The Problem of Meritefnut: A “God’s Wife” During the 25th–26th Dynasties

In: Journal of Egyptian History
Jeremy Pope The College of William & Mary

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At the beginning of the 20th century, a socle and hinge both inscribed for the “God’s Wife Meritefnut” appeared on the antiquities market in Upper Egypt. The inscription upon the hinge affiliated Meritefnut with three additional names from the era of Kushite rule: Shepenwepet, Pi(ankh)y, and Amenirdis. For more than a century, the woman dubbed by Kenneth Kitchen as “the mysterious Meryt-Tefnut” has remained unidentified, and the problems that she presents have never received more than a few sentences of discussion in the published literature to date. Yet the state of the evidence does not warrant resignation. Prosopographical analysis yields only five possible explanations for Meritefnut’s identity, and one of these explanations is considerably more tenable than the others. Moreover, every one of the available explanations challenges at least one widely-held assumption about the official protocol of the God’s Wife of Amun.

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