Welcome to The Aten Sequence series of science fantasy books for young adults and big kids everywhere. Aten is fed up. Who would have thought that a little mistake like forgetting to fill up at the intergalactic service station would get him stuck on a sorry planet at the end of the Universe called Earth. He is desperate to leave, but needs to find huge amounts of gold to make fuel for his ship. So he plans to empty the gold vaults of Karnak Temple. After all, whatever could go wrong?
The Aten Sequence
Books are set in Ancient Egypt and although many of the characters are purely
fictional, I have ‘borrowed’ some real historical characters and woven them
into my stories.
One of these
characters is Prince Dhutmose; Crown Prince and eldest son of Pharaoh Amenophis
III. In the books he is a young prince
undergoing his military training in the Kap, a training school for the young
boys of royal and noble blood. At the
beginning of the story line he is just a young prince having a good time hunting,
racing his chariot, wrestling and having fun with his friends before Aten shows
up and embroils him in his schemes to steal the gold from the vaults of the
temple of Karnak. In the second book, ‘Hall
of the Golden Crocodiles’, we also meet Dhutmose’s beloved pet, the cat Ta-miu
who, being a royal cat, can talk, do magic and is much more than she seems. So
what can history tell us about the real Prince Dhutmose?
Sarcophagus of Prince Thutmose's cat Ta-miu
Although we do not know a great deal about the historical
Prince Dhutmose, isn’t it amazing that we do know that just over 3,000 years ago
a young prince loved his cat?
For all our knowledge of ancient civilisations, we rarely
catch even the faintest whispers of the personal, intimate lives that these
people once led. Even for royalty,
beyond the formal inscriptions that rulers used to trumpet their achievements or
show their reverence to their gods, we usually know very little about the real characters
beneath the glittering regalia and formality of court life.
But just occasionally we do get a small glimpse into these
past lives and loves, and one of these rare glimpses comes from a young boy’s
love for his cat. Prince Dhutmose was so fond of his cat that he had a fine
limestone sarcophagus carved for her, had her body mummified and then carefully
buried. The limestone sarcophagus is now on display in the Egyptian Museum in
Cairo and shows the cat sitting before an offering table heaped with goodies
for the afterlife. It seems that her
owner wanted her to enjoy her time after death as much as she had appreciated
being a cosseted royal pet in life. We
know from the inscriptions that she was called Ta-miu, which literally meant ‘she-cat’
and that her owner was Crown Prince Dhutmose, or Thutmose, the eldest son of
the mighty Pharaoh Amenophis III and his great royal wife, Queen Tiye.
Living in the 21st century, where Prince William
and Prince Harry have practically every moment of their lives captured on film
and the details of their day-to-day lives endlessly scrutinised and pored over,
it may seem strange to us that back in Ancient Egypt it was actually very rare
for there to be any mention of royal children or even their queens, on a Pharaoh’s
monuments. What we do know about the Egyptian royal families over the thousands
of years of Egyptian history tends to have been pieced together from titles and
inscriptions found in tombs or on statues or funerary equipment. Even today
there is much speculation about some of the relationships in the Egyptian royal
family and how they fitted together. However, this started to change towards
the end of the 18th dynasty and Amenophis III had his wife Queen
Tiye shown alongside him on statues and had the names and titles of his
children carved onto some of his monuments.
However, it was still usually only the royal princesses who were
mentioned and during the ensuing Amarna period the famous heretic Pharaoh
Akhenaten and his beautiful wife Queen Nefertiti were often shown with their
So the fact that we know that Prince Dhutmose even existed
is a miracle, as he did not outlive his father and become Pharaoh. Although we do not know many details of his
life, he seems to have been born between years 16-19 of his father’s reign and
have died young sometime between years 25-30.
His titles were listed on Ta-miu’s sarcophagus as ‘Crown Prince,
Overseer of the Priests of Upper and Lower Egypt, High Priest of Ptah in
Memphis and Sm-Priest (of Ptah)’, so he could well have spent much of his short
life in Egypt’s ancient capital Memphis.
As he was young, we also do not know whether these titles were purely
honorary or whether he did undertake priestly duties in the temple of
Ptah. However, there is evidence that he
officiated at the burial of one of the first Apis bulls at Saqqara, the large
royal necropolis over on the west bank of the Nile from Memphis. He may also have had connections to the military
as an ivory whip found in the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamun is inscribed
with the titles ‘The King’s son, the troop commander, Thutmose, repeating of
births’, although again we cannot really be sure that the whip’s owner was our Dhutmose
and not another royal prince with the same name.
How Prince Dhutmose died or his exact age at death is
unknown, but his demise paved the way for the emergence of his younger brother
Prince Amenophis onto the political scene.
It is interesting to speculate what would have happened if the young prince
had lived and had succeeded to his father’s throne. Would he have led Egypt away from the worship
of Amen and the traditional gods as his brother was to do, or did he share
Akhenaten’s beliefs in the pre-eminence of the Aten? Prince Dhutmose’s tomb has never been
discovered, but there is a mummy that was discovered in the KV35 cache in the
tomb of Amenophis II that has been identified by some as his remains, although
others think that it may be Prince Webensenu, a son of Amenophis II, as some of
his canopic jars were also found in the tomb.
The mummy is of a young boy of around 11 years of age, who still wears
the sidelock of youth, and his identification as Prince Dhutmose comes from the
proximity of the remains to another mummy known as the ‘elder lady’ who has
been identified through DNA analysis as being Queen Tiye, his mother.
Maybe there is more
evidence of Prince Dhutmose still to be excavated from beneath the shifting sands
off Egypt and we will be able to piece together some more of the details of his
life? Maybe even his tomb is still out
there somewhere in the hills of Thebes or in the necropolis of Saqqara waiting
to be found? But the one thing we do
know is that the young prince dearly loved his cat. Sarcophagus of Prince Thutmose's cat Ta-miu image, Larazoni Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic