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5 Facts about Meritaten and Her Connection with Ireland

Hello friends and welcome back!

So as the title of this implies, there is a legend? Myth? Historical fact? That an Egyptian princess was banished from Egypt along with her husband, a Greek prince, and several hundred followers during the end of Nefertiti and Akhenaten’s reign.

As the legend of Scota/Meritaten goes…

A princess of Egypt in the latter end of the Middle Bronze Age (circa 1,300bce) was exiled from Egypt along with her Greek husband. The sailed for three months to the shores of Spain where they became known as the Milesians and where Meritaten became known as Scota. After a time, she and her people continued to Ireland where they met the ruling clans of the island who called themselves the Tuatha De’ Danaan.

As with any story or myth or whatever, it is vastly more complex than what I’m trying to explain here and can differ depending on the source you read. So without any further ado…

1. Like Nefertiti, Meritaten’s body has never been found. Though, out in the barren desert bluffs of the abandoned city of Amarna, where Pharaoh Akhenaten’s (Meritaten's father) tomb is located, was where she would have originally been buried. However, after the Pharaoh’s death, the city was abandoned.

Side note: If you’re wondering, and I’m sure you are, Akhenaten mummy is in the Cairo museum.

2. Before Meritaten disappeared from the histories, she held the title of Chief Wife and was a prominent ruler alongside the shadowy figure, Pharaoh Smenkhkare. No one knows exactly who this person was, but many— including myself— think it was Nefertiti under a different name.

3. In the book Lebor Gabála Érenn: The Book of the Taking of Ireland, there are several passages that state the Pharaoh’s daughter (Meritaten) becomes known as Scota. From what I’ve learned that is how Scotland got its name.

4. As the story of Scota progresses it makes clear that she takes part in the fighting alongside her husband and sons against the Tuatha De’ Danaan tribes, and is killed in the battle of Sliabh Mish. However, from what I’ve read in the Lebor Gabála Érenn it doesn’t explain why they ended up fighting each other so fiercely— though I have an idea.

5. In County Kerry, south of Tralee, is a site that is marked as Scota’s Grave. This is the glen where it is written that Scota/Meritaten was slain in battle and her body was buried facing towards the sea. (picture below)

Bonus: On the hill of Tara, a skeleton of a young boy was discovered in 1955 by archaeologist Dr. Sean O’Riordan of Trinity College. The young boy’s burial dates back to about 1350bce the same time period as Meritaten, but what makes the find so special was that the boy was wearing a necklace made of bluish-green faience beads identical (in composition and age) to the once which were buried with King Tutankhamun (who incidentally was Meritaten’s half brother).

Is it a coincidence? Maybe, but the mystery-loving, romantic dreamer part of myself says the story has some truth to it. What I wanted to know was why travel such a distance? The only reason I could think of was the very thing that the time period was named after— Bronze— or more specifically, the components that make bronze— copper, and tin. What if the Greeks (Minoans) who operated the mines at the time? They had the ships and trading capabilities. They had the connections throughout the Mediterranean to see that the raw materials could be sold and made into what every empire and kingdom at the time used as tools, farm implements, and weapons. (Do you see why I wasn’t able to keep this as a short prologue to Lost Queen— I’ve fallen too far down the Egyptian-Irish rabbit hole!))

Last week I included the first few paragraphs of my current WIP Escape of a Queen and I thought I'd share a few more...

…Meritaten pressed her clenched fists into her lap. Ayi, council to her mother stood poised, waiting as Nefertiti waved the four closer. With his wide-set dark eyes, pointed chin and whip-thin frame, he resembled a viper waiting to strike. She hadn’t realized he had entered the room or several of the Priests of Amun who we never far from his side.

“We come from the most northern reaches of the world and have brought you something that should delight and prove useful to you and your people,” said the tallest of the men.

He was older, with streaks of white at his temples and lines at the corner of his eyes. Thickly muscled arms— arms accustomed to labor— held out the first box. It was made of pale yellow wood the color of honey and had a clasp made of silver. “I am Gaytholos, third son of the King of Knossos. It is my pleasure to behold a true god of the heavens and land.”

“A third son of the King? I feel as though that alone is slight against me; a third son indeed,” she paused to take a long sip of from her cup. “Well, don’t just stand there. Get on with it.”

Gaytholos obeyed and lifted the lid to reveal a necklace made of polished green-hued stones and an amulet of the same stone carved into an intricate series of spirals.

“That’s it?” asked Nefertiti. She sat forward and squinted to see the necklace better. “It reminds me of the color of the growth of some of the bathing pools.”

Meritaten let out an inaudible sigh. “Bring it here,” she said and indicated the man come closer.

He stepped up to the dais step and smiled, holding out the box once more. She noticed that the color of his eyes was almost the same shade of green as the stones.

Carefully she lifted the amulet. Her mother was partly right. She hated to admit the color was nearly identical to the green growth the bathing pools sometimes got, but in the light from the fires that illumined the throne room, she saw that it was so much more. Swirled into the green were white striations and darker lines that appeared almost black enhanced the spiral pattern carved into it.

“It is beautiful, where did it come from?” she asked, lifting the necklace out next.

“From a land as green and lush as the Nile banks. This stone was found in the mines where the ore for the making of bronze comes from,” Gaytholos said. “It would give me please if you would accept this as a gift from me.”

Meritaten nodded and put the necklace back into the box. “I accept,” she said and motioned to another one of the serving girls that lined the back wall. The young girl cradled the box in her thin arms and stepped back.

“Not so fast,” called Nefertiti. “I want another look at that necklace and what is in the other boxes?”...

On a Personal Note:

Mittens is elated that I’m in the house more now that the weather has turned cold and she has loads of opportunities now to cuddle with me. Well, more like trying to lay on me while I type. She and the cat are in hot competition. I’m still plugging away at Nanowrimo, though it's tough. I constantly remind myself to stay away from the research aspect of the story for now and get the ugly first draft out of the way— it’s a struggle.

Hope you all have an amazing week and will see you next Sunday!

XOXO, Karrie

Twitter: @karrie_barnum

Pinterest Board: Escape of a Queen

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