People - Ancient Egypt: Ay (Kheperkheperure) NEW KINGDOM 18th Dynasty (1325-1321) Extreme prosperity and renaissance in art and building projects mark the
beginning of this period. Towards the end of the 19th Dynasty the increasing power of the priesthood corrupts the
central government. During the 20th Dynasty tomb robbing is done by officials. The priesthood becomes hereditary
and begins to assume secular power. The government breaks down.
Ay (Kheperkheperure) in Tour Egypt
AY, SUCCESSOR TO TUTANKHAMUN
The 18th dynasty is one of the most interesting periods in Egypt's history, having such
notable kings as Akhenaten, the heretic king, and such well known kings as Tutankhamun.
Ay, who was probably an old man (at least 70) when he inherited the thrown from
Tutankhamun, apparently inherited the thrown by marrying Tutankhamun's widow,
Ankhesenamun. There seems to have been considerable intrigue to this marriage. This she
likely did against her wishes, as Ay was probably her grandfather. Further, is would
seem that she was not even regarded as a dominant wife, as paintings in his tomb usually
showed Ay accompanied by Tiy, an older wife. In fact, we learn from Hittite archives
that Ankhesenamun wrote to Suppiliumas, the Hittite king, requesting one of this sons
for her to marry and make pharaoh. After some investigation by Suppiliumas, this request
was granted, but his son, Zannanza was killed en-rout while traveling through Syria.
But evidence of Ankhesenamun's marriage to Ay was noted by Professor Percy Newberry,
who recorded a ring he found in Cairo in the 1920s with he cartouches of Ay and
Ankhesenamun inscribed side by side, a typical way of indicating marriage. This wedding
must have happened rapidly, for Ay officiated at Tutankhamun's funeral as a king wearing
the Blue Crown, thus enhancing his claim to the thrown. His reign was brief, believed to
only have been four years. It is likely that Ankhensenamun died very shortly afterwards,
for there is no mention of her beyond the Cairo ring. In fact, her image has been hacked
out on several monuments, and it has been suggested that her dealings with the Hittites
may have disgraced her, resulting in her death.
Ay (it-netjer) means "Father of God. His Throne name was Kheperkheperu-re, meaning
"Everlasting are the Manifestations of Re". He is first documented as a Master of Horses
at the court of Akhenaten, though he was probably originally from Akhmin, where was
responsible for the rock chapel to the local god, Min. His career is fairly well
documented during the reign of Akhenaten, when he rose to the position of Vizier and
royal chancellor. He probably never held any priestly office prior to becoming king,
however, but was instead a military man like most of the men of power during this
period. He may have been related to Yuya, the father of Queen Tiye, making him the
brother-in-law of Amenophis III.
We believe Ay reigned in Egypt between 1325 and 1321 BC, and was burred in Tomb KV 23 in
the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes), though his mummy has
never been positively identified. It has been suggested that the mummy from the 1881
cache originally identified as Amenhotep III might rather be that of Ay, but this is
probably doubtful. This tomb was probably originally meant for Tutankhamun. Ay's
sarcophagus was very similar to Tutankhamun's with winged goddesses at each corner. Also
present, as in Tutankhamun's tomb, were decorative designs featuring the representation
of the twelve monkeys, symbolizing the night hours on one of the burial chamber walls.
Totally unique to any royal tomb are beautiful bird hunting scenes. The tomb was
discovered by Belzoni in 1816.
It was probably Horenheb who succeeded Ay and who wrecked havoc in Ay's tomb in the
Valley of the Kings. When Belzoni found the tomb, the sarcophagus was in fragments and
his figure was hacked out and his name excised in the wall paintings and text. Likewise,
little of Ay's building projects can be identified probably because Horenheb probably
usurped these as well. In Ay's mortuary temple near Medinet Habu, he had his name
inscribed on two quartzite colossi of Tutankhamun, but these too were modified by
Horenheb when he took over Ay's temple complex. Ay had nominally carried on the heretic
religious practices of Akhenaten, and it would be Horemheb who would put an end to this.
It should also be noted that early on, Ay began construction of one of the largest tombs
at El-Amarna, containing the longer of the two surviving versions of the Hymn to the
Aten. The last decoration in Ay's el-Amarna tomb was probably created in the ninth year
of Akenaten's reign. However, this tomb was later abandoned in favor of the tomb in the
Valley of the Kings.
Ay in Wikipedia
Ay was the penultimate Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt's 18th
dynasty. He held the throne of Egypt for a brief four-year
period (probably 1323–1319 BCE or 1327–1323 BCE,
depending on which chronology is followed), although he was
a close advisor to two and perhaps three of the pharaohs who
ruled before him and was the power behind the throne during
Tutankhamun's reign. Ay's prenomen or royal name-
Kheperkheperure-means "Everlasting are the Manifestations of
Ra" while his birth name Ay it-netjer reads as 'Ay, Father
of the God.' Records and monuments that can be clearly
attributed to Ay are rare, not only due to his short length,
but also because his successor, Horemheb, instigated a
campaign of damnatio memoriae against him and other pharaohs
associated with the unpopular Amarna Period.
Ay is usually believed to be a native Egyptian from Akhmim.
During his short reign, he built a rock cut chapel in Akhmim
and dedicated it to the local deity there: Min. He may have
been the son of Yuya, who served as a member of the
priesthood of Min at Akhmin as well as superintendent of
herds in this city, and wife Tjuyu. If so, Ay could have
been of partial non-Egyptian, perhaps Syrian blood since the
name Yuya was uncommon in Egypt and is suggestive of a
foreign background. Yuya was an influential nobleman at
the royal court of Amenhotep III who was given the rare
privilege of having a tomb built for his use in the royal
Valley of the Kings presumably because he was the father of
Tiye, Amenhotep's chief Queen. There are also noted
similarities in the physical likenesses of monuments
attributed to Ay and those of the mummy of Yuya, and both
held similar names and titles.
All that is known for certain was that by the time he was
permitted to build a tomb for himself (Southern Tomb 25) at
Amarna during the reign of Akhenaten, he had achieved the
title of "Overseer of All the Horses of His Majesty", the
highest rank in the elite charioteering division of the
army, which was just below the rank of General. Prior to
this promotion he appears to have been first a Troop
Commander and then a "regular" Overseer of Horses, titles
which were found on a box thought to have been part of the
original furnishings for his tomb. Other titles listed in
this tomb include Fan-bearer on the Right Side of the King,
Acting Scribe of the King, beloved by him, and God's Father.
The 'Fan-bearer on the Right Side of the King' was a very
important position, and is viewed as showing that the bearer
had the 'ear' of the ruler. The final God's Father title is
the one most associated with Ay, and was later incorporated
into his royal name when he became pharaoh.
This title could mean that he was the father-in-law of the
pharaoh, suggesting that he was the son of Yuya and Tjuyu,
thus being a brother or half-brother of Tiye, brother-in-law
to Amenhotep III and the maternal uncle of Akhenaten. If Ay
was the son of Yuya, who was a senior military officer
during the reign of Amenhotep III, then he likely followed
in his father's footsteps, finally inheriting his father's
military functions upon his death. Alternately, it could
also mean that he may have had a daughter that married the
pharaoh Akhenaten, possibly the father of Akhenaten's chief
wife Nefertiti. Ultimately there is no evidence to
definitively prove either hypothesis. The two theories
are not mutually exclusive, but either relationship would
explain the exalted status to which Ay rose during
Akhenaten's Amarna interlude, when the royal family turned
their backs on Egypt's traditional gods and experimented,
for a dozen years or so, with monotheism; an experiment
that, whether out of conviction or convenience, Ay appears
to have followed under the reign of Akhenaten.
The Great Hymn to the Aten is also found in his Amarna tomb
which was built during his service under Akhenaten. It is
likely that this was required by Akhenaten, though not
evidence that Ay agreed with Akhenaten's decision to promote
the Aten above all other gods  it is strongly suggestive
that he did believe in Akhenaten's religious revolution.
His wife Tey was born a commoner but was given the title
Nurse of the Pharaoh's Great Wife. If she were the mother
of Nefertiti she would be expected to have the royal title
Mother of the Pharaoh's Great Wife instead, so if Ay was the
father of Nefertiti, then Tey would have been her
stepmother. In several Amarna tomb chapels there is a
woman whose name began with "Mut" who had the title Sister
of the Pharaoh's Great Wife. This could also be a daughter
of Ay's by his wife Tey, and it is known that his successor
Horemheb married a woman with the name Mutnodjimet....