Tiye's father, Yuya, was a wealthy landowner from the Upper Egyptian town of Akhmin, where he served as a priest and superintendent of oxen. Tiye's mother, Thuya, was involved in many religious cults, as her different titles attested (Singer of Hathor, Chief of the Entertainers of both Amun and Min...), which suggests that she was a member of the royal family.
It is sometimes suggested that Tiye's father, Yuya, was of Asiatic or Nubian descent due to the features of his mummy and the many different spellings of his name, which might imply it was a non-Egyptian name in origin. Some suggest that the queen's strong political and unconventional religious views might have been due not just to a strong character, but to foreign descent.
Tiye also had a brother, Anen, who was Second Prophet of Amun. Other Egyptologists speculated that Ay, a successor of Tutankhamen as pharaoh after the latter's death, also might have been descended from Tiye. No clear date or monument can confirm the link between the two, but these Egyptologists presumed this from Ay's origins, also from Akhmin, and because he inherited most of the titles that Tiye's father, Yuya, held during his lifetime, at the court of Amenhotep III.
Tiye was married to Amenhotep III by the second year of his reign. He had been born of a secondary wife of his father and needed a stronger tie to the royal lineage. He appears to have been crowned while still a child, perhaps between the ages of six to twelve. They had at least six children, one of whom, Akhenaten, went on to become pharaoh. Tiye's eldest daughter, Sitamun, also is likely to have married her father, Amenhotep III, and become entitled Royal Great Wife as well. Recent works explain that it was mostly a symbolic marriage involving many religious and administrative duties, as it occurs during Tiye's lifetime and probably with her consent. Other than those two, Tiye also gave birth to Henuttaneb, Nebetiah, Isis, and Thutmose. A fifth daughter, Baketaten, is attributed to Tiye, but the father still is not confirmed.
Tiye wielded a great deal of power during both her husband’s and son’s reigns. Amenhotep III became a fine sportsman, a lover of outdoor life, and a great statesman. He often had to consider claims for Egypt's gold and requests for his royal daughters in marriage from foreign kings such as Tushratta of Mitanni and Kadashman-Enlil I of Babylon. The royal lineage was carried by the women of ancient Egypt and marriage to one would have been a path to the throne for their progeny. Tiye became her husband’s trusted adviser and confidant. Being wise, intelligent, strong, and fierce, she was able to gain the respect of foreign dignitaries. Foreign leaders were willing to deal directly through her. She continued to play an active role in foreign relations and was the first Egyptian queen to have her name recorded on official acts.
She may have continued to advise her son, Akhenaten, when he took the throne. Her son’s correspondence with Tushratta, the king of Mitanni, speaks highly of the political influence which Tiye wielded at court. In Amarna letter EA 26, Tushratta, king to Mitanni, corresponded directly with Tiye to reminisce about the good relations which he enjoyed with her then deceased husband and extended his wish to continue on friendly terms with her son, Akhenaten.
Amenhotep III died in Year 38 or Year 39 of his reign (1353 BCE/1350 BCE) and was buried in the Valley of the Kings in WV22; however, Tiye is known to have outlived him for as many as twelve years. Tiye continued to be mentioned in the Amarna letters and in inscriptions as queen and beloved of the king. Amarna letter EA 26, which is addressed to Tiye, dates to the reign of Akhenaten. She is known to have had a house at Amarna, Akhenaten's new capital, and is shown on the walls of the tomb of Huya – a "steward in the house of the king's mother, the great royal wife Tiyi" – depicted at a dinner table with Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and their family and then being escorted by the king to her sunshade. In an inscription approximately dated to November 21 of Year 12 of Akhenaten's reign (1338 BCE), both she and her granddaughter Meketaten are mentioned for the last time. They are thought to have died shortly after that date.
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