Nefertiti: One of the Most Powerful Women Ever to Have Ruled

The Meaning of Nefertiti

Neferneferuaten Nefertiti (ca. 1370 – ca. 1330 BC) was an Egyptian queen and the Great Royal Wife (chief consort) of Akhenaten, an Egyptian Pharaoh. Nefertiti, whose name means 'a beautiful woman has come.'

The Legacy of Nefertiti

Nefertiti's legacy of beauty and power continue to intrigue scholars today. Nefertiti was the powerful wife of Akhenaton, who worshiped a new religion honoring only one God, Aten. With her husband, she reigned at what was arguably the wealthiest period of Ancient Egyptian history. Some scholars believe that Nefertiti ruled briefly as Neferneferuaten after her husband's death and before the accession of Tutankhamun, although this identification is a matter of ongoing debate.

Nefertiti and her husband were known for a religious revolution, in which they worshiped one god only, Aten, or the sun disc and were responsible for the creation of a whole new religion which changed the ways of religion within Egypt. She later rejected this religion, backing her half-brother who re-established the old worship of the sun-god Amon.

Why we are grateful4her

Nefertiti was 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. With her husband, she established the cult of Aten, the sun god, and promoted Egyptian artwork that was radically different from its predecessors.

An Egyptian queen renowned for her beauty, she was immortalized in exquisite sculptures made at the time. A bust of Nefertiti is one of the most iconic symbols of Egypt. She was made famous by her bust, now in Berlin's Neues Museum. The bust is one of the most copied works of ancient Egypt. It was attributed to the sculptor Thutmose, and it was found in his workshop. The bust is notable for exemplifying the understanding Ancient Egyptians had regarding realistic facial proportions.

Interesting Facts

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.