Born: c. 1380 BC
Died: c. 1336 BC
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: Middle Eastern
Nationality: Ancient Egypt
Executive summary: Queen of the Nile
Nefertiti was the wife of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, who later changed his name to Akhenaton, and mother-in-law to Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Her name means "beautiful" or "perfect", but her parentage is uncertain and nothing is known of her childhood. Some experts believe that she was a daughter of Pharaoh Ay and his wife Tey, while others argue that her mother was an Asian princess, Tadukhipa from Mitanni (Syria). She and her husband worshiped the god Aton -- as did all of Egypt, by decree -- but Nefertiti herself also seems to have been considered a living goddess of fertility. She played a prominent role in royal and religious life, which suggests that she was more a queen or co-ruler than merely one of the Pharaoh's wives.
Akhenaton and Nefertiti ruled for about a dozen years, and then, in 1336 BC, the fourteenth year of his reign, she vanished. There is no further mention of her in any historical record, so it is presumed Akhenaton ordered that her name never be mentioned again. It is unclear whether her disappearance indicates her death, or whether she assumed a new identity, fled the kingdom, or simply fell out of favor with the Pharaoh. One theory is that she became Pharaoh herself after Akhenaton's death. Her tomb and presumably mummified body were never found, although there has been some speculation that a damaged mummy found in a nondescript tomb in 2003 may be her.
In the modern era, Nefertiti is best known for the famous artwork depicting her, a bust carved by the royal sculptor Djhutmose (sometimes spelled Thutmose, Thutmosis, or Tutmosis) and now housed at the Altes Museum in Berlin. The elongated gold beads she often wore are now called nefer beads, and Nefertiti's name is also applied to a certain style of a female genital piercing. She was played by Jeanne Crain in Queen of the Nile, a fun but thoroughly fictionalized movie that has her in love with Djhutmose, with Vincent Price as her supposed father, a villainous high priest.
Husband: Akhenaton (a.k.a. Amenhotep IV, Pharaoh)
Daughter: Meritaten (b. circa 1348 BC)
Daughter: Meketaten (b. circa 1347 BC)
Daughter: Ankhesenamen (married Pharaoh Tutankhamun, b. circa 1346 BC)
Daughter: Neferneferuaten Tasherit (b. circa 1344 BC)
Daughter: Neferneferure (b. circa 1341 BC)
Daughter: Setepenre (b. circa 1339 BC)
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