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Almost everyone who is even remotely interested in ancient Egyptian history has heard of Tutankhamun, a famous boy king, but Ankhesenamun, his sister and wife, has received less attention. Tut married her when she was only 13 years old, and he was only a 10-year-old lad. During her lifespan, Ankhesenamun married off to nearly four pharaoh kings, the majority of whom were close family members. In ancient Egypt, practicing incest in the royal family was a frequent rite because they believed they were descended from the gods, and it was their means of keeping their bloodline pure. The majority of information about her life is gleaned from paintings and relics on the walls, and once Tutankhamun died at the age of 18, Ankhesenamun vanished from history. However, historians suggest that she was married off to Ay, the Egyptian king who succeeded Tut. Tut’s tomb depicted him reclining with two children, supposed to be the fruit of his and Ankhesenamun’s communion.

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Childhood and Adolescence

Ankhesenamun was the son of royal Egyptian parents Akhenaten and Nefertiti, and was named Ankhesenpaaten. She is thought to be one of the famous couple’s six offspring.

Because they are the ones who figure more frequently in the paintings, the first three daughters, Meritaten, Meketaten, and Ankhesenpaaten, are thought to have had a significantly higher status within the family. Tutankhamun, who happened to be her brother from a different mother, was her half-sister.

She was born in the city of Thebes about 1348 BC. Soon after, her father left the city and created Akhetaten, a new city named after his God, Aten. Ankhesenamun was raised in this new metropolis, and being a member of the royal family, she had a privileged upbringing.

Ankhesenamun’s Marriages

She was exceptionally close to her siblings, and it is reported that after her mother died, her father Akhenaten married her for a period. He had married his first daughter, Meritaten, before her. Some historians speculate that Meritaten may have had children with her father as well.

She was also claimed to be the wife of Smenkhkare, Akhenaten’s successor. Her father appointed Smenkhkare as co-regent, which was a customary procedure in ancient Egyptian society.

Ankhesenamun was forced to marry Smenkhkare after Akhenaten and Meritaten died around the same time. Her other sisters haven’t been properly mentioned in history, and their existence has been questioned on several occasions.

Smenkhkare, who was much older than her, was cruel to her. Pharaohs’ lives used to be quite shorter back then, and after around three years on the throne, Smenkhkare died as well, and the throne fell to Tut.

Ankhesenamun was now required by Egyptian law to marry his half-brother, thus she married Tutankhamun in around 1334 BC at the age of 13, when the young pharaoh Tut was only a few months shy of ten years old. The couple relocated to Amarna, a city founded by their father, and stayed for four years.

They eventually relocated to Thebes, the Egyptian capital. The god Amun was worshipped in the city, so both of them added ‘Amun’ to their names to show their respect for him.

The couple had a very happy marriage, as depicted in the wall paintings, but they were unable to conceive children together despite their wonderful life together. The chances of a normal delivery in the royal family were slim, as science states that children born of incest are frequently ill.

Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun were half-siblings, and several historians believe they may have been born of the same mother.

They had two daughters who died while they were young; their bodies were discovered in Tut’s tomb, and additional DNA testing revealed that they suffered birth defects as a result of interbreeding amongst the same bloodlines.

Tut appeared to have married numerous women during his short life, as was customary at the time, but Ankhesenamun was the only one who was well-documented. Tut died at the age of 18 after reigning for around ten years. Since his mummy was discovered in 1922, the cause of his death has remained a mystery.

Later examinations revealed that his left leg had been fractured at the time of his burial, and other reports claim he was assassinated.

Tutankhamun, on the other hand, as a youth, could not have taken the significant political decisions that he did during his reign, both in the early and later stages. Some believe it was his mentor, Ay, who also happened to be Ankhesenamun’s maternal grandfather.

Tut emerged as a powerful monarch, but historians claim that following his death, Ay ascended to the throne. After Tut’s death, Ankhesenamun was left without a husband once more, and by the age of 21, she had already married three pharaohs, all of whom were dead.

She began a 70-day mourning period, as was customary in Egypt. Tut’s tomb had very strong signs that all of the labor for his burial was done in a haste, which was problematic because it was not customary.

Tut’s rapid burial also implies a suspected assassination by poison or other means, as pharaohs were usually elevated to god-like status after their deaths.

A note discovered while exploration adds to the intrigue of the entire episode. The letter is thought to have been written by an Egyptian queen to Suppiluliumas, the Hittite ruler.

Although there was no direct reference to Tutankhamun or Ankhesenamun in the letter, it is possible that Ankhesenamun did so on purpose to conceal her identity.

An appeal was made for one of the Hittite king’s sons in the letter, which was written around the same period. The queen expressed her fear because she lacked an heir and her husband had died. The fact that she expressed fear suggests that Ay was the person she was afraid of.

The king dispatched a spy to investigate whether the request was genuine and not a plan to assassinate him, as Egyptians were their adversaries. The spy returned with a report stating that the letter was correct and that Egypt’s royal throne was in fact in upheaval.

The monarch then dispatched his youngest son Zanannza to marry Ankhesenamun, but he was assassinated as he approached Egypt with his entourage.

The possibility of the assassination was raised further when it was discovered that the wall paintings were not as well-done as usual and that the goods discovered with Tut were not his own.

Everything seemed to point to Ay being behind the assassination because he had the royal court and Tut under his control and wanted to see himself on the throne as soon as possible.

He ascended the throne and married Ankhesenamun to become Egypt’s next ruler. He was over 61 when he married her, and during the excavations, a blue ring with both Ay’s and Ankhesenamun’s names carved on it was discovered. It’s unclear whether they had any children.

Legacy & Later Life

Ankhesenamun practically vanished from history shortly after Ay began his rule. Several attempts have been made to find her burial, but none have been successful.

Ankhesenamun has appeared in a number of films, books, and television shows. She is extensively referenced in the novel ‘Tutankhamun and the Daughter of Ra,’ as well as in the Belgian series ‘Het Huis Anubis,’ where she is presented as Tutankhamun’s spiteful wife. Judith Tarr created a novel called ‘Pillar of Fire,’ which is also about Ankhesenamun’s life.

Estimated Net worth

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