Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11960

These days, most people try to look their best, and attractive women are encouraged to look like attractive women. Probably the most beautiful woman in ancient Egypt disguised herself as a man. Why?



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5), Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Relief sculpture, relief sculpture, on the wall, who's the fairest pharoah of them all?

relief sculpture of nefertiti

In the previous Related Lesson in our Famous Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt series, you learned about Hatshepsut who was the first female pharaoh of ancient Egypt.

If you missed, or need to review, the other previous Related Lessons in our Famous Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt series, explore them in the right-hand sidebar.

Female pharaohs were a rarity in ancient Egyptian culture because women were not supposed to hold this ultimate title. Tell your teacher or parent why women were not supposed to be pharaohs.

In the "Hatshepsut" lesson, you learned women were not supposed to be pharaohs because a pharaoh was considered the human embodiment of the Egyptian god, Horus. Horus was a male god and, therefore, could not take the form of a woman. For this reason, women who did claim the title of pharaoh would disguise their identity. Often they would take a masculine name, wear ceremonial beards, and have their images depicted with more manly features.

In this lesson, you will learn about a woman who may have disguised her identity so well that historians cannot say with certainty whether she was actually a pharaoh.

Queen Nefertiti is not only depicted as the most beautiful Egyptian queen that ever lived, she is also known to have acted as co-regent with her husband, the pharaoh. A co-regent is a person given the same status, power, and influence as the acting ruler. In ancient Egyptian documentation, Nefertiti is depicted as fighting alongside her husband in battle, and even wearing the pharaoh's hat. Many historians believe that after her husband's death, she claimed the title of pharaoh for herself, although Nefertiti's claim has been debated.

You are going to watch and read a few historical accounts of Queen Nefertiti.

  1. As you watch and read the accounts, create a T-chart like the one shown below.
  2. Label one side "Nefertiti - Pharaoh," and write down all the reasons historians have to believe Nefertiti was pharaoh.
  3. Label the other side "Nefertiti - Not Pharaoh" and write down all the reasons historians believe Nefertiti was not the pharaoh after her husband.


Nefertiti - Pharaoh Nefertiti - Not Pharaoh








To gather the information for your lists, watch the video Mini Bio: Nefertiti ( and read the article Nefertiti (A&E Television Networks, LLC.):

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When you are finished reviewing the information and creating your lists, discuss your findings with your teacher or parent.

Using the lists you created, decided whether or not you think Nefertiti reigned as pharaoh after her husband. Share your opinion and the reasons to support your opinion with your teacher or parent.

Whether or not you believe Nefertiti served as pharaoh after her husband, historians do know for certain that she served as co-regent when her husband was pharaoh. This means she had the same rights and powers as the pharaoh and was able to make the same decisions the pharaoh would be responsible for making.

To find out what type of ruler Nefertiti was, move on to the Got It? section.

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