Kiya usurped by Meritaten

This limestone talatat shows a depiction of Queen Kiya, secondary wife of Akhenaten, making an offering of a cone of scented fat to the Aten. It is believed, however, that this piece was later reused and usurped to actually depict Akhenaten’s daughter, with his Great Royal Wife Nefertiti, Meritaten. The reason for this belief is the presumed changing of the hair.

Talatat of Kiya usurped by Meritaten
Talatat of Kiya usurped by Meritaten. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 1971.294

At some point, Meritaten married Smenkhkare and became his Great Royal Wife. She is depicted with him in the tomb of Meryre II, bestowing honours and gifts upon Meryre. The chronology of the final years of the Amarna Period is unclear, however Smenkhkare is believed to have served as a co-regent to Akhenaten. Meritaten was the Great Royal Wife to Smenkhkare, while Nefertiti continued as the Great Royal Wife of Akhenaten. Nefertiti still held the Great Royal Wife title in year 16, hence Smenkhkare must have been a co-regent at that time, or otherwise ruled with his wife Meritaten sometime after year 16 of Akhenaten.

Meritaten is mentioned on gold daisies that decorated a garment found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. She also is mentioned on a wooden box meant to contain linen garments. The box mentions two kings: Neferkheperure-Waenre (Akhenaten) and Ankhkheperure-mr-waenre, Neferneferuaten-mr-waenre and the Great Royal Wife Meritaten.

According to some scholars, such as J.P. Allen, Ankhkheperure Smenkhkare ruled together with Meritaten, but in the year following Akhenaten’s death, Smenkhkare died. The theory is, that Meritaten was the ‘king’s daughter’ Akenkeres who is recorded in Manetho’s Epitome to have assumed the throne next, in her own right as king and bearing the name Neferneferuaten. Neferneferuaten is assigned a reign of two years and one month and is placed in Manetho’s account as the immediate predecessor of the king, Rathothis, who is believed to be Tutankhamun, her half-brother by another, unnamed wife of Akhenaten.

Archaeologist Alain Zivie asserts that Meritaten also became a foster mother to Tutankhamun, referred to as Maia in some ancient records. Zivie noted that Thutmose, the sculptor appointed vizier by Akhenaten and who was found to be the creator of the famous bust of Nefertiti also created one of Maïa (Bubasteion I.20), the foster mother of Tutankhamun and who, in fact, was “Merytaten, the elder daughter of Akhenaten”, “who sat briefly on the throne”.

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Akhenaten, c.1353–1336 B.C.
Findspot: Egypt, Hermopolis; Object Place: Egypt, el-Amarna (Akhetaten)