QV66 is the tomb of Nefertari, the Great Wife of Pharaoh Ramesses II, in Egypt’s Valley of the Queens. It was discovered by Ernesto Schiaparelli (the director of the Egyptian Museum in Turin) in 1904. It is called the Sistine Chapel of Ancient Egypt. Nefertari, which means “beautiful companion”, was Ramesses II’s favorite wife; he went out of his way to make this obvious, referring to her as “the one for whom the sun shines” in his writings, built the Temple of Hathor to idolize her as a deity, and commissioned portraiture wall paintings. In the Valley of the Queens, Nefertari’s tomb once held the mummified body and representative symbolisms of her, like what most Egyptian tombs consisted of. Now, everything had been looted except for two thirds of the 5,200 square feet of wall paintings. For what still remains, these wall paintings characterized Nefertari’s character. Her face was given a lot of attention to emphasize her beauty, especially the shape of her eyes, the blush of her cheeks, and her eyebrows. Some paintings were full of lines and color of red, blue, yellow, and green that portrayed exquisite directions to navigating through the afterlife to paradise.
THE PERSON AND HER FAMILY
Nefertari’s origins are unknown, but discoveries in her tomb, which include a cartouche of the Pharaoh Ay (found on a what was either a pommel of a cane or a knob from a chest), suggest she may have been related to rulers of the 18th Dynasty, included Tutankhamun, Nefertiti, Akhenaten and Ay. She married Ramesses at age of thirteen, who was himself only fifteen, before he became pharaoh. She was the most important of his eight wives for at least the following twenty years. She died sometime during the 25th regnal rear of the reign of Ramesses and the reason for her death remains uncertain.
Although she had at least four sons and two daughters, none of these succeeded to the throne. The heir to the throne of Ramesses II was Prince Merneptah, his 13th son by another wife, Isetnofret.
Not all of the names of the 100 plus children of Ramesses are known, and in many cases their mothers cannot be identified with certainty. The following children can be attributed to Nefertari:
Prince Amun-her-khepeshef, crown prince, commander of the troops.
Prince Meriatum, high priest of Heliopolis.
Princess Meritamen, chantress of Amun and priestess of Hathor.