Amenirdis the Great – Princess of Nubia – Queen of Egypt XXV Dynasty

Amenirdis the Great – Princess of Nubia – Queen of Egypt XXV Dynasty

“The Ancient Kushite princess commonly known as Amenirdis I was the daughter of Kashta and sister of Piye and Shabaka. Kashta arranged to have her adopted by the Divine Adoratrice of Amun, Shepenupet I, at Thebes as her successor; this proves that he already controlled Upper Egypt prior to the reign of Piye, his successor. At the reign of Piye, Amenirdis was established as God’s Wife of Amun in Thebes, and this important post typifies the policy of the Napatan kings of Egypt and may anticipate the central role which royal women held in the later history of Kush.

She occupied one of the highest ranks a woman could attain in a cult of the god; that was the position known as God’s Wife. Another high temple rank for women was Divine Adoratrice, which in the 18th Dynasty was sometimes held by women of high status at court, like the mother of the queen, or by the wife of the high priest in the Amun cult at Karnak. From the reign of Osorkon III to that of Psammetik III, Thebes was ruled by a succession of five daughters of the ruling royal house who would live in Thebes and give all their attention to the god’s cult.

The first was Shepenwepet I, who was appointed Divine Wife by her father, Osorkon II, who received all the estates and property formerly possessed by the High Priest. She also officiated at the Temple of Osiris. Shepenwepet I continued in power under Osorkon’s successor, Takeloth III, though no mention of the Divine Wife appears in his records and he made no arrangements for a successor. When at the end of the Third Intermediate Period the rulers of Kush began to extend their authority into Egypt and took power away from the Libyans, Piankh invaded Thebes from Kush to become the first ruler of the 25th Dynasty.

He persuaded Shepenwepet I to adopt his sister Amenirdis, as successor. So Amenirdis carried the old title of Divine Adoratrice Apparent. Amenirdis I, sister of the general Piankh, reigned as Divine Wife under Piankh, Shabaka, and Shabitko of the 25th Dynasty. She in turne adopted Piankh’s daughter to succeed her as Shepenwepet II. Some years later Shepenwepet II adopted the daughter of Taharqa to reign as Amenirdis II.

There is a fragmentary stela that refers to Taharqa having given his daughter to marry the vizier Montuemhat and that they had a son named Nasalsa. When Amenirdis I died, her niece completed a mortuary chapel at Medinet Habu for her, though nothing now remains in the burial chapel. But her grave goods can be found in museums all over the world.”

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