Mariam F. Ayad explores how five women were elevated to a position of supreme religious authority. Drawing on a variety of textual, iconographic, and archaeological evidence, and containing fifty-one black and white and colour illustrations, the volume discusses this often neglected subject, placing the women within the broader context of the politically volatile, turbulent seventh and eighth centuries BCE.
Part 1: The Historical Setting The God’s Wife: Historical Development and Associated Titles. The Mythic Conception I: Atum and the Heliopolitan Creation Myth. The God’s Wife Prior to the New Kingdom. The God’s Wife During the New Kingdom. The Mythic Conception II: The King’s Divine Conception. Egypt at the End of the New Kingdom. Egypt during the Libyan Period. The Nubians in Egypt. The Libyan and Nubian God’s Wives of Amun. Egypt under Saite Rule. Nitocris Ankhnesneferibre, The Last God’s Wife of Amun. Amun, Mut, and the "Throne Names" of the God’s Wives Part 2: Rites and Rituals Entertaining the Gods. Playing Music: Shaking the Sistrum. The Sistrum, the Menat-necklace and Objects Sacred to Hathor. Provisioning the Gods: Offering to the Gods. Wine. Food. Cool Water/ Incense. "A Boon, Which the King Gives". Maat. Building Houses for the Gods/ Dedicating Shrines. Partnering with the King (I): Symmetrically Opposed Scenes. In Providing for the Gods. Rewarded by the Gods. Partnering with the King (II): "For God, King, and Country". In Protecting the Gods Rites of Protection at the Cenotaph. "Burning Fans". "Rites at Kom Djeme". Rejuvenating the Gods. The Elevation of the Test-support. Rites of Divine Reentrance. Other Rites of "Royal and Divine". "Driving Four Calves". "Striking Chests". Celebrating the Sed Festival Part 3: Venues to Legitimacy Assumption of the Priesthood. The Gradual Appropriation of Priestly Duties. The God’s Wife and Initiation Rites. Purification Rites. Priestly Companions and Priestly Rank. Avenues to Legitimacy. Shepenwepet I. Suckling Scenes. Crowning Scenes. Amenirdis I. Shepenwepet II. Divine Marriage Iconography. Nitocris. Ankhnesneferibre. Adoption, Succession to Office, and Age at Appointment. Sexuality, Celibacy and the Sexual Role of the God’s Wife. Celibacy Re-visited. The Egyptians’ Attitude Towards Marriage and Sex. Contraceptives in Ancient Egypt. Prohibitions Against Sexual Activity in Ancient Egypt. The God’s Wife Sexual Role & Her Association with Ithyphallic Gods. Epilogue. List of Abbreviations. Bibliography