Queen Nitocris (Neterkare or Nitikrty)

Queen Nitocris (Neterkare or Nitiqrty - "The Soul of Re is Divine") left no archaeological record. She is known to us only from the Turin Canon, Manetho and Herodotus (also refers to a Babylonian queen with the same name). If she did rule Ancient Egypt it was most likely at the end of the Old Kingdom and the beginning of the First Intermediate Period.

Herodotus recorded that her husband, Merenre II, was murdered. The Queen took her revenge on the murderers and then took her own life.

Nitocris was the beautiful and virtuous wife and sister of King Metesouphis II (Merenre II), an Old Kingdom monarch who had ascended to the throne at the end of the Sixth Dynasty but who had been savagely murdered by his subjects soon afterwards. Nitocris then became the sole ruler of Ancient Egypt and determined to avenge the death of her beloved husband-brother. She gave orders for the secret construction of a huge underground hall connected to the river Nile by a hidden channel. When this chamber was complete she threw a splendid inaugural banquet, inviting as guests all those whom she held personally responsible for the death of the king. While the unsuspecting guests were feasting she commanded that the secret conduit be opened and. As the Nile waters flooded in, all the traitors were drowned. In order to escape the vengeance of the Egyptian people she then committed suicide by throwing herself into a great chamber filled with hot ashes and suffocating

Manetho described her as "braver than all men of her time, the most beautiful of all women, fair skinned with red cheeks", but then he also claimed that she built the third pyramid at Giza (due to his missreading of Menkaure as Menkare (her prenomen).

Some commentators have suggested that "she" was in fact a "he", while others have decided that Nitiqrty or Neterkare never actually existed. It is also possible that Nitiqrty and Neterkare were separate individuals. Without more evidence it is hard to be certain.

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copyright J Hill 2010
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