefertiti Standing-striding Berlin” by Photo: Andreas Praefcke – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The couple were not satisfied simply changing the nations belief system. Their next move was even more unusual, as they relocated the entire royal court from Thebes to a newly built city in the desert, Akhetaten (now known as Amarna). Akhetaten became the centre of the cult of Aten, with several open air temples and an enormous palace, from which Akhenaten and Nefertiti ruled during Egypt’s most prosperous era.

Turning a centuries old system on its head was an enormous undertaking, and Nefertiti proved herself to be an expert at PR. She left her mark everywhere. Never before had the face of a ruler been shared so widely – in fact Nefertiti appears in carvings twice as often as her own husband, the Pharaoh. In some images, Nefertiti is surrounded by her six daughters; in others she is shown smiting her enemies. She took up a string of titles including; Great of praises, Sweet of Love, Lady of All Women, Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt. Even her distinctive tall cap-crown was designed to flatter her beauty, following the lines of her face. She was a Queen who wanted to be known to her people.

Art changed entirely during this period – the images of Akhenaten and Nefertiti are unlike any other ancient Egyptian portraits, in that they are a clear attempt at realism. While the tradition was to portray the royal family as tall, lean, androgynous beings, like the Gods, images of Akhenaten present an extremely unusual looking man. He has a large jaw and cleft chin, spindly arms and a pot belly. Queen Tiye, his mother, has

“Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their children”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

visible age lines on her face. Nefertiti is the most striking of all, and her angular face and cylinder crown have become iconic symbols of ancient Egypt in western consciousness.

There is strong evidence that in year 12 of Akhenaten’s reign, Nefertiti was elevated to co-regent, ruling alongside her husband with all the power of a Pharaoh. Though Royal wives had wielded power before, Nefertiti’s rise was unprecedented. In fact, it is believed that she outlived her husband and ruled alone, as the mysterious Pharaoh Neferneferuaten (who may also be Nefertiti’s daughter, Meritaten). If this is the case, it means that Nefertiti ruled three years into her stepson, Tutankhamun’s reign.

It was during Tutankhamun’s short reign that Amarna was abandoned and Thebes reinstated as the capital. The cult of Aten was disbanded and even art reverted back to its traditional style. Akhenaten was branded ‘the Heretic King’ and the new world that he and his Queen had fought to create was abandoned in the desert.


Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt: From Early Dynastic Times to the Death of Cleopatra – Joyce Tyldesley

Daughters of Isis: Women of Ancient Egypt – Joyce Tyldesley

On Wikipedia:

In fiction:

Tiye – c.1398 – 1338 BCE – Thebes, Egypt

Ancient Egypt

Queen Tiye continued the tradition of powerful Great Royal Wives and elevated the role further by extending her reach into diplomacy and foreign relations.


Tiye (pronounced ‘tee-ay’) was only eleven or twelve when she married King Amenhotep III. He likely married her in order to strengthen his tie to

“Queen Tiy N2312 E25493 mp3h8764” by Rama – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 fr via Wikimedia Commons

the royal lineage. Though Tiye’s father was a high-ranking priest, it was her mother, Tjuyu, who was most probably royalty. Tjuyu was involved with a number of religious cults and held a variety of mystical titles.

Tiye and Amenhotep soon became a serious power couple. While he is recognized as having been a great statesman, Tiye was his confidante and most trusted advisor in all things. From brokering marriages for their seven children to managing requests for Egypt’s gold from other nations, Tiye’s seal is found on a number of documents from the time.

“Ägyptisches Museum Berlin 027” by Einsamer Schütze – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Intelligent, strong and fierce, Tiye was respected not only at home but by foreign dignitaries visiting the Egyptian court. Leaders from bordering kingdoms were happy to deal directly through her and was the first Egyptian queen to have her name recorded on official acts.

Amenhotep devoted shrines and temples to his formidable wife, and she was worshipped as a Goddess in parts of Nubia during her lifetime. She would have been in her late forties when Amenhotep died and her son, Amenhotep IV, later Akhenaten, ascended to the throne.

There is evidence that Tiye continued to advise her son, as she lived until at least twelve years into his reign. She is mentioned in a number of letters to outlying kingdoms, demonstrating her political influence.


Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt: From Early Dynastic Times to the Death of Cleopatra – Joyce Tyldesley

Khan Academy video: ‘Portrait head of Queen Tiye with a crown of Two Feathers

On Wikipedia:

In Fiction:

Hatshepsut – 1508 – 1458 BCE – Thebes, Egypt

Ancient Egypt

“I never slumbered as one forgetful, but have made strong what was decayed. I have raised up what was dismembered.”


Princess Hatshepsut was born to rule. As the only child of the Pharaoh and his Great Royal Wife, Hatshepsut had the strongest claim to the throne and during her father’s reign held the important office of God’s Wife. Her name meant Foremost of the Noble Ladies and by the time she was fifteen the princess was an experienced and capable administrator.

There was only one problem; she was not a man. When her father Pharaoh Thutmose I died, Hatshepsut was obliged to marry her younger half-brother, whose mother was a minor wife of the Pharaoh. Still, the teenage Queen took an active role in the affairs of the Kingdom, knowing that it was only through marriage to her that Thutmose II was King at all.

“Thutmose III and Hatshepsut” by Markh – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

Thirteen years into his reign, Thutmose II died of an illness. He and Hatshepsut had a daughter, Neferure, together, but it was his son Thutmose III, who he fathered with a secondary wife, who would inherit the throne. However, Thutmose III was very young and would need a regent to run the kingdom until he reached maturity. With her royal bloodline and wealth of experience, thirty year old Hatshepsut was the logical choice. Two years later, she declared herself King of Egypt.

Pharaoh Hatshepsut ruled Egypt for over twenty years in her own right, and is regarded as one of the most successful of Egypt’s rulers. While her father had spent his reign at war with the Hyksos in the Nile Delta, Hatshepsut maintained a largely peaceful foreign policy and took the opportunity to establish important trade routes, building the wealth of her dynasty.

She oversaw expeditions to the land of Punt, bringing frankincense and myrrh to Egypt for the first time. The frankincense she used for kohl

The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut by Ian Lloyd - lloydi.com. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut by Ian Lloyd – lloydi.com. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

eyeliner, and the myrrh trees were planted in her extensive funeral complex at Deir el-Bahri. Her mortuary temple was to become the envy of all Pharaohs who followed her, and is now the entrance to the Valley of the Kings.

Hatshepsut, like her father, was an extensive builder. The wealth brought into Egypt from her international trade routes was put towards funding hundreds of construction projects, grander than any of her predecessors, raising the standard of Egyptian architecture. So much statutory was produced that today every major museum in the world contains at least one statue built by Hatshepsut.

To assert herself as Pharaoh, rather than a Queen, images of Hatshepsut portray her with all of the traditional symbols and regalia of kingship – including the khat headcloth, shendyt kilt and false beard. There is no indication that Hatshepsut dressed as a man, and it is thought that in statues and carvings she is depicted in this way so that there can be no doubt she is Pharaoh.

Meanwhile, her step-son Thutmose III was also Pharaoh, in title only. Though he had little power over the empire, Hatshepsut appointed him head of her armies. There is no indication that Hatshepsut’s leadership was ever challenged, and until her death Thutmose III remained in a secondary role quite amicably. As head of her powerful armies, he would have had the power to overthrow her at any time, and clearly never chose to.

It is true that towards the end of his own reign Thutmose III began to remove Hatshepsut from historical records, chiseling her name and images away from stone walls, leaving obvious gaps in artwork. Her statues were also torn down or disfigured and buried in a pit that would not be discovered for many centuries.

It’s not clear why Thutmose chose to do this, especially as he did not seem to take issue with Hatshepsut during her rule. One theory is that he was simply doing what he believed to be correct at the time – as at the time it was not considered possible for a woman to be Pharaoh, he may have been attempting to return her to her place as his co-regent.


Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt: From Early Dynastic Times to the Death of Cleopatra – Joyce Tyldesley

Tausret: Forgotten Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt – Richard H. Wilkinson

Hatshepsut: from Queen to Pharaoh Metropolitan Museum of Art 

On Wikipedia:

In Fiction:

Child of the Morning by Pauline Gedge

The Hatshepsut Trilogy by Patricia O’Neill

Ahmose Nefertari – 1562 – 1595 BCE – Thebes, Egypt

Ancient Egypt


This Egyptian Queen was a woman with many titles. As the daughter Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao and Ahhotep, she was named Ahmose Nefertari (the most beautiful born of Iah), and given the titles Hereditary Princess, King’s daughter.

“Ahmes Nefertari Grab 10” by Ausschnittbearbeitung NebMaatRe. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

With even more influence than her formidable mother Ahhotep, Ahmose Nefertari redesigned the position of Great Royal Wife. The eldest girl of a number of siblings, she married her brother Ahmose when he became Pharaoh, as was Egyptian custom, taking on the further titles Great King’s Wife, God’s Wife of Amun and Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt. She and her husband became the royal couple who founded the Eighteenth dynasty.

Though Ahhotep, as King’s Mother, would have taken precedence over Ahmose Nefertari at court, King Ahmose bestowed not only titles (including Great of Grace, Great of Praises and United with the White Crown) upon his wife, but important positions and responsibilities.

The King purchased the office of Second prophet of Amun in order to gift his wife with the lands and goods associated with the role, making her independently wealthy. The Queen was also given the position of Divine Adoratrix, which gave Ahmose Nefertari more responsibilities than any Queen before her, putting her in charge of the administration of all temple properties, estates and treasuries.

Ahmose Nefertari had at least three sons and once her husband died it is possible that she (like her mother) was regent for her son Amenhotep I (adding King’s Mother to her list of titles). She likely lived to the old age of

“Ahmes nefertari2-2” by http://www.africamaat.com. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

70 and when she died her son made her a Goddess. Ahmose Nefertari was worshipped for generations under her final title: Mistress of the sky, Lady of the West.


Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt: From Early Dynastic Times to the Death of Cleopatra – Joyce Tyldesley

The Life and Afterlife of Ahmose NefertariVirginia Laporta & Graciela Gestoso Singer

On Wikipedia: