Pharaohs Pharaohs were the kings of Egypt. The word “Pharaoh” was used by the Greeks and Hebrews. The title “Pharaoh” originated from the Greek language and it is used in the Old Testament. According to Egyptian legend, the first kings of Egypt were later some of the most famous gods. All of the Pharaohs we know today existed at the end of the Predynastic period.
Responsibility Of Pharaohs Pharaohs ruled with absolute power. There were few if any challenged against the King. Despite absolute power the Pharaoh was expected to rule subject to Ma’at. Ma’at was the goddess and symbol of the equilibrium of the universe. The Pharaoh was expected to govern according to the principles of Ma’at. Any King that attempted to radically change society would be seen as destroying the equilibrium that was so important to Egyptian tradition.
Succession To keep the pure line of succession, a Pharaoh passed on the throne to the eldest son born of the Principal Queen, or Great Royal Wife. Each king was usually keen to demonstrate to his subjects that he was the “chosen” heir. The Pharaoh owned all of the land, people, and possessions in Egypt. Any personal wealth enjoyed by Egyptians people was considered a result of the generosity of the King.
Major Male Pharaohs There were several Pharaohs of Egypt. However, we will focus on the main male Pharaohs: Menes Tuthmosis III Akenaton Djoser Ramses II Khufu Tutankhamen
Menes Founding King of the 1 st Dynasty Ruled between 3100-2850 B.C.E First Pharaoh to unify upper and lower Egypt into one Kingdom Ancient Egypt’s form of a civilization began with King Menes. He created the city of Memphis because of its good location. It would be easy top defend against any attacks. During his reign he expanded his kingdom and developed commercial trade links.
Menes His chief wife was Queen Berenib, although she wasn’t the mother of his heir: Djer. The mother of Djer was Neithotepe, Menes’ other wife. He died at the age of 63. According to legend he was attacked by wild dogs or Nile crocodiles at Faiyum. He died leaving behind the legacy of a powerful civilization. His tomb lays at Saqqara, the farmed area of Memphis.
Tuthmosis III The son of Tuthmosis II and Isris When is father died his stepmother, Hatsheput, took charge. She was Tuthmosis III co-regent and for 20 years he was pushed into the background as she ruled Egypt. When she died Tuthmosis III came to the throne. As an act of revenge or retribution, he destroyed as many of Hatsheput’s statues, monuements and buildings.
Tuthmosis III He was remembered for is successful military capaigns. He had numerous victories against Syria, Libya and Nubia. In his lifetime he married several foreign princesses, apparently for diplomatic reasons. His chief queen was Hatsheput-Merytre. King Tuthmosis III established Egypt as a powerful military strength. King Tuthmosis III died in his 55 th year of reigning and was buried in the Valley of the Kings.
Akenaton Original name was Amonhotep IV. Reigned 1350-1334 B.C.E He wanted to change the Egyptian supreme god from Amon-Re to Aton. Therefore he changed his name to Akenaton which means “he who serves Aton” He also built a new city called Akhetaton. This was the first attempt at radically changing the Egyptian religion.
Akenaton His wife was Nefertiti who was known for her beauty. Today, Akenaton is remembered for trying to introduce monotheism to Egypt. Monotheism means only one god:Aton. It is not sure how Akenaton died but the text two kings, Smenkhkara and Tutankhamun were apparently son’s-in-law to Akenaton. After his reign Egypt returned back to their old Gods.
Djoser Djoser reigned for about 19 years. His right hand man, Imhotep, was famous for his genius. Imhotep came up with the idea of the step pyramid. The pyramids design consisted of six giant steps and contained many chambers and secret tunnels. It is believed that during Djoser’s reign, he extended the Egyptian Southern Border all the way to the Nile’s First Cataract. He left behind the legacy of the step pyramid, which was the basis of all other pyramids to come.
Rames II Went to the throne at the age of 20 and reigned for 67 years. This was the second longest reign for any Egyptian King. Ramses is remembered for constructing many architectural marvels. Constructed more colossal statues than any other Egyptian King. Two of his greatest monuments are the two huge temples at Abu Simbel.
Ramses II Ramses also had many military victories. Not long after the reign of Ramses II, Egypt was invaded and eventually fell to the rule of foreigners. Ramses not only excelled in architecture but he also had a great number of wives. By the end of his life Ramses had over 100 children! After his death Ramses son, Menataph, became the heir to the throne.
Khufu Khufu lived from 2589-2566 B.C.E He reigned for around 24 years. Khufu is most remembered for building Great Pyramid of Giza. The pyramid originally stood 481 feet tall. Khufu had many sons but the one chosen to be his successor was Djedefre. Khufu left behind the legacy of the Great Pyramid and even today it’s still a mystery to how it was built.
Tutankhamen King Tutankhamen came to the throne at a very young age. When his father died, believed to be Akhenaton, he became King at age 10. King Tutankhamen helped restore Egypt's old beliefs from when his father tried to make Egypt a monotheism society. He died suddenly at the young age of 18 by a blow to the back of his head. Since his tomb had not yet been made, he was laid in a tomb of a member of the nobility. He is famous today because of his tomb found by archaeologists. Some say it was the most important archaeological find.
Bibliography Brier, Bob. PhD. History of ancient Egypt. The First Nation in History. The Learning Company. 2001. Dowling, Mike. The Pharaoh. West Palm Beach Florida, 23 Oct. 2004. 18 Oct. 2006 http://www.mrdowling.com/604-pharaoh.html.http://www.mrdowling.com/604-pharaoh.html Dunn, Jimmy. Egypt Feature Story The Kings (Pharaohs) of Ancient Egypt. 1996. 18 Oct. 2006 http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/pharaohs.htm. http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/pharaohs.htm Newman, Garfield. Echoes from the Past. Whitby, Ontario: McGraw - Hill Ryerson Limited, 2001. “Pharaoh." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. 18 t. 2006..http://www.britannica.com/eb/article- 9059581 THE ASTRA CORPORATION LIMITED. Egyptology Online: Discovering Ancient Egypt. 2001. 18 Oct. 2006 http://www.egyptologyonline.com/pharaohs.htm. http://www.egyptologyonline.com/pharaohs.htm
Discussion Questions 1)In your opinion, was it right for the Pharaohs to rule with absolute power? Explain. 2)Do you think Egypt would be so well known today if Pharaohs did not exist? 3)In ancient Egypt all property belonged to the Pharaohs, would our society be successful if this was true today about the Prime Minister.