|Canopic Jar of Kiya - Metropolitan Museum of Art|
There are also instances where a pharaoh married his own daughters, but whether these were merely political unions undertaken for reasons of State or real marriages is still open to debate. Also, sometimes foreign princesses were sent to Egypt as a wife for pharaoh, in order to cement alliances and strengthen international relations. We do not even know the names of many of these shadowy women who lived out their lives within the walls of pharaoh’s palaces, but sometimes history does reveal fragmentary details and scraps of evidence that give us some tantalising hints and a glimpse into the life of one of these more obscure Egyptian queens, such as the mysterious Kiya who was a secondary wife of the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten.
He called this new city Akhetaten or ‘Horizon of the Aten’, now known as Amarna. This new capital city was lavishly decorated with images of Akhenaten, his Great Royal Wife Nefertiti and their growing family of six daughters worshipping the Aten and also with many relaxed, informal scenes of daily life within the royal family. These depictions of the royal couple being affectionate with each other and the young princesses were rendered in a completely new, natural manner that had never been seen in Egypt before, as all art had previously been very formal and based on tradition.
So if Kiya was not royal then who was she and where did she come from? Kiya is not a common Egyptian name which has led to some Egyptologists speculating that she may have been a foreign princess sent to live at the court of Akhenaten as one of his minor wives. In 1887 some 300 baked clay tablets inscribed in cuneiform were discovered by a peasant woman at Amarna, who had been digging for ‘sebakh’ or ancient, decayed mud brick to use as fertiliser. These proved to be the diplomatic archives of Akhenaten’s administration, written mainly in Akkadian, and were the correspondence between Egypt and foreign courts.
Some of this correspondence related to a daughter of King Tushratta of Mittani, who had been sent as a wife to Pharaoh Amenophis III during the latter part of his reign and on his death was inherited by his son Akhenaten. This Mittanian princess was called Tadukhipa, and it has been suggested that Kiya was a shortened version of this foreign name. However, this remains just a theory as there is no hard archaeological evidence that links these two royal ladies.
|Talatat - Kiya and her Daughter|
These funerary articles from KV55 included a badly damaged, but elaborately decorated gilded coffin in the ‘rishi’ or feathered style that had originally been inscribed for an Amarnan royal woman and also an exquisite set of alabaster canopic jars carved with the head of a beautiful Egyptian woman wearing a Nubian style wig that was very fashionable during the latter years of Akhenaten’s reign. The inscriptions on the canopic jars had also been altered, but there is enough evidence to show that they had originally been inscribed for Kiya and had been made for her for use in her own tomb.
A wine docket from one of Kiya’s estates has been found that is inscribed with Year 11 of Akhenaten’s reign, but there is no other evidence of her after this date. It is not known what happened to Kiya; whether she died naturally or whether a darker fate overtook this beautiful queen. There have been several theories put forward as to what could have happened to Kiya, and there is some evidence that she could have fallen into disgrace, which might have led to her being sent from the Court or even killed. Was Akhenaten’s Great Royal Wife Nefertiti jealous of the love and attention that her husband showered on Kiya, and so plotted to get rid of her beautiful rival?
Kiya was also once thought to have been the mother of the boy king Tutankhamun and her ability to produce a son and heir was thought to be one of the possible triggers for Nefertiti’s jealousy and fury, as she had only produced six daughters. However, in recent years Dr Zahi Hawass and Carsten Pusch have undertaken genetic studies on the Egyptian royal mummies. These studies have shown that Tutankhamun’s natural mother was someone only known as the ‘Younger Lady’, as her unidentified mummy was found in the cache of royal mummies discovered in KV35, the tomb of Amenophis II in the Valley of the Kings.
However, the DNA evidence also showed that the ‘Younger Lady’ was a daughter of Amenophis III and Queen Tiye and therefore a sister of Akhenaten. This would tend to eliminate the possibility of Kiya being the mother of Tutankhamun, as she is never referred to in inscriptions as being a ‘King’s Daughter’ or a ‘King’s Sister’. However, there is also no archaeological evidence that has yet come to light to show that Akhenaten ever married one of his sisters, so the sands of Egypt still has many secrets to reveal from the Amarna period. The ‘Younger Lady’ could potentially be Sitamen, Henuttaneb, Isis or Nebetah or a royal daughter of Amenophis III and Tiye that is still unknown to history.
|Valley of the Kings|
However, there were no artefacts or inscriptions found in KV63 to link the tomb to Kiya, and her final resting place still remains a mystery. As her usurped coffin and canopic jars were found in KV55, having being used for another burial, does this mean that her mummy was destroyed in antiquity? If it was, this would support the theory that she had been disgraced at some stage, and that her superb funerary equipment was taken and reused as an act of revenge.