While the kings of Upper and Lower Egypt, commonly called Pharaohs today, were usually men, there are some examples of female Pharaohs. At the end of the nineteenth dynasty, Queen Twosret (also spelled Tausert and Twosre) ruled Egypt from 1187 to 1185 BCE. She was the last Pharaoh from the nineteenth dynasty.
Queen Twosret is thought to have been the second royal wife of Pharaoh Seti II. There are no known children between Seti II and Twosret.
After her husband’s death, she became the regent to Seti’s heir Siptah. Siptah was the son of Seti II and Sutailja and thus Twosret’s step son. When Siptah died, Twosret assumed the throne for herself. She thus became Pharoah. She took the name "Daughter of Re, Lady of Ta-merit, Twosret of Mut.
During her reign, expeditions were sent to the turquoise mines in Sinai. In the Sinai, Twosret’s and Siptah’s names are associated with the turquoise mines at Serabit el Khadim and Timna.
Statues of her have been found at Abydos, Hermopolis, Memphis, and in Nubia. There is a statue from Heliopolis which depicts Twosret. In this statue, her names are inscribed with both male and female epithets while Twosret herself is shown as a woman.
The Bilgai stela (a round-topped standing stone with an inscription) belonged to Twosret. This stela recorded the erection of a monument in the area of Sebennytos. In the temple of Amada, Twosret is depicted as a Great Royal Wife and as God’s Wife.
Twosret’s reign ended in a civil war. It is not known if she was overthrown by Setnakhte, the founder of the Twentieth Dynasty, or if she died peacefully. If she died peacefully, then a struggle must have ensued among various factions at court for the throne. Setnakhte, the founder of the twentieth dynasty, emerged victorious from this civil war.
She began construction of a mortuary temple next to the Ramesseum, but it was never completed. She was buried in the Valley of the Kings at a tomb known to archaeologists as KV14. The construction of the tomb was started during the reign of Seti II. Scenes in the tomb show Twosret accompanying Siptah, but Siptah’s name had been replaced by that of Seti II. Some Egyptologists feel that Seti II was originally entombed in KV14 and then the body was later moved to KV15.
The entry to KV14 is shown below:
The short entryway to tomb KV14 is followed by three corridors (labeled as B, C, and D). The entryway is decorated with scenes of Queen Twosret accompanying Siptah (later changed to Seti II) before various deities. This is followed by representations of the guardians of the portals of the realm of Osiris from the Book of the Dead.
The Theban Mapping Project reports:
KV 14 is a rare example of a queen' s tomb of the Rameside period in the Valley of the Kings re-used for a king's burial. This tomb possesses two complete burial chambers (J1 and J2); the thicknesses of gates before the first burial chamber J1 were cut back. A third burial chamber (K1, K1a and K1b) was begun but abandoned between the other two. Names and images were altered from Tausert to Setnakht and from Siptah to Sety II.
Twosret’s tomb was later usurped by Setnakht and was extended to become the deepest tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Her sarcophagus was later reused by Amenherkhepsehef in tomb KV13. KV13 is a tomb which had been originally started by Chancellor Bay, a commoner born of a Canaanite concubine of Seti II. Bay rose to great power, but was executed by Twosret.
The actual final location of Twosret’s burial is uncertain. A mummy found in tomb KV35, known as Unknown Woman D, has been identified by some scholars as possibly belonging to Twosret. There is no other evidence for this other than the correct Nineteenth Dynasty period of mummification.
This diary was originally posted on Street Prophets