Women, War and ... Flies?

I only have this black and white photo from an old book, but ... these finds are interesting as: they relate to war, and they were found in the tomb of a woman.

Vicky Alvear Shecter blogged a while back about Gold Flies being awarded by the Egyptian as military medals (here). Yesterday we were messaging, and since her brilliant new book is about Cleopatra, I thought I'd point out that some of these flies, awarded to an earlier female queen, had been excavated.

The tomb belonged to Ahhotep I, who was either at the end of the 17th Dynasty / Intermediate Period, or right at the beginning of the 18th Dynasty (depending on how you assign you pharaohs - and this does vary!). She seems to have been a military woman, and been involved in pushing the Hyskos out of Egypt. As well as the flies, seen in the middle of the photo, she was also buried with daggers and an axe. The axe shows a pharaoh, her son Ahmose I, striking a Hyskos in its decoration. It's slightly ironic as we have the mummy of her husband Seqenenre Tao II, which has a large number of axe blows to his head which give us his cause of death (photo here).

Ahhotep spawned a whole host of women in the 18th Dynasty involved in warfare, the most famous of which was Hatshepsut. What makes Ahhotep I almost unique is that she was buried in a tomb with her war weapons. The armour of a high-ranking woman warrior was found in Tomb II at Vergina, but we're not sure who she is - if the tomb belonged to Philip II, she would have been one of his wives, but even that attribution has become dubious. I find these woman fascinating, and that's why my next book is about them  ...


  1. This is very cool! The photo is gorgeous--I'm curious if the items were arranged how they were discovered or if this was an "artistic" shot. Knowing that these military honors were in a woman's tomb makes me intensely curious. Can't wait to learn more about what you discover. (Thanks for the shout-out too!)

  2. I'm pretty sure it's either the old museum display, or arranged for the photo - and not how they were found.


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