Nefertiti, whose name means "a beautiful woman has come," was the queen of Egypt and wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten during the 14th century B.C. She and her husband established the cult of Aten, the sun god, and promoted Egyptian artwork that was radically different from its predecessors. This bust of Nefertiti is one of the most iconic symbols of Egypt.
Nefertiti and the pharaoh took an active role in establishing the Aten cult, a religious mythology which defined Aten, the sun, as the most important god and the only one worthy of worship in Egypt's polytheistic canon. Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten (also seen as "Akenhaten" in some references) to honor the deity. It is believed that the king and queen were priests and that it was only through them that ordinary citizens could obtain access to Aten. Nefertiti changed her name to Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti, meaning "beautiful are the beauties of Aten, a beautiful woman has come," as a show of her absolutism for the new religion. The royal family resided in a constructed city called Akhetaton—in what is now known as el-Amarna—meant to honor their god. There were several open-air temples in the city, and at the center stood the palace.
Nefertiti was perhaps one of the most powerful women ever to have ruled. Her husband went to great lengths to display her as an equal. In several reliefs, she is shown wearing the crown of a pharaoh or smiting her enemies in battle. But despite this great power, Nefertiti disappears from all depictions after 12 years. The reason for her disappearance is unknown. Some scholars believe she died, while others speculate she was elevated to the status of co-regent—equal in power to the pharaoh—and began to dress herself as a man.