Ancient Egypt Wiki

Colossal statue of Tiye seated beside her husband Amenhotep III at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.©Lamp Magician

Dynasty 18th Dynasty
Pharaoh(s) Amenhotep III
Titles King's Great Wife
Father Yuya
Mother Tjuyu
Spouse(s) Amenhotep III
Issue Thutmose, Akhenaten,
Sitamun, Iset, Henuttaneb,
Nebetnehat (?), Nebetah,
Smenkhkare (?), Baketaten,
The Younger Lady (=Baketaten?)
Burial AT26 (initial), KV35 (reburial)
For other pages by this name, see Tiye.

Tiye (ancient Egyptian: tỉy, also spelled Tiy and Teje) was the King's Great Wife of Pharaoh Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty during the New Kingdom. Tiye is the matriarch of the Amarna family.


Despite not being of royal birth, Tiye's parents are well known. Tiye's father, Yuya, was probably a nobleman from the Upper Egyptian town of Akhmim[1] where he served as High Priest of Min and Chief of the Chariotry. Some scholars have suggested Yuya to be of Asiatic descent, due to the features of his mummy and the many different spellings of his name,[2] but this remains unproven. Tiye's mother, Tjuyu, was involved in many religious cults as Chantress of Hathor.[3]

Tiye also had a brother, Anen, who was Second Prophet of Amun.[4] The high official and later pharaoh, Ay, is believed to be another brother of Tiye. Their presumed relationship is based on the fact that Ay also originates from Akhmim and is known to have built a chapel dedicated to the local god Min there, and because he inherited most of the titles that Tiye's father, Yuya, held at the court of Amenhotep III during his lifetime.[3][5]

According to some accounts, Tiye married Amenhotep III while he was still Crown Prince. Others place their marriage during Year 2 of his reign (1385 BC). They appear to have been rather young when they married, perhaps between the ages of six and twelve. The couple had at least seven, and possibly more, children. Amenhotep's only known children are those with his Queen Tiye.

Their first son, Thutmose, predeceased his father and their second son, Amenhotep IV, later known as Akhenaten, ultimately succeeded Amenhotep III to the throne. Amenhotep III also may have been the father of a third son, Smenkhkare, who later would succeed Akhenaten and briefly rule Egypt as pharaoh.

The eldest three daughters of Amenhotep III and Tiye, Sitamun, Iset, and Henuttaneb, appear frequently on statues and reliefs during the reign of their father and are also represented by smaller objects.[6] The fourth daughter, Nebetah, is attested only once in the known historical records on a colossal limestone group of statues from Medinet Habu.[7] This huge sculpture, that is seven meters high, shows Amenhotep III and Tiye seated side by side, "with three of their daughters standing in front of the throne—Henuttaneb, the largest and best preserved, in the centre; Nebetah on the right; and another, whose name is destroyed, on the left."[8]


  • Sitamun: Eldest daughter, who was elevated to the position of Great Royal Wife around Year 30 of her father's reign.[9]
  • Thutmose: Eldest son, Crown Prince, and High Priest of Ptah, who was his father's designated heir but pre-deceased him.
  • Iset: Second daughter, who was also elevated to the position of Great Royal Wife.[9]
  • Amenhotep IV: Second son, who succeeded his father as pharaoh, and later changed his name to Akhenaten. Arguably identified with the KV55 Mummy, and therefore Tutankhamun's father.
  • Henuttaneb: Third daughter, thought to have been elevated to queenship as well, since her name appears in a cartouche at least once.
  • Nebetnehat: Perhaps another daughter elevated to queenship, though highly uncertain.
  • Nebetah: Another daughter, sometimes thought to have been renamed Baketaten during her brother's reign.
  • Smenkhkare: Third son, either co-ruled with Akhenaten or succeeded him. Arguably identified with the KV55 Mummy, and therefore Tutankhamun's father.
  • Baketaten: Thought to be Amenhotep III and Tiye's daughter, based on reliefs from Akhenaten's reign that depict her with Tiye.[1]
  • The Younger Lady: An unknown daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye, mother of Tutankhamun and sister-wife of the KV55 Mummy. Most likely identical with Baketaten, or alternatively Nebetah.


Amenhotep III lavished a good deal of attention on his charming wife. He devoted a number of shrines to her, and built her a palace, and even an artificial lake. Akhenaten built his mother a sumptuous shrine during his reign.

Tiye enjoyed a good deal of power during both her husband’s and son’s reigns. Amenhotep III, although a fine sportsman, a lover of outdoor life, and a man of great wealth, was no statesman. Tiye, on the other hand, appears to have been the power behind the throne. She was her husband’s trusted advisor and confidant, played an active role in foreign relations, and was the first Egyptian queen to have her name recorded on official acts.


Colossal statue of Amenhotep III and Tiye at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.©

She continued to advise Akhenaten when he took the throne. Her son’s correspondence with Tushratta, the king of Mitanni, speaks of Tiye’s political influence, which she wielded, in part, because royal and noble bloodlines passed through the family’s female members at that time. In Amarna letter 26, king Tušratta to Mitanni personally corresponded to Tiye herself to reminisce about the good relations which he enjoyed with her now deceased husband and his wish to continue on friendly terms with her son, Akhenaten.[10]


Bust of Tiye at the Ägyptisches Museum, Berlin.©

Amenhotep III died in Year 38 of his reign (1353 BC/1350 BC) and was buried in the Valley of the Kings in WV22. But twelve years after his death, Tiye was still mentioned in the Amarna Letters and in inscriptions as queen and beloved of the king. In an inscription dated approximately to November 21 of Year 12 of Akhenaten's reign (1338 BC), both she and her granddaughter Meketaten are mentioned for the last time. They are thought to have died shortly after that date.

In 1898, Victor Clement Georges Philippe Loret discovered a mummy of a pharaoh that is believed to have been Amenhotep III. Alongside it was the mummy of an "Elder Lady." The identification of the "Elder Lady" as Tiye has found considerable support among scholars but an examination of the mummy is inconclusive in terms of its age. A lock of Tiye's hair was found in a nest of miniature coffins in Tutankhamun's tomb which is explicitly stated as belonging to Tiye.[11]

If Tiye died soon after Year 12 of Akhenaten's reign (1338 BC), this would place her birth around 1398 BC, her marriage to Amenhotep III at the age of eleven or twelve and her becoming a widow at the age of forty-eight to forty-nine years old. Suggestions of a co-regency between Amenhotep III and his son Akhenaten lasting for up to twelve years continue but most scholars today see either a brief coregency lasting 1 year at the most[12] or no coregency at all.[13]



Queen Tiye's funerary mask from KV55.

Tiye's burial was initially planned to be in her husband's tomb, KV22, since shabtis belonging to her were found there.[11] During Akhenaten's reign, Tiye is believed to have been buried in Akhenaten's royal tomb, AT26, at Amarna. A fragment from the AT26 tomb was not long ago identified as belonging to her sarcophagus. Her gilded burial shrine (showing her with Akhenaten) ended up in KV55. Whether or not she was actually buried in either of these tombs is known.


The 'Elder Lady' mummy from KV35, identified with Queen Tiye.


In 1898, Victor Loret discovered the KV35 tomb of Amenhotep II in the Valley of the Kings. Three sets of mummified remains were found in a side chamber of this tomb. Among these sets of mummies were two females, referred to by Egyptologists as the 'Elder Lady' and the 'Younger Lady'. Several researchers argued that the Elder Lady was Queen Tiye. There were other scholars who were skeptical of this theory, such as British scholars Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton, who once stated that "it seems very unlikely that her mummy could be the so-called 'Elder Lady' in the tomb of Amenhotep II".[11]

A nest of four miniature coffins inscribed with Tiye's name and containing a lock of hair was found in the KV62 tomb of her grandson Tutankhamun, perhaps a memento from a beloved grandmother.[11] In 1976, microprobe analysis conducted on hair samples from the Elder Lady and the lock from the inscribed coffins found the two were a near perfect match, thereby identifying the Elder Lady as Tiye.[14] This identification was further established by DNA analysis in 2010.[15] Tiye was found to be about 40–50 years old at the time of her death, and 145 cm (4 ft 9 in) tall.[16]

Tiye's mummy has the inventory number CG 61070.[17] In April 2021 her mummy was moved from the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to National Museum of Egyptian Civilization along with those of 3 other queens and 18 kings in an event termed the Pharaohs' Golden Parade.[18]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Tyldesley 2006, p. 115.
  2. O'Connor & Cline 1998, p. 5.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Tyldesley 2006, p. 116.
  4. O'Connor & Cline 1998, p. 5-6.
  5. Shaw 2003, p. 253.
  6. Kozloff & Bryan 1992, nos. 24, 57, 103 & 104.
  7. Kozloff & Bryan 1992, fig. II, 5.
  8. O'Connor & Cline 1998, p. 7.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Tyldesley 2006, p. 121.
  10. EA 26, a letter from king Tušratta of Mitanni to Queen Tiye.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 157.
  12. Reeves 2001, p. 75-78.
  13. O'Connor & Cline 1998.
  14. Harris et al. 1978.
  15. Hawass et al. 2010.
  16. Hawass & Saleem 2016.
  17. Habicht et al. 2016.
  18. Parisse, Emmanuel (5 April 2021). "22 Ancient Pharaohs Have Been Carried Across Cairo in an Epic Golden Parade". ScienceAlert.


  • Dodson, A./Hilton, D., 2004: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Habicht, M./Rühli, F./Bouwman, A., 2016: Identification of Ancient Egyptian Royal Mummies from the 18th Dynasty reconsidered. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
  • Harris, J.E./Wente, E.F./Cox, C.F./Nawaway, I.E./Kowalski, C.J./Storey, A.T./Russell, W.R./Ponitz, P.V./Walker, G.F., 1978: Mummy of the "Elder Lady" in the Tomb of Amenhotep II: Egyptian Museum Catalog Number 61070. Science. 200 (4346): 1151.
  • 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. 303 (7): 638–647.
  • Hawass, Z./Saleem, S.N., 2016: Scanning the Pharaohs: CT Imaging of the New Kingdom Royal Mummies. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press.
  • Kozloff, A./Bryan, B., 1992: Royal and Divine Statuary in Egypt's Dazzling Sun: Amenhotep III and his World. Cleveland.
  • O'Connor, D./Cline, E.H., 1998: Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Reeves, C.N., 2001: Akhenaten, Egypt’s False Prophet. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Shaw, I., 2003: The Oxford history of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press, London.
  • Tyldesley, J., 2006: Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.