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Temple of Nefertari at Abu Simbel

Temple of Nefertari at Abu Simbel (Known places)

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Tags: egypt (18 pics)

Neferteri (Nefertari Merytmut or Mut-Nefertari) (c. 1290 (730 years ago) –– 1254 (766 years ago) B.C.E.) was the Great Royal Wife (or principal wife) of Ramesses the Great. Nefertari means Beautiful Companion. She is one of the best known Egyptian queens, next to Cleopatra, Nefertiti and Hatshepsut. Her lavishly decorated tomb, QV66, is the largest and most spectacular in the Valley of the Queens. Ramesses also constructed a temple for her at Abu Simbel next to his colossal monument here.


Although Nefertari’s origins are unknown, discoveries from her tomb, including a cartouche of Pharaoh Ay, suggest she may have been related to the 18th Dynasty, which included Tutankhamun, Queen Nefertiti, the so-called "heretic king" Akhenaten and the dynasty's penultimate pharaoh, Ay. At age thirteen Nefertari married Ramesses, only fifteen, before he ascended the throne, and remained the most important of his eight wives in Upper Egypt for at least the next twenty years. By the 1240 (780 years ago) BC her prominence appears to wane, and her images (wallpaper) by the Pharaoh's side become scarce.

Nefertari had at least four sons and two daughters, although none of these children succeeded the throne. Ramesses’ heir was Prince Merneptah, his 13th son by another wife, Isetnofret. Ramesses sired at least forty-eight to fifty sons during his long reign. She died during the Regnal Year 25 of Ramesses' reign, and Isetnofret became his new principal wife.


Nefertari was quite probably the only Egyptian royal wife, other than Queen Tiy, to be deified during her lifetime. Ramesses' temple at Abu Simbel also has a smaller temple nearby dedicated to Nefertari and the goddess Hathor—a very unusual act, as temples were usually dedicated to deities, not mortals.

Her status is confirmed by the fact that she was depicted as part of her husband’s entourage, even during important voyages such as a trip to Nubia to commission a new temple built at Abu Simbel. Nefertari is also depicted as being equal in size to Ramesses, a rarity indicating her importance to the pharaoh.

Her prominence is further supported by cuneiform tablets from the Hittite city of Hattusas (today Boghazkoy, Turkey), containing Nefertari's correspondence with the king Hattusilis and his wife Pudukhepa. She appears to have been instrumental in maintaining peace between Egyptians and Hittites, which eventually led to Ramesses’ marriage to a Hittite princess.

Ramesses’ unusual affection for his wife, as written on her tomb's walls, shows that some ancient Egyptian marriages were not simply matters of convenience or means to accumulate greater power and alliances, but were based around emotional attachment. Poetry written by Ramesses about his dead wife is featured on some of the walls of her burial chamber. ("My love is unique—no one can rival her, for she is the most beautiful woman alive. Just by passing, she has stolen away my heart.")




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