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Queen Tiye

 

 Although not of royal blood, Tiye's parents were sufficiently important within the court of Tuthmosis IV (the father of Amenhotep III) for her to have been regarded as the heiress whom Amenhotep was destined to marry. Her parents were Yuya (who held the post of Kingís Lieutenant of Chariotry and Master of the Horse) and Thuya who was an important court lady (Superintendent of the Harem of Min of Akhmim and of Amun of Thebes). Tiye's parents were buried in the Valley of the Kings (as many nobles were) and their tomb was found intact in 1904, although not as grand as a Royal tomb it still held many treasures - including the mummies of both Yuya and Thuya.

Despite her non-royal origins, Tiye became the Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep III (the king did have many royal wives, but the Great Royal Wife was the most important and the heir and future pharaoh would be her son). Tiye was frequently mentioned, or shown beside Amenhotep in sculptures, reliefs and inscriptions from the period, it is assumed that Tiye did have a strong effect on the state affairs of Egypt before and indeed after Amenhotep's death.

Mother of Amenhotep IV / Akhenaten.

But perhaps her biggest effect on the history of Egypt was being the mother to the heretic king Amenhotep IV - later Akhenaten. Was it Tiye who first encouraged her son to follow her religious yearnings no matter how controversial they were? Maybe Akhenaten inherited his mother's strong personality and this gave him the strength to go on and revolutionise the religion of Egypt.

scene from Akhetaten, showing Akhenaten leading Tiye

Tiye did have other children - two daughters and another son, the son, Tuthmose, was originally the heir to the throne of Egypt but died whilst still a child. One of the daughters, Sitamun, was later married to her father (a common practice in Egypt at that time, as was the marriage of the Pharaoh to his own sister), Tiye's other daughter, Baketaten, was often shown accompanying Tiye on her visits to Akhenaten's city of Akhetaten.

 Mother of Tutankhamun?

It has often been speculated that Tiye was also the mother of Tutankhamun, one of the main factors of this speculation is that Akhenaten himself most probably did not have any sons of his own, also an auburn lock of Tiye's hair, enclosed in a small coffin, was found in Tutankhamun's tomb - with references to Tiye being Tutankhamun's mother.

The Mummy of Queen Tiye

It is thought that when she died, Tiye was originally buried by her son in the Royal Tomb at Akhetaten, and not alongside Amenhotep III in the Valley of the Kings. Once the heretic Akhenaten had died, Tiyes body was moved - there is a small tomb in the Valley of the Kings was did have some ruined artefacts from Tiye's funeral possessions (tomb 55). Tiye's body was then moved again to her husband's tomb to rest for eternity with him, however, when the priests discovered the tomb had been robbed both the bodies of Amenhotep III and Tiye were moved to a safer location, the tomb of Amenhotep II. The identity of Tiye's mummy was made after an electron probe compared a hair sample from the mummy and the lock of hair of Queen Tiye from Tutankhamun's tomb (however like most finds dating to this period, these findings are disputed by some).