April 15, 2012

Amenhotep III Pharaoh and The Royal Wives

The royal wives
Amenhotep III had a large - and ever-increasing - number of ladies in his harem; several of them were foreign princesses, the result of diplomatic marriages, but his chief wife was a woman of non-royal rank whom he had married before he came to the throne. This was Tiy, the daughter of a noble called Yuya and his wife, Tuya. The family was an important one: not only did it hold land in the Delta but Yuya was a powerful military leader. Tiy's brother, Anen, was also to rise to high office under Amenhotep III, as Chancellor of the King of Lower Egypt, Second Prophet of Amun, sem-priest of Heliopolis, and Divine Father. (The undecorated and almost undisturbed tomb [KV 46] of Yuya and Tuya was discovered in a small side wadi of the Valley of the Kings by Theodore Davis in 1905. Their two mummies are amongst the best preserved in the Cairo Museum.)

Mummies of Yuya (left) and Tjuyu (right), who were found in the same tomb
Tiy gave birth to six or more children, at least two sons and then four daughters. The oldest boy died without reigning, leaving his younger brother (the future Amenhotep IV, later called Akhenaten) heir to the throne. Amenhotep III also married two of his daughters, first Isis and then, in Year 30, Sitamun. Evidence for this comes from a series of kohl eyeliner tubes inscribed for the king together with a cartouche of each royal lady.

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