Aten
Akhetaten
Akhetaten

Tiye

Tiye is known to history as the strong mother of Akhenaten. Tiye is a pet name for Nefertari, and she was probably born in Akhmim, to Yuya and Tjuiu/Tuya. She was not of royal blood, but their family was important and owned land in the Delta. Yuya (probably a nickname) was a military leader. Under Tuthmosis IV, he was the King’s Lieutenant of the Chariotry and Master of the Horse. Later he was the Chief Prophet of Min and the Superintendent of his Cattle. He could have had some Asiatic blood. Yuya's mummy is tall for an Egyptian, had wavy white hair, a beak nose and thick lips. Tuya (from Ahhotep) was Egyptian and was the Superior of the Harim of Amun, and also of Min of Akhmim.

Tiye’s brothers were Ay and Anen. There is no evidence that Tiye’s son Ay was the man who later became pharaoh, but he could be. Since the other brother, Anen, did not go into the military, it is thought Ay might have, and the pharaoh Ay certainty did. Anen was part of Amenhotep III’s court and was Chancellor of the King of Lower Egypt, Second Prophet of Amun (of four), sem-priest of Heliopolis, and Divine Father. Based on his tomb, Anen had five children, but we don’t know their names.

Tiye married Amenhotep III when he was teenager and she was even younger, perhaps 11 or 12. Their so-called marriage scarab is from Year 2. She became King’s Great Wife, "hmt nsw wrt." Tiye did not have the title God’s Wife, although she was connected with the harim of Amun where her mother was the superior. Since she married Amenhotep III when she was so young, she may have been too young to be God’s Wife before she married the king.

Tiye became a powerful queen. She was one of the first queens to have her name on official announcements. Her name appears often with his on ceremonial inscriptions, and she is shown attending jubilees. She personifies Maat. She helped in foreign affairs, and foreign kings like Tushratta of Mitanni wrote to her even after Amenhotep III died. She had a temple dedicated to her at Sedeinga in Nubia. She may have expanded the cult of Ahmose-Nefertari and claimed descent (by blood or adoptive) from her. She had a township, Djarukha, near Akhmim, and Amenhotep gave her an estate there, a huge irrigation basin, and inaugurated it by sailing on his state barge, interestingly called, "Radiance of Aten." She was also had a temple in Adaye in the Sudan. Her steward was Huya. Kheruef was Royal Scribe and First Herald of the King Amenhotep III, but he later was the Steward of Queen Tiye in the Estate of Amun.

Tiye had many children, probably Thutmose, Sitamun, Iset, Henut-taneb, Amenhotep/Akhenaten, Nebetiah, and Beketaten. Several times, she is listed as King’s Mother of Akhenaten. Thutmose is probably Tiye’s child, and he died without becoming king. As for her daughters, Iset, Henut-taneb, and Nebetiah are linked with Amenhotep III. Beketaten is shown walking with Tiye several times. Sitamun seems to be the eldest daughter, but she is not specifically called Amenhotep III’s daughter. However, she is the King’s Great Wife. Two items of Sitamun’s are in the tomb of Yuya and Tuya, and it makes sense that they were burial gifts from a granddaughter. Iset also was Amenhotep III’s wife.

She survived Amenhotep III by many years, perhaps 12, since she is shown with Beketaten in a tomb in Amarna from Year 9-12 of Akhenaten. In the Amarna letters, people inquired about her health and indicated she probably lived for some time at Akhetaten.

She may have died in her 40s. Amenhotep III ruled at least 37 years, and Tiye is listed on dockets as "King’s Mother" until Year 14 of Akhenaten. If Akhenaten did not have a co-regency, she lived at least 51 years, but if he did have a co-regency, she could have died at an earlier age. Some say Tiye’s mummy has been identified, but that mummy was perhaps 40. Akhenaten’s reign may have overlapped Amenhotep’s by 10 years. However, if she married Amenhotep at 11 or 12, and he ruled for 37 years, she would have been at least 48 when she died.

Sources:

Bunson, Margaret. (1991). "Tiye." A Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. New York: Oxford University Press.

Clayton, Peter A. (1994). Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Dodson, Aidan, and Hilton, Dyan. (2004). The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. New York: Thames & Hudson.

Grimal, Nicolas. (1992, 1994). A History of Ancient Egypt. New York: Barnes and Noble.

Shaw, Ian. (Ed.) (2000). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. NY: Oxford University Press.