King’s daughter of his body, his beloved, Meritaten. Actually queen Kiya with Meritaten
carved over her later from the Copenhagen Glyptotek, my photo.
Lots of creative myths circulate these days via various media, books, news services, Facebook, Twitter, your second cousin once removed at your dad’s 65th, wherever … but it usually takes one of these monsters repeatedly coming to my attention before I am motivated enough to write some sort of tetchy (yet eloquent) response.
Nonetheless, I had not until now come across an overview of the problems written by an Egyptologist, preferably one with some knowledge of the classics and the family that is the pseudo-science crowd’s royalty of preference: the Amarna kings, you know, Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tut, all the cool kids..
Lorraine Evans 2000 uses a chatty, just between us, voice and what the media would
describe as hyperbole, or does she have a classics degree too? Both texts are in Latin.
If an author assures you Scota is in say Nennius, Historia Brittonum, (a 9th c monk from Wales) they are pulling your leg. The story is referred to briefly, names no names, and barely agrees with the later texts (depending on which), Scota is not mentioned.
The story in Fordun goes thus:
Another alternative version claims that Scota and ‘Gayel’ pre-emptively fled the wrath of the gods and the plagues of Egypt.
Book of Leinster
Goídel's children (the Gaels), left Egypt and went into exile during the Exodus, and sailed to Scythia, but later roamed about for 440 years, in 4 ships with 24 couples (don't ask me), eventually conquering Spain and building a city. Goídel's descendant Íth discovered Ireland by looking out over the ocean from a tower, then they all piled into a boat or more and conquered Ireland.
|Syncellus on the kings of the 18th Dynasty, (8th century CE), used Eusebius, 3rd century CE, who used Manetho Aegyptiaca, 3rd century BCE. Loeb series, Book 350, 1940.|
Manetho's original Aegyptiaca is lost and only known now through much later Christian era writers who were interested in the Egyptian kings only in order to date events from the Bible. The rewrites date from the 1st century to the 9th century CE, and they do not agree with each other, neither for the date of the Exodus from Egypt, nor for the kings of the 18th Dynasty, particularly the end. They also have a tendency of throwing in some classical heroes and kings for lols.
|The Armenian version of Eusebius, on Manetho (5th century CE). Loeb series, Book 350, 1940.|
|The version of Manetho by Julius Africanus (2nd-3rd c. CE).|
|Manetho according to Flavius Josephus (1st century CE).|
The versions of Manetho by Theophilus and Josephus date the Exodus to the end of the Hyksos period in Egypt (ca. 1550 BCE), mixing up the Hyksos with the Israelites. Syncellus and Eusebius place the Exodus under a king of the Amarna period, either a son or daughter of Orus (Akhenaten?), Acencheres, or a later king, Cencheres. The Scotichronicon and Book of Leinster take these jumbled up histories, add dashes of Homer and the Bible, and give them local flavour.
|Snake oil salesman Ralph Ellis 2006 solving the problem of conflicting dates for the Exodus!|
Also the chronology is a mess and all stories naturally rely on the Bible as fact.
The Bible narrative
Also the connection of Akhenaten to Moses is a modern western construct stemming from Manetho and from 19th century assumptions about the nature of Atenism. 21st century archaeology has changed our understanding of this a lot, and it involves the rejection of the Theban god Amen and his triad in Thebes, many other gods and temples continued unsullied.
So back to Egypt
|Amarna Letter 4 from the Kassite king to Egypt. Translation from Rainey 2015, The El-Amarna Correspondence.|
But because some monk in 1350 CE says they did the pseudos are having a party.
Contemporary flights of fancy
Abimilki was governor of an Egyptian vassal city in the Levant (coastal Lebanon), a man appointed by Egypt to collect revenue, whose main claim to fame is bitching to pharaoh about his neighbour Sidon encroaching on his land, and when not, begging for troops and food supplies. He governed Tyre from the later years of Akhenaten’s reign into that of king Neferneferuaten (Ankhkheperure/ Smenkhkare, so say from 1343-1333 BCE).
According to her the couple are supposed to have fled the protests, plague and revolution at the end of Akhenaten's reign in around 1335 BCE.... (in her intro she confusingly dates their flight to 1350 BCE p. 28) ... you do the maths ... from there they travel to Algeria, the Cadiz in Spain and the Canary Islands before ending up in Britain, leaving a long trail of Egyptian descendants and cultural practices in their wake.
He also claims that Akhenaten was Aaron and abdicated after a reign of 5 years, then fled with the Israelites, doggedly pursued by Tutankhamen, son of Ay, and his army! ... Pharaoh’s daughter was Akhenaten’s mum, queen Tiye and the Thutmose who died young was Moses! …
Ay and Ankhesenamen marry and flee to Spain to escape the religious persecution of Horemhab and other Egyptians!!
How this has any impact on their theories is beyond me, but both authors do it, I assume it relates to the word princess (Minoan this time).
Robert Sepehr above for example basically yoinks the princess from Evans' book, fluffs it up with some pretty pictures and adds all European kings to the stone of destiny. But I have one more whacky highlight: The Merovingians: the once, the present, and future kings Facebook page have their own special take on the legend where Scota is wife of the Scythian prince Niul. This time however she was daughter of the pharaoh Smenkhkare, who was biblical Aaron, and niece of pharaoh Akhenaten, who was Moses... eek
(To be honest there is a book to be written about the bogus reinterpretation of ancient Egyptian language by complete newbs in pseudo-science.)
Every man and his dog on the internet calls this head Meritaten. It can only be dated by style to the Amarna period
and may be a daughter of Akhenaten. Images © Louvre http://cartelfr.louvre.fr/cartelfr/visite?srv=car_not_frame&idNotice=14658&langue=fr
What about Meritaten
Daughters of Akhenaten in a ritual scene with their parents from the tomb of Huya. Meritaten stands at
the front, followed by Maketaten and Ankhesenpaaten. Image from Davies Rock Tombs of Amarna 15.
Queen and king?
|Two figures with king's regalia, that may be Akhenaten and Neferneferuaten. Unfinished relief from a house in Amarna, Berlin ÄM 20716. Image © Berlin Museum http://www.smb-digital.de/eMuseumPlus?service=direct/1/ResultLightboxView/result.t1.collection_lightbox.$TspTitleImageLink.link&sp=10&sp=Scollection&sp=SfieldValue&sp=0&sp=0&sp=3&sp=Slightbox_3x4&sp=0&sp=Sdetail&sp=0&sp=F&sp=T&sp=1|
Anyway, if you are now confused, we are still coming to terms with it too. But it was not essential for the pharaoh to be male, the role was male and had to have a female consort, Egyptian kingship was structured around two genders, they weren't quite as fussed about biology. This Smenkhkare-Neferneferuaten was either her mum (because of the name overlap), a younger sister, or another male heir who died fairly soon after taking the throne.
Therefore, according to Egyptian evidence Meritaten had a royal husband of one kind or another, and regardless of who they were, this made her a king’s great queen for around 6 years, because she was also titled great royal wife of her dad at the end of his reign. Plus she herself may have actually been pharaoh Neferneferuaten.
A basic knowledge of Amarna diplomatic language would prevent this error in Evans, who provides no other evidence to support this claim and never explains how the two met, were married or where they resided, because she can't. ‘Prince’ Abimilki rates barely 2 pages of interest before being relegated into the background. However, if Tyre in Lebanon was ‘Meritaten's city’ she technically had no reason to flee anywhere in 1335 BCE, but hey.
Meritaten being kissed by Akhenaten, with Nefertiti holding Meketaten and Akhesenpaaten.
Maketaten died young. Stele from a shrine in a private house at Amarna, Berlin Museum, my photo.
The argument for a revolution and of persecutions of loyal Atenists in 1335 BCE that these writers depend on is based on an assumption that Akhenaten somehow suppressed all worship of other gods. We know now that this is incorrect, he built a city for his personal god and suppressed the cult of Amen-re in Thebes. Other gods continued to be worshipped by the population, even in Amarna, plus the royal family were themselves worshipped at household shrines, such as the relief above.
We also now know that ‘I rebuilt the temples that were in ruins’ is a standard element of royal propaganda that pharaohs used upon coronation and Tut, Ay or Horemhab saying this tells us nothing about reality.
Therefore the revolution theory in Egyptology went out with the new millennium.
|Smenkhkare and Meritaten or Ankhesenamen and Tutankhamen? Relief possibly from Amarna.|
Berlin museum, my photo.
Ankhesenamen and Ay
God’s father Ay (left) as Tutankhamen slays an enemy, great queen Ankhesenamen
(right). Image from Davis 1912. The tombs of Harmhabi and Touatânkhamanou.
His chief queen on the other hand was always Tiy, who is the only wife mentioned in Ay's royal tomb in the Valley of the Kings. However, if he married Ankhesenamen when king, she, like her older sister Meritaten, was queen of Egypt at least twice, having been Tutankhamen’s chief queen for about 9 or 10 years (and possibly with her dad makes thrice).
Ay and his wife Tiye recieving honours for service from Akhenaten at Amarna.
Relief from the tomb of Ay at Amarna. Image ddenisen at Wikipedia.
They live as royalty for how long and then Ay deserts his favourite wife and goes into exile with a younger woman pursued by angry mobs after Horemhab becomes king? (1319+) Umm ... what?
Sure, there is evidence that Horemhab had big issues with his predecessor, however they probably won't have been about religious heresy ... my money is on power and proving he had rights to the throne when he was not connected to the royal family, the only logical way he could do this is after pharaoh Ay had died.
And I am placing this here only once ... ancient mortality rates... Ay was doing really well to get to 70.
But more importantly, we need to stop thinking like Europeans about kings and queens, Egyptian royalty were sacred, beyond the human world, they were responsible for the universe running properly. Therefore as usual the royal line continued ruling Egypt until the last available successor died, Egypt had already returned to their original religious system when Ankhesenamen was chief queen with Tutankhamen.
If you try to fit either woman into the British legends and current archaeological knowledge they would have had to have fled Egypt after 1319 BCE, then tooled around the Mediterranean for a few years, boat hopping from port to port, lived in Spain for a bit, then settled Britian around the ripe old ages of 50-ish, popping out the heir to the Gaelic peoples, with husbands who would have been in their 70s, or even 90s, or let's be realistic, pushing up daisies.
The claim that a daughter of Smenkhkare was princess Scota on the other hand is singularly hampered by the fact that there is zero evidence of one, (unless they mean Meritaten-junior), plus we still don't know if he ever existed, and if he did, was male.
All of the modern claims above treat the British evidence from The Scotichronicon, Fordun and the Book of Leinster as historically accurate, but simultaneously they strategically leave out the bits that don't fit their puzzle, and sometimes they force pieces in to make them fit (by altering the stories) ... that is actually not how historical science works.
|Painted ivory plaque, Amarna princess: Louvre E 14374. Image © Louvre|
Artistic Licence: Princesses?
Because what is essential to these romantic concoctions, is the misleading use of the word to describe these women, which immediately delegates them to inferior status in the reader’s mind. You know, as unmarried young women in a 19th century oil painting languishing around a palace on pillows shaking a sistrum, eating dates and waiting for a prince, only useful as tools for forming canny political alliances.
The ancient Egyptians simply did not work that way.
The only way you actually quit those jobs in Egypt was by dying.
When a king died, if living, his chief wife became the dowager queen, a role as ritually important as chief queen. You were responsible for running the country if the heir was underage, a semi-divine entity, a conduit for the goddesses, Hathor's earthly representative. You couldn’t just run off to Spain with some guy in your dad’s army, a vassal governor, or your grandfather (urk).
I used Kitchen's chronology for the Amarna kings. There is still some flexibility on the topic of overlaps - possible co-regencies between Akhenaten and Amenhotep III, and later with Ankhkheperure-Neferneferuaten-Smenkhkare.
N. Kawai 2010. 'Ay versus Horemhab: the Political Situation in the Late Eighteenth Dynasty Revisited'. Journal of Egyptian History 3:2.
R. Krauss 2000. ‘Akhenaten: Monotheist?, Polytheist?’ BACE 11.
Rainey 2015. The El-Amarna Correspondence.
UK A nice critique from the pov of Irish archaeology by Derek Ryan
Ancient Origins have various articles on Scota/Scotia and gleefully contradict themselves on identity and dates depending on author (because they are not in this for accuracy): Dhwty 2015; David Halpin 2016; Steven Keith 2018; Sarah Young 2019.