Queen Tetisheri

Detail from Tetisheri Stele (copyright Paul James Cowie)

Tetisheri was the wife of Pharaoh Senakhtenre Ahmose of the late seventeenth dynasty. She is sometimes referred to as the “mother of the New Kingdom” because of her powerful influence on her son Seqenenre Tao and her grandson Ahmose I who fought to expel the Hyksos from Egypt and lead the country into a new age of wealth and prosperity.

She is also thought to have been the mother of Queen Ahhotep, the wife of Sequenenre Tao who acted as regent for Ahmose in his early reign.

Tetisheri Stele (copyright Paul James Cowie)

Tetisheri was not of royal blood. Her mother and father were Tjenna and Neferu (otherwise unattested nobles) but her husband made her his “Great Wife”. In addition to the many titles and privileges given to her by her husband, she became the first queen to wear the vulture headdress of Nekhbet. This crown became an icon which soon became closely linked to the power of the “Great Wife” as a complement to the power of the pharaoh.

We know very little about her husband. There was some debate regarding his name, and whether he was the brother of Sobekemsaf B (the wife of Intef VI). When her husband died Tetisheri may have acted as regent for her son Seqenenre Tao and there is some evidence that when he rebelled against the Hyksos, she spearheaded the recruitment of troops. When her son was killed in action, she supported both Kamose and Ahmose as they continued to fight. She seems to have been a valued advisor and confidant for all three kings.

Probably fake statuette of Tetisheri (copyright Juan R. Lazaro)

Tetisheri lived to the grand old age of seventy. During her lifetime, numerous decrees proclaimed her services to the Egyptian people. On her death, Ahmose I granted her a great estate, pyramid, and mortuary temple with priests and servants to conduct rituals in her honor. He also had a cenotaph constructed for her at Abydos.

A beautiful statuette of her housed in the British Museum has, unfortunately, been convincingly demonstrated to be a fake. There was another badly damaged statue of her which is more likely to be genuine, but it has been lost.

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  • Bourriau, J (2000) “The Second Intermediate Period”, in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt Ed I. Shaw
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Copyright J Hill 2010