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Isetnofret I, wife Ramesses II

 
Titles and epithets used by Isetnofret: Hereditary Princess (iryt-p`t) , Great of Praises (wrt-hzwt) , King’s Mother (mwt-niswt) , Mistress of the entire Two Lands (hnwt-t3wy-tm) , King’s Wife (hmt-nisw) , Great King’s Wife (hmt-niswt-wrt) , she who fills the colonnaded halls with the scent of her perfume; her fragrance is like (that of) Punt, even the ointment of her limbs; her beauty pervades the Adience-Chamber, her fragrance fills the colonnaded hall; sweet-scented alongside her father who at seeing her, rejoices
 
Her name is also written as Asetnofret, Isisnofret, or Istnofret

Isetnofret was one of the wives of Ramesses II. The names of her parents are nowhere recorded and the fact that she never bore the title King’s Daughter indicates that she was of non-royal birth.
Her children appear on monuments dating to the very early years of the reign of Ramesses II. This implies that she likely married Ramesses even before he came to the throne. If she married and bore children during the reign of her father-in-law Sety I, she must have been born sometime during the later years of King Horemheb.
During the early reign of Ramesses II Isetnofret stood in the shadow of Queen Nefertari. Nefertari had given birth to the heir of the throne and played a dominant role at court.

Isetnofret gave birth to at least four children. Her eldest son Ramesses was named after his father and great-grandfather. Ramesses rose to the rank of Generallisimo in the Egyptian army and after the death of his older half-brother became crown prince of Egypt. Isetnofret’s second son Khaemwaset served in the army for a short time, but he is most famous for the work he did as a priest. Khaemwaset first became a sem-priest of Ptah in Memphis. In this capacity he officiated at some of the burials of the Apis bulls. Later he became the High Priest of Ptah in Memphis and after the death of his brother Ramesses he served as crown-prince for ca. five years. Isetnofret’s third son Merenptah was the thirteenth son as depicted in the procession of sons. He was destined to become the next Pharaoh. Isetnofret’s daughter Bint-Anath became a great royal wife in ca year 25 of her father’s reign. This daughter became an important lady at the royal court.

Not many statues of Isetnofret exist today. Some small statues are in existence, but no remains of statues reminiscent of the great statues of Nefertari or Merytamen. Isetnofret is best known from some monuments belonging to her son Khaemwaset. The Aswan rockstela and a family monument from Gebel-el Silsila show Queen Isetnofret in the presence of Pharaoh Ramesses II and her known children Ramesses, Khaemwaset, Merenptah and Bint-Anath.

It is not known where Isetnofret was buried. Many other Queens from this period were buried in the Valley of the Queens, but no tomb for Isetnofret has ever been found there.
An ostraca was found making reference to the tomb of a Queen Isetnofret, but it is not certain that this text refers to this queen.

Inscriptions and objects related to Queen Isetnofret


Most of the quotes below are taken directly from:
Kitchen, K.A., Rammeside Inscriptions, Translated & Annotated, Translations, Volume II, Blackwell Publishers, 1996.
Sometimes part of the text was omitted and for any further information one should of course consult above mentioned publication.
[PM] Refers to Porter and Moss.

From Lepsius, Abt III, Band 7, Bl. 175

Aswan Rockstela with Three Sons

A. Upper Register: King, Isetnofret and Khaemwaset before Khnum.
i. Khnum:
Khnum, Lord of the Cataract.
ii. King:
Lord of Both Lands, Usermaatre Setepenre, Lord of Crowns, Ramesses II
iii. Queen:
Queen Isetnofret
iv. Prince:
King's Son, Iunmutef, Sem-Priest, Khaemwaset
B. Lower register: Princes Ramesses, Merneptah and Princess Queen Bint-Anath.

v. Prince Ramesses:
His elder brother, the Hereditary Prince, Royal Scribe, Generalissimo, King's Son, Ramesses.
vi. Princess-Queen:
His elder sister, King's Daughter and Great Royal Wife, Bint-Anath.
vii. Prince Merenptah:
His younger brother, the King's Son Merenptah.
 
 
Statue with Prince's Figure (Brussels E.7500)
i. Dorsal Pillar: [..., .. of] Horus, Lord of the Palace, she who fills the colonnaded halls with the scent of her perfume; her fragrance is like (that of) Punt, even the ointment of her limbs, (even) [the Queen Isetnofret].
[...] for her (?), at the palace; her beauty pervades the Adience-Chamber, (while) her fragrance fills the colonnaded hall; sweet-scented alongside her father who at seeing her, rejoices, (even) the Qu[een Isetnofret]

ii. Prince:
Iunmutef, advantageous to Ptah, who does what pleases his spirit, the Sem-Priest and King's Son Khaemwaset.
Link to page of the Global Egyptian Museum with several images of this statue. Quote:
This statue in quartzite represents Isisnefret, Great Royal Wife of Ramesses II. Only the body of the queen, moulded in a light pleated garment, has survived. On the left side of the statue appears Khaemouaset, her second son, accompanied by a column of text mentioning the name of the prince. He wears the sidelock of infancy on his wig and is dressed in a leopard's skin. The inscription of the dorsal pillar contains a hymn to the queen.
Statue group with Sons (Louvre 2272): A "hetep-di-nesu" offering for the King's Son, Sem priest of Ptah, Khaemwaset and the royal scribe, Generalissimo and King's Son Ramesses, mentioning the Osiris Isetnofret.

Head of Statue (Brussels E.5924)
: On right shoulder: Isetnofret

Link to page of the Global Egyptian Museum with several images of this statue. Quote:
Only the head and a small part of the body remains of this statue of green schist-like sandstone of queen Isenefret, great royal wife of Ramesses II. The roundish face with large eyes, enhanced by make-up, is offset by a tripartite wig, on top of which is a round area forming the base of a crown. On her brow is the double uraeus. The identity of the queen is confirmed by a cartouche containing her name on the right arm.

Fragment by a Son (Cairo JdE 25772) : Fragment of text mentions Queen Isetnofret.

Ostracon Cairo (JdE 72460):
Mentions the tombs of Isetnofret and Mery-atum.
Minor Objects
i. Scarab:
(Petrie 1610): <Osi>ris(?) Istnofret
ii. Shabti:
(Berlin 334): Illuminate the Osiris, the Great Royal Wife Isetnofret, may she live.

Stela depicting the royal family; Isetnofret accompanies Ramesses II.
 Painting based on linedrawing by Lepsius. The original can be found at Abt III, Band 7, Bl 174

W. Silsila Speos, Royal Family Stela by Prince Khaemwaset.
Prince, King, Queen and Princess-Queen before Ptah and Nefertem.
i. Deities:
Ptah-Tonen Nefertem, guardian of the Two Lands, life of the people.
ii. King:
Lord of Both Lands, Usermaatre Setepenre, Lord of Crowns, Ramesses II
iii. Prince:
King's Son, beloved of him, Khaemwaset.
iv. Queen:
Great Royal Wife Isetnofret
v. Princess-Queen:
Hereditary Princess, great in favor(s) (?), King's daughter and Great Royal Wife, Bint-Anath, may she live.
vi. Text:
<text omitted>
vii. Two princes:

His elder brother, the Hereditary Prince, Royal Scribe, Generalissimo, and bodily Senior King's Son, Ramesses.

His younger brother, the Royal Scribe, skilled of fingers, bodily King's Son, Merenptah.
Serapeum Statuary:
A naophorous Statue of Prince Khaemwaset.
Dorsal pillar: [...] Iunmutef-priest, born of the Great Royal Wife Isetnofret, the Sem-priest of Ptah Khaemwaset.

Silsila Lesser Records: Relief for offering for Prince Khaemwaset  in Horemheb Speos
Text above prince:
Sitting at table, making purification with natron and reading out the (funerary) menu, every good offering, for the King's Son of Usermaatre Setepenre, born of the Great Royal Wife, Isetnofret, the Sem-priest Khaemwaset.

Shabti Figure seen by Lepsius
The Osiris, King's Son and Sem-priest, Khaemwaset, born of the Great Royal Wife Isetnofret.

The Sem-priest of Ptah and King's Son, Khaemwaset, born of the Great Royal Wife Isetnofret.

Shabtis from Middle cemetery of Abydos: One of these has a cartouche of Queen Isetnofret. [PM]

West Silsila: Rock shrine of Merneptah
Depicts Ramesses II, Queen Isetnofret with sistra before Taweret as a hippopotamus, Toth and Nut. [PM]
 

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