am 16. April 2000
Well-written, concise, easy-to-read. Though it doesn't clear up the fundamental mystery of Ahkenaten and Nefertiti, it does help clear away some cobwebs from their life. For instance, it is stated that the royal couple did not have the dramatic falling out and consequent destruction of Nefertiti's name everywhere that other historians have theorized. The author states that Egyptologists now know for certain that Merit-Aten's name was subscribed over the names and titles of some other lady; probably Kiya. Intuitively, it never made sense to me that Ahkenaten could somehow be motivated to blot out the name of a woman he was obviously very devoted to.
One of the author's specialties is powerful women in history. Therefore, the author thoroughly explores the roles of power that Nefertiti might have assumed and where she might have derived that authority.
One of the things I've always enjoyed about Nefertiti books is how they treat the famous bust in photographs using various angles, lights and shadows. Here the bust is photographed in B/W from four very good angles. The treatment of the bust is near pg 143 in the hardback. There, you will see such a lifelike Nefertiti, you will blink. (Ahh, the magic of photo-editing software! ;-)
In short, this book doesn't make any major breakthroughs, but it does inch us forward. Its enjoyable; takes about 2 nights to read. The book has a sleek and attractive appearance. Its romantic and tragic; without sacrificing objectivity.
am 29. März 2000
I enjoyed this book, but it is definitely for the person with some knowledge of Egyptian history. The book is not a romantic, detailed description of the queen and her life and times; it covers the artistic and epigraphic data dealing with the Amarna period, a particularly complex and confusing time in Egypt's history. The personalities of the period first came to public awareness during the 1920s, when the famous bust of the queen was put on display, and since that time a number of speculative theories have enjoyed a vogue among experts and amateur enthusiasts. Ms Tyldesley covers the history of these theories, the data supporting or refuting them, and poses some of her own. (Some of these I first came across in Week's "The Lost Tomb," where he introduces the concept--borrowed from Ms Tyldesley and others--that some of the novelties of the Armarna court were actually in evidence during the reign of the preceeding monarch, Amenhotep III, and were simply driven to extremes under Akhenaten). Ms Tyledesley also makes it quite evident than much of the evidence that might have gone far to clearing up some of the confusion in the reigns of the Armarna monarchs has been lost to the vandalism, theft and neglect of centuries. Although she goes far in creating a profile of the queen and her contemporaries, I think that the reader will still come away with a feeling that the only certain thing about the period is its continued mystery.
am 13. Dezember 2005
Joyce Tyldesley's book, `Nefertiti: Egypt's Sun Queen' is a fascinating study of a very important but mostly misunderstood figure in Egyptian history. Perhaps it was due to the confusion of names (another queen, Nefertari, is popularly known due to the use of her name in Biblical epic films), and largely historically due to Nerfertiti's marriage to Akhenaton, a pharoah who was almost erased from history.
Akhenaton was a heretic in Egyptian terms -- he renounced the worship of old gods in favour of a more monotheistic framework based upon a sun-worship (Aton) which prompted him to change his name (he had been Amenhotep IV). He built a new capital city at Amarna, where he and Nefertiti lived and raised their children. Nefertiti was perhaps the most influential person on Akhenaton, at that time one of the most powerful rulers on earth.
Very little is known of Nefertiti -- her death is not recorded, and her tomb has not been found. Her beauty is renowned from the masks found at Amarna by archaeologists early in this century, having been lost for millenia. It is unusual that such a prominent person's death would not be recorded in the culture of Egypt, symbolised to this day by the monuments to the great who have died in pyramids and tombs.
The mystery deepens, however, with the discovery of stelae at Amarna that shows Nefertiti in glorious array while her husband the Pharoah occupies a lesser position.
`The Berlin stela provides us with the image of a perfect and semi-divine family inhabiting an ideal world far beyond the experiences of most Egyptians. The exact roles played by the principal members of this family are unclear. Akhenaten seems quite happy perched on his lowly, undecorated stool while his wife occupies the more regal seat, yet to him fall the the honour of holding the more important princess while Nefertiti looks after the babies.'
Nefertiti may have been the regnant queen by this point -- unusual but far from unheard of in Egyptian history. Female pharoahs such as Sobeknofru and Hatchepsut had proved this, but it is much more likely that a female would act as regent rather than regnant. She might have served as co-regnant with Akhenaten until his death, and then as a regent for Tutankhamen.
Of course, alternate theories also abound. Some inscriptions have been discovered in which a another name, Meritaten, was inscribed over erased names and titles of another woman -- was this Nefertiti? Did she overstep her position? Did she commit some indiscretion or crime? Meritaten, the daughter of Nefertiti and Akhenaton, might have assumed public duties as queen. This was put forward by Egyptologists including Norman de Garis Davies and John Pendlebury.
Tyldesley presents various theories of Nefertiti's life and death side by side with evidence supporting each. Alas, the support is difficult no matter which interpretation is preferred -- Amarna was abandoned shortly after the death of Akhenaten, and the old religious ways reinstituted. Akhenaten's name was deliberately suppressed due to the threat to the 'established religion' that monotheistic ways represented (perhaps a source of animosity between another group, the Canaanite/Israelites, and the Egyptians stems from the fear of this monotheistic tendency latent in Egypt).
It is a sad tale, that Akhenaten and Nefertiti's family was all but destroyed, their capital reduced to a quarry for future pharoahs and builders to use; they and their family, including Tutankhamen and Ay, the following pharoahs of the family, were all deleted from official lists of kings -- in traditional Egyptian theology, for the spirit to live forever, the person's name, body, or image must survive -- and thus the officials of Egypt tried their best to destroy the spirit of these people. But archaeology has managed to resurrect their images and at least part of their story, and the mystery of their lives will continue for a long time to come.
am 10. März 1999
Once again, Joyce has put together a superb work of elegance and Egyptology at its best. She follows the life of Nefertiti from its earliest known point to its mysterious and unknown conclusion, along the way discaussing other prominent females from Nefertiti's immediate family, among them the dowager queen Tiye. Akhenaten is discussed at length in every chapter, which is to be expected since so much is known of him whereas his wife is more elusive no matter what the occasion. The plates are spectacular, portraying many aspects of Nefertiti in Amarna art and my personal favorite was the plate giving a four sided view of her ever-famous limestone bust simply because it was the first time i had ever seen more than just a frontal or side view of this piece. All in all, Nefertiti: Egypt's Sun Queen is as much a pleasure to have as it is to read, and I recommend it highly for any library, especially those caentering around the mystery and beauty of Amarna.
am 26. August 1999
I read this book in the winter of 1998. I knew of the bust of Nefertiti, but I knew nothing about her or Akhenaten. This book is startling fresh and opened my eyes to the wonders of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, in particular Akhenaten, Nefertiti, the harmonious utopia of Amarna(Akhetaten) and the Aten religion. I'm now a Aten worshipper (In a very basic way) and I'm still facinated by the legacy that Akhenaten and Nefertiti left behind. I rushed out and bought the book - it's one of my favourites. I think that Nefertiti DID rule under an assumed name after Akhenaten - it makes perfect, logical sense ! I urge anyone seriously considering to find out about the Amarna period to read/buy this book ! I'm sure that Akhenaten and Nefertiti would be very happy that people are still interested in the Aten and that the Aten will continue to shine into the 21st Century ! Also many congratulations to Joyce Tyldesley for having written such a superb book.
am 21. Mai 1999
I wrote a review earlier but it didn't show up. :( Anyways, I am pretty new to egyptology, but I found myself fascinated by Joyce's book. I agree with others, though, who say that her constant references to the numbered index in the back get kind of annoying (and time-consuming). It would be much better if they were printed on the bottom of that present page. Although this book doesn't clear up the mystery of Nefertiti, learning about her husband Akhenatan (sp?) is just as enjoyable. I just ordered another book by Joyce T, "Daughters of Isis."