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Great Royal Wife
Eighteenth dynasty queen
Queen Tey as depicted at the chapel at Akhmim (from Lepsius, Denkmäler)
Egyptian name
Dynastyeighteenth of Egypt
ReligionAncient Egyptian religion

Tey was the wife of Kheperkheprure Ay, Ay (occasionally "Aya"), who was the penultimate pharaoh of Ancient Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty. She also had been the wet nurse of Nefertiti.[1]

Her husband, Ay filled important administrative roles in the courts of several pharaohs - Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, and Tutankhamen - before ascending the throne following the death of Tutankhamen, as the male line of the royal family became extinct. He is believed to be connected to the royal family, probably a brother of Queen Tiye (wife of Amenhotep III). Some researchers theorize that he even may have been the father of Nefertiti.


In inscriptions from the Amarna Period, Tey is called "nurse of the Great Royal Wife". This indicates that even as some theorize, if Ay was Nefertiti's father, Tey was not her mother; according to this theory, Tey was possibly the second wife of Ay after Nefertiti's mother died.[2] However, Ay and his wife Tey are never called the father and mother of Nefertiti. Tey's only connection with Nefertiti was that she was the "nurse of the great queen" Nefertiti, which may mean that if Tey was his only wife, Ay was not Nefertiti's father.[3] It has been proposed that Mutbenret was Ay and Tey's daughter. She later married Horemheb, Ay's successor on the throne,[4] however, the name Mutbenret and Mutnedjmet, Horemheb's queen are not identical, which implies that these are two different women. It is also possible that Ay's intended successor, Nakhtmin, was his son, possibly by Tey.[5]

Tey may have had a sister named Mutemnub. On a statue now in the Brooklyn Museum, a dignitary named Ay is called Second Prophet of Amun, high priest of Mut, and Steward of Queen Tey. This man's parents are recorded on the statue as Mutemnub and Nakhtmin. Mutemnub is said to be a sister of Queen Tey, and the inscription is usually interpreted to mean that she was the sister of Tey, wife of Ay.[6]

Ay and Tey are depicted in Amarna tomb 25 as receiving gifts from Akhenaten and Nefertiti (from Lepsius, Denkmäler)
Ay and Tey as depicted in WV23 (from Lepsius, Denkhmäler)


Tey is depicted in her husband's unused Amarna tomb,[1] prepared while he was an administrator to Akhenaten. Her prominence in the decoration is exceptional, but her positions as nurse and tutor of the Great Wife (Nefertiti), and King's Royal Ornament fully justify it.[7] A reward scene is depicted on the North Wall, East Side. Aye and Tey are shown before the window of appearances. Akhenaten is shown in a Khepresh crown and Nefertiti in her well-known blue crown (in this case decorated with three uraei). Meritaten, Meketaten, and Ankhesenpaaten are shown in the window of appearances as well. The elder two daughters seem to be throwing rewards to Aye and Tey, while Ankhesenpaaten stands on the pillow before Nefertiti and is caressing her chin.[8]


Tey also is mentioned on a wooden box inscribed for The true scribe of the king whom he loves, troop commander, overseer of cavalry, and Father of the God, Ay. The text mentions: The much-valued one, the sole one (unique) of Re, appreciated by the Great Royal Wife, the mistress of the house, Tiy.[9]

Great Royal Wife

When Ay assumed the throne after the death of Tutankhamen, Tey became his Great Royal Wife and then held the titles Hereditary Princess (iryt-p`t), Great of Praises (wrt-hzwt), Lady of The Two Lands (nbt-t3wy), Great King's Wife, his beloved (hmt-niswt-wrt meryt.f), and Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt (hnwt-Shm'w T3-mhw).[10]

Queen Tey is depicted in the tomb used for Ay (WV23) in the Valley of the Kings after he had become king. She appears behind Ay in a scene where Ay appears to be pulling lotus flowers from a marsh. The images are rather severely damaged.

Tey may have been buried with her husband in WV23. Fragments of female human bones found in the tomb may be Tey's.[11]

Tey is also depicted in a rock chapel dedicated to fertility god Min in Akhmim.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, (London: Thames & Hudson, 2004) ISBN 0-500-05128-3, p.157
  2. ^ Dodson & Hilton, pp.36,147
  3. ^ Jacobus Van Dijk, Horemheb and the Struggle for the Throne of Tutankhamun, BACE 7 (1996), p.32
  4. ^ Dodson & Hilton, pp.153, 155-156
  5. ^ Dodson & Hilton, pp.151-153
  6. ^ Dodson & Hilton, p.155
  7. ^ de Garis Davies, N. (1908). The Rock Tombs of El Amarna Volume VI: The Tombs of Parennefer, Tutu, and Ay (2004 Reprint ed.). Egypt Exploration Society. p. 21. ISBN 0-85698-161-3.
  8. ^ Norman De Garis Davies, The Rock Tombs of el-Amarna, Parts V and VI: Part 5 Smaller tombs and boundary stelae & Part 6 Tombs of Parennefer, Tutu and Ay, Egypt Exploration Society (2004)
  9. ^ Roeder, G.: Aegyptische Inschriften aus den Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin. - Bd.II - Leipzig: 1924. - p.267-268
  10. ^ Grajetzki, Ancient Egyptian Queens: a hieroglyphic dictionary, Golden House Publications. p.63-64
  11. ^ J. Tyldesley, Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt, 2006, Thames & Hudson

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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