Ankhesenamun was the third of Nefertiti’s daughters but she is best known as the wife of the famous pharaoh King Tutankhamun who was the king of Egypt 3,500 years ago.
There is no doubt that the royal couple were in love. Several objects found in Tutankhamun’s tomb by Howard Carter depict the couple. The most famous is the golden throne which has a panel on the back showing the royal couple, but the panel on an ivory coffer is also very nice.
Although Queen Ankhesenamun obviously loved Tutankhamun, he was actually not her first husband: he may have been her third. According to the tradition of the times, it is widely believed that Ankhesenamun was first married to her father, the Pharaoh Akhenaten. She may then have been married to a little known Pharaoh by name of Smenkhkare. After Tutankhamun’s death, she was also married to his successor the Pharaoh Ay. In short, she may have been married to four different kings which for a lady who died at about age 30 is quite an achievement!
It is also perhaps an indication that she was unlucky: she buried three husbands. The latest DNA study of Tutankhamun’s family published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that a mummy found in the Valley of the Kings may belong to Ankhesenamun. The mummy, known as KV21A, was found without inscriptions or grave goods and has been identified as the probably mother of two of Tutankhamun’s children which, by deduction, suggests it is Ankhesenamun. Her misfortune has continued in death. Ankhesenamun was probably quite an attractive woman. When the KV21A mummy was found it had a head with long, lustrous black hair. Her had has tragically now vanished. A century ago, macabre mummy parties were all the rage and she probably and a unwanted starring part in one during which her head was unwrapped and then burned or thrown away.
The latest DNA study also shows that she had a severe club foot and would have struggled to walk far, and was probably in pain when she did walk.
Maybe her final misfortune was her fourth husband, the Pharaoh Ay. He was a very old man – old enough to have been her grandfather. Indeed, he probably was her grandfather. For many years Ay was suspected as having murdered Tutankhamun. Nowadays, it is not thought that Tutankhamun was murdered, although a letter from a Queen of the time to the King of the Hittites says quite plainly that her husband was murdered and that they were trying to force her to marry her husband’s murdered. Ankhesenamun does fit the profile. Whatever, after her marriage to Ay to secure his dynastic succession, Ankhesenamun quickly fades from sight and is not heard from again. It is thought she was dead within months of this marriage. Was she murdered? Sadly, if the KV21A mummy really is Ankhesenamun we shall probably never know as it is in very poor condition.
We have a life filled with misfortune but Ankhesenamun for a time had a happy marriage to Tutankhamun. We can only hope that some new discovery in the Valley of the Kings will one day teach us more about her life.