highly favored secondary wife of Akhenaten, tenth king of the eighteenth dynasty. Believed by some scholars to be of foreign origin, she is occasionally identified with the Mitannian princess Tadu-Khepa (less likely, Gilu-Khepa).

In formal inscriptions, Kiya may be recognized from her unique epithet, which occurs in both a full form—“Greatly beloved wife of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, who lives on Truth, Neferkheprure-waenre, the goodly child of the living Aten who lives for ever and eternity, Kiya”—and in variously abbreviated versions. Her name can be recognized as “The Noble Lady” mentioned in wine-jar dockets from Tell el-Amarna; a memory of her under this title evidently occurs in the Late Egyptian Story of the Two Brothers (Papyrus d'Orbiney, British Museum).

Kiya's name first occurred in conjunction with the earlier form of the Aten cartouches, indicating that she was in favor before the ninth or the tenth year of Akhenaten's reign. Her influence seems to have extended until Year 11 (and perhaps as late as Year 16), when her name finally disappeared from known records. She evidently bore at least one daughter for the king and, it has been suggested, a son—the future Tutankhamun. This achievement may well have hastened her downfall—of which there are indications in the appropriation of her monuments and in the damage occasionally found to images of her eyes. It is significant that this suspected decline in popularity coincided with an increase in the status of Nefertiti, her rival in the king's affections, who adopted a different title at about this time.

Kiya's image is characterized in relief sculpture by her large domed earrings and by a curious, open-backed, Nubian-style wig. As a result, her features have been identified in three youthful sculptor's studies in gypsum (two are now in the Berlin Museum and are attributed to the workshop of Thutmose at Tell el-Amarna; the third is in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow) and in an unfinished (and partially altered) head of quartzite (in the Berlin Museum, also from the Thutmose workshop).

In reliefs from both Tell el-Amarna and Hermopolis, Kiya's name and titulary have been partially erased and replaced by texts that relate to Meritaten, Akhenaten's eldest daughter by the Great Royal Wife Nefertiti (Hanke 1978). Inscriptional evidence would similarly identify Kiya as the original and intended owner of both the coffin and canopic jars from tomb 55 in the Valley of the Kings (Perepelin 1968 and 1978) that had been altered for subsequent reuse, evidently by Akhenaten himself.


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Nicholas Reeves