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Sarcophagus of Queen Ahhotep I, the queen regent during the late 17th dynasty and Ahmose I's mother.

Ahhotep I (alternatively spelled Ahhotpe or Aahhotep, meaning "Peace of the Moon"), was an Ancient Egyptian queen who lived circa 1560- 1530 BC, during the early New Kingdom. A member of the Seventeenth dynasty of ancient Egypt, she was the daughter of Queen Tetisheri (known as Teti the Small) and Tao I, and was likely the sister, as well as the wife, of pharaoh Seqenenre Tao II. She was a highly decorated warrior.

She is considered to have been a pivotal figure in the history of Ancient Egypt, perhaps the founder of the eighteenth dynasty. Ahhotep I had a long and influential life. She is thought to have ruled as regent after the death of Tao II and enabled two of her sons who became pharaohs, Kamose and Ahmose I, to unite Egypt following the Hyksos occupation. What is more, her matrilineal succession would extend through the eighteenth dynasty, ending with Nefertiti's daughter Ankhesenpaaten.[citation needed]

Contents

Life

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She is considered by some historians to be the founder of the eighteenth dynasty, although this is debated by some others. Her husband, pharaoh Tao II, had been the pharaoh of only Upper Egypt. At that time the invaders of the Intermediate Period, the Hyksos, controlled Lower Egypt. It is thought that after his death in battle against the Hyksos, Ahhotep played a crucial role in government, warfare, and guidance of Upper Egypt.

Ahhotep and her sons, Kamose and Ahmose, managed to unite Upper and Lower Egypt by expelling the Hyksos. They assumed full power over the country, and when Kamose, as his father had, died before they were able to defeat the Hyksos, Ahmose assumed the throne. However, evidence suggests that this occurred when Ahmose I was too young to rule, and hence, Ahhotep became regent and the Hyksos were driven out.

Ahhotep lived until she was approximately ninety years old and was buried beside Kamose at Thebes. Evidence suggests that she played an important role during the unsettled second intermediate period and was influential in driving the Hyksos invaders out of Egypt following the death of her husband.

Ceremonial weaponry and jewelry found in the tomb of Ahhotep I, including an axe whose blade depicts Ahmose I striking down a Hyksos soldier, and flies of honor awarded to the queen for her role against the Hyksos
Drawing on an axe blade depicting Ahmose I striking down a Hyksos soldier, part of the burial artifacts of his mother, Ahhotep I, a warrior also

Military activity

Considered a warrior queen, she was buried with, among other things, three flies of honor medals (awarded in ancient Egypt for exceptional military service) and ceremonial daggers. She also was presented with the Order of Valour. She was honored with a stela, commissioned by Ahmose I, in the temple of Amun-Re that praises her military accomplishments.

Records indicate that Ahhotep led troops into battle against the Hyksos. Evidence such as the weaponry and jewelry found in her tomb, along with the following sentence on a stela devoted to her, indicates that she was a warrior queen who rallied troops:

She is the one who has accomplished the rites and taken care of Egypt... She has looked after her soldiers, she has guarded her, she has brought back her fugitives and collected together her deserters, she has pacified Upper Egypt and expelled her rebels.

Family

Ahhotep I was the daughter of queen Tetisheri and Tao I. She was the royal wife of the seventeenth dynasty king Tao II; he is believed to have been her brother, following the ancient Egyptian tradition of marrying a royal princess to become king and to keep royal blood within the family. The royal line is traced through the women of Ancient Egypt.

One theory is that Ahhotep was the mother of two pharaohs, Kamose and Ahmose I, who succeeded Tao II after he was killed in a battle against the Hyksos. Although it now looks far more likely that Kamose was a brother of Tao II, Ahhotep's brother and husband, and only succeeded the latter due to the combination of the strife Upper Egypt was facing and the young age of Ahmose I, who was without question the offspring of Ahhotep and Tao II. Kamose may have been killed in battle against the Hyksos as well. Ahotep I served as regent between the reign of the two.

Other children of Queen Ahhotep I include the later Queen Ahmose-Nefertari who was married to her brother Ahmose I. There were also Prince Ahmose Sipair, Prince Binpu, Princess Ahmose-Henutemipet, Princess Ahmose-Nebetta, and Princess Ahmose-Tumerisy.

Tomb

Ahhotep's tomb was discovered nearly intact in 1859 in Dra Abu el-Naga at Thebes.

Ahhotep's mummy was found badly decayed in a gilded coffin, containing many weapons and pieces of jewelry. These burial artifacts consisted of bracelets, collars, pendants, a necklace, a ceremonial axes, and daggers, as well as two model ships of silver and gold.

Sources

  • Lawless, Jennifer Studies in Ancient Egypt
  • Callender (1995) The eye of Horus
  • Grimal, Nicholas (1994) A history of Ancient Egypt, Oxford
  • Eternal Egypt
  • Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson (2004) ISBN 0-500-05128-3, pp. 126-127
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