Belt buckle inscribed for Nefertari
Findspot, Thebes, Egypt
Height x width: 4.7 x 11.5 cm (1 7/8 x 4 1/2 in.)
MEDIUM OR TECHNIQUE
Silver, gold, feldspar, carnelian, blue frit, glass
Inscribed for “the Osiris, great royal wife, his beloved, mistress of Lower Egypt.”
Said to be from the Valley of the Queens (Thebes), Tomb of Queen Nefertari (QV 66). 1904: purchased for the MFA from Mohamed Mohassib, Luxor, Egypt by Albert M. Lythgoe as part of a group (04.1953-04.1956, 04.1766-04.1769) for £40. (Accession Date: January 1, 1904)
Emily Esther Sears Fund
It is very possible that Nefertari grew up as the daughter of a nobleman in Thebes. One of Nefertari's names was Mery-en-Mut, which means, "Beloved of Mut". As the wife of Amun, Mut was part of the Theban triad. It is interesting to note that post references to Nefertari come from Upper (southern) Egypt, while most of the other principal queen, Istnofret, are found in Lower, or northern Egypt. Furthermore, Ramesses II probably had a better power structure in northern Egypt, and it is thought that he may have married a Theban to enhance his position in the South. The two queens, Nefertari and Istnofret, could have possibly even had a division of duties geographically. However, it is has also been suggested that Nefertari could have been a daughter of Seti I, making her a half sister of Ramesses II.
Nefertari was most likely Ramesses II's first wife when the prince was only fifteen. She provided him with his first male heir, Amun-her-khepseshef (Amun Is with His Strong Arm),even prior to his ascending the throne of Egypt In addition, Ramesses II also fathered at least three more sons and two daughters by Nefertari. In fact, her oldest daughter, Meryetamun probably later also married Ramesses II, possibly after the death of her mother, apparently when Nefertari was in her early forties.
She was probably Ramesses II's chief queen, at least up until her death in about year 24 of Ramesses II's reign. From her tomb, we know a number of her other names and titles. They included "Hereditary Noblewoman; Great of Favors; Possessor of Charm, Sweetness and Love; Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt; the Osiris; The King's Great Wife; Mistress of the Two Lands, Nefertari, Beloved of Mut, Revered Before Osiris".
Surely Ramesses II loved Nefertari. Few queens were built anything near as grand a shrine as her temple dedicated to Hathor at Abu Simbel, near the somewhat larger temple of her husband. Her tomb in the Valley of the Queens on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes) is today, one of the most fabulously decorated tombs at Luxor or anywhere else in Egypt. If one had only time enough to visit one tomb on the West Bank, it should be this one. Ramesses II, who said of Nefertari, "the one for whom the sun shines", even wrote of his weakness for the queen:
"My love is unique - no one can rival her, for she is the most beautiful woman alive. Just by passing, she has stolen away my heart."
Other then her tomb and temple at Abu Simbel, Nefertari is also famous for her beauty. We have no mummy to help substantiate these claims, but there is plenty of documentary evidence including images, although at this point in Egypt's history, portraitures were not known for being completely accurate. Even in ancient Egypt Nefertari was famous, becoming deified even before her death. It is said that as Great Royal Wife, her high status and and great authority within the royal court, along with her apparent beauty, charm, "sweetness", intelligence and guile, she may have been one of Egypt's greatest queens.
A description at Luxor Temple, says of her:
greatly favored, possessing charm, sweet of love.... Rich in love, wearing the circlet-diadem, singer fair of face, beautiful with the tall twin plumes, Chief of the Harim of Horus, Lord of the Palace; one is pleased with what(ever) comes forth concerning her; who has (only to) say anything, and it is done for her - every good thing, at her wish (?); her every word, how pleasing on the ear - one lives at just hearing her voice..."