King 1352-1348 BC.
    Although the theory is only supported by circumstantial evidence, it has been suggested that Ay may have been the son of *Yuya and *Thuya and therefore the brother of Queen *Tiye. Both *Yuya and Ay bore the title 'Father of the god' and both were 'Superintendents of the King's Horses'; they also had family associations with the town of Akhmim (where Ay built a rock-chapel to the god Min) and the names of their wives (*Thuya and Tey) were similar. Indeed, Ay held most of the titles during the reign of *Akhenaten that *Yuya had held under *Amenophis III, and these may have been transferred from father to son.
    One interpretation of the title 'Father of the god' is that it was bestowed on a king's father-in-law. At Tell el Amarna, only Ay held this title, and one theory proposes that he was Queen *Nefertiti's father. It is known that her nurse or tutor was Ay's wife, Tey, who cannot therefore have been her mother; it is possible that another unknown wife of Ay may have been *Neferiti's mother and may have died in childbirth, leaving Tey as her step-mother. The same theoretical reconstruction suggests that another woman known by the name of Mudnodjme may have been either a full-sister or half-sister of *Nefertiti.
    At Amarna, Ay was a close adviser and personal secretary of *Akhenaten and he must have exerted considerable influence on the king's policy and religious experiments. *Akhenaten allowed Ay to start work on an imposing tomb at Amarna; the largest of the nobles' tombs there; it was never finished or occupied, but the most complete version of the famous Hymn to the Aten was discovered near the doorway in 1884. This preserved the basic tenets of Atenism and is the fullest account of these religious concepts that we possess.
    When *Akhenaten died and *Tutankhamun came to the throne as a child of nine or ten years, Ay became the vizier. He was probably responsible for the removal of the Court from Amarna to the old capital and for the parallel return to religious orthodoxy. When *Tutankhamun died, Ay succeeded him as king as there were no direct royal heirs; he probably consolidated his claim by marrying the royal widow, *Ankhesenpaaten, once her impassioned requests to the *Hittite king to send his son to become her husband had failed.
    Ay reigned briefly. He appears in ritual wall-scenes in *Tutankhamun's tomb as the heir presumptive, performing the burial rites for the dead king, including the Ceremony of Opening the Mouth which was believed to restore life to the king's body and representations in statuary and wall-reliefs. When he returned from Amarna, Ay commenced work on a new tomb for himself at Thebes; this may have been the relatively small tomb in which *Tutankhamun was ultimately buried, Ay having subsequently taken over the larger tomb which was being prepared for *Tutankhamun in the western region of the Valley of the Kings.
    In the larger tomb, Ay is represented with Tey, his first wife; there is no reference to *Ankhesenpaaten. Ay and Tey are shown in a scene depicting fowling in the marshes, an activity which was customarily depicted in noble but not royal tombs. It is possible that a certain Nakht-Min (the general of the army and Royal Fan-bearer in the reign of *Tutankhamun) was the son of Ay and Tey. Ay's Theban mortuary temple was taken over by his successor, *Horemheb. This man had been an army general and probably became Ay's co-regent because there was no direct living heir to take over the throne. The reliefs in Ay's unfinished Theban tomb were eventually desecrated and the excavators found no convincing evidence that he had ever been buried there. His role in the Amarna revolution and counter-revolution is unclear; as a supporter of
    *Akhenaten's reforms and even perhaps inspiring some of the king's ideas, Ay seems to have changed course later, perhaps realising the dangers inherent in the situation. He appears to have provided continuity and some stability throughout this troubled period.
BIBL. Aldred, C. Akhenaten, Pharaoh of Egypt. London: 1968; Seele, K.C. King Ay and the close of the Amarna age. JNES 14 (1955) pp. 168 ff; Newberry, P.E. King Ay, the successor of Tutankhamun JEA 18 (1932) pp 50-2.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David
* * *
(reigned c. 1327–1323 BC)
   Throne name Kheperkheprure. High official during the reign of Akhenaten and Tutankhamun with the title God’s father and vizier. It has been speculated that he was the brother of Tiy and the father of Nefertiti, but nothing definite is known about his family apart from the fact that his wife, also Tiy, was the nurse of Nefertiti. Ay succeeded Tutankhamun, probably against the wishes of Queen Ankhesenamun, and conducted the burial rites for the late monarch, as depicted in Tutankhamun’s tomb. His reign was brief and he was buried in tomb KV23in theValley of the Kings, which was discovered in 1816, but his mummy has not been preserved or identified. His memory was later suppressed in Dynasty 19.
   See also Horemheb; Nakhtmin.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.


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