Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ahhotep I and the Mysterious Ahhotep II

Seqenenre Taa II, son of Tetisheri, had married his sister Inhapy, Sitdjehuty and Ahhotep. Now Ahhotep became his consort. She was to give him at least four children, all confusingly named Ahmose; two daughters, Ahmose-Nefertari and Ahmose-Nebta, and two sons. Ahmost the elder died young and it was Ahmose the younger who was to succeed his father. But first there was a blip in the succession. Seqenenre Taa died in battle. His mummy, recovered from the Deir el-Bahari cache, shows horrific head injuries caused by a Hyksos battle axe. Bypassing Ahmose, the succession passed to Kamose, a man who, although he is often assumed to have been Seqenenre's son, has no known link to the royal family. Whatever his lineage, it is reasonable to assume that Kamose was warrior of noble birth chosen to continue the struggle against the Hyksos. This he did until, a mere three years later, he too lay dying on a distant battlefield. Kamose was succeeded by Ahmose, the younger son of Seqenenre Taa II and Ahhotep.

Now there was a break in hostilities of almost a decade as Ahhotep raised her son, ruling Egypt on his behalf as regnet. As an adult, and king of the unified land, Ahmose was not ashamed to admit the deep debt that he owed to his mother. On a unique stela recovered from Karnak he encouraged his people to revere her as "one who has accomplished the rites and taken care of Egypt":
She has looked after her Egypt's soldiers, she has guarded Egypt, she has brought back her fugitives and gathered together her deserters, and she has pacified Upper Egypt and expelled her rebels.
If we read this stela literally, and there seems to be no good reason not to, it seems that Ahhotep had been forced to take up arms in defence of her country (Thebes), perhaps in the uncertain days following the death of Kamose. For the first time we have written proof that the queen regent could wield real authority.

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