Kiya: Akhenaten’s Great Beloved Wife Unraveling the Mystery


The enigmatic figure of Kiya, known only by her name and her title as the Great Beloved Wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten, has long been shrouded in mystery. Lost over time, her story intertwines with that of Nefertiti and other women of Amarna, creating an aura of intrigue surrounding her true identity and origins. In this article, we delve into the two main theories about Kiya’s background, the revelations from her mummy, the puzzle of her artifacts, and the questions that still remain unanswered.

The Secret of Kiya’s Origins

Kiya was known to be a wife of Akhenaten, pictured in this relief carving. ( Public Domain )

One of the prevailing theories about Kiya’s origins suggests she came from the North Syrian state of Mitanni. Historical records tell of a princess named Tadukhepa, who was sent to Egypt as a diplomatic bride. Some scholars, including Aidan Dodson, propose that Tadukhepa was none other than Kiya. However, evidence is scarce, as many monuments and objects bearing her name were usurped by others during Akhenaten’s reign.

On the other hand, recent DNA analysis provides another perspective on Kiya’s lineage. The research involving mummies, including Tutankhamun’s family, has shed light on familial relationships within the Amarna period. However, conclusive evidence linking Kiya to a specific individual remains elusive.

The Mummy of Kiya Reveals the Truth

Mummy of the Younger Lady. ( Public Domain )

The fascinating discovery of the Younger Lady’s mummy in tomb KV35 has intrigued Egyptologists for years. Initially thought to be Queen Nefertiti, recent theories suggest that the mummy could belong to Kiya, the Great Beloved Wife of Akhenaten. Scans of the mummy have even revealed evidence of foul play, indicating a possible murder.

The Puzzle of the Artifacts of Kiya

Canopic jar with the head of a carved woman, variously identified as Nefertiti, Tiye, Merytamen or Kiya. ( Public Domain )

Unraveling Kiya’s history through artifacts has proven challenging due to the lack of information about her. Among the most important relics connected to Kiya are four canopic jars found in tomb KV55. The inscriptions on these jars suggest that one of the women depicted could be Kiya. However, the puzzle is far from complete, and her true identity remains obscured.

What Happened to Kiya?

Relief of Queen Kiya. Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Kiya’s sudden disappearance from historical records has led to various speculations. Some believe she may have been disgraced, leading to her erasure from monuments and her subsequent obscurity. While evidence of her social or political roles is scarce, her unique title, “The Great Beloved Wife,” points to her importance in Pharaoh Akhenaten’s heart and the Amarna Palace.

The Second Opening of Tutankhamun’s Tomb

The investigation of tomb KV62, where Tutankhamun’s remains were found, offers the potential of revealing more information about the women of Amarna, including Kiya. Archaeologist Nicholas Reeves theorizes that this tomb may contain hidden chambers, possibly holding the remains of Queen Nefertiti and other significant figures.


Kiya’s story remains an enigma, entwined with the narratives of other women in Amarna. While historians and archaeologists continue their quest for answers, the mystery surrounding Kiya, Akhenaten’s Great Beloved Wife, continues to captivate and intrigue us.

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