Nefertiti: Egypt's Sun Queen

Joyce A. Tyldesley, Author
Joyce A. Tyldesley, Author Viking Books $27.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-670-86998-5
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Paperback - 232 pages - 978-0-14-025820-2
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If biographers choose their subjects based on interest, then Nefertiti, beloved queen of the heretic pharaoh, Akhenaten, is certainly a worthy one. But she's also scholar Tyldesley's (Hatchepsut, etc.) most elusive subject yet, since, as Tyldesley admits, there are only ""meagre shreds of evidence"" that can support a variety of interpretations about the sun queen. Drawing on a ""random assortment"" of archeological remains, a few historical documents and much religious and mortuary art and architecture, she presents an engaging portrait of what Egyptian life was like during Akhenaten's reign, as well as the time just before and after. But because nothing is known about Nefertiti's parentage (no one claimed to be related to her) or her exact role as queen, and no verifiable conclusion can be reached about her fate, the information here is closer to pure context or even a biography of Akhenaten himself. Even the artists of the 18th Dynasty weren't concerned with exact representation, making Tyldesley's job even harder. Ever since the Germans first put her now famous bust on display in Berlin in 1924, Nefertiti has become a symbol of the Egyptian world and of beauty itself. Unfortunately, due to the lack of other reliable records, this account of her life is mostly speculation, not established truth. (Mar.)
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