Queen Tetisheri – The Mother of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty




By Juan R. Lazaro - CC BY 2.0

Queen Tetisheri was known to be one of Ancient Egypt’s most important queens. She was known for her strong influence over her son, Seqenenre Tao and her grandson, Ahmose, the founder of the 18th dynasty. Queen Tetisheri held the titles of “King’s Mother” and “Great King’s Wife”. 1 She would, later on, play an active role in establishing the 18th dynasty.

Tetisheri was not of royal blood. She was the daughter of commoners. She married Seqenenre Tao I. Her husband was the one who first initiated the push to unify their country. Tetisheri went on to bear two children Seqenenre Tao II, and Queen Ahhotep.

It was believed that Tetisheri was widowed while she was still young. She then served as regent to her son. 2 Tetisheri exercised great powers particularly in military affairs.3 Her son, Seqenenre Tao II married his sister, Ahhotep. He continued his father’s war against the Hyksos, but he was killed in battle. He left two young sons Kamose and Ahmose. Kamose continued the war, but he did not succeed in the war before he died.

His younger brother, Ahmose took the throne. 4 Tetisheri served again as regent for him. Evidence to this is shown through the monuments that Ahmose erected in her honour. Tetisheri lived through a great age. 5 She lived to see King Ahmose expel the Hyksos and founded the eighteenth dynasty. She received many honours during and after her lifetime. She then directed and advised four kings throughout four generations. 6

After she died, Tetisheri had a lavishly decorated tomb at Thebes. She also has a pyramid at Abydos. Tetisheri has been mostly known for the Stela of King Ahmose which was set up for her in Abydos. 7

By Stela_of_Ahmose_Honouring_Tetisheri_(Egyptian_Museum_CG_34002).jpg: Paul James Cowie (Pjamescowie) CC BY 2.0

The Stela of King Ahmose is sculpted from limestone. There is a twin scene on the upper portion of the stela showing both King Ahmose and his grandmother, Tetisheri, behind him. On the right side, the king is wearing a double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, a short kilt with an oxtail attached. He is holding a staff in his right hand and mace in his left hand. 8 He is talking to Tetisheri, who is seated at an offering table. Tetisheri wears the regalia of a queen. She wears a vulture cap, double feathers, and holds a floral cap. 9 The left side shows the king and queen represented in a similar manner. However, King Ahmose is wearing only the crown of Upper Egypt. The inscription reads:

“To be given life, the son of the king, begotten by his body, King Ahmose, the good god, the lord of the two lands, the one identified with Horus.”

The inscription also lists Tetisheri titles:

“The wife of a king, the mother of the king, Tetisheri, living forever.”10

Under the inscriptions, is a recording of King Ahmose telling Queen Ahmose-Nefertary:

“I, it is, who have remembered the mother of my mother and the
mother of my father, great king’s wife and king’s mother, Tetisheri,
triumphant. [Although] she already has a tomb and a mortuary
chapel on the soil of Thebes and Abydos, I have said this to thee,
in that my majesty has desired to have made for her [also] a
pyramid and a house in Tazeser, as a monumental donation of
my majesty. Its lake shall be dug, its trees shall be planted, its
offerings shall be founded, equipped with people, endowed with
lands, presented with herds, mortuary priests and ritual priests
having their duties, every man knowing his stipulation … His
majesty did this because he so greatly loved her, beyond
everything. Never did former kings the like of it, for their mothers”.11

Thus, while not much is known about Tetisheri, asides from the briefest details, she was known to be a politically active queen. Even though she was a woman of non-royal blood, she rose to become queen and was the matriarch of the 18th dynasty. She served as regent for both Seqenenre Tao II and King Ahmose. It was because she was a capable regent that her grandson preserved her name for thousands of years on a commemorative stela. Therefore, Tetisheri’s accomplishments show that she is an important queen who helped pave the way for the founding of a new dynasty. 12

  1. Lawless and Cameron, p. 13
  2. Hawass, p. 17
  3. Lawless and Cameron, p. 13
  4. Hawass, p. 17
  5. Lawless and Cameron, p. 13
  6. Hawass, p. 17
  7.  Lawless and Cameron, p. 13
  8. El-Shahawy and Al-Misri, p. 155
  9. Lawless and Cameron, p. 14
  10. El-Shahawy and Al-Misri, p. 155
  11. Breasted, and Harper pp. 15–16
  12. Sources:
    Breasted, James Henry, and William Rainey Harper. Ancient Records. Univ. of Chicago Press,
    1906.
    El-Shahawy, Abeer, and Mathaf Al-Misri. “91. Stela of King Ahmose.” The Egyptian Museum in
                     Cairo, American University in Cairo Press, 2005, p. 155.
    Hawass, Zahi A. “Three Royal Ladies.” Silent Images: Women in Pharanoic Egypt,
    American University in Cairo Press, 2008, pp. 17–18.
    Lawless, Jennifer, and Kate Cameron. “New Kingdom Egypt to the Death of Thutmose IV.”
     Studies in Ancient Egypt, Cengage Learning, 2009, pp. 13–14.






3 Comments

  1. Queen Tetisheri’s son married his sister . Neither of their issue appears to have physical deformities.It is claimed that sibling marriages result in a greater incidence of congenital aberrations than non sibling unions. Is this actually confirmed in the historical record ?

  2. Yes it is confirmed that Tetisheri’s son married his full sister. You can find the information in Zahi Hawass book, Silent Images on page 47.

  3. Yes it is confirmed that Tetisheri’s son married his full sister. You can find the information in Zahi Hawass book, Silent Images on page 47.

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