The beautiful Queen Nefertiti, wife of the monotheistic King Akhenaten and her son-in-law the golden Boy King Tutankhamun, has always perplexed archaeologists.
Nefertiti acquired unprecedented power during the first 12 years of the reign of her husband Akhenaten. She occupied the throne alongside her husband and appeared nearly twice as often in reliefs as Akhenaten during the first five years of his reign. She continued to appear in reliefs even when, in the twelfth year of Akhenaten’s reign, she disappeared from the scene and her name vanished from the pages of history.
Some think she either died from plague or fell out of favour, but recent theories have denied this claim. Four images of Nefertiti adorn Akhenaten’s sarcophagus, not the usual goddesses, indicating that her importance to the pharaoh continued up until his death and disproving the idea that she fell out of favour. It also shows her continuous role as a deity or semi-deity with Akhenaten.
Shortly after her disappearance, Akhenaten took a co-regent to the throne. The identity of this person has created speculation. One theory says it was Nefertiti herself in a new guise as a “female king,” like the female pharaohs Sobkneferu and Hatshepsut who ruled the country for several years.
Another theory introduces the idea of two co-regents, a male one called Smenkhkare and Nefertiti under the name of Neferneferuaten. Some scholars believe that Nefertiti became co-regent with her husband, and that her role as queen consort was taken over by her eldest daughter Meritaten.
Although her iconic bust, now on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin, was unearthed in an artist’s workshop at Tel Al-Amarna in 1912 by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, neither her tomb nor mummy have yet been unearthed. As for the Boy King Tutankhamun, his mysterious death, lineage and health have seen many controversies and debates.