Ankhesenamun was a queen of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Born as Ankhesenpaaten, she was the third of six daughters of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten and his Great Royal Wife Nefertiti. The change in her name reflects the changes in Ancient Egyptian religion during her lifetime after her fathers death and her youth is well documented in the ancient reliefs and paintings of the reign of her parents. Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun shared the same father but Tutankhamuns mother has recently established by genetic evidence as one of Akhenatens sisters. She was most likely born in year 4 of Akhenatens reign and he possibly made his wife his co-regent and had his family portrayed in a realistic style in all official artwork. Ankhesenamun was definitely married to one king, she was the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Tutankhamun and it is also possible that she was briefly married to Tutankhamuns successor, Ay, believed by some to be her maternal grandfather. It has also been posited that she may have been the Great Royal Wife of her father, Akhenaten, after the death of her mother. Recent DNA tests released in February 2010 have also speculated that one of two late 18th dynasty queens buried in KV21 could be her mummy, both mummies are thought, because of DNA, to be members of the ruling house. Ankhesenpaaten was born in a time when Egypt was in the midst of a religious revolution. Her father had abandoned the old deities of Egypt in favor of the Aten, hitherto a minor aspect of the sun-god and she is believed to have been born in Waset, but probably grew up in her fathers new capital city of Akhetaten. The three eldest daughters – Meritaten, Meketaten, and Ankhesenpaaten – became the Senior Princesses and participated in many functions of the government and she is believed to have been married first to her own father. This was not unusual for Egyptian royal families and she is thought to have been the mother of the princess Ankhesenpaaten Tasherit when she was twelve, although the parentage is unclear. After her fathers death and the reigns of Smenkhkare and Neferneferuaten. Following their marriage, the couple honored the deities of the religion by changing their names to Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun. The couple appear to have had two stillborn daughters, as Tutankhamuns only known wife was Ankhesenamun, it is highly likely the fetuses found in Tutankhamuns tomb are her daughters. Some time in the year of his reign, at about the age of eighteen, Tutankhamun died suddenly. A ring discovered is thought to show that Ankhesenamun married Ay shortly before she disappeared from history, on the walls of Ays tomb it is Tey, not Ankhesenamun, who appears as queen. She probably died during or shortly after his reign and no burial has been found for her yet, a document was found in the ancient Hittite capital of Hattusa which dates to the Amarna period, the so-called Deeds of Suppiluliuma I
Broken statuette of an 18th dynasty woman believed to be Ankhesenamun. Brooklyn, United States
Partially restored alabaster jar with 2 handles. It bears the cartouches of pharaoh Tutankhamen and Queen Ankhesenamun. 18th Dynasty. From Gurob, Fayum, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London
Tutankhamun receives flowers from Ankhesenpaaten as a sign of love.