Ancient Egyptian pharaohs were considered to be both divine deities as well as mortal rulers. Throughout the 30+ dynasties in ancient Egyptian history, it is speculated that some 170 or more rulers reigned over the great land of Egypt during a three thousand year time span. The throne of Egypt was primarily intended to be succeeded from father to son, however in many cases this line of kingship was interrupted by murder, mayhem and mysterious disappearances.
Pharaohs were the god kings of ancient Egypt who ruled between 3150 B.C. and 30 B.C. (when Rome conquered Egypt). Each time a new family took control of the throne, a new kingdom began in the history of this fascinating nation. While rulers often intermarried with daughters, granddaughters, sisters and brothers to keep the throne within the family the throne still managed to shift hands multiple times; creating a dynamic and complex pharonic history.
© Xuan Che - Pharaoh's Bust
Definition: the word pharaoh refers to the title of the ancient Egyptian kings. The title “pharaoh” means the “great house” and refers to the royal palace.
Thirty-one Dynasties ruled from the Early Dynastic Period to the Ptolemaic Period. Scholars also include a Dynasty 0 but any kings from this period are not well represented in the archaeological record. Some Dynasties ruled at the same time in different areas of Egypt during the intermediate periods.
10 Famous Pharaohs
Below is a top 10 of the most famous Egyptian pharaohs:
- Tutankhamun (aka King Tut) restored the capital to Thebes after the death of Akhenaten and restored the worship of the old gods. Later pharaoh's erased his name from some king lists so scholars found his tomb's goods intact in the 1920s.
- Cleopatra VII was the last pharaoh of Egypt who tried to hold off the Romans under Augustus. She ruled beside three pharaohs including her young son and was the lover of Marc Antony.
- Ramses II ruled during the New Kingdom for either 66 years. He built all over Egypt and many of his statues and temples are still standing today. He is probably the most prolific of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs, siring over 100 children with more than a dozen wives.
- Ramses III was the last king of the New Kingdom and is considered the last great pharaoh. He was murdered by one of his wives.
- Hatshepsut ruled during the New Kingdom for around 20 years. She organized military campaigns and sent out trade expeditions to bring exotic goods to Egypt.
- Akhenaten ruled during the New Kingdom for less than 20 years. Scholars call him the hieratic pharaoh because he forbade the worship of the old gods. He built Amarna as the center for the worship of his god, Aten.
- Khufu also known as Cheops, ruled during the Old Kingdom and built the Great Pyramid.
- Djoser ruled during the Old Kingdom and built the first true stone pyramid, the Step Pyramid.
- Thutmose III was the 6th pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. He ruled Egypt for 45 years and created the largest empire ever in Egypt. Thutmose was buried in the Valley of the Kings.
- Amenhotep III was the son of Thutmose IV and was the 9th pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. He ruled during the peak of ancient Egypt's power.