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Queen of Egypt,

The King's Mother, Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt (The Two Lands), The Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep

Biographical Information
Name(s) Queen Tiye

The "Elder Lady"

Also known as "Tiy" and "Teje"

Age 60
Sex Female
Status Matriarch of the Amarna family

Noble (Royal by marriage)

Height unknown
Source
Culture 18th Dynasty
Date(s) 1398 BC – 1338 BC
Site Found at the tomb of Amenhotep II

Original burial site: tomb of Akhenaten

Current Location
Location Egypt
Catalog # Unknown

Early Life

Tiye

Tiye

Tiye was born sometime during the year of 1398 B.C. Both of her parents were nobel and not of royal heritage.This was proved by her parents scarabs only have their names and not any royal titles. Despite this, she grew up in a royal palace. Her parents were Yuya and Thuya (also spelt as Tjuya). There are different theories and ideas about her parents' careers; depending on the source. Her father, Yuya, was from the town of Min and is said to have been...

  • A priest from Akhmin;
  • A Master of the Horse of the royal court;
  • Or, he held a post of the King's Lieutenant of the Charioty

The remains of his body suggests he was not Egyptian, but possibly he was Asiatic. Her mother, Thuya, is said to have been...

  • A servant of the Queen Mother, Mutemwiya;
  • A priestess;
    • This idea would explain the spiritual power Tiye had
  • A superintendent of the Harem of Min of Akhmin;
  • A court lady;
  • Or, the Amun of Thebes during the reign of Thutmose IV
    • This idea suggests she was a descendent of Ahmose Nefertari
    • Since royalty passed through the female bloodlines, if this was trye,Tiye would have been next in line for Queen.

Tiye had a brother, Amen, who eventually became the high priest of Akhim and possibly another brother, Ay. Her parents also received a rare privilege of being buried in the Valley of the Kings, despite having no royal heritage.

Marriage and Life as Queen 

When Tiye was young, eleven or twelve years old, she married Prince Amenhotep III. When Amenhotep III ascended the throne and became the pharoah, Tiye followed and became a Queen. Together they had at least six children; two son's and four daughters. Her son's were Tuthmose, who died during childhood, and Amenhotep IV (who later changed his name to Akhenaten), who became the next pharaoh. Her daughter's were Sitamun, Isis, Henut-taneb, and Beketaten. They also have a known granddaughter by the name of Meketaten who was the second daughter of Akhenaten who may have died from the plague taking place in Eygpt.

Not only was she a domestic wife, but she also had great impressions and power in the court. For example, she was the first queen to have her name on official acts. Tiye is heavily represented on her husbands monuments, scriptures, and inscriptions. The king also built many shrines to honor her, such as an artificial river and a palace. Amenhotep III and Tiye were known to take pleasure cruises on the artificial lake and spend a lot of time together. In addition, she was her husband's advisor and confidant and played an active part in foreign politics. It was a common practice for kings to have multiple wives, but she was given the title of the Great Royal Wife, due to her power in the court and the attention her husband, Amenhotep III, gave her. After thirty-eight years of reign, the king died and left Tiye a widow at the age of forty-eight or forty-nine, but her influence in court and foreign politics still remained.

Later Life/ Life as the Mother of the  King                                                                                                                                                                                           

Her son, Akhenaten, became king when his father died. Tiye and Akhenaten were said to be close. Tiye was also his court advisor, just like she was to his father. Many believe that she encouraged her son to follow the controversial
AkhenatTiye and Akhenaten

Akhenaten and Tiye

religious desires which eventually led him to revolutionize the Egypt's religion from polytheism to monotheism. In the fifth year of his reign, he closed the old temples and created a new order to worship one god, Aten. He also built a new city he called Akhetaten, which meant "the horizon of Aten". Her influence she had over her son was shown in the Amarna letters exchanged between her and the king Tushratta of Mitanni who would send letters to her asking Tiye to influence her son's decisions. The letters also verify her role she had in foreign politics. 

Her family, servants, and even foreign royalty were all fond and respected her.

This picture on the right was found on the wall of the tomb of Huya. She is shown eating with her son and daughter in
Tiye at the banquet, painted on a wall of the Temple

Painting of Tiye and family in the tomb of Huya

law, surrounded by her grandchildren, while being bathed in the light of Aten. Two of her known grandchildren are Tutankhamun and Meketaten (who died around the same time as Tiye and most likely died from the plague). Her daughter-in-law, Nerfertiti, was also close to her. It is said that Tiye was her role-model since Nerfertiti also had power in the court and over the state when her husband was unable to. This painting is the last known depiction of her before Tiye's death and is dated in 1338 B.C., the twelfth year of her son's reign. This is the year scholars assume she died.

Akhenaten's kingship suffered after Tiye's death. He had no interest or failed to act in the foreign affairs, and he preferred to stay in his palace and work on his new religion. There was a loss in territory and Egypt's prestige. After Akhenaten's death, Tutankhamun took the crown, then Ay, then Horemheb who all had tried to restore Egypt. Horemheb was the last pharoah of the 18th dynasty.

​Burial

It is believed that after her death she was initially buried in the Royal Tomb of Akhetaten and not buried next to her husband in the Valley of the Kings. There was a piece from her sarcophagus that was found there, and with the inscriptions found in the tomb, placed her buried next to her son and granddaughter. After her son's death, Tiye was moved to her husband's tomb. Some of her possessions, such as her Shabti dolls, were found at Amenhotep's III tomb. This was meant to be a permanent resting place. However, when the priests discovered that her husband's tomb was robbed

The Elder Lady Mummy

Queen Tiye's/ The Elder Lady's Mummy

of some of the possessions, she and her husband were moved to their final resting place to be safe; the tomb of Amenhotep II. There are burial possessions placing her at either and or both of the tombs of Akhetaten and Amenhotep III, yet she was discovered in the tomb of Amenhotep II in 1898 by Victor Clement Georges Philippe Loret. Although, when they found her she was referred to as the "Elder Lady". Tiye was identified as the "Elder Lady" after anthropologists used an electronic probe comparing a hair sample from the mummy to the lock of hair found in the tomb of Tutankhuman.

A lock of her hair was found in a small coffin in the tomb of Tutankhamun. The finding of the lock of hair, speculations of Akhenaten not having any songs, and references found in Tutankhamun's tomb has led to a theory about Tiye being the mother of Tutankhuman.

References/ Sources

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