Queen Nefertari was the favorite wife of Pharaoh Ramses II. During 1539- 1075 BCE, Egyptian civilization was at its height. Women were considered equal to men. They could own property and own businesses. However, pharaoh’s wives, concubines, and daughters lived in the Royal Women’s Palace, administrated by the male overseer and scribes.
Life in the Royal Women’s Palace was not always harmonious. One of Ramses III’s secondary wives, Queen Tiye wanted her son, Pentawer, to inherit the throne and instigated a plot to kill Ramses III. Injured, he died sixteen days later, but the perpetrators were caught, tried, and many were executed.
Looking attractive was important. Women used kohl, a black powder to outline their eyes. The queen’s name meant beautiful companion. Nefer was often part of a woman’s name. Women wore jewelry according to their prosperity, ranging from shell and earthenware beads to gold. Not only did they wear it for beauty, but as protection from evil influences and to ensure fertility.
The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth’s exhibit features a one-tenth scale model of Queen Nefertari’s tomb and life-size decorated pillars similar to ones holding up the roof of the underground tomb discovered by archaeologist, Ernesto Schiaparelli.
Foot-high examples of the shabtis, shaped to resemble the deceased, were common in tombs of rich and poor. Often depicted with tools, they were included to work for the deceased when she emerged into the after-life. Thirty-four shabtis were recovered, but Queen Nefertari’s tomb probably held hundreds before some had been looted.
Floor-to-ceiling paintings show wall decorations.