Nefertari

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Nefertari (1292-1225 BC) was the Great Wife of Rameses II (Rameses the Great). She carried the title of God's Wife of Amun, which conferred on her great independent wealth and power. She was deeply loved by her husband, the most powerful evidence of which is her tomb, QV66, arguably the most spectacular in the Valley of the Queens. Rameses referred to his beloved wife as, "The one for whom the sun shines."

Nefertari was often referred to as Nefertari Meri-en-Mut, meaning ?the Lovely One, Beloved of Mut, Mut being the goddess married to Amun. It is believed that she was married to Ramesses the Great before he ascended the throne, when he was only fifteen and remained the most important of his eight wives in Upper Egypt, although Istnofret, whose tomb remains uncovered appears to have been the most important of Ramesseswives in Lower Egypt. Nefertari also had at least three sons and two daughters, Prince Amun-her-khepseshef, Prince Prehirwonmef, Prince Amonhirwonmef, Princess Mertatum and Princess Merytamon although none of these children succeeded the throne, Ramesses heir was Prince Merneptah, a son of Istnofret.

Ramesses obvious affection for his wife, as written on her tombs walls shows clearly that Egyptian queens were not simply marriages of convenience or marriages designed to accumulate greater power and alliances, but, in some cases at least, were actually based around some kind of emotional attachment. Also 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.")

Nefertari's origins are unknown except that is thought that she was a member of the nobility, although while she was queen her brother, Amenmose held the position of Mayor of Thebes.

Nefertari's status is confirmed by the fact that she is always depicted as part of her husband's entourage, even during important voyages like a trip to Nubia in order to commission a new temple built at Abu Simbel in honour of the goddess Hathor and Nefertari herself. Also on paintings at both her tomb and temple at Abu Simbel Nefertari is depicted as being equal in size to Ramesses, a rarity because most wives were depicted as being somewhere in the region of the height of their pharaoh?s knee, indicating her importance to the Pharaoh.

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