By Louise Gay
Queen Ahhotep I (c. 1580-1530 BC) was the daughter of Sekenenre Tao I and Queen Tetisheri, and the wife to the King Sekenenre Tao II. Together, they had two sons: Kamose and Ahmose.
Following the deaths of Sekenenre Tao II and Kamose, her son Ahmose succeeded to the throne. But given the new King’s young age, around ten years old, Ahhotep had to act as regent as Queen Mother.
Little is known of her regency, given the lack of documentation available to historians on this period. However, three sources reflect Ahhotep’s political and military role during the campaigns against the Hyksos occupation.
A great stele located in the temple of Amun-Re at Karnak commemorates her active role in the war of liberation against the Hypksos: “She is the one who has accomplished the rites and taken care of Egypt…She has looked after Egypt’s troops and she has guarded them. She has brought back the fugitives and collected together the deserters. She has pacified Upper Egypt and expelled her rebels.”
This precise praise seems to indicate that she participated actively in restoring order at the time of the expulsion of the Hyksos. The ceremonial artifacts found in her tomb reinforce this reading.
Discovered in 1859 in Dra Abu el-Naga in Thebes by A. Mariette, her funeral vault contained a gilded coffin where her mummy rested with numerous jewels, as well as weapons (axes and daggers). A particular necklace since drew the attention of historians.
It represents three Golden Fly pendants, shaped of plaques of gold. A “Golden Fly”, also “Golden Fly of Valor” or “The Order of the Golden Fly”, was an honorary award given to Egyptian military for persistence in attacking the enemy.
The fact that Ahhotep did not have one but three of these, along with the tomb weapons and Karnak’s inscription, therefore seems to confirm her prominent role in the early reign of her son against the Hyksos.
Graciela Gestoso Singer, “Queen Ahhotep and the ‘Golden Fly,” Cahiers Caribéens d’Egyptologie 12 (2009): 75-88
Véronique Lacroix, “La reine Ahhotep comme figure dirigeante militaire lors de la reconquête de l’Égypte durant la XVIIe dynastie (-1580 à -1550),” conference paper (2021).