Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Heirs of Akhenaten

The Amarnan period of Ancient Egyptian history, i.e. the period of pharaonic rule from the death of Amenhotep III through to the reign of Horemheb, is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating yet enigmatic for the scholar or Egyptologist.  It is not just the case of analyzing and endeavoring to interpret a period of history that occurred close to 3500 years ago where historical documentation was scant, but to study an era that was deliberately obliterated from history by the immediate successors to the throne.  Not only did Horemheb usurp monuments and inscriptions that had been made to Akhenaten and his heirs, but an official rewriting of history took place; whereby Horemheb claimed that he was immediate successor to Amenhotep III, thereby subsuming over thirty "lost" years into his reign.  
Understandably, it was the failed attempt at religious change in the constitution that was condemn Akhenaten and his religious reforms to a shadowy obscurity; most of the events can only be speculated upon during the latter years of his reign.  This obscurity was to change when archaeologists such as Flinders Petrie uncovered the ruins of his lost city, Akhetaten, in the latter half of the nineteenth century; together with the discovery of the Amarna letters, and ultimately, culminating in the discovery of various 18th dynasty tombs and caches in the Valley of the Kings.  These were the tombs of some of the key individuals during this period; including those of Yuya and Thuya, the mysterious occupant of Tomb KV55, and a small, near intact, tomb found in 1922 by Howard Carter of the arguably the most well known pharaoh in modern times, Tutankhamun.  It is however due to this destruction of the historical record that the tombs discovered so far in the Valley of the Kings from that period have remained in better condition than those of other periods, as these kings and their family’s memory had been so effectively repressed. 
It was once suggested that Akhenaten was deposed as pharaoh, and was replaced by the young Tutankhamun [then named Tutankhaten]. Tutankhamun subsequently married one of his predecessor’s daughters so as to assure his right of succession to the throne.  All sorts of crackpot theories were born of this suggestion of Akhenaten having been ousted from the throne, arguably the most ludicrous being that Akhenaten was in fact the Biblical figure of Moses. Following his deposal; he went into exile under a new identity, leaving Egypt behind, with his followers. Among these followers were the Israelites, heading across the desert for the land of Canaan, a “promised land”. There, Akhenaten would able to continue his monotheistic pursuits and ideals, the Aten reborn and renamed Jehovah.  This hypothesis can be immediately discounted based upon the surviving evidence such as inscriptions, together with DNA testing on various royal mummies that took place in early 2010. Also, after Akhenaten’s kingship came to an end, the evidence exists to support the notion that the cult of the Aten didn’t entirely vanish, and continued to be practiced by the Royal family and their supporters for some time after. 
Scholars have long determined that the reign of Akhenaten ended after seventeen years, from wine labels which dated their vintage to the year of the king’s reign. Wine labels are used for determining the length of a king’s reign, together with, where possible, inscriptions or monuments.  A questionable Egyptian historian, writing in the third century BC, named Manetho was to write the Aegyptiaca [History of Egypt], an important if not entirely accurate work. The Aegytiaca displays numerous inaccuracies , not least around this period, drawing into question its reliability. Despite its shortcomings, Manetho was clearly able to gather information now lost to us, accurate or not, from this turbulent period of Egyptian history; a difficult task given the subsequent damnatio memoriae instigated under the reign of Horemheb.


It appears that in the wake of this tumultuous and obscure period that Akhenaten appears to have had at least one, quite possibly two immediate successors prior to the ascension of Tutankhamun to the throne.  Was a co-regency was entertained between Akhenaten, and one or both of these individuals?  These possible co-regents were named Smenkhkare, and Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten [hereafter referred to as Ankhkheperure except in instances where the full title is used] respectively.  It cannot be determined with certainly whether the two kings ruled in their own right, nor the sequence in which they ruled, in the role of co-regent or pharaoh. Experts are inclined to follow the chronology of Akhenaten, Smenkhkhare, Ankhkheperure, Tutankhamun, Ay and finally Horemheb; this same chronology has been adopted when discussing the succession of the last of the 18th dynasty kings.
Very little is known of either of the individuals.  A significant number of experts have proposed that it is the remains of Smenkhkare which were found by Theodore Davis in the coffin of Tomb KV55; which would thereby identify Smenkhkare as the father of Tutankhamun.  In 2002, Joyce Filer, anthropologist and Egyptologist at the British Museum, stated that “[the] human remains from Tomb 55, as presented to me, are those of a young man who had no apparent abnormalities and was no older than his early twenties at death and probably a few years younger. If those wanting to identify the remains with Akhenaten demand an age at death of more than mid-twenties, then this is not the man for them. As an obviously younger individual, some people might like to identify the remains as belonging to the mysterious Smenkhkare. Might they, in fact, belong to neither of them? Whoever he was, the similarity between the Tomb 55 skull and that of Tutankhamun, Akhenaten's son, certainly suggests he was a member of the royal family."   
The relationship between Tutankhamun and the body in KV55 has been corroborated by recent DNA analysis, thus his paternity has been ascertained.  However, these discoveries complicate to the case.  KV55's has been identified as being a son of king Amenhotep III, and of Queen Tiye; and was initially named, following publication of the DNA results, as Akhenaten.  A number of experts disagree, such as Filer, and even the initial report by G. Elliot Smith.  Smith's findings were presented in open defiance of the belief of Theodore Davis, who discovered the tomb, and believed the body to be that of Queen Tiye.  Smith identified the body as being that of a man aged between 25-26 years old.  However some experts continue maintain the remains are still that of a middle aged man.  Davis' initial suggestion can be wholly dismissed as unfounded, and purely that of an opportunist in determination to find a royal tomb. 

Drawing further information from the DNA reports, Tutankhamun's DNA shows that he was born of a brother-sister union.  His mother has also been identified as the anonymous, informally named “Younger Lady” found in KV35.  She was found alongside her mother, Tiye, previously whose remains were given the name of “The Elder Lady”. These bodies were discovered by Victor Loret in 1898. Previously Tutankhamun was thought to be the son of Kiya, one of Akhenaten’s secondary queens. These theories can be discarded, as the Younger Lady is not Kiya.  Of the few surviving objects and inscriptions, nowhere is Kiya referred to as being either the “King’s daughter”, nor as “daughter of the God”; both titles used when referring to a royal princess.  Kiya's name means “monkey”; an affectionate yet unlikely, unsuitable name for an Egyptian royal princess. Royal names frequently invoked the gods in their etymology.  
Returning to the question of succession, this question arises from the existence of two sets of cartouches bearing the names of two separate pharaohs.  The first set belongs to Smenkhkare, and the second, to Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten.  Only two surviving instances of the names of Smenkhkare and Akhenaten’s names have been found together, which has lead to the suggestion the possibility of a co-regency between the two.  The first object was in fact located amongst the very first finds made by Howard Carter in November 1922, just outside the tomb itself in the fill of the lower staircase. The object (no. 1k) was parts of a broken linen box, made of wood and covered in white gesso.  On the central rail are inscribed the names of Akhenaten and Smenkhkare.  The knobs of the box are further inscribed the names of Smenkhkare, and Neferneferuaten.  The other object, a calcite vase (no. 405) located within the tomb itself, where an incised inscription bears the two names in cartouches, once filled with blue pigment, but have been subsequently erased in antiquity.  Placing Smenkhkare’s name in such close proximity to that of Akhenaten’s, even on a linen box or a vase, suggests this could have been done to reinforce his claims to the throne.  But this is mere speculation.
A study, believed to represent Smenkhkare and Meritaten.

A likeness of Smenkhkare as pharaoh is depicted in a scene in the tomb of Meryre (II), steward, scribe and superintendent of Queen Nefertiti, located to the north east of the city of Akhetaten.  The scene shows Smenkhkare alongside his wife, the princess Meritaten, at the “Window of Appearances”, handing out tribute, an act which appears to only have been carried out by the pharaoh and his consort.  A further study, located in Berlin, exists of two figures (illustrated below) believed to be of Smenkhkare leaning on a cane (leading to speculation that the figure is in fact that of Tutankhamun), and of Meritan offering him flowers. No inscription is to be found on the study, and neither of the two figures are named.  However, the likeness of the individual does not resemble either Tutankhamun nor Akhenaten.  An assumption can be made that it therefore is representative of Smenkhkare.  A further temple to the Aten was built at an indeterminate location in the city of Memphis, and that Smenkhkare played a role in its construction and/or dedication.  His reign however appears brief, having been for, at most, one year. This is attested by the existence of a wine label dated “Year 1”, and from “the house of Smenkhkare.” (but apparently with the epithet “deceased”).    Even the suggestion that the body in Tomb KV55 is that of Smenkhkare is open to speculation, as all the cartouches bearing the name of the occupant of the coffin have been excised, any reference to Akhenaten on the surviving panels of the gold funerary shrine [of Tiye?] were removed and re-inked with his father’s name and no objects found within the tomb carried the name of Smenkhkare.  
Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten is often given epithets bestowing up the king such titles as “desired of Akhenaten”, or “desired of Waenre” [Neferkheprure-Waenre being the name of Akhenaten] , after being named in the cartouches.  Other unique epithets include “desired of Aten”, and “incarnation of Akhenaten”.  Cartouches are also found to be marked with distinctly feminine elements, and attributes such as the expression “living”, an epithet most notably found in reverence to royal wives.  The most fascinating and enigmatic of all the attributes relating to Neferneferuaten however reads “effective for her husband.”
The association between Ankhkheperure and Akhenaten is more evident than that between Akhenaten and Smenkhkare.   As well as the cartouches and epithets, her name too was found on the fragmentary linen box, and yet more objects bearing her name or traces thereof were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Ankhkheperure seems to have set about starting to implement changes to the reforms of her predecessor, perhaps having seen or been advised of the collateral damage that had been caused by the reforms and religious upheaval that had had been caused in the previous decade or so. Akhenaten had implemented a cultural reform that affected the constitution of Egypt.  This wasn’t just a fancy or a new cult. It wasn’t just the pharaoh changing his name nor deciding to encourage a new design of fashioning sculpture or art. It cannot be understated that the cult of Akhenaten was so vehemently anti-Amun, shown by his endeavours to obliterate of the name of Amun from temples, to the chiseling out of the sacred goose of Amun from various monuments.  The knock-on effect caused such outcry that any lingering memory of his actions would be condemned for generations thereafter.
The centre rail of the broken wooden box found in the
tomb of Tutankhamun, with the names of Akhenaten and Smenkhkare.

After the end of the reign of Akhenaten, it is indeed possible that the Royal family still continued to privately worship the Aten; however a graffito from Year 3 of the reign of Ankhkheperure makes mention of  “offerings of Amun in the temple of Ankhkheperure at Thebes”.  This at least suggests some attempt at the start of effecting reconciliation with the old religion. The offerings referred to were possibly made at Ankhkheperure’s morturary temple. It is significant that these offerings are being made to Amun (of who’s worship had been just recently been proscribed), and at Thebes, the former, traditional capital and centre of worship.  The complete inscription is quoted below, and evidently is valuable to the historian on numerous levels, reading:
“Year 3, 3rd month of the Inundation, day 10. The king of Upper and Lower Egypt, lord of the Two Lands, Ankhkheprure - beloved of Aten, son of Re, Nefereneferuaten, beloved of Waenre ... Giving praise to Amun, kissing the ground before Onnophris by the wab-priest and scribe of divine offerings of Amun in the temple of Ankhkheprure in Thebes, Pawah, born to Itefseneb."
The season of the Inundation (or Akhet) is the first season of Ancient Egyptian lunar calendar, marked by the rising of the Nile, and consisting of four months.  The wab-priest refers simply to a priest who was seated, holding his arms in adoration before a god or gods.  Pawah appears to served as a minor priest of Amun.
One of the most extraordinary factors in all this is the nomination of a woman as co-regent or pharaoh, whether by Akhenaten or Smenkhkare, over and above Tutankhamun, following the death of her predecessor.  If it is the body of Akhenaten discovered in Tomb KV55, it seems even more extraordinary, and a change in royal protocol not to have named his [nameless] sister Chief Royal wife over Nefertiti, and their son as his immediate heir.  The identity of this sister is a further enigma in this already convoluted history. The current suggestion made is that she is Nebetah, one of the younger daughters of the union between Amenhotep III and Tiye, or Baketaten (who may or may not be their daughter).  The three eldest daughters – Sitamun, Isis, and Henuttaneb having previously ceremonially married their father, but it is believed that Tiye may have given birth  to up to eight daughters. Together with two, possibly three, sons. Certainly Ankhkheperure’s co-regency with Akhenaten seems to imply that Tutankhamun was not the son, nor grandson, of Akhenaten. By this rule of thumb, the same logic might apply to the familial relationship between Akhenaten and Smenkhkare.
Like Smenkhkare, the identity of Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten cannot be pinpointed with certainty and to date, continues to remain a mystery.  Her gender seems to have been female, owing to the feminine nature and usage of her epithets, and the reportings of Manetho seem to correspond with the facts.   She most certainly was a member of the royal family.  Expects have speculated that she could have been either Nefertiti, or one of her daughters, either Meritaten or Neferneferuaten Tasherit. 
Adding to the confusion is the “Coregency Stela”; a fragmentary stela consisting of seven fragments, made of limestone, found at Amarna, and currently housed in the Petrie Museum, London.  On the stele are the figures of Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and Meritaten.  However, at some point after the completion of the stela, the name of Nefertiti appears to have been chiselled out and replaced by the titles of Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten.  Contemporary to this embellishment of Nefertiti’s titles are those of Meritaten, with her name being replaced by that of her younger sister, Ankhesenpaaten (later Ankhesenamun).  The enigma as to why Nefertiti, clearly a feminine figure, should have her name replaced by Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten, a throne name for a king, remains mysterious and unresolved to this day. Equally mysterious is the replacing of the name of one daughter, Meritaten, with that of another daughter. 
A calcite vase, found in the tomb of Tutankhamun,
with the names of Akhenaten and Smenkhkare, erased in antiquity.

Rolf Krauss has proposed that the identity of Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten to be Meritaten, eldest daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti; previously attributed with having performed the role of Chief Royal Wife to Ankhkheperure (as well as Smenkhkare previously), rather than being the king per se.  Krauss initially draws on the evidence as presented by Manetho as Meritaten’s being  of “the king’s daughter”;  followed by an interpretation of her “brother” as being, in fact, her brother in law (if not, her half brother as well) as succeeding her to the throne of Egypt soon after her death.  What renders this theory dubious is that Meritaten never seems to have been accorded a status higher than as King’s daughter. Certainly her position never eclipsed that of her mother, nor even one of the king’s secondary wives, Kiya, described as “Greatly Beloved wife”.
Far more convincing evidence to the identity of Ankhkheperure has been proposed by James Harris, given further weight by Nicholas Reeves, and ties in with the belief that Ankhkheperure was a woman.  Harris’ theory being that the disappearance of Nefertiti several years before the end of Akhenaten’s reign was not due to disgrace as suggested by some, nor due to death, but to the queen was elevated to the status of co-regent. This was a progressive step up from the high standing that the previous queen, the mighty Tiye, appears to shared with her husband, Amenhotep III.  Previously, Nefertiti adopted a prefix to her name, now called Neferneferuaten Nefertiti, however she abandoned this name and adopted, as co-regent, the kingly name of Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten.  The presence of the “Neferneferuaten” element to both individuals names suggests a sense of unity between both, lending itself to the idea that one was quite probably the same as the other, just operating under different names.  The fact that that feminine elements and epithets occur alongside the name of Ankhkhepure seem to corroborate this idea.
Akhenaten seems to have undertaken a determined effort to produce a male heir so as to continue his reforms.  His marriage to Nefertiti was fruitful, and certainly by Year 12, he is shown as having six daughters by Nefertiti.  One of his secondary wives, Kiya, the “Greatly Believed Wife” provided him a further daughter whose name has been lost.  Kiya was once thought to have attained this title as being responsible for having delivered the son and heir, Tutankhamun. Marc Gabolde has proposed that this daughter of Kiya to be Baketaten, who appears with Queen Tiye in a relief showing the workshop of the royal sculptor, Iuty.  Akhenaten appears to have turned to his own daughters, Meritaten and Ankhesenpaaten for issue, and through them was responsible for two further daughters, Meritaten Tasherit and Ankhesenpaaten Tasherit respectively (the term “Tasherit” meaning “The Younger” or “Junior”, in modern parlance). These children were born before the end of Akhenaten’s reign, and it appears that it is likenesses of Kiya and her daughter were usurped and replaced with the names and titles of Akhenaten’s daughters.  These granddaughters can be named as being his daughters owing to the quite specific titles they both receive. They are named as being “King’s daughter of his body, his desired Meritaten [or Ankhesenpaaten] the younger,  born of the King’s daughter of his body, his desired Meritan [or Ankhesenpaaten], born of the Chief Royal Wife Nefertiti Neferneruaten, living.“  A further daughter, Meketaten, may have had a sexual union with her father, being shown to have died in childbirth, in reliefs found in the Royal Tomb at Amarna.  Akhenaten would certainly be following the precedent set by his father in marrying his three eldest daughters, and no husband of the young Meketaten is known.  Akhenaten need not have married his daughters to bestow upon them the role of Chief Royal Wife, as the “King’s daughter” was certainly not without prestige and still kept the royal blood pure, and were any sons born of the union, they would still be afforded the title of “King’s son of his body”, thereby making them heirs to the throne.  The paternity of these daughters being ascribed to Smenkhkare and Tutankhamun seems unlikely, Tutankhamun having been too young and Smenkhkare is not mentioned as being the husband of Meritaten until after her appearance at the Window of Appearances in place of her mother; Nefertiti.
Neferneferuaten and her sister on a fragment of a wall painting.

One final suggestion has been proposed as to the identity of Ankhkheperure tied in directly to the nomen Neferneferuaten.  It has been suggested that the usage of this title was related to its bestowal upon Nefertiti later into the reign of her husband, but often overlooked is that the couple had amongst their daughters one named Neferneferuaten Tasherit.  It has been proposed that the practice among pharaohs was to use the name that he or she bore before his/her coronation.  Her sisters had not been successful in providing their father with a male heir, and if she were co-regent, any son born of their union would have its claims further substantiated.  Once crowned, her sister, Meritaten, could act as her consort or “Chief Royal Wife”, and her other sister, Ankhesenpaaten, as the “King’s eldest daughter”. 
Upon his ascension to the throne, Tutankhamun appears to have still used the “Aten variant” of his name, viz. Tutankhaten, as a number of objects in his tomb are testament.  A small crook and flail with the frail bearing the name of Tutankheten.  Probably the most splendid is Golden Throne, with the image of king and consort, under the rays of the solar disc. The figures depicted appear to be neither Tutankhamun nor Ankhesenamun though, as the names in the cartouches would appear to have been subject to alteration twice; once from the earlier “Aten variants” of the king and queen’s names (indeed, those versions are still found on the throne’s arms).  Their cartouches superimpose others inscribed beneath, a safe assumption can be made of different individuals.  Both king and queen are seen wearing rather elaborate and ornate headpieces; an atef crown and a feathered headdress respectively.  These headpieces are shown cutting through, eradicating the rays emanating from the solar disc above. 
The existence of Tutankhamun is attested prior to his ascension to the throne. His likeness does not appear in any of the Amarna tombs, as it was not common practice to depict sons in artwork.  A tenuous suggestion has been made that Tutankhamun is the baby which is being breast fed by a wet-nurse in one of the scenes, but this supposition remains unproven either way, all that can be said with any clarity is that an infant in the royal household is being suckled at its nurses breast.  The identity of the baby remains unknown.  A block survives at Hermopolis with the inscription “the king’s son of his body, his desired, Tutankaten”, the term “son” however can refer to a son, a grandson, or even a son in law. Certainly Tutankhaten/Tutankhamun would have been Akhenaten’s son in law if he were already married to Ankhesenpaaten/Ankhesenamun at this point in time.  Or this royal paternity could relate to the enigmatic Smenkhkare.  Ankhesenpaaten is also mentioned on this block, cited as the “king’s daughter of his body, his desired, the greatly blessed one of the lord of the two lands, [Ankhesenpa]aten.”  Both individuals are seen to face one another, suggesting some form of union between the two. 
Despite the subsequent fame that Tutankhamun has attained since the discovery of his tomb in the twentieth century, despite his royal status and the significant reforms he implemented to undo the changes made by his predecessor(s), his role in the grand scheme of Egyptian history is largely insignificant.  Yet his tomb has proved paradoxical in nature; inasmuch that such a rich and exquisite trove should be found, crowded into such a small, unassuming tomb.  Based upon other objects discovered in other tombs and environs, it seems apparent that the majority of the effects in found in his tomb are par excellence. Quality is as apparent as quantity in terms of objects.  
Nicholas Reeves has suggested that the magnificence of the burial treasure found with Tutankhamun and its being deposited in such a miserable little tomb is not unconnected with the fact that a number of the objects interred with the king were not made with him in mind, and though their precise, intended owners cannot be established, they were certainly designed with either Akhenaten, Smenkhkare or Ankhkheperure in mind.  These range from the one of the bows (no. 48h), the stoppers of the canopic jars (nos. 266c-f), to the mummy bands (no. 256b).  In some cases the cartouches removed and/or replaced, in others the names of the original owners are still there. Indeed, one of the statuettes ascribed to Tutankhamun has such distinctly feminine features, breasts and wider hips, that it is doubtless that of a woman.  Other “recycled” items, rather than “heirlooms” include the gold shrine surrounding the sarcophagus bearing epithets of Akhenaten, the difference in the facial physiognomy on the second coffin, and the feminine design of most of the canopic equipment containing the king’s viscera. 
Recently, and perhaps most staggering of all, is an entirely believable suggestion made by Reeves tells of another hugely important object having been appropriated by Tutankhamun for his burial; that object being his gold death mask (no. 256a). The suggestion has been made that the majority of the mask, as seen today, was not actually designed for Tutankhamun at all, but only the face. This could explain why the face is made from a different, inferior quality of gold to the rest of the mask, also why the blue inlays of the mask are of glass for the headdress and main body, whereas on the face are fashioned from stone i.e. lapis lazuli. If the mask was all constructed at the same time, not even taking into account the timescale(see below) in which the goldsmiths would have had to fashion the object, it seems unusual to have constructed it from differing materials.  In addition, Reeves draws attention to the pierced ears on the mask, whereby pierced ears were common in the art of pharaohs who had not yet reached puberty, these piercings were replaced by dimples in the imagery of boys having reached adulthood.  The suggestion that the mask was made for Tutankhamun as a child can disputed as the mask and coffin (bearing the dimpled ears of an adult male) are full-sized, not for a constructed for a pubescent child. Other goods found in close proximity to the mask were equally fashioned for someone else other than Tutankhamun; the aforementioned mummy bands,  a resin scarab, the gold hands holding a crook and flail.  The underside of these objects show that they were inscribed for a different pharaoh: his predecessor, Ankhkheperure Neferneruaten.
Canopic coffinette of Tutankhamun,
originally made for Ankhkheprure.

To expand upon Reeves’ theory, and given that Tutankhamun died comparatively young, whether due to foul play, to sickle cell decease, or the most recent suggestion of malaria, it would have been an unforeseen eventuality. Following death, the body had the obligatory seventy or so days as part of the mummification process, hence burial goods and materials would be required, and quickly, to afford the king a decent burial with funeral goods befitting his station.  Hence, a small tomb was employed, though a larger one appears to have been prepared.  Equipment from his predecessors, perhaps adorned with heretical images of the Aten, could be used as a ready source of bullion.  Or the objects could be appropriated, cartouches renamed and adjusted accordingly, with the names and titles of Tutankhamun.  Evidently some of the objects ended up this way. Others may well have ended up deposited in the cache in KV55, certainly one of the splendid gilded panels from the funerary shrine of queen Tiye seems to have been; doubtless once been an object of outstanding beauty and an exceptional example of Amarnan art.   
Smenkhkare and Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten were considered up until recently still considered by some to be one individual, not least Aiden Dodson, and indexed under the name of the sole personage of Smenkhkare.  This confusion was compounded as both kings were to marry the daughter of Akhenaten, Meritaten, and make her their chief Royal Wife respectively.  Evidence now seems to point to the fact that we are dealing with two distinct individuals, and certainly (at least) one of them was a female pharaoh.  Writing many years later, Manetho writes of a female pharaoh during this period.  She is named Akenkeres, a “King’s daughter” and who he states ruled Egypt for twelve years and one month.  Manetho was unreliable with transcribing the Egyptian names, showing inconsistency and possible confusion over which of the kings names he chose to record.  Scholars have debated as to whether the “Akenkeres” of Manetho is a transcriptional error of Ankhkheperure.  
At least one, if not both, of the individuals might well have served as a co-regent alongside Akhenaten.  The only evidence of a co-regency between Smenkhkare and Akhenaten is mentioned above, and this is not conclusive proof.  A small block, depicting a smaller figure that might well be that of Smenkhkare, alongside a larger figure (possibly that of Akhenaten) has been found at Memphis.  The ends of his cartouches, and possibly those of his consort, Meritaten are found on the same block from which this identification has been based.  These assumptions are based on drawings of the original blocks.
In addition, there exists an unfinished Amarnan stela, made for a military official named Pase, depicting two kings, both crowned, seated under the life giving rays of the Aten, with one affectionately touching beneath the chin of the other.  Previously, this stele provoked concern and distaste, when published in 1928 by Percy Newberry.  The unfinished image appeared to suggest that Akhenaten was in fact a homosexual, having abandoned the beautiful Nefertiti, and replaced her with a male consort in the shape of the younger Smenkhkare.  This hypothesis of an “unwholesome” relationship between the king and his favourite has since been dismissed as being wide of the mark. John R. Harris published that the problem with identification as being of two kings lies in the number of cartouches located on the stele. Two pairs are located on either side of Aten to contain its name and titles, leave just three blank.  Two would have been for the king’s titles leaving just one, presumably to carry the cartouche of the queen.  James P. Allen proposed that this nonetheless is a representation of the female pharaoh, Ankhkheprure Neferneferuaten.  Also the question has been raised as to whether the scene is taken from when both individuals were alive, as it was not unusual to depict a living pharaoh with his dead predecessor. The intimacy of the pose suggests that the depiction is of Akhenaten, still alive, suggesting that the reigns of the kings depicted were at the very least, partly contemporary.

The unfinished stele of Pase, depicting two figures,
believed to be Akhenaten and Nefertiti, both wearing the crowns of Egypt.
The female pharaoh in the writings of Manetho, Akenkeres is listed as being succeeded by her brother, Rathotis, who reigned for nine years.  Scholars assume that “Rathotis” to be Tutankhamun; examinations of his mummy have shown him to have been around 18-19 years old at the time of death, and wine jars in his tomb list up to at least nine full years on the throne, so it’s likely he ruled just over ten years in total.  Neither Ankhkheperure nor Smenkhkare’s age at death can be given nor ascertained with any degree of certainty.  If the body in KV55 is indeed that of Smenkkare, debates and disagreements between experts continue to rage as to the age of the body.  The body is that of a younger brother to Akhenaten, who fulfilled royal protocol by marrying his sister, who delivered a son.  As for Tutankhamun’s mother’s age, the younger lady’s remains in KV35 show her to have been in her mid twenties when she died.  British Egyptologist Joann Fletcher initially proposed the remains were those of Nefertiti, but DNA analysis has proved the contrary.  Events surrounding the lady’s death are more compelling; her face bears a large wound to the left side around her mouth and cheek, destroying part of the jaw.  Previously this was thought to have occurred post-mortem as an act of vandalism by tomb robbers, yet recent analysis has shown the assault as having occurred prior to death, most like to have been a fatal and agonising injury.
Ultimately, the attempts by Horemheb to eradicate the memory of his predessors indeed has proved to be largely successful. Since 1922, historians have acquired and attained new information, in substantial depth, of this otherwise still very blurred, obscure era, with many questions still unanswered.   Over the years, only one further tomb (KV63) has thus far been uncovered, at the start of the twenty-first century, in the Valley of the Kings.  Contained therein were numerous unused coffins and funerary and embalming goods from the period of the 18th dynasty, including pillows, which may have formed part of the mummification process or rituals.  Also found are important objects involved in the various magic rituals, such as the “Opening of the Mouth” by the kings successor.  
As is often the case with speculative history, one hypothesis might very well answer particular questions, but with those answers, further confusion relating to other events or personalities in this drama tends to arise.  Even with the most recent DNA findings; finally ascertaining the parentage of Tutankamun, experts are still are no clearer to attributing an exact name to either his mother nor his father, two of the children of Amenhotep III (whom Tutankhamun described as “his father”) and Queen Tiye.  If Smenkhkare were to indeed to be the father of Tutankhamun, and by extension the body in KV55; the extraordinary fact exists that his son did not afford him a respectable burial.  A burial apparantly without any honours, nor surviving funerary goods, in his name.  A father, and a king, whose destiny was to end up with his body placed in an undecorated tomb, enclosed in a usurped woman’s coffin (most likely that of Kiya), with excised cartouches and its face savagely torn off; surrounded by abandoned, seemingly unused funerary goods of others. These goods included such paraphernalia as empty canopic jars, magic bricks bearing the name of Akhenaten, and with a vulture pectoral bent (once believed to be a "crown") and placed upon his head.  If the body is that of Akhenaten; it is a sad, sorry end for one of history’s most written about, yet little known, kings of the past four thousand years.
References and Further Reading.
Aldred, C. 1988. Akhenaten, King of Egypt.  London: Thames and Hudson.
Allen, J.P. 2006. The Amarna Succession. In Causing His Name to Live: Studies in Egyptian Epigraphy and History in Memory of William J. Murname
Brier, B. 1998. The Murder of Tutankamen: A true story. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
Davis, T. M. 1910. The Tomb of Queen Tiyi. London
Desroches-Noblecourt, C. 1963. Tutankhamen: Life and Death of a Pharoah. Penguin Books, London.
Dodson, A. 2009. Amarna Sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb and the Egyptian Counter-Reformation. Cairo, American University in Cairo Press.
Dodson, A. and Hilton, D. 2004. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. London and New York: Thames and Hudson.
Fletcher, J.2004. The Search for Nefertiti.  London, Harper Collins
Hawass, Z. et alia. 2010. Ancestry and Pathology in King Tutankhamun’s Family. JAMA.   
Krauss, R. 1978. Das Ende der Amarnazeit. Hildesheimer Ägyptologische Beiträge, Hildeshiem.
Reeves, N. 1990. The Complete Tutankhamun: The King, The Tomb, The Royal Treasure. London: Thames and Hudson.
Reeves, N. 2001. Egypt’s False Prophet: Akhenaten. London: Thames and Hudson.
Smith, G. E. 1991 (reprinted). The Royal Mummies.  London: Duckworth.
Tyldesley, J. 1998. Nefertiti. London, Penguin Books.
Van Dijk, J. 2006. The Death of Meketaten. In Causing His Name to Live: Studies in Egyptian Epigraphy and History in Memory of William J. Murname  

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