Egyptian Names - Female

(Picture of An Egyptian Woman Playing Senet)

History - Names - Deities - Words that appear in names - Sources

Egypt is home to one of the earliest known civilizations of the world. Egyptian hieroglyphs appear around 3100 B.C. Other sources suggest an even earlier date. Only Sumerian cuneiform, which appeared around 3300 B.C., may be older. Although hieroglyphs appear rather suddenly, they may have developed out of designs and signs on pottery, weapons, amulets, and tools. The early Egyptians were already using lapis lazuli by 3500 B.C. The lapis lazuli must have come from Afghanistan, showing that the Egyptians had some kind of contacts with the East at an early date. Some have suggested that the Egyptians could have gotten the idea of writing from Sumer, which is closer to Egypt than is Afghanistan. However, there are differences between the scripts. Ancient Egyptian script does not use vowels and Sumerian cuneiform is syllabic in nature. A cursive form of the hieroglyphs (hieratic) was used by the 4th dynasty as the everyday administrative and business script. Hieroglyphs were used for monuments and religious purposes. Much later, around 650 B.C., demotic replaced hieratic as the script for everyday use. Hieratic was then reserved for use by priests. (6, 8)

There is some evidence that some strains of wild barley were being cultivated on a part-time basis in Egypt and Nubia by 10,000 B.C. or earlier. At that time, the Sahara was a savanna grassland and woodland area. The Sahara's wet period lasted from 9000 B.C. to 3000 B.C. and peaked around 7000 B.C. Sorghum and millet were harvested around Khartoum by 6000 B.C. Permanent settlements of full-time farmers were sprouting up along the banks of the Nile between 5000 and 4000 B.C. By 3500 B.C., the people north of the first cataract of the Nile had consolidated into two kingdoms: the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. (9)

Egypt's Early Dynastic Period lasted from c. 3100 B.C. to 2613 B.C (dynasties 1 to 3). Menes or Narmer united Lower Egypt (the Delta region) and Upper Egypt (the Nile Valley to about the first cataract). The country was ruled from Memphis, near modern Cairo. Early Egyptians traded with Byblos and explored Nubia as far as the second cataract of the Nile. Turquoise mines in Sinai were worked by the beginning of the third dynasty. (7)

The Early Dynastic Period soon gave way to the Old Kingdom (2613 to 2160 B.C.). The Old Kingdom covers dynasties 4 - 8. During Egypt's fourth dynasty, the greatest of the pyramids were built. The Egyptians raided Nubia and exploited Nubian diorite quarries. Trade for the valuable cedarwood of Byblos continued. Copper and turquoise were mined in Sinai. The "Libyans" to the west were largely ignored. Trade with Punt (Ethiopia and southern Sudan) began by the fifth dynasty. (7)

At the end of this prosperous period, Egypt entered a period of chaos and confusion called the First Intermediate Period (dynasties 9 - early 11). The moister climate of the predynastic times was replaced by an increasingly drier climate during the Old Kingdom. A period of low floods marked the end of the 6th dynasty and may have led or contributed to the chaos of the First Intermediate Period. This period lasted from c2160 B.C. to 2040 B.C. During the First Intermediate Period, people from the east settled part of Egypt. Kings ruled from Heracleopolis, south of Memphis. Memphis remained the administrative capital. (7)

Nebhepetre Mentuhotep, from the southern city of Thebes, united Egypt in 2040 B.C. and began the period known as the Middle Kingdom (dynasties 11 - 13). This period lasted from c2040 B.C. to 1652 B.C. The Egyptians reasserted their authority in Nubia and resumed royal trade with Syria and Palestine. A large expedition was sent to Punt, which was perhaps Ethiopia and eastern Sudan. Land around Lake Moeris and the Fayum were reclaimed. The kings of the twelfth dynasty spent a lot of time maintaining their control over Nubian territory from the 1st to the 2nd cataracts. The Egyptians had mines and quarries in Lower Nubia and were interested in trade with peoples living further south, in an area called Kush. The Egyptian received gold from their mines in Lower Nubia and from the people of Kush. (7)

From c1652 to 1567 B.C. Egypt went through another period of chaos called the Second Intermediate Period (dynasties 15 - 17). During this time an eastern people, called the Hyksos or 'princes of the foreign lands' ruled Egypt from Avaris in the eastern Delta. The Hyksos adopted the culture of Egypt and may have introduced the idea of using horses in war. The south was dominated by Thebes. A family from Thebes eventually expelled the Hyksos from Egypt. (7)

Nebpehtyre Ahmose of Thebes, whose father and brother had both fought the Hyksos, was the founder of the New Kingdom. This great period of Egyptian history lasted from c1567 to 1069 B.C and covered the 18th to the 20th dynasties. Hatshepsut, the female ruler of Egypt, Akhenaten and Nefertiti, and Tutankhamun reigned during the powerful 18th dynasty. Egypt was a powerful force in western Asia and Nubia was ruled by Egypt as far as the 4th and 5th cataracts. Nubian kings, which had been independent during the Hyksos period, were now essentially part of Egypt. During the 19th dynasty, trade with Syria and Palestine was resumed after being allowed to lapse during the time of Akhenaten and the Amarna period. Egyptian power was fading and eventually Sinai and Palestine were abandoned and control over Nubia weakened. (7)

Egypt's Third Intermediate Period lasted from c 1069 - 656 B.C. and included the 21st to the 25th dynasties. Kings at Tanis and high priests of Amun at Thebes ruled the country. Libyan rulers or rulers descended from Libyans founded Egypt's 22nd dynasty. Hedjkheperre Sheshonq of the 22nd dynasty reestablished trade with Byblos and increased Egyptian control over Nubia. Around 925 B.C., he defeated Rehoboam of Israel. This was one of Egypt's last foreign victory. After a period of decline and civil war, Py and Shabako established a Nubian dynasty in Egypt. This dynasty eventually fell to the Assyrians. (7)

When the Late Period began (656 - 332 B.C., dynasties 26 to 30), Egypt was in the hands of the Assyrians. The Assyrians let native rulers serve as vassal kings and Egypt enjoyed an artistic and cultural revival. Many Greeks and peoples from other lands lived in the cosmopolitan land that was Egypt. Demotic replaced hieratic as the script for everyday use by 650 B.C. Hieratic was then reserved for priestly use. Assyrian power was replaced by the threat of the Babylonians and then the Persians. The Egyptians allied themselves with various Greek powers in an attempt to defeat the Persians. Ultimately, Egypt fell to Alexander the Great and the Makedonians. (6, 7)

Egyptian culture continued after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. The use of the hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic scripts lasted throughout the Ptolemaic period. During the Ptolemaic period, the Greek reed pen replaced the traditional Egyptian brush. The use of demotic, which is completely cursive and lacks the picture-like quality of earlier scripts, expanded during the Ptolemaic period to include its use in literary, religious, and scientific texts. It was even used in monumental settings. The text of the Rosetta Stone was written in the hieroglyphic and demotic scripts as well as in the official language of Egypt, Greek. The last known hieroglyphic inscription was written on the temple walls of Philae in 394 A.D. The last known example of hieratic comes from a papyrus dated to the 3rd century A.D. The demotic script lasted into the 5th century A.D. The last known example dates from 450 A.D. in a graffito in the temple of Philae. The Coptic script, based on the Greek script, was developed by the 4th century A.D. An early form of Coptic was used by the 1st century A.D. for Egyptian magical texts. (8)

Note: Since Egyptian hieroglyphs did not use vowels, there are many spelling variations.

A -- B -- D -- H -- I -- K -- M -- N -- Q -- R -- S -- T -- W

NameNotesSource
AAA
Aashit (1)
Ahhotep17th Dynasty, Queen of Sekenenre II(3)
AhmoseMother of Amenhotep I(5)
AneksiMeans "She belongs to me"(3)
Ankhes-Merire, AnkhesmerireSeveral 6th Dynasty queens(3, 10)
AshaytBuried behind Mentuhotep I's tomb, 11th Dynasty(10)
BBB
BameketLiterally "Ba-mkt"(4)
Bebi1st Intermediate Period(3)
BetLiterally "Bt"(4)
Bint-Anath19th Dynasty(3)
BuneferWife of Shepseskaf, 4th Dynasty10
DDD
DedetLiterally "Ddt"(4)
Djab (1)
HHH
HekenuOld Kingdom musician(3)
Henhenet12th Dynasty(3)
Hentmire19th Dynasty, wife of Ramesses II(3)
HenutsenWife of Khufu, mother of Khafre, Old Kingdom(10)
Henuttaneb18th Dynasty, daughter of Amenhoptep III and Tiy (3)
HenuttawiNew Kingdom(3)
Her-Neith1st Dynasty queen(3)
HetepetNew Kingdom(1)
HetepheresSeveral Old Kingdom royal women(3, 10)
Hetepi1st Intermediate Period(3)
Herer20th Dynasty(1)
HuneroFrom a New Kingdom legal case(1)
III
Ijneferti19th or 20th Dynasty(2)
InhuretnakhtLiterally "In-hrt-nht"(4)
IpiNew Kingdom(1)
IputDaughter of Unas, wife of Teti, 6th Dynasty(10)
IpwetDaughter of Merenre, wife of Pepi II, 6th Dynasty(10)
Isis18th Dynasty, daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiy (3)
Istnofret19th Dynasty queen(3)
ItakaytMiddle Kingdom(3)
ItiOld Kingdom musician(3)
IutemhebMiddle Kingdom?(3)
KKK
KawitName of several women, including the wife of Teti in the 6th Dynasty and a royal woman in the 11th Dynasty(3)
KemsitBuried behind Mentuhotep I's tomb (11th Dynasty)(10)
KhamaatDaughter of Shepseskaf, 4th Dynasty(10)
KhamerernebySeveral royal women from the Old Kingdom10
KhentkawesWife of Userkaf from the 5th Dynasty10
Khety12th Dynasty(3)
KhuytLiterally "Hwyt"(4)
MMM
MaatnefrureQueen of Rameses II(3)
Meresankh"She loves life", 4th Dynasty queen(3)
MeritatesWife of Khufu10
Meryt-Amen19th Dynasty(3)
Meryt-NeithEgyptian queen(3)
Merytre18th Dynasty, queen of Tuthmosis III(3)
Min-nefret4th Dynasty woman described as the 'confidant' of the king(8)
Mutemheb (3)
MutemwiaNew Kingdom(1)
MutnodjmetWife of Horemheb, 18th Dynasty(3)
MuyetBuried behind Mentuhotep I's tomb, 11th Dynasty(10)
NNN
Naunakht (1)
Naunakhte20th Dynasty(3)
NebetOld Kingdom vizier(3)
Nebetah18th Dynasty, daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiy (3)
Nebetta (1)
Nebet-Tawy19th Dynasty(3)
Nebipusenusret (4)
NebtaTime of Tuthmosis III(3)
Neferhetep, NeferhetepesDaughter of Djedefra of the 4th Dynasty(10)
NeferuSister of Mentuhotep I, 11th Dynasty(3)
Neferura18th Dynasty, daughter of Hatshepsut(1)
Neferure18th Dynasty, daughter of Hatshepsut, alternate spelling(3)
NefretNew Kingdom(1)
NefrusobkLast ruler of the 12th Dynasty(1)
Neith-Hotep1st Dynasty queen(3)
Nemaathep2nd Dynasty queen, wife of Khasekhemwy(3, 10)
Nenufer (3)
Nesmut (1)
Nitemhat27th Dynasty(1)
NitiqretRuler at the end of the 6th Dynasty(1)
NofretName of a royal woman from the 3rd Dynasty(10)
NubnofretNew Kingdom(3)
QQQ
QalhataMother of Tanutamun and sister of Taharqa, 25th (Kushite) Dynasty(11)
RRR
ReddjedetHad triplets(3)
Rennefer (1)
RerutLiterally "Rrwt"(4)
Rudjedet (1)
SSS
SadehBuried behind Mentuhotep I's tomb, 11th Dynasty(10)
SamenkhetLiterally "Sa-mnht"(4)
SarenenutetLiterally "Sa-rnnwtt"(4)
Satioh18th Dynasty queen(1)
SatmontjuLiterally "Sat-mntw"(4)
SatsobekLiterally "Sat-sbk"(4)
SatweretNew Kingdom(1)
SatwosretLiterally "Sat-wsrt"(4)
SautytLiterally "Sawtyt"(4)
SehMiddle Kingdom(1)
SenenMiddle and New Kingdom(1, 3)
SenetenpuMeans "She is our sister"(3)
SeshseshetDaughter of Teti, 6th Dynasty(10)
SheftuMiddle Kingdom(3)
ShepsetMiddle Kingdom(1)
Sitamen18th Dynasty, daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiy (3)
Sobeknofru, Sobkkare Sobkneferu Middle Kingdom queen(3, 7)
TTT
Taiemniut (1)
TakamenetTime of Tuthmosis III(3)
Takemet (1)
TakharuNew Kingdom(3)
Tanefery20th Dynasty(1)
Tanetiunet (1)
TausretLast ruler of the 19th Dynasty(1)
Tchat12th Dynasty(3)
TemMother of Mentuhotep II, 11th Dynasty(10)
TetiMiddle Kingdom(3)
Tetisheri17th Dynasty, commoner wife of Sekenenre I (3)
ThepeuMother of a sculptor in the time of Amenhotep III (5)
Thuyu18th Dynasty, Tiy's mother(3)
TiaDaughter of Sethos I(5)
Tiy20th Dynasty(3)
Tjuyu18th Dynasty, Tiy's mother, alternate spelling (1)
TuyFrom a New Kingdom legal case(1)
WWW
WebkhetFrom a New Kingdom legal case(1)
Weretkhetes, Weret-ImtesThe name of several 6th Dynasty queens(3, 10)
WerneroNew Kingdom(3)

Deities that may appear in names:

Amun
Aten
Inhuret
Maat
Min
Montu/Mentu
Neb (Greek Nephthys)
Neith
Ptah
Re
Sobek

Words that may appear in names:

hotep = peace, content, satisfied (4)
khu = protected (4)
meryt = beloved (3)
nakht = strong, vigorous (4)
nefer = beautiful, perfect, good, wonderful (4)
sa = son (4)
sat = daughter (4)

Sources:

(1) Women in Ancient Egypt, Gay Robins, London: British Museum Press, 1993.

(2) Origins of the Book: Egypt's Contribution to the Development of the Book From Papyrus to Codex, Muhammad Ahmad Husayn, Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society, 1972.

(3) Daughters of Isis: Women of Ancient Egypt, Joyce Tyldesley, New York: Penguin Books, 1995.

(4) How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs: A Step by Step Guide to Teach Yourself, London: British Museum, 1998.

(5) The Egyptian Kingdoms, A. Rosalie David, New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1988.

(6) The Story of Writing: Alphabets, Hieroglyphs, & Pictograms, Andrew Robinson, New York: Thames and Hudson, 1995.

(7) The Penguin Encyclopedia of Ancient Civilizations, ed. Arthur Cotterell, New York: Penguin Books, 1980, 1988.

(8) Reading the Past: Ancient Writing from Cuneiform to the Alphabet, New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1990.

(9) History of Africa, Kevin Shillington, New York, St. Martin's Press, 1989, 1995.

(10) Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt, Peter A. Clayton, New York: Thames and Hudson, 1994, 1996

(11) The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton, New York: Thames and Hudson, 2004.

See also:

Old Kingdom Names - Female Names
By Takhaet Mentuhotep.


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Updated November 30, 2009