Egypt, The land of magic and unknown ancient secrets, decorated with the greatest man-made structure of ancient world – the great pyramid of Giza, is a land of many treasures of our mankind. When Greek historian and philosopher, Herodotus, came to Egypt, he was startled and stunned by the many beauties and marvelous creations of the Pharaohs in the blessing of river Nile. We get to know about the biggest pyramid they made, the shivering tall statues, enormous temples, well-protected state of the art megacities and the darkest conspiracies of bygone age from him. It is the land belonging to many great Pharaohs including King Tutankhamen and the land of the Sun God, Ra. Egypt was also ruled by many great queens, and some of them are very popular due to their roles in ingenious pieces literature by famous novelists and poets, like Cleopatra. And here is the list of 10 female Pharaohs of ancient Egypt.
Nitocris, also known as Queen Neterkare or Nitiqrty, means “The Soul of Re is Divine”. She was the daughter of Pepi II and Queen Neith and claimed as the sister of Merenre Nemtyemsaf II, while she was also claimed as the last Pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty. Without having any archeological record, she is known to us only from the Turin Canon, Manetho and Herodotus. According to Herodotus, she invited the “king of Egypt” who killed her brother, to a banquet. And she killed him by flooding the sealed room with the Nile. Then, to avoid the other conspirators, she committed suicide, possibly by running into a burning room. Ancient Egyptian historian from Ptolemaic era, Manetho, claims she built the third pyramid of Giza, which was later claimed by modern historians and archaeologists to have been built by the Pharaoh Menkaure of the Fourth dynasty. Manetho was most likely confused by the similarity of the names Menkaura “the prenomen” or “throne name” of Nitocris and Menkaure. Some modern historians have suggested that she was, in fact, male, while many also claimed that Nitiqrty or Neterkare never actually existed. It is also possible that Nitiqrty and Neterkare were separate individuals and without more evidence it is very hard to prove.
Queen Twosret or Tausret, who was also known by her royal name, “Sitre Meryamun”, which means “Daughter of Re, beloved of Amun”, was the last known ruler and the final Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty. In Manetho’s Epitome, she is recorded as a certain Thuoris, who, by Homer, is called Polybus, the husband of Alcandara, and in whose time Troy was taken. Twosret is claimed to start in Regnal year 9 which means that she had two independent years of rule. Theodore Davis discovered the Queen and her husband in a cache of jewelry in tomb KV56 in the Valley of the Kings. This tomb also contained objects bearing the name of Rameses II. Twosret’s KV14 tomb in the Valley of the Kings started in the reign of Seti II. The tomb was then usurped by Setnakht, and extended to become the deepest royal tomb in the valley, while Tawosret’s sarcophagus was reused by Amenherkhepeshef in KV13. Her statues have been found at Heliopolis and Thebes. It is claimed that expeditions were conducted during her reign to the turquoise mines in Sinai and Palestine and. Her name is also found at Abydos, Hermopolis, Memphis, and in Nubia.
Merneith or Meryt-Neith meaning “Beloved by Neith” was a consort and the first female Pharaoh who was the earliest queen regnant in recorded history of Ancient Egypt during the first dynasty. She is claimed as Djer’s daughter, and was probably the senior royal wife of Djet. She was the mother of Den, as clay seal found in the tomb of her son was engraved with “King’s Mother Merneith”. Her ruling started in the thirtieth century B.C. Her own stele contains symbols of the deity. Merneith’s tomb is close to Djet and Den’s tomb as her tomb is of the same scale as the tombs of the kings of that period. Two grave steles bearing her name were discovered near her tomb. This tomb in Abydos or Tomb Y is unique among the otherwise exclusively male tombs. Meryt-Neith also had another burial at Sakkara where archeologists found a solar boat which was believed to enable her spirit to travel with the Sun God in the Afterlife, an honor reserved normally for the king.
7. Ahhotep I.
Ahhotep I or Ahhotpe, which means “The Moon is satisfied”, was a 1560- 1530 BC Ancient Egyptian queen who ruled circa during the end of the Seventeenth dynasty of ancient Egypt. She was the daughter of Queen Tetisheri or “Teti the Small” and Senakhtenre Ahmose, and claimed as the sister and the wife of seventeenth dynasty king, Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao. A stele in Karnak temple records her contribution towards her nation. Her titles include “Great Royal Wife”, “The associate of the White Crown bearer” and “King’s Mother”. It was discovered that her second son, Ahmose, led his army to Nubia to expel the Hyksos and regain lost territories. While he was gone from his nation, a group of Hyksos tried to steal the throne. Ahhotep resisted this attempt and was awarded as the “golden flies of valour” by her son. He also gave her a cache of beautiful jewelry and ornamental weaponry which was later found in a tomb at Dra Abu el-Naga near the Valley of the Kings. Her original tomb has not been discovered yet, but, modern archeologists believe that Ahhotep I’s outer coffin was buried in TT320 in Deir el Bahari.
Neferneferuaten, also known as Ankhkheperure-mery-Neferkheperure, was a Pharaoh in the end of the Amarna Period during the Eighteenth Dynasty. Her gender is confirmed by feminine traces found in the name she was known with, “Epithet Akhet-en-hyes”, which means “Effective for her husband”. It appears she ruled a sole reign for 3 Regnal Year in Pairi’s inscription. The accepted interpretation of the evidence was that Smenkhkare served as coregent with Akhenaten beginning in about year 15, using the throne name of Ankhkheperure. To start his sole reign, he changed his name to Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten. Many historians claim that Nefertiti was King Neferneferuaten while many others also claim she is also known as a male using the name Smenkhkare. Archeologists discovered a number of items in Tutankhamun’s tomb which were originally intended for Neferneferuaten. These consist of “Carter” which is a stunning gold pectoral depicting the goddess Nut. Other items include the stone sarcophagus, mummy wrappings, royal figurines and canopy items.
5. Khentkaus I.
Khentkaus I also known as Khentkawes, was a Queen of Ancient Egypt during the 4th dynasty. She was believed to be the daughter of Pharaoh Menkaure. It was also discovered that, she was the wife of Shepseskaf and the mother of Userkaf. She is also believed to be married with King Userkaf and the mother of Sahure and Neferirkare Kakai because her title consist “Mother of Two Dual Kings”. She was widely believed to be the oldest attested queen to have used the title King of Upper and Lower Egypt. Her Mastaba is located very close to Menkaure’s pyramid complex. Khentkaus was buried in Giza. Her tomb is known as LG 100 and G 8400, and it is located in the Central Field, Giza, which is part of the Giza Necropolis. The pyramid complex of Queen Khentkaus includes her pyramid, a boat pit, a Valley Temple and a pyramid town.
Sobekneferu, often referred as “Neferusobek”, which means “the beauty of Sobek”, was an Egyptian Pharaoh of the twelfth dynasty. She ruled Egypt for almost for 4 years between 1806 and 1802 BC. She was the daughter of Pharaoh Amenemhat III. Ancient Egyptian historian, Manetho, stated, she was also the sister of Amenemhat IV which is not proved by any archeological findings. Sobekneferu also had an elder sister named Nefruptah. Few monuments have been discovered for her, although many of her headless statues have been preserved including the base of a representation of “king’s royal daughter” that was discovered in Gezer, which also bears her name. In one damaged statue of the queen from unknown origin, the costume she wears is unique in its combination of elements from male and female dress. It is discovered that she made additions to the pyramid complex of Amenemhat III at Hawara which also called a labyrinth by Herodotus. She also built structures at Herakleopolis Magna. No evidences were found of Sobekneferu’s death or burial while some historians believe that her burial might be one of the pyramids at Mazghuna.
Hatshepsut, also known as Hatchepsut, which means “The Foremost of Noble Ladies” was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt whose mother gave birth to her in a lion’s den. Hatshepsut was the daughter of Thutmose I and his Royal wife Ahmes. Her husband Thutmose II was the son of Thutmose I. Hatshepsut and Thutmose II had a daughter named Neferure. She was one of the greatest pharaohs from Egypt besides King Tut or Nefertiti. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted an entire room on her. Hatshepsut was given a reign of about twenty-two years by ancient Krish. Hatshepsut was one of the most prolific builders in ancient Egypt. Fifteen hundred years before the birth of Jesus she ruled her land for twenty-two years. She ruled Egypt wearing men’s clothing including the pharaoh’s false beard. According to Egyptologist James Henry Breasted, she is the first great woman in history of whom we are informed. She constructed the Temple of Karnak and restored the original Precinct of Mut. Nine golden cartouches bearing the names of both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III were found in Karnak.
Nefertiti, also written as Neferneferuaten Nefertiti, was the Great Royal Wife or chief consort of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. She was the daughter of Ay. Scenes in the tombs of the nobles in Amarna mention the queen’s sister who is named Mutbenret. Nefertiti had many titles including “Hereditary Princess”, “Great of Praises”, ”Lady of Grace”, “Sweet of Love”, “Lady of The Two Lands” and “Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt”. Nefertiti and her husband were known for a religious revolution, in which they worshiped one god only, Aten or the Sun. Nefertiti ruled Egypt as Neferneferuaten after her husband’s death and before the accession of the Boy King, Tutankhamun. After Nefertiti had given birth to six daughters, her husband began taking other wives for a successor, including his own sister, with whom he fathered King Tutankhamun. Nefertiti disappears from the historical record around the 12th year of Akhenaten’s 17-year reign. She may have died at that time, but it is also claimed that she became her husband’s official co-regent under the name Neferneferuaten. Akhenaten was followed as Pharaoh by the name of Smenkhkare which some historians suggest was another name for Nefertiti.
Cleopatra VII Philopator, famously known as Cleopatra, was the last active Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt shortly succeeded by her son, Pharaoh Caesarion. The name Cleopatra is derived from the Greek name Kleopatra which means “Glory of the father”. Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father, Ptolemy XII Auletes, and later, with her brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, whom she replaced and eventually became sole ruler. For taking advantage of Julius Caesar’s anger towards Ptolemy, Cleopatra secretly went to the palace of Caesar. Plutarch, in his “Life of Julius Caesar”, gives a detailed description of how she entered past Caesar’s guards rolled up in a carpet that the Sicilian Apollodorus was carrying. In 41 BC, Mark Antony, while in dispute with Caesar’s adopted son, Octavian, over the succession to the Roman leadership, began both the political and romantic alliance with Cleopatra. They had two sons and a daughter. Cleopatra killed herself by inducing an Egyptian cobra to bite her. According to Strabo, who was alive at the time of the event, there are two stories. One says that she applied a toxic ointment, while the other says that she was bitten by an asp on her breast.
Egypt was full with mystical Pharaohs and Gods having partial body parts of animals. It is said that before the first dynasty of Egypt, the land was ruled by Demigods whose names are long forgotten. It had a humungous long period when the mystic desert beside Nile was ruled by the great Pharaohs. Egypt is ancient for the ancients. As a fact, the most famous female Pharaoh of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra, is closer to us according to chronology than the Pharaohs before her who built the great pyramids. Here is another list, you may also like; top 10 historical queens of ancient Iran.