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THE PHARAOH in ancient egypt


Society in Egypt was based on a
hierarchy. Life for people at the
bottom of the hierarchy was
hard because they had to work
for and obey people higher up.
People at the top were powerful
and stayed powerful because
they could exploit those below
for profit. The wealth of Egypt
allowed them to keep armies.
At the top were the kings
(pharaohs) and their families.
They were the wealthiest and
most powerful group in
Egyptian society.

Below the king was an upper

class. This included military leaders,
priests, scribes, tax collectors, artists
and scientists. This class ran the army, collec-
ted taxes, ran the government, wrote out the laws
and recorded the history of Egypt. Their writings survi-
ved in wall paintings, stone carvings and a few pieces of pa-
pyrus (paper made from reeds).

The farmers were at the bottom of the society. They grew the food, but any
surplus was
taken by the upper class. This wealth was used to pay for the army. It was also
used in trade,
The rulers of Egypt
• The civilisation of Ancient Egypt lasted
very long –well over 3000 years.
Egyptian historians measured their
history in terms of various dynasties
(families) who had ruled Egypt.
• There were 31 dynasties and over 330
rulers. Usually, Egyptian rulers were
able to build on the achievements of
earlier rulers
• The pharaoh was the name the ruler of
Egypt received and it meant ‘he who
lives in the great palace’.
The religious power of
the Pharaoh (I)
• Government and religion were inseparable in ancient
Egypt. The pharaoh was the head of state and the
divine representative of the gods on earth.
• The Egyptians considered the authority of the
pharaoh as given by the gods. This is the reason why
we use the word theocracy (theo = god, cracy =
power) to make reference to their political system in
those times: the pharaoh was considered a god and
his power was a gift from the gods.
• As a god-king, the pharaoh was almighty: the land
and everything in it belonged to him. People had to
obey his orders with no exception, and in exchange,
the pharaoh would gain the blessing of the gods for
the enrichment of Egypt.
The power of the pharaoh (II)
• Religion and government brought
order to society through the
construction of temples, the creation
of laws, taxation, the organization of
labor, trade with neighbors and the
defense of the country’s interests.
• The pharaoh was assisted by a
hierarchy of advisors, priests, officials
and administrators, who were
responsible for the affairs of the state
and the welfare of the people.
Chronology of Ancient Egypt
• Looking at all this history, archaeo-
logists noticed something very
interesting. They realised that much
Egypt's ancient history could be
divided into three blocks of time. In
each block, all of the pharaohs
behaved in a certain way.
• Scientists have named these blocks
"The Old Kingdom", "The Middle
Kingdom", and "The New Kingdom". 
The Old Kingdom
(2700 BC-2200 BC)
• Pharaohs had absolute power and were
considered gods on earth. But that's not
why this kingdom is nicknamed "The
Pyramid Age".  Pharaohs were buried in
pyramids only during this time period in
history. After building a few pyramids, at
great expense to the state, it occurred to
pharaohs that pyramids were rather easy
to spot, and thus, much easier to rob than
a hidden tomb.  Things changed during the
middle kingdom.
The first pharaoh
• Menes (pronounced MEE-nes) is the first
pharaoh we know about. Menes united
two kingdoms, called Lower Egypt and
Upper Egypt and established what we
now call the “Old Kingdom” about
• The Pharaoh´s crown was 2 crowns in
one due to this unification: the tall white
head-dress was the crown of Upper
Egypt; the short red head-dress was the
crown of Lower Egypt
The Middle Kingdom
(2100 BC-1800 BC)
• The middle kingdom was Egypt's
Golden Age. Trade flourished, arts and
literature flourished. Egypt built strong
armies to defend herself against her
neighbors. During the time period of
the middle kingdom, pharaohs were
expected to be good kings and wise
rulers. And pharaohs were buried in
hidden tombs, all over the place. Most
probably, there are tombs yet to be
discovered because they were hidden
so well.
The New Kingdom
(1500 BC-1000 BC)
• The new kingdom was Egypt's
expansion period. Egypt expanded
her borders through military
conquest and became a world power.
During the time period of the new
kingdom, pharaohs were all
powerful, and pharaohs were all
buried in the same geographic area
called the Valley of the Kings.
Thutmose II, Hatshepsut &
Thutmose III
• Thutmose II was an Egyptian pharaoh who lived
around 1500BC. Thutmose married his half-sister
Hatshepsut. Thutmose II had a son, Thutmose III, by
a minor wife. When Thutmose II died his son,
Thutmose III became phaorah. However, Hatshepsut
was appointed regent because of the boy's young
age. A regent is someone who rules for a monarch if
they are too young to rule. Hatshepsut and Thutmose
III ruled jointly until Hatshepsut declared herself
pharaoh. Dressed in men’s attire, Hatshepsut
administered the affairs of the nation. Hatshepsut
disappeared shortly after Thutmose III led a revolt to
reclaim the throne. Thutmose then destroyed
Hatshepsut’s shrines and statues.
• Akhenaton was a monotheistic
pharaoh who ruled with his queen,
Nefertiti from 1352BC to 1336BC.
They worshipped Aton, a god of the
sun. Akhenaton and Nefertiti
forbade their subjects to worship of
any other gods. They built great
statues to Aton and ordered that
statues honoring any other god be
destroyed. Most Egyptians did not
take the faith of their leaders, and
after their death, statues of Aton
were destroyed.
• Tutankhamen became pharaoh shortly
after Akhenaton’s death. He was only
nine years old, but was married to the
daughter of Akhenaton and Nefertiti.
The “boy king” never became a “man
king” because he died of a head injury
only nine years into his rule. Most of the
treasures of the pyramids were
plundered, but by accident
Tutankhamen’s tomb remained intact
because it was buried by rock chips
dumped from the cutting of a tomb of a
later pharaoh. The tomb lay hidden for
more than three thousand years until
British archaeo-logist Howard Carter
discovered it in 1922.