An Egyptian queen renowned for her beauty, Nefertiti ruled alongside her husband, Pharaoh Akhenaten, during the mid-1300s B.C. Little is known about the origins of Nefertiti, but her legacy of beauty and power continue to intrigue scholars today. Her name is Egyptian and means “a beautiful woman has come.”
Worship of the Sun God
Nefertiti and the pharaoh took an active role in establishing the Aten cult, a religious mythology which defined Aten, the sun, as the most important god and the only one worthy of worship in Egypt’s polytheistic canon. Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten (also seen as “Akenhaten” in some references) to honor the deity. It is believed that the king and queen were priests and that it was only through them that ordinary citizens could obtain access to Aten. Nefertiti changed her name to Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti, meaning “beautiful are the beauties of Aten, a beautiful woman has come,” as a show of her absolutism for the new religion. The royal family resided in a constructed city called Akhetaton—in what is now known as el-Amarna—meant to honor their god. There were several open-air temples in the city, and at the center stood the palace.
Nefertiti was perhaps one of the most powerful women ever to have ruled. Her husband went to great lengths to display her as an equal. In several reliefs she is shown wearing the crown of a pharaoh or smiting her enemies in battle. But despite this great power, Nefertiti disappears from all depictions after 12 years. The reason for her disappearance is unknown. Some scholars believe she died, while others speculate she was elevated to the status of co-regent—equal in power to the pharaoh—and began to dress herself as a man. Other theories suggest she became known as Pharaoh Smenkhkare, ruling Egypt after her husband’s death or that she was exiled when the worship of the deity Amen-Ra came back into vogue.
Archaeologists have never discovered the mummy of the queen who played a major political and religious role in the 14th century BC.
Nefertiti actively supported her husband Akhenaten, the pharaoh who temporarily converted ancient Egypt to monotheism imposing the single cult of sun god Aton.
Neferneferuaten Nefertiti was an Egyptian queen and the Great Royal Wife of Akhenaten, an Egyptian Pharaoh. Nefertiti and her husband were known for a religious revolution, in which they worshiped one god only, Aten, or the sun disc.