Persia 19: The Grandmother of Cyrus the Great

- According to the Adoption Stela, the young Nitocris was escorted to Thebes by the magnate Sematawy-Tefnakhte, a.k.a., Nes-Ptah the Elder father of Mentuemhet. (The association between Sematawy-Tefnakhte and Nes-Ptah the Elder is made in the on-line book.) Montuemhet was featured on the stela as well, and described as 4th Prophet of Amun. He and his wife Wedjarenes/Udjarenes, in addition to his eldest son, also called Nes-Ptah, were directed to provide regular contributions to the estate of Nitocris. The new High Priest Harkhebi and the third prophet of Amun, Pedi-amen-neb-nesut-tawy, were also required to support Nitocris materially along with the above family members.

- Harkhebi (II) was possibly the firstborn son of Shepenwepet II by Osorkon IV/Esarhaddon. Pedi-amun-neb-nesut-tawy may be an alias of Taharqa himself, who was called by the less grandiose Libyan name of Pediese on the Victory Stela of Piye. See earlier analysis of the Stela: (under the section Adopting and Adapting)

- During this period, a Gods Wife was considered to be perpetually a virgin, therefore as a mother of children the Gods Wife was called by different names. Some of these names were regional/ethnic in nature. Other names more specifically related her to various royal male partners.

Shepenwepet II by the name:
Iset Ta-Hemdjeret II was consort of Ramses III and mother of Ramses IV and Amenemope. She was also called Queen Tey/Tiye (after the famous 18th Dynasty queen and Gods Wife by that name). In the Bible, this dominant woman is simply called Hamutal mother of Jehoahaz (Ramses IV) and Mathaniah (Amenemope).

Note: Her mother Iset Ta-Hemdjeret I (Shepenwepet I) was the mother of Ramses V/Esarhaddon. Her daughter Iset Ta-Hemdjeret III (Shepenwepet III) was the mother of Ramses VI/Nebuchadrezzar.

Shepenwepet II by the name:
Mutnodjmet was the consort of Psusennes I (Greek name of Ramses III) and was mother of Psusennes II.

Shepenwepet II by the name:
Mehtemwesket/Mehytenweshket was the consort of Psamtik I (Greek name of Taharqa) and mother of Nitocris, the only offspring thought to have come from this pairing.

Shepenwepet II by the name:
Takahat-amun was consort of Taharqa.

Shepenwepet II by the name:
Takhuit was consort of Tanuatamon/Psamtik II and was mother of Ankhnesneferibre, who succeeded Nitocris as Gods Wife of Amun.

Shepenwepet by the name:
Tentamun B/Isetemkheb was consort of Smendes/Menkheperre and was mother of Smendes II/Nesbanebdjed II (Assurbanipal).

- Shepenwepet II appeared with Mentuemhet in a private mural where she is called Shepenmut. Had this mural been made for public viewing, it certainly would have represented a breach in protocol, as Shepenmut is too close to Shepenwepet to be appropriate. It further links to her other names compounded with the goddess Mut.

- Shepenwepet II, as the consort of Mentuemhet, was publicly referred to as Wedjarenes on the Adoption Stela. Shepenwepet was already a mother (likely of Harkhebi and/or other children) and would in fact go on to have many sons (at least five, including Harkhebi) and daughters (at least two, including Nitocris) by various royal suitors (as listed above), however after the adoption of Nitocris, she became the senior queen and therefore identified with the senior goddess Hathor/Mut.

- This status was encoded in the very name Wedjarenes, a variant of Wadjet/Uatchura. Wadjet was an epithet of Hathor as guardian (and true mother as well as wet nurse) of the younger Horus. The goddess Wadjet was symbolized by the uraeus/cobra on the royal crown, as a funerary amulet (uadj) with budding papyrus plant (symbolizing fertility and renewal), and as a woman when in the act of crowning a king.

- By association with Wedjarenes, the prince Nes-Ptah the Younger was being established as the next great Horus the Younger figure. However, the roles of the two Gods Wives are reversed with respect to Nes-Ptah. Nes-Ptah is likely the firstborn son of Nitocris, and the reason she had become eligible for election as Shepenwepets successor. Instead of Isis adopting the son of Hathor as her own, Shepenwepet (as the new Hathor) was in effect adopting as her own the son of Nitocris (as the new Isis).

- A 26th Dynasty stela reads, the divine adoratress, and woman Udjarenes.

- Because this inscription is dated (rightly or wrongly) to the late 26th Dynasty, it has not been associated with the Udjarenes of the early 26th Dynasty, that is, the Udjarenes of the Adoption Stela. However, we have every reason to conclude that the early 26th Dynasty Udjarenes was in fact an alias of Shepenwepet II as senior Gods Wife. In turn, Nitocris would also become the senior Gods Wife and groom successors in the office, such as the younger princess Istemkheb and then Ankhenesneferibre. The Udjarenes of the late 26th Dynasty would logically correspond to Nitocris. Both were in fact Divine Adoratrices (Gods Wives). Both were consorts of Mentuemhet and other leading princes.

- Elsewhere, Wedjarenes is referred to variously as a sistrum player of Amun-Re and as the daughter of Har. Prince Har is generally considered to have been a son of Piye. He has further been associated (in the on-line book) with Taharqa. Therefore, this Wedjarenes was Nitocris, the daughter/successor of the elder Wedjarenes. The elder Wedjarenes was herself a daughter of Piye. It could even be said that she was herself a daughter of Har, as well. Piye is described on the Adoption Stela as Horus Great-of-Diadems and on his Victory Stela as the Likeness of Harakhti. See:

Useful Links:

Association of Hathor and the deified woman Udjarenes in Upper Egypt:

Equivalence of the titles of Gods Wife, Gods Hand and Divine Adoratrice in the late Dynastic Period:

Wadjrenpet, a noble lady of the 18th Dynasty

Names of Tefnut/Hathor/Mut as senior goddess:
Wadjura/Uatchura/Wadjet, Inadjet, Edjo, Wadjet, Buto/Bouto


Anthony Mercatante, Whos Who in Egyptian Mythology

Joyce, Tyldesley, Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt

Dodson and Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt
Tyldesley: Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt.