February 14, 2012
Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty was singular in having a number of extremely important royal women, but one of the most important of all of them was Amenhotep III’s “Great Royal Wife” Queen Tiye. She was of non-royal birth, coming from a family in the Upper Egyptian town of Akhmim. She and the King were married in the second year of his reign and she had at least seven children by him, including his successor, Amenhotep IV, better known as Akhenaten, the infamous “heretic pharaoh.”
A Colossal statue of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Despite her seemingly humble origins, Amenhotep celebrated his wife in a way no previous king had ever done. He issued a quantity of large scarabs in glazed stone to celebrate their union.
He also dedicated a temple at Sedinga in Nubia to her and her parents were accorded a lavishly furnished tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Her name was attached to royal decrees and foreign princes wrote to her directly.
A stela from late in the reign of Amenhotep III shows Tiye still affectionately touching her husband late in his reign after nearly 40 years of marriage.