A pharaoh was both the political and religious leader holding the most powerful seat in ancient Egypt. He held the titles of “ Lord of the Two Lands” and “High Priest of Every Temple”.
As the “Lord of the Two Lands”, he rules the Upper and Lower Egypt by owning the land, collect taxes, pass laws and defend the land from invasion. Being the “High Priest of Every Temple”, a pharaoh represented the gods of the Earth, perform rituals and built temples to honor the gods .
Below are some facts of ten significant Egyptian pharaohs in history:
Ramses II was also known as Ramses the Great. He was born in 1303 BC from parents Seti I and Queen Tuya. Ramses II ruled Egypt for 66 years from the years 1279 BC-1213 BC for 66 years. It was believed that Ramses II was the Egyptian pharaoh that was mentioned in the Bible during the time of Moses.
He was a great military commander who successfully waged wars against Libya, Nubia and the Hittites. Ramses II’s greatest accomplishment was the invasion of the Syrian City, Kadesh in July 1274 BC from the Hittites. Ramses II was over 90 years old when he died in 1213 BC and was buried in the Valley of the Kings.
Ramses III was known as The Last Great Pharaoh who reigned from 1187 to 56 BC. During his time, he had fought a great war with the Libyans and the Sea People and came out victorious. Ramses III had two principle wives plus other minor wives. However, Ramses demise was the result of a plot to kill him by one of his minor wife, Tiye, who wanted to secure the throne to his son, Prince Pentaweret. She raised a rebellion but the plan was later foiled but with Ramses gravely wounded. Ramses died before the trial of the accused which found them guilty.
Ramses III ruled Egypt for 31 years and after his death, Egypt has suffered economic decline since it wasn’t able to cope up with the changes during the Iron Age due to lack of ore sources along with the collapse of the society fabric .
Akhenaten was first known as Amenhotep (Amun is content) and reigned Egypt from 1351 BC-1337 BC. He changed his name to Akhenaten (Effective for Aten) when he enforced a religious change from polytheistic to monotheism by worshipping onlt the god Aten and built a new city called Amarna along the Nile River banks. He used the military to destroy the previous religion and its priesthood. He also brought changes in art by focusing more in realism.
Akhenaten died in 1337 BC and was buried in the Royal Wadi in Amarna.
Khufu reigned during the 4th Dynasty (2613-2498) in Egypt and was the builder of the famous Great Pyramid of Giza, ironically, the only artifact that portrays him is a 9cm. statue found in the Temple of Osiris. He was the son of King Sneferu, another great pyramid builder.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is a majestic demonstration of Khufu’s skill, coordination and leadership. Some postulated that the pyramid was not built due to to slavery but as a form of tax payment in a form of goods or services as there was no money system that time .
Queen Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator was born around 69 BC; daughter of King Ptolemy XII and was the last Macedonian dynasty ruler. She was only 18 and her brother Ptolemy XIII was 10 when their father died. The next few years caused Egypt an economic turmoil and the siblings also had a political conflict as they both held power resulting Cleopatra to flee to Syria.
Cleopatra was also famous from her love affairs. She bore a son to Julius Caesar named Caesarion but was not acknowledged by Julius Caesar. She followed Caesar to Rome but returned to Egypt after his assassination in 44 BC.
Marc Anthony also fell in love with Cleopatra and the affair resulted to three children including twins named Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene.
Cleopatra’s life has captivated historians, novelist and even filmmakers as she stood as a great female leader in a male dominated society during ancient times .
Amenhotep III was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty during the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. He had a harem but his Great Royal Wife Queen Tiy, was not of royal blood. Scholars said that he became king at a very young age between six and twelve .
During his reign, he completely remodeled the temple of Amun and made himself a god in his lifetime and was worshipped in his mortuary temple in the West Bank. There are 250 statues of Amenhotep III discovered with his image and also statues of the female members of his household.
Discovered scarabs recorded his feats during his reign which stated of him killing 102 lions with his own arrows and the creation of an artificial lake for his beloved Queen Tiy to name a few .
Tutankhamun was only eight or nine years old when he became King. His reign lasted only ten years between 1333 to 1324 BC. There were two theories on the cause of his death, first that he suffered from a blow in the back of his head or he fractured his leg which later on got infected. He died with no heir to the throne.
Evidence of his reign were deleted after he died and Horemheb, Tutankhamun’s successor, replaced the former ruler’s name to his own on many monuments. In November 4, 1922, Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s grave .
Ptolemy XV Caesar’s full name was Ptolemy Philopator Philometor Caesar, also known by his byname Caesarion was king of Egypt from 44-30 BCE. He co-reigned with his mother, Cleopatra. Caesarion was the son of Cleopatra and Caesar though there were doubts about his paternity but was later recognized by Caesar as his son when Cleopatra arrived in Rome. He returned to Egypt with his mother to take the throne from his uncle.
He later appeared at Alexandria with Cleopatra when her mother had relations with Marc Anthony. He was executed in Alexandria by Octavian after coming back from Berenice after Marc Anthony’s defeat against Octavian at Actium .
Pepi II Neferkare was the last ruler of Egypt ‘s 6th Dynasty and he possibly reigned Egypt for 94 years making it the longest reign for a king. He came to the throne between the age of six and would have lived until the age of one hundred. During his reign he developed links with South Africa, maintained relations with Byblos in ancient Syria. He wasn’t effective anymore during the last part of his reign due to advanced age. He reigned in Egypt from 2278-2184 BC .
Ptolemy I was a Macedonian general of Alexander the Great. He founded the Ptolemaic dynasty, a dynasty of fifteen kings all named Ptolemy who ruled Egypt for more than 300 years. Upon Alexander the Great’s death, he brought his body for burial at Memphis Egypt. Ptolemy kept Alexander’s body in Memphis until he can build a tomb in a new capital he built named Alexandria. He also founded a city in Upper Egypt named Ptolemais.
In his empire he established a well-run administration, built legal and military organizations , military armies, raised funds for his military and wrote Alexander’s historic campaigns using the Alexander’s journal .