Queen Tiye

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Tiye (also known as Tiy, 1398-1338 BCE) was a queen of Egypt of the 18th dynasty, wife of the pharaoh Amenhotep III, mother of Akhenaten, and grandmother of both Tutankhamun and Ankhsenamun. She exerted an enormous influence at the courts of both her husband and son and is known to have communicated directly with rulers of foreign nations. The Amarna letters also show that she was highly regarded by these rulers, especially during the reign of her son.

Tiye - Early Life & Marriage

According to some scholars (Margaret Bunson, among them), Tiye's father was Yuya, a provincial priest from Akhmin, and her mother was Tjuya, a servant of the queen mother, Mutemwiya.  Other sources, however, claim Yuya was Master of the Horse of the royal court and Tjuya a priestess.

Her parents' names, some claim, are not Egyptian, and it has been suggested that they were Nubian. Scholars who have noted Tiye’s unusual role in the affairs of state point to the Nubian custom of female rulers. The Candaces of Nubia were all strong female rulers, and so some scholars speculate that perhaps Tiye felt free to wield power in the same way as a male ruler because of her upbringing and heritage. The Egyptologist Zahi Hawass claims that the names are not Nubian and that “some scholars have speculated that Yuya and Tjuya were of foreign birth, but there is no good evidence to substantiate this theory”.

Tiye probably married Amenhotep while he was a prince. She is believed to have been only 11 or 12 at the time. When Amenhotep III came to the throne, Tiye ascended with him.

Queen Tiye

Queen TiyeFrom the beginning of her husband’s reign, Tiye was a significant force at court. Tiye and her husband Amenhotep III. lived at Malkata where she gave birth to seven children: two sons (Thutmosis, Amenhotep IV) and five daughters (Sitamen, Henuttaneb, Isis, Nebetah, and Baketaten). Thutmosis died early in life, and Amenhotep IV (later known as Akhenaten) was pronounced heir to the throne.

Besides the customary titles for a queen, like Hereditary Princess, Lady of the Two Lands, King’s Wife, or Great King’s Wife, Tiye was also known as Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt and Mistress of the Two Lands. The royal couple presented a united front in dealing with domestic and foreign policies, and the reign of Amenhotep III is considered a high point in Egyptian history.

The King’s Mother 

Tiye assumed the title of King’s Mother upon the ascent to the throne of her son Amenhotep IV. Even though there is no indication that Tiye had ever entertained anything like monotheistic leanings, she seems to have supported her son’s radical departure from the religious policies of the past.

The priests of Amun had gradually been growing in wealth and power throughout the 18th dynasty until, by Amenhotep III’s reign, their influence was on par with the royal house. Whatever Tiye may have thought of her son’s monotheism privately, she would have approved of a measure to increase the power of the throne at the expense of the clergy.

She died in her early sixties and was buried in the Valley of the Kings. Her mummy has positively been identified as that known as the 'Elder Lady’, and a lock of her hair, possibly a keepsake of the young king’s, was found in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Who was actually Moses?

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Who was actually Moses? When was he born? Which Pharaohs were his contemporaries? And what about the speculation, that Moses was a contemporary or even a stepbrother of Ramesses II? Are these speculations justifiable? There are 680 mentions of Egypt in the Bible, but Israeli nations are mentioned only in one Egyptian document, which is related to the victory of Merenptaha over the Libyans.

Moses was born in Egypt

Moses with the Ten commandmentsToday it is supposed that Moses was born in Egypt in one Semitic family (probably from Levite tribe) and was brought up in a palace school. The foreigners living in Egypt often assimilated into Egyptian society. Some of them were educated to work in state administration or to become diplomats, who represented Egypt in vassal states. Some foreigners were appointed to significant position in the government of Ramesses dynasty.

Thanks to the progress in science and new findings in last years the Egyptologists could exclude the idea that Moses and Ramesses II were brothers. According to the Bible the Jews were building the cities Pi-Ramesses and Pithom. Ramesses II is considered as a founder of Pi-Ramesses, but the last discoveries proved that building already started under Seti I rule. This seeming discrepancy has an easy explanation – rulers of the Ramesses dynasty involved their successors in ruling such as Seti I with Ramesses II.

The Bible doesn't begin to tell about Moses until these events. The prophet was allegedly born in the half of 13th century BC – likely several years after Ramesses II.  Ramesses II. lived to the age of 85 or 90 and the Bible obviously states it was this Pharaoh's death, which finished the exile of Moses. That's why Ramesses II can't be the Pharaoh, who died when the Jews were leaving Egypt and under whose rule the Lord sent down ten plagues to Egypt. Probably this Pharaoh was successor of Ramesses II Merenptah. This fact disproves the theory enough, that Moses was brother of Ramesses II.

Moses is a name of Egyptian origin, which was rewritten to Hebrew as Moshe ("god gave birth ..."). The name was either mes as in the name Ramesses ("Re gave him birth") or mos as in the name Thutmose ("Thoth gave him birth").

The legend

The Pharaoh ordered to kill all boys born to the Jews living in Egypt. Therefore one mother put her son into a reedy basket and laid it down on the Nile surface. The baby was found by Pharaoh's daughter, who adopted him and named him Moses. This boy's sister guarded on the bank and suggested that a woman with Hebrew origin should breast-feed the baby. So Moses returned back to his mother and later he was brought up in the palace together with royal children.

We can find this story in the Bible and in the Koran and it is too similar to Babylonian, Roman, Tibetan and other legends to be really true. In fact, it is contrary to customs of that time. It was totally inconceivable for a royal princess to walk about alone, without being accompanied. Why would she decide to bath in the Nile full of too many crocodiles? Why would she prefer the river to ponds in the palace?

Mitanni - the main enemy of Egypt

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Egypt became a powerful and aggressive land at the time of the New Kingdom. It was conquering Nubia and was at war with the Near East at the same time. The Pharaohs began to lead campaigns since the time of Thutmose III. to strengthened the power over the east. The main enemy of Egypt was the Kingdom of Mitanni then, which was located on the north of Syria. It was important for Egypt to strengthen its dominance over an area extending from Palestina up to Caucasus from both political and economical point of view. It would enable Egypt to seize control over Phoenician coast and main caravan ways leading to Mesopotamia.

Kingdom of Mitanni was extended to northern Mesopotamia and north-eastern Syria, where Khabur River valley was its centre. It was allegedly founded by Hurrian and Aryan warriors, who came there from Caspian Sea area. These nations were of Indo-European origin and they subdued the native inhabitants, who were focused on agriculture. Mitanni originated in the area conquered in Hammurabi's Babylonia. It was situated to the south from the Caucasus on the up-river of Tigris and it gradually extended to the area between Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

The Kingdom of Mitanni gained the biggest growth in the 15th century BC. Mitanni wanted to retain its dominancy in this area, so it tended to involved Egypt into local wars that shouldn't spread out of Syria and threaten the Kingdom borders. So Mitanni hadn't no scruples and provoked conflicts between Asian principalities and Egypt (and we have to admit that it did it very skilfully) and it changed the allies very often.

Mitanni vs. Thutmose III.

The Egyptian dominancy was threatened in this area under Amenhotep I. rule around 1,510 BC. When Thutmose III. came to the Egyptian throne, he had to suppress the rebellion of Asian principalities, which formed a coalition influenced by Mitanni. So Thutmose started the first of 17 campaigns against Mitanni. He conquered Palestina, gained Gaza and Tyre and he also seized the cities to the south from Aleppo later.

Thutmose built fortresses along the Mediterranean coast during four following campaigns. He made a journey every year to control the conquered areas, took out tributes and confiscated grain crop. He got into Syria through the sea during his sixth campaign, got up to Kadesh and plundered the whole area. Then he subjugated Phoenician harbours next year during the seventh campaign.

Thutmose wanted to continue with conquests, so he had to fight with people of Mitanni in an open battle. He needed to cross the Euphrates river for it, therefore he let build a vast flotilla of boats. Then he crossed the Orontes river and Euphrates river as well and got to the gates of Aleppo - a Mitanni bastion. After conquering Aleppo were Babylon, Assur and the whole Hittite Kingdom at the mercy of the Pharaoh. Thutmose tried vainly to weaken Mitanni soldieries in the northern area of Naharin during next nine campaigns. His last campaign ended the conflicts between people of Mitanni and the Egyptians for almost ten years.

Mitanni vs Amenhotep II

Thutmose was replaced by his son Amenhotep II. on the throne, who had an exceptional power. He made three campaigns into Syria - the aim of the first campaign was to suppress a rebellion of Asians. He got up to the borders of Mitanni, whose princes begged the Pharaoh to let them "breath at least". The two other campaigns were aimed directly against Mitanni, but it finished by a failure and loss of the area between the Orontes and Euphrates river.

Former enemies, now allies

After Amenhotep II. his son Thutmose IV. came to the throne and the relationships between Egypt and Mitanni gathered a new course. People of Mitanni tried to get close with a former enemy, because they were threatened by a new originated Hittite Kingdom, which especially warred in Anatolia up to then. And there also was another enemy - the Assyrians on the east.

People of Mitanni conclude a contract with Egypt. They left Palestina and part of the Mediterranean coast to Egypt and got the northern part of Syria in exchange for it. Thutmose IV proposed one of Mitanni king's Artatama I daughters to seal the alliance.

Also Amenhotep III. continued with the politics of his father. Boards with diplomatic correspondence between Amenhotep III, Amenhotep IV. - Akhenaten and the rulers of Babylonia, Assyria, the Hittite Kingdom and the Kingdom of Mitanni were founded. Amenhotep III. clinched the alliance between Mitanni and Egypt with a marriage with Tadukhipa - a daughter of Tushratta.

But the situation was critical for Mitanni - even this alliance didn't save it before the Hittite Kingdom. The Hittites were subordinated to Mitanni before, but led by the king Suppiluliuma I they conquered the whole area of Mitanni during two campaigns and they imposed its king a vassal treaty. Mitanni ceased to exist definitively around 1,355 BC, when the capital Washukanni was conquered by the Hittites.

Joseph - the interpreter of dreams

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The Jacob's dearest son Joseph is a symbol of justice in Judaism. The dreams, that he had since his childhood, promised him an extraordinary destiny. Dreams were considered as messages from Gods at that time. "Master of dreams" was hated by his brothers at first, but then the Pharaoh took notice of his remarkable ability to interpret encoded pictures. Joseph became the first saviour of the Egyptian land and he died there later.

Jacob had twelve sons and he liked best the last but one - Joseph. His brothers were jealous of his good-looking, wisdom and ability to interpret the dreams. Joseph was seventeen, when he first recounted his dream to his brothers. Jacob sent his sons to pasture sheep in Shechem later. Joseph was sent there later to find out the news and ask about the livestock. When brothers saw Joseph coming from far away, they decided to kill him. Jacob's first-born son Reuben was against it, so they sold Joseph to a camel caravan of Ishmaelites in the end.

Joseph the Egyptian

Joseph was took in Egypt and sold as a slave to Potiphar - the captain of Pharaoh's guard. When Potiphar found out the abilities of Joseph, he entrusted administration of his house to him. Potiphar's wife was mesmerized by young and good-looking Joseph and tried to seduce him. He resisted her seducing, so she was very disappointed. She wanted to take revenge and accused Joseph of seducing her, so Joseph was thrown into prison.

The prison commander got Joseph to like and charged him to take care of the other prisoners. There also were the Pharaoh's waiter and baker in prison. When they learnt about Joseph's ability to interpret dream, they asked him for interpreting their dreams. Joseph interpreted the waiter's dream as a good sign and told him that he would be released soon. On the contrary he foretold a near execution to the baker. Both predictions were fulfilled in a short time.

The Pharaoh was worried by two dreams, which the wise men weren't able to interpret, so he called Joseph to him, who was already thirty years old at the time.

Interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams

Pharaoh saw seven fattened and beautiful pasturing cows in his first dream and seven skinny and unsightly cows coming to them. The skinny cows devoured the fattened ones. In the seconds dream the Pharaoh saw seven wonderful ears of grain that grew up out of a single stalk and seven infertile ears that absorbed the healthy ones.

Joseph told the Pharaoh that both dreams meant the same and he would try to interpret them in the name of God. There will be seven years of abundance in Egypt followed by seven years of famine. So there was a need to store surplus grain during the years of abundance. Pharaoh was impressed by the interpretation and appointed Joseph as Vizier of all the land of Egypt. Joseph started to speak with 70 languages of Egyptian high officials. Before this miracle the Pharaoh added Josepf Asenath - daughter of a priest of On as a wife.

Joseph started to gather grain in big granaries, which he opened at the time of famine. The Egyptians and inhabitants of neighbouring lands were coming for grain and brothers of Joseph were among them. They didn't recognized Joseph and bowed in front of him as he had predicted before. Joseph decided to test, if their hearts softened, let them recognize him and asked them for bringing the father. When Joseph saw Jacob he flung his arms round Jacob's neck and bursted out crying. The Pharaoh allowed the whole family to settle down in Egypt then.

Other Hebrews came to Egypt, settled there and started to prosper. Finally there were so many of them in Egypt that another Pharaoh began to feel threatened by them many years later, enslaved them and ordered to murder all first-born boys. Also Moses was among them, but he eluded the slaughter and liberated Jewish people later from Egyptian yoke.


Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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