The most popular theory regarding Kiya (and one that I fully support) is that Kiya was a Mitannian princess, sent late in Amenhotep III's reign to marry the aging monarch. Her original name was something like Tadukhipa, and Kiya may have been a nickname given to the princess after she arrived in her new homeland. The most common translation of Kiya is 'Jovial Lady' (sometimes the names is suggested to mean "Monkey"). She was a daughter of Tushratta, King of Mittani, and the niece of Gilukipha, a a sister of Tushratta sent to marry Amenhotep III earlier in his reign.
Kiya was probably a young girl in her early teens when she was sent to marry the considerably older (and possibly ill) Nebma'atre Amenhotep III. Of course, Amenhotep wasn't lacking for wives: Tiye, Gilukhipa, and his own daughters; Sitamun and Isis, and possibly Henut-Taneb, just to name a few.Amenhotep, however, died shortly after Kiya was sent to Egypt, and she was passed to his son, the junior Amenhotep, soon to be called Akhenaten. They seemed to be happy together. She was Akhenaten's "Greatly Beloved Wife" and her estate was the "House of the Favorite."
Kiya gave her new husband at least one daughter, although the name of this princess has been lost, so we'll just call her Kiya ta-sherit (Kiya Junior, or Kiya-the-younger). We know that Kiya ta-sherit existed, as there are reliefs from Amarna showing Queen Kiya with a daughter, and like Nefertiti's six, she is labeled as a King's Daughter. But unlike Nefertiti's daughters, Kiya ta-sherit is *not* described (as the other six constantly are) as being 'born of the Great Royal Wife, Nefernefruaten-Nefertiti.
Kiya was Akhenaten's "Greatly Beloved Wife" and his Favorite. Why was this? Perhaps, love played a part in it, but there is another possibility. Could have Kiya given Pharaoh a son?
Virtually nothing is known about the origins of Smenkhkare (Ankhkheperure Djeserkheperu Smenkhkare). Kiya has been proposed as the mother of this enigmatic pharaoh. But, so has Tiye. Tiye and Amenhotep III could very well have been the parents of Smenkhkare, but Kiya is equally likely. If Kiya was the mother, who was the father? Akhenaten is surely a canidate for the father of Smenkhkare, yet, some feel that Smenkhkare was too old to be the son of Akhenaten. Was it possible, then, that Smenkhkare was the son of Kiya and her first husband, Amenhotep, before he died? There is really no way to know, but I kind of like the Amenhotep + Kiya = Smenkhkare theory. Interesting thought, is it not? However, Smenkhkare is closely related to Tutankhamen (probably brothers or father and son), and both king's (if Smenkhkare is indeed the body in KV55) share characteristics similiar to Akhenaten's. It is a very real possiblity that Smenkhkare was Akhenaten's son.
Tutankhaten's parentage is one of the most enduring mysteries of the Amarna period. Many women have been suggested as his mother. A mysterious princess named Meritre, Amenhotep's daughter and wife, Sitamun, Nefertiti, Meritaten and Meketaten have even been suggested as his parents, and, of course, the greatly beloved Kiya.
Kiya's prominence in Amarna occured about halfway into the reign of Akhenaten, exactly the time Tutankhaten was born. Could the birth of a son been what elevated Kiya to such a status that she rivaled Nefertiti? From analysis of the remains of Tutankhaten/amen and those thought to be Smenkhkare, it is show that the two a closely related, most likely brothers or half-brothers. With the all the inbreeding amoung the royal family, the two princes would be close relatives no matter what. Of course, if there was a co-regency, Tutankhaten could have been the son of Tiye and Amenhotep III, but that is *if* there was a long co-regency. I have always thought that the idea that Tutankhaten was the son of Akhenaten and Kiya made the most sense, plain and simple.
Kiya's Disappearing Act
Sometime, late in Akhenaten's reign, Kiya dies, falls from favor, or is replaced. Many of her inscriptions were reworked to honor Meritaten instead, or even, in some cases, Ankhesenpaaten. But did Kiya die, or were the princesses just gaining more prominence? There is mention of deliveries to the 'House of the Favorite' as late as year 16 of Akhenaten. Although it is extremely unlikely, I like to think that Kiya lived long enough to at least see Tutankhaten on the throne of Egypt. He was, however, only 'half royal' (Kiya was a Mitannian princess, and her husband(s) Egyptian King(s), that makes Tutankhaten pretty darn royal if you ask me) and needed the fully royal blood of his half-sister, Ankhesenpaaten, to make his claim to the throne 'legitimate'.<--- back