Queen Nefertiti of Egypt is remembered for her beauty and power, especially after her bust was discovered in 1912. But much of her life remains unknown. What historians usually agree on is that Nefertiti was married to Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, who later assumed the name Akhenaten, and evidence suggests that theirs was an affectionate, loving relationship.
Though Akhenaten ruled from 1353 to 1336 BCE, the historical trail about Nefertiti comes to a dead-end in the 12th year of his reign and evidence of Nefertiti disappears. What happened to her? How did she vanish from history?
Scholars have put forward various explanations, but none of them have been definitively proven. Some suggest she passed as a plague swept through Egypt, or fell out of favor; others allege she was actually elevated to become her husband’s co-regent under a new name.
Adding more mystery, a rock with an inscription discovered in 2012 mentions Nefertiti’s name as “Great Royal Wife” and dates back to the 16th year of Akhenaten’s reign. This new evidence goes against the theories that Nefertiti passed or lost power in the 12th year. It also suggests that Nefertiti may have outlived her husband by several years (he passed in the 17th year of his reign) and may have even ruled Egypt in her own right.