Meritaten: Royal Daughter, Royal Wife

King Smenkhkare and Queen Meritaten

For my "senet weret." :)

Princess Meritaten (meri-t aten: "Beloved of Aten") was the first daughter of the union between the then called Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti. Her pet name was "Mayati", and was refered to as Mayati in at least one official correspondence. She may have been born while Amenhotep IV ( Akhenaten) was still the Crown Prince, or as late as year 2 of Amenhotep's reign as Pharaoh of Egypt. She was probably born in the palace at Waset (Thebes) but since the royal family had traditionally had many residences, she could have been born virtually anywhere-- except Akhet-Aten (Tell el-Amarna) as the new capital had not been built yet.

In about year 6 or so, Princess Meritaten, her two little sisters; Meketaten, and (the baby) Ankhesenpaaten; and her parents moved to Akhet-Aten. Her father became Neferkheperure-Wa'enre Akhenaten and her mother's name became Nefernefruaten-Nefertiti. Within 5 years, three more princesses are born, Nefernefruaten Ta-Sherit, Nefernefrure, and Setepenre.

In year 14 or 15, Nefertiti dies, falls from favor, or becomes co-regent (see: Smenkhkare: Who IS this Guy?)and Meritaten replaces her in many inscriptions. Whether Akhenaten married his daughter in the full sense of the word is still debated, but the appearance of another princess, Meritaten ta-Sherit ("Little Meritaten" or "Meritaten the Younger") raises this question. Although many scholars believe this child to be the daughter of Meritaten and Akhenaten, it is possible that Meritaten ta-sherit was the child of Akhenaten and one of his secondary wives, or even the child of Meritaten and her next husband, Smenkhkare.

It is generally assumed that Prince Smenkhkare ruler for a brief period after the Akhenaten's death. At this time, Meritaten was the Great Royal Wife of Ankhkheperure Djeserkheperu Smenkhkare. Both Meritaten and Smenkhkare died shortly after Akhenaten's death. The second princess, Meketaten, was also dead. So it fell to the third princess, Ankhesenpaaten, to fill in the role of the Great Royal Wife. Following her eldest sister's footsteps, the 12 or 13 year old Ankhesenpaaten was married to the heir to the throne, the next Pharaoh of Egypt, the 9 or 10 year old Tutankhaten.

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