The conclusions of a study conducted by an Egyptologist at a Canadian university state that two of Tutankhamun’s sisters, and not one, ascended together to the throne of Egypt after the death of their father Akhenaten. Specialists had known for nearly 50 years that in the 14th century BC, a queen-pharaoh had preceded Tutankhamun on the throne, recalls Valérie Angenot, Egyptologist and art historian at the Université du Québec in Montreal. Here’s what you need to know.
The Montreal professor conducted an analysis based on semiotics (study of signs) which she said revealed that two daughters of Akhenaten had taken power together after his death, while their brother Tutankhamun, aged four or five, was still too young to rule.
Akhenaten, who prepared his daughter Meritat for reign, would also have associated another of his daughters, Neferneferouaton Tasherit, with power. They would have risen together to the throne under the common crowning name of Ankhkheperure, according to Valérie Angenot. The study of certain pieces of Tutankhamun’s treasure, discovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter, revealed that the child king had usurped much of the funeral material of this queen-pharaoh, Neferneferouaton Ankhkheperure.
The historian analysed a stele at the Museum of Egyptian Art in Berlin
To support her hypothesis, the historian also analysed a stele at the Museum of Egyptian Art in Berlin showing two characters that Egyptologists have identified as either Akhenaten and his father, or Akhenaten and Nefertiti. “One of the characters caresses the chin of the other. In the Egyptian iconographic repertoire, this gesture is only attested to for the daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertititi,” Angenot observed. In addition, the researcher explained that some anonymous royal head sculptures, referring to Akhenaton or Nefertititi, would in fact be portraits of the two women. This would be the case, for example, of a head with female features, visible at the Kestner Museum in Hanover, Germany, identified as a “young Akhenaten”, although it is dated to the end of his reign.
The hypothesis of two queen-pharaohs put forward by Valérie Angenot could shed new light on the documents, hieroglyphics and testimonies that have been the subject of debate for nearly a century as to the identity of Akhenaton’s female successor.