Meritaten


Meritaten
Queen reigns of Akhenaten and Smenkhkare c.1370-1360 BC.
    Meritaten was the eldest daughter of Queen *Nefertiti; her father was almost certainly *Akhenaten (Amenophis IV), and the princess appears with her parents in a number of sculptured reliefs.
    When the death of *Maketaten (Meritaten's younger sister) occurred, probably soon after Year 12 of *Akhenaten's reign, *Nefertiti also seems to disappear from the record. It has been suggested that the queen may have fallen into disgrace and banished to live at the Northern Palace at Amarna, or she may simply have died. In either case, her place as the senior queen was apparently taken over by Meritaten who now replaces her mother in scenes and inscriptions in *Nefertiti's own palace—the Maruaten—at Amarna. There is evidence earlier in this reign to indicate that Meritaten bore a daughter, Merit-Aten-ta-sherit, who was the daughter of a king; the king in question was probably Meritaten's own father, *Akhenaten.
    Meritaten is also mentioned in the Amarna Letters (the correspondence between the Egyptian royal family and various kings and princes of neighbouring countries). Her pet-name of Mayati is used in letters from both Abimilki, the ruler of Tyre, and Burnaburiash, the king of Babylon. *Akhenaten's successor was *Smenkhkare, a prince of the royal family whose parentage is uncertain and, as the royal heiress, Meritaten became his wife to consolidate his claim to the throne. In one of the courtiers' tombs at Amarna, there are wall-scenes showing *Akhenaten and *Nefertiti rewarding the tomb-owner with gold; in the accompanying inscription their royal names within the cartouches have been replaced with those of the new royal couple, *Smenkhkare and Meritaten.
    Smenkhkare's reign was brief, but Meritaten probably died before him, since, on the Boundary Stelae, *Akhenaten (with whom *Smenkhkare probably reigned as co-ruler) provided details of the burial arrangements to be carried out for himself, *Nefertiti, and Meritaten, with instructions that they were to be interred in the Royal Tomb in the eastern mountain at Amarna.
    Meritaten was probably eventually buried at Thebes, although her tomb has never been found. In Tomb 55 in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes, the body which has been tentatively identified as that of *Smenkhkare was buried in a coffin which was originally made for Meritaten. The canopic jars in the tomb had also been prepared for Meritaten, but the names on these were altered and they were ultimately used to contain the mummified viscera of *Smenkhkare. One explanation for this is that *Smenkhkare died unexpectedly and that his wife's mortal remains were hurriedly removed to another place so that her coffin and canopic jars could be used for the king. Another more feasible theory is that this equipment was prepared for Meritaten when she was a princess, before her marriage to *Smenkhkare, but that it was never used for her burial, and with *Smenkhkare's untimely death, the coffin and jars were brought out of storage and the necessary alterations were made.
BIBL. Aldred, C. Akhenaten; King of Egypt. London: 1988; Mercer, S.A.B. The Tell el Amarna Tablets. (two vols.) Toronto: 1939; Gardiner, A.H. The so-called tomb of Queen Tiye. JEA 43 (1957) pp. 10-25.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David
* * *
   See Meritamun (fl. 1352–1338 BC).
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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