Nefertiti’s Disappearance: What happened to the eminent queen of ancient Egypt?

Why she disappeared from history entirely in the twelfth year of Akhenaten's reign? There will never be another record of Nefertiti. She vanished without a trace.

The undeniable beauty of Nefertiti, a woman who lived in the 1300s BCE and was known as the Queen of the Nile, is impossible to overlook. Thutmose carved a famous bust of her in approximately 1345 BCE, and her visage was preserved in it. 1912 was the year of its discovery. After discovering one of his workshops, it was found that he had sculpted many likenesses of Nefertiti. She is easily distinguished by the distinctive crown on top of her head. A number of works of art feature her wearing it. In terms of ideal feminine beauty, she is a classic example.

Famous bust of Queen Nefertiti in Berlin Pergamon Museum, September 4, 2005 in Berlin, Germany © Image Credit: Vvoevale | Licensed from (Editorial Use Stock Photo, ID:19185279)

This beauty is shrouded in mystery; we don’t know where she comes from. History suggests she was born in 1370 BCE at Thebes, and that her father was Ay, an Egyptian advisor to various pharaohs. Others believe she was a Syrian princess from the Mittani Kingdom in Syria, not Egyptian.

When she was sixteen, she was fortunate enough to marry a pharaoh. During this time, he was known as Amunhotep IV. Soon after he got into power in Egypt, he began to discard all religious traditions and worship just Aten, the god of Sun, perhaps at Nefertiti’s insistence.

Talatat showing Nefertiti worshipping the Aten. Altes Museum. © licensed under (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Amunhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten after this religion was spread across the kingdom. Akhenaten was defined as the “living spirit of Aten.” The royal couple broke away from Old Egypt’s customs and established a new, opulent capital city, Amarna.

The people’s views of Nefertiti were quite varied. Some saw her as extremely favourable, while others despised her. She was worshipped for her natural beauty, style, and grace. She was despised because she had a strong influence on people to worship only Aten. The significant shift did not sit well with the general public.

Even so, Nefertiti was the holder of at least ten prestigious honours during her lifetime. As part of the great shift, Nefertiti’s name was changed as well. She gave herself the name Neferneferauten Nefertiti. The meaning of her name was: “Beautiful are the beauties of Aten, a Beautiful Woman has come.” During their rule, Egypt’s riches may have been at its highest point.

Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their children.
A “house altars” depicting Akhenaten, Nefertiti and three of their daughters; limestone; New Kingdom, Amarna period, 18th dynasty; c. 1350 BC. Collection: Ägyptisches Museum Berlin, Inv. 14145 © Image Credit: Gerbil (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Nefertiti gave birth to six daughters. The couple is depicted in the artwork as having a happy family life. Nefertiti is shown as an extremely strong woman, driving chariots, preside over major rites, and even putting adversaries to death.

Nefertiti was unable to give birth to a son. Is this why she disappeared from history entirely in the twelfth year of Akhenaten’s reign, which lasted seventeen years? There will never be another record of Nefertiti. She vanished without a trace.

Theoretically, people tend to believe that she died of a natural cause. When it comes to literature or art, why isn’t this noted anywhere at all? Where is she buried? In Amarna’s royal tomb, why is the queen’s chamber empty?

Has Akhenaten put her into exile so that he can try to have a son with one of his inferior consorts? An interesting fact is that King Tutankhamen was Akhenaten’s son, sired with one of the lower consorts, so Nefertiti was not related to Tutankhamen by blood, but she was related through her husband and her daughter.

Tutankhamen married his half-sister, the royal daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. Two of their daughters did serve as queen and Ankhensanamun became the wife of the Boy King.

Was Nefertiti expelled from the country because of her religious convictions when her husband’s reign came to an end and the worship of Amen-Ra was reinstated?

As co-regent with equal power, she may have dressed as a man and reigned as one with her husband. Despite the fact that there is no record of this, but at least one previous woman disguised as a man to govern as a pharaoh. Female pharaoh Hatshepsut ruled Egypt under such pretences herself, during the 15th century B.C.; she even used a ceremonial false beard.

Maybe Nefertiti (and not Smenkhkare) was the one who took over for Akenaten, so she could remain in power. Some people in the historical community are certain about this scenario.

Many believe that Nefertiti took her own life. It’s possible that she had been depressed due to being unable to produce a son and because she had lost a daughter in childbirth. What exactly happened with Nefertiti?

There are various locations in Egypt where it is possible that the body of Nefertiti is hidden. A number of people believe that Nefertiti is located in one of these mysterious zones. Tutankhamun’s tomb, for example, is one of the locations in question. Millennia after her mysterious demise, Nefertiti continues to effect art and our perspective of the past. Her legacy of power and beauty is truly one to behold.