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ANKHESENAMENAnkhesenamunANKHESENAMON

Princess of Amarna Ankh of Life Queen of Destiny

 This is the third and last page of Ankhesenamun's biography. 

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 Page Note: Default text contains both historical information and the author's analysis.

The italic magenta text denotes translated Khatti historical documents.








 The Finalé 

 That Ankhes was terrified is beyond dispute; the question is: of what and why? She seems to have had some inside knowledge that is as yet unavailable to modern scholars. Since no sons were born to her union with Tutankhamun, there were no royal male heirs now left in the Tuthmosid line. As royal heiress, whichever Egyptian married Ankhesenamun would ascend to the throne of Egypt. Ankhes intuitively knew who this man would be, was terrified of him, and so she did something extraordinary. Something that no queen in the long history of ancient Egypt had ever done before. She proposed marriage to a foreigner rather than marry the murderer of her husband. Not just any foreigner; but a prince of Khatti, a son of Suppiluliuma the Great, the hated enemy of Egypt.

Ankh of Life

 The archives of the Kingdom of Khatti under the kingship of Suppiluliuma who ruled during the times of the Amarna Period were recorded by his son and successor, Mursilis II. Archaeological excavations in Turkey at the site of the ancient Khatti capital of Hattusas (modern Bogazköy) have yielded thousands of clay tablets. Among this archaeological catch are "The Deeds of Suppiluliuma as told by his son Mursilis II." One of these is known as the "Seventh Tablet". On this clay cuniform tablet, Mursilis II tells us of something extraordinary that happened during his father's reign. A queen of Egypt wrote to his father and requested a son of his in marriage.

While my father was down in the country of Carchemish, he sent Lupakki and Tarhunta-zalma forth into the country of Amka. So they went to attack Amka and brought deportees, cattle and sheep back before my father. But when the people of Egypt heard of the attack on Amka, they were afraid and since, in addition, their lord Nibhuruiya had died, therefore the queen of Egypt, who was Dahamunzu sent a messenger to my father and wrote to him thus: "My husband died. A son I have not. But to thee, they say, the sons are many. If thou wouldst give me one son of thine, he would become my husband. Never shall I pick out a servant of mine and make him my husband!... I am afraid!"

 The Egyptian queen who wrote this letter to King Suppiluliuma is called Dahamunzu and her dead husband, the lord of Egypt, is called Nibhuruiya. Who exactly was this? These names are how the Hittites transliterated the Egyptian into their own language in a phonetic manner. Tutankhamun's Egyptian royal prenomen is Neb Kheperu Re, which is transliterated into Hittite phonetically as Nibhuruiya. If Tutankhamun is the deceased lord of Egypt mentioned, then the widowed queen can only be his sole wife... Ankhesenamun. That Dahamunzu sounds nothing like Ankhesenamun is obvious. However, if Ankhesenamun signed her letter Ta Hemet Nesewt (The Kings Wife) then this would sound like Dahamunzu phonetically to the Khatti. If one looks at the timeline and circumstances, Ankhesenamun is by deductive logic the only queen of Egypt who could have wrote this letter.

 Her plea states, "Never shall I pick out a servant of mine and make him my husband!" Ankhes here is not referring to a servant literally, but rather to a man who is not of royal blood. Her closing words "I am afraid!" are extraordinary. What or who is she afraid of? There can only be one logical explanation. What she in essence is saying is that she is terrified of someone, someone who is not of royal blood but nevertheless has the power to force her to marry him. She is appealing to Suppiluliuma, the king of Khatti, for one of his sons in marriage for a very good reason; she believes Suppiluliuma is the only person alive with the power to protect her from this dreaded non-royal Egyptian male. Indeed, her fear is so great that she desperately appeals to the king of Khatti, Egypt's hated enemy, for protection. Who could instill this fear in her and why? The only reasonable explanation is that Ankhes knows something, something so terrible that she believes it will cost her... her life.

 Mursilis II records that his father is naturally astounded, and the tablet continues:

When my father heard this, he called forth the Great Ones for council saying: "Such a thing has never happened to me in my whole life!" So it happened that my father sent forth to Egypt Hattusa-ziti, the chamberlain, with this order: "Go and bring thou the true word back to me! Maybe they deceive me! Maybe in fact they do have a son of their lord! Bring thou the true word back to me!"

 So Hattusa-ziti as envoy for Suppiluliuma, set off for Egypt. He probably met with Ankhesenamun in Memphis, and came to some rapid conclusions. He returned in haste to his king with another letter from Ankhesenamun, and a personal envoy of the queen named Hani.

But when it became spring, Hattusa-ziti came back from Egypt, and the messenger of Egypt, Lord Hani, came with him.

 Time was running out for Ankhesenamun, who desperately sought to marry a Hittite prince before the seventy days of mourning were over and her husband was buried in his Theban tomb. Her second letter delivered to King Suppiluliuma by her envoy states...

"Why didst thou say 'they deceive me' in that way? Had I a son, would I have written about my own and my country's shame to a foreign land? Thou didst not believe me and hast even spoken thus to me! He who was my husband has died. A son I have not! Never shall I take a servant of mine and make him my husband! I have written to no other country, only to thee I have written! They say thy sons are many: so give me one son of thine! To me he will be husband, but in Egypt he will be king." So, since my father was kindhearted, he complied with the word of the woman and concerned himself with the matter of a son.

 The archive Seventh Tablet breaks off at this point, but the drama is continued in another tablet text: "The Plague Prayers of Mursilis II", and the critical lines read as follows:

But when my father gave them one of his sons, they killed him as they led him there. My father let his anger run away with him, he went to war against Egypt and attacked Egypt. He smote the foot soldiers and the charioteers of the country of Egypt. But when they brought back to the Khatti-land the prisoners which they had taken, a plague broke out among the prisoners and they began to die. When they moved the prisoners to the Khatti-land, the prisoners carried the plague into Khatti-land. From that day on people have been dying in the Khatti-land.

Ankh of Life

 It was no doubt during the period that the body of Tutankhamun was undergoing mumification that Queen Ankhesenamun wrote these letters to Suppiluliuma. Presumably, she was ensconced in Memphis and away from the deep intrigue developing in the southern capital of Thebes. In the Valley of the Kings across the Nile river from Thebes, Ay hurridly began preparing a tomb for the body of Tutankhamun. It is Ay who administered this sacred task (he tells us so), and the results are darkly mystifying. Pharaoh Tutankhamun's burial was a much hurried operation. It appears from archaeological evidence that his body was prepared for the afterlife in the open-air close to his tomb, which is somewhat unusual. Despite the fact that his coffin was of solid gold, by the high standards of the XVIIIth dynasty this was a very poor funeral, as many of his burial items were not personal momentos, but articles borrowed from others. The tomb itself is rather small, and its workmanship shoddy. The ceiling is unfinished and only the original torch lampblack remains to mar it. The painted murals end at half-wall, the bottom sections devoid except for uncharacteristic sloppy paint drips. The murals themselves are executed very poorly. There were three burial couches found in his tomb, upon which the embalming process would have been accomplished. However, they are physically unsuited for this purpose, and betray no stains or other evidence that they were ever used. The king's burial sarcophagus was borrowed and broken. There are no gifts in the tomb that bear the name of his wife... Ankhesenamun. The tomb itself has no provisions for the burial of Ankhesenamun alongside her husband. On a painted mural that depicts the king's funeral procession, the image of Queen Ankhesenamun is absent. On none of the walls of Tutankhamun 's tomb decorated by Ay is his wife, Ankhesenamun, depicted in relief, paint, name or title.1 This is extremely unusual because in ancient Egypt, it was believed that to depict or state something was magically the same as making it so. Therefore, a physical depiction of Ankhesenamun in Tutankhamun's tomb would ensure that he would enjoy his wife's company in the afterlife. The question is: Why would Ay wish to deny Tutankhamun his wife for all eternity by this curious omission? The answer is because Ay already had it in his mind to marry Ankhesenamun and thus become pharaoh. How do we come to this conclusion? On a wall in Tutankhamun's tomb is a depiction of a ritual called "The Opening of the Mouth". In this ritual, one of the last before burial, the painted wooden coffin of an individual is stood upright at the entrance to the tomb. Against the painted mouth, a priest places an instrument called an adze. This allows the spirit of the dead person to breathe and be reborn. This is standard Egyptian ritual burial proceedure. What is unusual about this particular depiction is that the priest's representation is rendered larger than Tutankhamun's, and the name of the performing priest is written in hieroglyphs above the figure, and his name is Ay. Coincidence? I think not. What's more, besides wearing the apparel of a high priest which is a leopard's skin, this priest also wears the royal crowns of Egypt. This can only mean that while the tomb was being painted, while Tutankhamun was still in the process of mumification which normally took seventy days, while Ankhesenamun was hundreds of miles away in Memphis, Ay already knew his next move was to marry Ankhesenamun and ascend the throne. On the wall of her husband's tomb, Ankhes could not have failed to see this large mural, painted in all the colors of ambition at the express direction of Ay; a servant of non-royal blood. Presumptious? Very, unless you had a bold plan indeed.

Ankh of Life

 The Khatti prince Zanannza (youngest son of Suppiluliuma) and his entourage were attacked and murdered on the border of Egypt by armed Egyptian charioteers and foot soldiers. He was on his way to marry Queen Ankhesenamun. No doubt by some method (probably a spy in her household), the intentions of Ankhes to marry a Hittite prince were transmitted to someone in high power. This "someone" then informed the general Horemheb of these happenings, as he was the only one who could order an armed attack on the Hittite prince and his party. Horemheb would have relished this opportunity to inflict destruction on the hated Khatti enemy. King Suppiluliuma himself eventually died from the plague later brought back by the Egyptian prisoners of his war of retribution. Tutankhamun, after the seventy days of mourning was buried in his Kings Valley tomb, which would not be seen again by human eyes for thirty-three centuries.

 A faience finger ring now housed in the Berlin Museum exhibits the double cartouche of Ankhesenamun and Ay. In ancient Egypt, this signified a royal marriage. After her husband was laid to rest, Ankhes was wed to Ay. Ay then ascended the throne of Egypt as the twelfth ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Nothing more is heard from Ankhesenamun. She simply disappears from history. Her image or name cannot be found in the Kings Valley tomb of Ay, it is only his non-royal wife Tey who is depicted standing behind the pharaoh. If the only reason Ay became pharaoh is by his marriage to the heiress Ankhesenamun, one should certainly expect to find her carved or painted image, or name and titles in Ay's tomb. They are not. They are conspicuously absent. Ankhesenamun was a royal queen married to perhaps four pharaohs of Egypt in the empire of the Eighteenth Dynasty. She was almost certainly a Queen Regent (ruling queen) for three years. Despite this extraordinary life, not one funerary item of hers has ever been discovered. This in itself is extraordinary.

Ankh of Life

 I can only conceive of two realistically viable scenarios. The first is that Ankhes was buried in a cache of Amarna royalty yet to be discovered, which contains the remains of her father Akhenaten, her mother Nefertiti, her five sisters, and their female daughters. Such a cache could easily rival Tutankhamun's in treasure, and surely surpass it in historical value. Such a tomb would be the Egyptological event of the new millennium. As much as I hope for this to be true, in my heart I know that it is not. Ankhes was a victim of cold hearted murder who will never be found. She was probably poisoned and her body dumped in the same Nile river she played in as a child with Tutankhaten. She was another victim of the same person who murdered her husband, and then the Hititte prince Zanannza on his way to Egypt to marry her. She was the victim of a man who would do anything to ascend the royal throne; murder a pharaoh, murder a foreign prince, and finally murder the queen he wed under duress to achieve his lofty goals.2 Yes, Ankhes indeed knew a deep dark secret and her words remain haunting...

"I am afraid!"

Ankh of Life

 Epilogue 

 The reign of Pharaoh Kheperkheprure Itnute-Ay lasted for less than four years. There is little of him left to remember. His monuments were destroyed by his successor Horemheb. His Amarna tomb was never completed. His Kings Valley tomb at Thebes (originally intended for Tutankhamun) and mortuary temple were thoroughly ransacked and destroyed in antiquity. None of his funerary items has survived intact. In every place, his image was effaced and his cartouche replaced by that of Horemheb. His burial sarcophagus was found empty and his name, like that of his three Amarna predecessors, was stricken forever from the ancient Egyptian king lists. The pharaoh who succeeded Ay and closed out the Eighteenth Dynasty was Tutankhamun's General of the Armies, Horemheb. He viciously stamped out remaining official corruption, removed or usurped the names of his four predecessors wherever found, and ended Akhenaten's Aten revolution. Horemheb also initiated massive building projects at Karnak, and in so doing he destroyed the Gempaaten temple and its subsidiery buildings to their foundations and used the talatat bricks as filler material for the second, ninth, and tenth pylons. As for the city of Akhetaten; it was completely deserted by the end of Horemheb's reign, and the third Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty, Ramesses the Great, leveled the city to the ground. As for the royal women of Amarna, Queen Tiy has been identified as the "elder woman" in the royal burial cache of Kings Valley tomb KV35. The body of Mutnodjmet (the sister of Nefertiti and wife of Horemheb) has been discovered in Horemheb's Saqqara mortuary complex along with a fetus, and it is conjectured that she died in the process of childbirth. The bodies of Nefertiti, Merytaten, Mekytaten, Bakytaten, Neferneferuaten, Neferneferure, Setepenre, Merytaten ta-sherit, Ankhesenpaaten ta-sherit, and Lady Kiya have never been found. And as for Ankhes?

 After her marriage to Ay, she is never heard from again. Her image is never again depicted, nor her name written. Not one single funerary item of hers has ever been located. No tomb, no body, no engraved sistrum, nothing at all. As Egyptologist Howard Carter (the excavator of the tomb of Tutankhamun) opened up the three inner coffins of the dead pharaoh, on each cobra uraeus was affixed a wreath of blue cornflowers (an Amarna Collar), no doubt lovingly placed there by Ankhesenamun. These floral wreaths do remain with us, as do her last heartbreaking words to him as she left his final resting place...

"I am thy wife, O Great One...  do not leave me!

 Is it thy good pleasure, O my brother, that I should go far from thee? 

How can it be that I go away alone?

  I say: 'I accompany thee, O thou who didst like to converse with me,' 

But thou remainest silent...  and speaketh not."

---Ankhesenamun: Princess of Amarna / Queen of Destiny  



Ankh of Life



Author's Footnote (1)

Ankhesenamun as the Goddess Selket  Not realized until quite recently, there are indeed statuette depictions of Ankhesenamun inside Tutankhamun's tomb. Located on the east wall of a special room in the tomb called "The Treasury", was Tutankhamun's "Canopic Shrine", which contained his embalmed internal organs. Howard Carter described this shrine as, "the most beautiful monument that I have ever seen--so lovely that it made one gasp with wonder and admiration". This cube-like shrine was guarded on each compass side by different protector goddesses in statuette form. Selket, Isis, Nephthys, and Neith. These four statuettes were carved of wood and covered in gold foil. They were executed in the beautiful Late Amarna style and exhibited elegant female curvature, with tilted heads and arms raised protectively. The only instances of an applied paint, is a black used to accentuate the exotic eyes. It is the opinion of many Egyptologists and students of Amarna art (myself included), that Ankhesenamun was the living model for these statuettes. The likeness to her is unmistakable. If these stauettes do indeed depict Ankhes, why did Ay allow them accomodation in the tomb? There are many possible answers, but the most likely is that they were commissioned and executed while Ay was away from Thebes, possibly on a visit to his estates in his home town of Akhmin. It must also be remembered that Tutankhamun's tomb at the time of his burial would have been visually dim, light being supplied by only a few requisite torches. Under these conditions, it is doubtful Ay could fully appreciate these statuettes, or realize their uncanny likeness to Ankhesenamun. As the entrance of the tomb was finally sealed, Ay never suspected that Tutankhamun, through the magic of the statuettes, would enjoy his wife's company through eternity.


Ankh of Life


Author's Footnote (2)

 As the author of this web site, I receive many letters regarding the site and its contents via electronic mail. A good portion of this correspondance comes from those who deeply believe that they have lived a past life during the Amarna Period. Many of these are dream regressives who possess/remember intimate knowledge regarding the demise of Queen Ankhesenamun. Surprisingly (or not), two themes are ascendant here and, although they have no proven basis in historicity, they are both logical and very plausible. The first is a claim that Ankhesenamun was impregnated by Tutankhamun shortly before his death. She did not know of her condition when she wrote her desperate letters to King Suppiluliuma. However, after her forced marriage to Ay (over three months later), her condition became apparant not only to herself... but to anyone who came into close contact with her. Ay could not have failed to observe this, and decided that he could not take the chance that Ankhes would have a daughter or miscarry yet again. To ensure the death of a possible male heir of Tutankhamun, Ankhes was then murdered on the orders of Ay. A close cousin of this is that she miscarried early after her marriage to Ay, and perished from this ordeal. Another scenareo often mentioned by dream regressives, is that Ankhesenamun committed suicide. After her marriage to Ay, the elderly pharaoh (in his sixties) immediately began the marriage consummation rites in the hopes of fathering a royal male heir from his loins. With repeated violations, Ankhes sank into mental shock and deep depression, ultimately resulting in her own suicide. I simply wish to point out here that the possibilities are numerous, and this is perhaps a royal mystery that will never be adequately solved.


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