Nefertiti

Nefertiti : Egypt's Sun Queen

By (author) Joyce A. Tyldesley

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For over a decade Nefertiti, wife of the heretic king Akhenatem, was the most influential woman in the Bronze Age. Her image and name were celebrated throughout Egypt and her future seemed golden. Suddenly Nefertiti disappeared from the royal family, vanishing so completely that it was as if she had never been. No record survives to detail her death, no monument serves to mourn her passing and to this day her end remains an enigma. Joyce Tyldesley provides a detailed discussion of the life and times of Nefertiti, set against the background of the ephemeral Amarna Court.

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  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 25.4mm | 539.77g
  • 01 Mar 1999
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • VIKING
  • London
  • English
  • b&w drawings, notes, further reading, index
  • 0670869988
  • 9780670869985

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Review text

In Hatchepsut(1996), Tyldesley (Archaeology/Liverpool Univ., England) brought to life an obscure female ruler of ancient Egypt's 18th Dynasty. Here she does the same for a legendary woman of the same period - the queen of monotheist pharaoh Akhenaten. Nefertiti (literally meaning, "a beautiful woman has come") became famous with the 1912 discovery by archaeologists of a breathtaking painted bust of her. What little was known of her story suggested dramatic potential: the wife of an intellectual ruler who rejected Egypt's traditional polytheistic cult in favor of an austere monotheistic religion, Nefertiti was a central figure in the capital city, Akhetaten (now Amarna), founded by her husband. But her life, and his, ended with a mysterious oblivion. As if they had merely vanished, records made no mention of the royal couple. Without resolving the cluster of historic mysteries surrounding Nefertiti, Tyldesley evokes the turbulent reign of Akhenaten, whose cult threatened the power of Egypt's priesthood and undermined the kingdom's customary religion. Marshaling archaeological and textual evidence, the author depicts Akhenaten's family as close-knit, with their idyll interrupted by the sudden death of the couple's daughters, attributed by Tyldesley to the plague. Reviewing some of the scholarly theories for Nefertiti's disappearance - that she grew too powerful, ruled Egypt in her own right, or committed a heinous crime and was banished - Tyldesley concludes that insufficient evidence exists to support these theories. More likely, as his consort, Nefertiti simply shared in Akhenaten's fate when successor Horemheb, a traditionalist, tried to eradicate all memory of the monotheist pharaoh and his descendants. A thoughtful and well-researched re-creation of an extraordinary ancient personality. (Kirkus Reviews)

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