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Queen Ankhesenamen, Two Letters to the King of the Hittites, Written about 1325 B.C.E.

Ankhesenamen was the third daughter of Egyptian King Akhenaton and Queen Nefertiti, and the wife of the next pharaoh, Tutankhamen (who ruled about 1334-1325 B.C.E.). At the time of their marriage she was just twelve or thirteen and he was just nine or ten. Artifacts recovered from Tutankhamen’s tomb show that, despite the fact that their marriage had been arranged, the young couple were genuinely in love. Unfortunately, the two did not enjoy a long and happy life together. At about the age of eighteen, Tutankhamen died; modern investigation of his mummy suggests he may have been murdered. In the seventy days during which the young Pharaoh’s body was being mummified, his widow wrote the two letters translated here to the king of the Hittites. From these brief but tantalizing letters it appears that the young queen knew something of her husband’s death about which modern historians can only speculate.

[Ankhesenamen’s First Letter to the King of the Hittites] My husband has died, a son I have not. But to you, they say, the sons are many. If you would give me one son of yours, he would become my husband. Never shall I pick out a servant of mine and make him my husband. I am afraid!

[Ankhesenamen’s Second Letter to the King of the Hittites, Sent in Response to the King’s Disbelief of Her Initial Plea]

Why did you say “they deceive me,” in that way? Had I a son, would I have written about my own and my country’s shame to a foreign land? You did not believe me and have even spoken thus to me! He who was my husband has died. A son I have not. Never shall I take a servant of mine and make him my husband! I have written to no other country, only to you have I written. They say your sons are many, so give me one of your sons! To me he will be husband, but in Egypt he will be king.


Why did Queen Ankhesename request a son from the king of the Hittites for betrothal?


The loss of her husband had made her very lonely.


She did not trust Egyptian nobility.


She was looking for true love.


She wanted to secure a legitimate successor to her throne.


She was hoping to become the queen of the Hittites.

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