Egypt's Golden Empire
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Born a commoner, Queen Tiy soon became the near equal of her husband, Pharaoh Amenhotep III and was even worshipped as a god.

To strengthen the bloodline of the royal family, pharaohs would usually marry close female relatives. Amenhotep III chose to break with convention by marrying Tiy, a commoner. He announced the news on a stone scarab - a small insect-shaped stone, engraved with letters and used to carry news across the empire.

Common get it

The daughter of Yuya, a chariot officer, and Thuya, a queen's servant, Tiy would have been familiar with the pharaoh's court, but she was still a commoner. Any lesser woman might have been intimidated by her sudden rise to fortune. Not Tiy.

The traditional role of a queen was passive - to pleasure the king and provide him with an heir. Tiy wanted more than this.

Stand by your man

To his credit, Amenhotep realized the value of having a strong, intelligent woman by his side and was happy to agree to her wishes. Tiy soon became central to her husband's reign and, effectively, became his second-in-command.

Almost as soon as they were married, Tiy was mentioned in the stone dispatches sent out by Amenhotep to foreign kings and princes. Even more unusually, foreign kings were prepared to deal with her on official business and wrote to Tiy as an equal, ignoring her gender and humble birth.


Women were treated with far more respect in Egypt than in most other countries at this time. But for a woman to have such an important political role was rare. Abroad, it must have been almost unbelievable.

As her stature grew, so did her statues. On carved images on temple walls, Tiy rapidly increased in size until she was shown alongside - and often as large as - pictures of her husband, the pharaoh. This was an enormous compliment and demonstrated to his people how much Amenhotep respected his wife and regarded her as his near-equal.

Remains of Amenhotep and Tiy Temple

Till death us do part

His respect for Tiy led the pharaoh to build two huge temples in the south, by the Nile in Nubia. One temple was built for Amenhotep; the second was built for Tiy. However, the two temples at Soleb were not just built for the pharaoh and his wife; they were also dedicated to them. Deep in this southern part of the Egyptian empire, Amenhotep and Tiy were not just obeyed as rulers but were also worshipped as gods.

Tiy outlived her pharaoh husband and remained a respected and powerful figure during the reign of her son, Amenhotep IV, or Akenhaten.

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Egypt's Golden Empire