Ancient Egypt Wiki
Princess: Ankhesenpaaten
S34 S29
"She lives for Amun"

Ankhesenamun presenting flowers.

Dynasty 18th Dynasty
Pharaoh(s) AkhenatenAy
Titles King's Great Wife
King's Daughter
Father Akhenaten
Mother Nefertiti
Spouse(s) Akhenaten (?), Tutankhamun,
Issue Ankhesenpaaten-Tasherit (?),
Two stillborn daughters
Burial KV21 (?)

Ankhesenamun, formerly Ankhesenpaaten (ancient Egyptian: ỉtn-ꜥnḫ-s-n-pꜣ, "She lives for the Aten"), was a Princess and Queen of the Eighteenth Dynasty during the New Kingdom. The change in her name reflects the transition from the Amarna Period back to orthodoxy.



See also: 18th Dynasty Family Tree.

Ankhesenpaaten was the third of six known daughters of Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti. Her older sisters were Meritaten and Meketaten. Her younger sisters include; Neferneferuaten-Tasherit, Neferneferure, and Setepenre.[1] Ankhesenpaaten became the Great Royal Wife of Tutankhamun, who was either her half-brother or cousin (depending on whether KV55 contains the remains of Akhenaten or Smenkhkare).

Early Life[]

Ankhesenpaaten's youth is well documented in the ancient reliefs and paintings of the reign of her father, Akhenaten. She was born in a time when Egypt was in the midst of an unprecedented religious revolution (c. 1348 BC). Her father had abandoned the principal worship of old deities of Egypt in favor of the Aten, hitherto a minor aspect of the sun-god, characterised as the sun's disc.

Ankhesenpaaten is believed to have been born in Thebes, around Year 4 of her father's reign, but probably grew up in the city of Akhetaten (present-day Amarna), established as the new capital of the kingdom by her father. The three eldest daughters – Meritaten, Meketaten, and Ankhesenpaaten – became the "senior princesses" and participated in many functions of the government and religion alongside their parents.

Ankhesenpaaten is believed to have been married first to her own father.[2] This was not unusual for Egyptian royal families. She's thought to have been the mother of the princess Ankhesenpaaten-Tasherit (possibly by her father or by Smenkhkare), although the parentage is unclear.[3]



Tutankhamun receives flowers from Ankhesenamun.

She became the wife of Tutankhaten. Following their marriage, the couple honored the gods of the restored religion by changing their names to Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun. The couple appear to have had two stillborn daughters.[4] As Tutankhamun's only known wife was Ankhesenamun, it is highly likely the fetuses found in his tomb are her daughters. When Tutankhamun died, Ankhesenamun was married to his successor Ay and died during or shortly after his reign.

A document was found in the ancient Hittite capital of Hattusa which dates to the Amarna period. It was addressed to the Hittite king, Suppiluliuma I, and reads, "My husband has died and I have no son. They say that you have many sons. You might give me one of your sons to become my husband. I would not wish to take one of my subjects as a husband."


Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun depicted on Tut's KV62 throne.

This document is extraordinary, for never before had anything like this occurred. In fact, Egyptians traditionally considered foreigners to be inferior. Suppiluliuma was understandably wary and had an envoy investigate, but by so doing, he missed his chance to bring Egypt into his empire. He did eventually send one of his sons, Zannanza, but the prince was murdered en route to the palace.

Debate rages over which queen authored the amazing message. Possible candidates are Nefertiti and Ankhesenpaaten. Ankhesenpaaten seems more likely since there were no candidates for the throne on the death of her husband, Tutankhamun, whereas Akhenaten had at least two legitimate successors.

Burial and mummy[]

DNA testing announced in February 2010 has generated speculation that Ankhesenamun is one of two 18th Dynasty queens recovered from KV21 in the Valley of the Kings.[4]

The two fetuses found buried with Tutankhamun have been proven to be his children, and the current theory is that Ankhesenamun, his only known wife, is their mother. However, not enough data was obtained to make more than a tentative identification. Nevertheless, the KV21a mummy has DNA consistent with the 18th Dynasty royal line.[4]


  1. Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 142-157.
  2. Reeves 2001.
  3. Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 148.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Hawass et al. 2010.


  • Dodson, A./Hilton, D., 2004: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Hawass, Z./Gad, Y.Z./Somaia, I./Khairat, R./Fathalla, D./Hasan, N./Ahmed, A./Elleithy, H./Ball, M./Gaballah, F./Wasef, S./Fateen, M./Amer, H./Gostner, P./Selim, A./Zink, A./Pusch, C.M., 2010: Ancestry and Pathology in King Tutankhamun's Family. Journal of the American Medical Association. Chicago, Illinois: American Medical Association. Vol. 303 (7), p. 638–647.
  • Reeves, N., 2001: Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet. Thames & Hudson, London.