Nefertiti was a very popular figure in ancient Egypt. She was the chief consort of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, who was from the Eighteenth Dynasty and rule from 1353-1335 BC. Nefertiti was known as “Ruler of Nile” and “Daughter of Gods”. Some say she wielded unprecedented power which was almost equal to the Pharaoh himself. During Akhenaten’s reign he introduced a new religious policy where Aten, the Sun god was the supreme God. Some of the older temples were abolished. In this new religion Nefertiti and Akhenaten were the first couple. It was believed by the populace that blessings from the Sun god were sent to Egyptians through the king and queen. She was also the Chief Priest of Aten. It is learned from the historical records that Nefertiti was well known for her beauty. She even invented a special type of make up using Galena plant. She used to wear a special type of gold beads necklace which found its name after her – Nefer. She was a good administrator and dealt with her subjects equally. She seems to be everywhere during her reign. But what baffles the mind is how she vanishes from the pages of history after the twelfth year of regal reign. She remained long forgotten until a statue of her bust was discovered in an artist’s shop in Armana.
It is for sure that she was the chief wife or Queen consort of Akhenaten and the step mother or mother-in-law of King Tutankhamun. Akhenaten married Nefertiti around1357 BC and it believed by some that she was the daughter of Ay, who too belonged to the royal family. She had a younger sister named Moutnemendjet. In all the portraits from the reign she is depicted in equal stature to her husband, which symbolizes equal sharing of power. Akhenaten and Nefertiti were a loving couple as they have been depicted riding together in chariots, Nefertiti sitting on one knee of the king or the couple kissing in public. Akhenaten is also believed to have written a poem praising the beauty and wisdom of his queen. The couple had six daughters – Meritaten later became the queen of his father (incest was nothing to be ashamed about those days), Ankhesenamen who later became the queen of Tutankhamun and four others.
It is held that Akhenaten was not only impressed by the beauty of Nefertiti, but praised her decision making. Thus she was elevated to the role of co-regent in the twelfth year of his reign. This was the same year, from when the historical records about the queen cease. She seems to vanish all of a sudden. A group of scholars believe that she might have died this year after a plague swept across Egypt. Others feel she fell out of favor and the King focused more on his young wife Meritaten. As to the first theory, it should be said that Nefertiti could never fall out of Akhenaten’s favor. For in his sarcophagus depictions of Nefertiti exist on all four corners. This bears testimony to the king’s love for his queen. In terms of the second theory, it should be said that recent studies have unearthed some evidence that states that she remained a lady of supreme power after the passing of her husband. A group of scholars believe that she was a co-regent with her step son Tutankhamun. Others believe that Nefertiti became the sole ruler of Egypt following Akhenaten. They suggest that her reason to vanish from history is her assumption of a new name. Pharaohs often took new names in their reign. It is also recorded that women rulers had to change themselves into male personification to be accepted by the populace. This may be a reason that no trace of her name can be found after the twelfth year of regal period.
She is said to have died two years after the death of her husband. The probable cause was said to be grief. It is believed that one of her daughters passed away and she could not bear the pain. She was succeeded by Tutankhamun.