Those Queens Were Kings: Authenticity and Why You Should Care!

song du jour: Revolution, The Beatles

mood: Jammin'

As of last night, I'm halfway through Fletcher's book, and it's definitely the best written and one of the most carefully researched books on Egyptology, or history for the matter, that I've ever read. It turns out that Egypt had quite a few female rulers in her past. There were many, who reigned as co-regents until their sons or step-sons were old enough to rule, but there is more than enough evidence, titles like 'daughter of amen' and even just plain 'king,' that show women reigned in their own right.

Because many male Egyptologists could not come to terms with carvings of women wearing the various types of kingly crowns, they have been recorded at best as co-regents or at worst dismissed as a time when the insignia of royals were shown less respect and importance! When the women wearing crowns and holding the king's scepter are noted as rulers, they are explained away as a time when Egypt lacked an appropriate heir and passed off as merely filling the gap in time, negating the accomplishments most of them made.

This is like saying that Elizabeth I and Mary with her were just taking up the gap in real rulers between Edward VI and James I (and not forgetting, of course, poor Jane Gray). I'm wondering how most of the men out there would feel if one day Bill and W, their accomplishments and the destruction they created (respectively, of course) were given 2 sentences in history books that blew them off (no pun intended) as merely that brief period leading up to the real leadership of Hillary, because historians writing the books believed men to be generally incapable of and unsuitable for such authority. Ludicrous, isn't it? Well, it works both ways!

We have such a power=male mindset in the west that queens are still thought of as supporting roles only. We assume the title 'great wife' to indicate the same uterus with a crown attached as the position of European queens, and worse, the title 'wife of the king' has been dismissed as meaning concubine. The evidence shows that queens were women with first hand power, whether or not they were official co-regents. 'Wife of amen,' a title held by many of the most powerful royal women throughout history, was an extremely high position in the priesthood. Think 'pope.'

So in my love of mysteries, I'm putting forth my own crazy theory before I find out if Fletcher suggests it (in this or a future book). This one's based on a growing suspicion more than tons of research on my part, but there is nonetheless enough evidence to consider it. I think, however briefly, Ankhesenamen ruled after her husband Tut's death. She would have seen her mother, Nefertiti do the same. There is much correspondence that she was facing a forced marriage to the vizier, Ay, and so asked the Hittite king to send one of his sons to be her husband. For her to ask for one of Egypt's long time enemies to rule with her, she must have been desperate. That much is well known and accepted. What no one I've read talks about is who was ruling during this time. It couldn't have been Ay, or she would not have been in the position to offer said Hittite prince the possibility of ruling with her as she stated in her pleas.

I have another theory. (Yes, I know. I'm full of them!) According to Google, I'm not alone on this one. When I was watching that Discovery Channel documentary on Fletcher's discovery, I saw something I'd never noticed. For all the time I've spent staring at photos, the real thing, and then the photos I took of the real thing, I saw Tutankhamen's mask in a new way for the first time. It's Nefertiti's face, at least it's the same one as the famous bust in Berlin. It looks far more like the reconstruction of her than of him in profile. Ever since Carter showed the objects to the world, people have noticed that there are 2 different likenesses portrayed in them and realized that, as was often the case, items intended for one were used for another's burial. Many of Tutankhamen's objects are attributed to Smenakare, whom many people think was a male ruler between Ankhenaten and Tutankhamen but who was more likely to have been simply Nefertiti under the name she took as pharaoh. (Pharaohs had some 5 required names.) The miniature coffins on tour right now bear a form of her name not Tut's, but few have talked about the likeness of the mask being so similar to that of her famous limestone bust.

Above my desk hang the drawings I've done of each of them. Years apart, but you'd think I would have noticed that I drew the same nose, the same mouth, the same space in between. Do they portray the same person, or were the objects by which they were inspired created in the same artistic climate? The same school of art? Too funny if the dude, who inspired me to become a metalsmith turned out to be a fellow chick. Now perhaps instead of the masculine form, when my mom is in my living room with Skyler, she'll have to joke, "Look, it's your great great great great great great great great great grandMA!" One thing for certain: my son will grow up in a climate where value is not based on gender.

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