Nefertari (c. 1295–1256 BCE)

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Nefertari (c. 1295–1256 bce)

Chief queen of Pharaoh Ramses the Great of ancient Egypt and a great beauty, judging from contemporary paintings. Name variations: Nefertary; Nefertari-Merymut. Born around 1295 bce; died in 1256 bce (some sources cite 1255); married Ramses II, king of Egypt (r. 1304–1236 bce), around 1280; children: one daughter; one son Amem-hir-khopshef (died young).

Nothing is known of the parentage of Nefertari, the favorite queen of Ramses II's youth. They were married for at least 25 years (c. 1280–1265 bce), and she gave birth to his first son and first daughter. He apparently favored her over his other "chief wife" Esenofer (Istnofret), because it is Nefertari who appears prominently on Ramses' monuments. An entire temple was dedicated at Abu Simbel in Nubia, celebrating Nefertari as the earthly manifestation of Hathor, the goddess of love. In year 21 of her husband's reign, Nefertari exchanged written greetings and gifts with the queen of the Hittites upon the conclusion of a peace treaty between these two superpowers of the age. Nothing more is heard of her after the 25th year of Ramses II's reign, when she must have died and been buried in her magnificent tomb, discovered in 1904, which is hewn into a mountain in the Valley of the Queens near modern Luxor, 315 miles south of Cairo. (Other important wives of Ramses were Bint-Anath, Meryetamun , and Hentmira .)

Barbara S. Lesko , Department of Egyptology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

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Nefertari (c. 1295–1256 BCE)

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