The mysterious Queen Satiah...

Queen Satiah is one of those figures from ancient Egyptian history who manages to intrigue the casual scholar.  Very few things are known about her, and the things we do know raise buckets of new questions for which, so far, Egyptology has found no answer.

Who was Queen Satiah?  She was an early wife of Thutmose III, married to him during the first part of his solo career (as readers of this blog probably know already, Thutmose III ruled jointly with Hatshepsut for 22 years, until Hatshepsut died.)  We know that she was the daughter of a royal nurse by the name of Iput.  Iput's title was "nurse of the god," which seems to indicate that she was Thutmose III's nurse.  If that is true, it means Satiah and Thutmose may well have grown up together, familiar with one another since early childhood.  It is possible that Satiah was the mother of Amenemhat, one of Thutmose III's sons who went on to become an important courtier in the reign of his brother, Amunhotep II, who was Thutmose's heir.

These are the only tidbits of information known about Satiah, for the time being.  More mysteries surround this figure from Egyptian history.  Look closely at this beautiful block:

satiah1v2.jpg

That's Satiah in the middle, wearing the Vulture Crown of the Great Royal Wife.  Behind her stands Thutmose III, identified by the cartouche near his head.  The figure in front of Satiah is unidentified -- the cartouche is missing from the block -- but wears the Nemes crown of a Pharaoh, and the false beard that often identified Hatshepsut in carvings from the era.  However, the face is all wrong for Hatshepsut.  Even more interesting is that Satiah stands in front of her husband, and is the same size as he.  Typically, a Great Royal Wife was depicted behind her husband, lending him her support, and smaller in scale to show that he was the dominant figure.  The fact that Thutmose, Satiah, and the Mystery Pharaoh are all in the same scale, and that Satiah stands behind another Pharaoh and before her husband, is extremely intriguing.

In another block, we see another tiny fragment of the mystery of Thutmoside relationships:

satiah-stela-closeup.jpg

Again we see Thutmose III the Pharaoh, largest in scale and standing in front to show his importance.  Satiah stands behind.  But look closely at her cartouche, and you can see where the "Re" character was smoothed out, and the name inside the cartouche carved over with "Satiah."  Interesting, no?  This is not the only monument on which Neferure's name was replaced with Satiah's, indicating that Satiah certainly took over Neferure's former position as Great Royal Wife.  But why is still a mystery.

I've invented my own take on the story for The Bull of Min (coming February 24th.)  But although my story provides a plausible explanation for all these mysteries, it is pure fiction.  I hope someday we'll know more of the true life history of Great Royal Wife Satiah.  Like so many other figures from Egyptian history, her mystery makes her fascinating.