So, okay, this badass woman from history was both wife and sister to Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao, which, obviously, is too bad. Hwoever, if we have learned anything from Game of Thrones, it is that weird familial relationships definitely happened back in the day, and that they don’t always preclude someone being a good mother or loving wife. … I don’t know what I’m saying, this is a bad start. Let’s try again.
Ahhotep I, who was married to a Pharaoh and it’s none of our business how else they were related, was born some time around 1560 BCE, which makes her our oldest badass to date! She also had a long (for the time period, she actually only lived til about 30… eat your vitamins guys! Bathe regularly and enjoy modern medicine!), storied life. She has also caused some academic controv by being one of several Ahhoteps, each with their own fancy coffin and interesting life history.
A well-behaved and responsible Queen, Ahhotep’s first duty was to provide Egypt with heirs—and she sure did, giving birth to Pharaoh Ahmose I, and six other Egyptian princes and princesses, most of whom were also named Ahmose. But beyond the regular wife/mother routine, Ahhotep became a defender of her people: when her husband was killed in battle against the Hyksos, Ahhotep stepped forward and held off the invaders until her son was of age to lead the army. A stele—fancy archaeology word for large piece of stone or wood… think chilled-out obelisks—in a temple at Karnak says of her victory:
“The king’s wife, the noble lady, who knew everything, assembled Kemet. She looked after what her Sovereign had established. She guarded it. She assembled her fugitives. She brought together her deserters. She pacified her Upper Egyptians. She subdued her rebels, The king´s wife Ahhotep given life”.
Don’t even get me started on how cool it is that this piece of stone-carving still exists in the world, thousands and thousands of years after this woman and her entire dynasty have passed. Ladyfriends, don’t get tattoos. Consider a well-placed stele as a lasting testament to your favourite band/inspirational phrase/ill-advised boyfriend. Much cooler than a tramp stamp.
After losing 2 out of 5 Ahmoses in battle, Ahhotep’s people finally got it together and drove out their invaders for good, at which point the Ahmose in charge headed out to Nubia to reclaim some lost land. Hyksos sympathizers were all “now’s our chance!” and tried to sneak back into Ahhotep’s territory, only to be driven back by the Queen who knew everything, OBV. Her son was pretty embarrassed about it, and invented the world’s first mother’s day (not really) by presenting Ahhotep with the ‘golden flies of valour’ and a slew of other priceless jewellery. Kind of makes your macaroni card feel stingy, huh?
Though her original tomb was never found, this Egyptian queen, whose name means “the Moon is satisfied”, was apparently laid to rest in full pharaoh style, with an ornate sarcophagus and surrounded by all her worldly goods. Again, though, forget the flies of valour guys. That stele is where it’s at. The moon is satisfied indeed.
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