Further on Tut's Parentage
Dennis Forbes's theory that Smenkhkare and Meritaten were possibly the parents of Tutankhamen [ see: End Paper: New Take on Tut's Parents KMT Fall 97 ] sent me searching for a reference I had a vague memory of: Wallis Budge's Tutankhamen, Amenism, Atenism and Egyptian Monotheism, in which the author makes a passing reference at the top of his chapter "The Reign of Tutankhamen" to a scarab which names the king's mother as one "Merit-Ra." Budge says this scarab was "found in the temple of Osiris at Abydos," and footnotes this with "See Mariette, Abydos, Paris, 1880, tom. II, pl. 40N." I have not, of course, been able to "see" the Mariette volume to check what exactly this scarab says, for myself. Has it ever been published elsewhere, more accessible?
The only other reference I can find to this "Merit-Ra" was made by Christiane Desroche[s]-Noblecourt in her book on [Tutankhamen [Tutankhamen, Life and Death of a Pharaoh (1963)], wherein while discussing the king's parentage, she states without elaboration, "Or his mother might have been Meritre." At the back of her book, under "List of principal characters" the entry for Meritre simply identifies her as an "Egyptian princess who, according to some authors, might have been Tutankhamen's mother." Who are these authors? In all the fuss about who Tut's parents were, why hasn't more mention been made of this "Meritre" person? Or has there been some discussion of this in an obscure academic journal that I wouldn't have seen?
Miami Beach, FL
(EDITOR'S COMMENT: There has been a fair amount of discussion on the Internet about this mysterious scarab referred to by Budge. Because Mariette's Abydos is a rather scarce work, a photocopy of image "n" of plate 40 in volume II has been provided to KMT by the Wilbour Library of Egyptology, Brooklyn, and is reproduced (for the first time since 1880, it would seem) greatly enlarged, below:
It should be immediately apparent that, "Houston, we have a problem."And this is, of course, with the prenomen cartouche of the king named. Clearly it is a "Kheper" name, but of whom? To read Nebkheperure" (Tutankhamen) there would have to be a "plural" sign ("u") present, indicated by three short vertical parallel lines. Instead, what is obvious is the "en" or "water" sign (a jagged line made up of connected opposing short diagonals).
The only "Kheper" king of the 18th Dynasty with "en" as part of his prenomen is Thutmose II (Akheperenre); but for this to be his prenomen, the "neb" basket present would have had to be miscopied for the "a" or "reed".
(the illustration of the cartouche would not copy)