Were Egyptian Pharaohs literate?

Were Egyptian Pharaohs literate?

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

This video says scribes read letters to the king as the king was not literate. Can anyone comment on this

First, a few general observations:

  1. The time period covered here is more than 3,000 years and we know very little about many of the Pharaohs. Also, there were different scripts which evolved over time and one has to consider that a pharaoh may well not know the language used by scribes for international diplomatic communication. This would appear to be the case with letters that the speaker refers to in the video (at approx. 12 mins 35 secs - more on this below).

  2. Rulers and high-status people often had scribes write what they dictated in ancient times (and people still dictate today). This does not mean that they could not read or write themselves. Cicero, for example, was highly literate but sometimes dictated to his 'secretary' Tiro rather than write himself.

  3. Some people prefer to hear things rather than read them. For others, it's the other way round.

  4. Defining 'literate' is problematic. Some people could read well enough but write very little. That said,

It has been estimated that in ancient Egypt the literate population was between 1% and 5% - quite a high number, in an age when writing was a fairly recent invention - and a large number of commoners were at least semi-literate. Proof remains in the form of graffiti inscribed at rock quarries where men worked and in the villages where they lived. From the 26th Dynasty on, literacy increased among the population. Boys were educated by priests in the temple schools. Students had to master about 700 hieroglyphs; by the end of the Pharaonic Era, nearly 5000 different symbols were in use.

Source: Ana Ruiz, The Spirit of Ancient Egypt

It is evident, though, that Pharaohs were literate well before the 26th dynasty (664 to 525 BC). Given that the Pharaoh was the 'High Priest of Every Temple' and 'would officiate at religious ceremonies', it seems likely that, even from early times, Pharaohs were literate. According to Toby Wilkinson in The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt, during the New Kingdom in the period 1541 to 1322 BC,

reading and writing were central elements in the Nursery curriculum, under the guidance of the Scribe in the House of the Royal Children. By repeated copying of examples, he taught his pupils to write in cursive script with pen and ink on papyrus.

Not only that, the children had to learn Babylonian cuneiform "the diplomatic lingua franca of the age". However, not every Pharaoh may have been to school. Pharaohs who were probably not the sons of Pharaohs - such as Userkare (Old Kingdom, 6th Dynasty) and Merneferre Ay (Middle Kingdom, 13th Dynasty) - may even have been of humble origins - we just don't know. Horemheb (18th Dynasty) was probably a commoner but may have been well-educated nonethless as he was entrusted with foreign diplomatic missions.

There is also evidence that earlier Pharaohs were literate, but how far back is hard to say. Consider also that,

The most famous of all ancient Egyptian scripts is hieroglyphic. However, throughout three thousand years of ancient Egyptian civilisation, at least three other scripts - Hieratic, Demotic, and later on, Coptic - were used for different purposes.

Hieratic script dates back to the pre-dynastic period. Citing Filip Taterka, Egyptologist and doctoral student at the Institute of Prehistory in Adam Mickiewicz University, the article Unravelling the literacy of the Egyptian Pharaohs says:

evidence suggests that Egyptian royal children were taught hieratic, a simplified, cursive form of Egyptian hieroglyphs, while classical hieroglyphs were probably reserved for children who would enter the priesthood, and for the future heir to the throne.

The researcher found numerous references to the Pharaoh's skills in writing in the texts of the Pyramids, and archaeological evidence, such as writing implements showing traces of use found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, further support the belief that royal rulers were literate.

Demotic script was even simpler than hieratic and appeared in "the middle of the first millennium BC". We know that priests mastered the complex hieroglyphic script so it is quite possible that a Pharaoh could have been literate in hieratic or demotic script, but would have needed a priest or scribe if a document was written in hieroglyphs.

Concerning the statement "the king can't read" in the video, the speaker is probably referring to a series of letters exchanged between King Tushratta of Mitanni (late 14th century BC) and the Pharaoh. These were written mostly in Akkadian which was the language of ancient Mesopotamia and it is quite possible that Egyptians Pharaohs were not able to read this foreign language, even though it was the language of diplomacy at the time.

Most Ancient Egyptian royals were literate, because they had to understand both the magical utterances, word plays, ideograms and such from the pyramid texts (https://www.pyramidtextsonline.com/) even in the afterlife which had its dangers. And assuming that after you die your Ka does not suddenly know how to read and write, the pharaoh needed to be literate alive. Moses was an Egyptian prince and he was literate. Not just because some parts of Torah are attributed to him but also for writing up the ten commandments on the mountain where he was alone, inspired by his god (but copied from older Egyptian negations. The heir of pharaoh could perform the role of the Anubis priest https://givemehistory.com/anubis , who would perform rituals according to script. Messengers with messages for the king's eyes only would not be possible and we know there were spies in Ancient times (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_espionage). Stating that pharaohs in general were illiterate is not plausible.

Ancient Egyptian Religious Literature History Essay

Since the beginning of time, religion has been a large part of society. An example is ancient Egyptian society, and how it was structured around religion. In ancient Egypt, religion guided every aspect of life. The Egyptians followed the religion of their ancestors without any questions. Their society was almost all structured around their religion and religious beliefs. For example, the way they buried their dead was with a religious ceremony where they tried to revive them if they stayed dead they would send them to the afterlife. Another example is that they used to make religious sacrifices to the gods so that they could keep the Nile river flowing. The Egyptian religion strongly believed in gods and goddesses to have created almost everything. They had over 2,000 gods and goddesses in their religion, like Khonsu the moon god and Thoth the god of secrets. Some of the gods like Amun were worshipped throughout the whole country, while others were worshipped only locally. Egyptians talk a lot about these gods and goddesses in their literature, because they try and incorporate religious beliefs in their myths and stories. Magic and sorcery played a big role in Egyptian religion. This is shown in Egyptian literature because they make a lot of references to miracles and magic. Ancient Egyptian literature relates to African literature in the sense that both regions incorporated religion in their literature. Religion was very important in both African and Egyptian literature and society.

Egyptian culture and society were really closely based on religion. The pharaohs would be seen as gods and would be worshipped by everyone. The middle class blindly followed their ancestors and didn’t think for themselves. The poor had it the worst because they were always sent as labor to help the pharaohs with odd jobs. The poor made very little money and were at the bottom of the food chain, along with the beggars and the wanderers. The middle class had some status depending on what their position was in society. The middle class businessmen had high paying jobs and traveled a lot so that they could trade their products throughout Asia and the Middle East. The elite and the pharaohs were the highest positions in society and they told the middle and lower classes what to do, and the lower classes were happy to oblige. The caste system built in Egypt made it so that they had a scarce ancient Egyptian middle class and more of an elite and lower class, and only a few people floated in the middle. The basic structure of the caste system was that the pharaoh was sometimes considered a god because of how much power he had, and then came the elite, the middle class, and finally the lower class, and scrubs. They believed that the Pharaoh was a god, and what he spoke became law. The Egyptian caste system was a way of life for the Egyptians the structure of their caste system was very similar to many caste systems throughout Africa.

There were many different beliefs about gods. The Egyptians worshipped trees, water, animals, and even vegetables. The Egyptians also believed that a person had two souls, the ba and the ka, which left the body when they died and then it came back later to the body. The Egyptians believed that mummification made sure that the soul went back to the body before it was transported into the underworld. The Egyptians also believed that they were the servants of the gods, and the gods controlled them. They also believed that the gods owned all the land, therefore a lot of the crops Egyptians sold were sold at the temples. Egyptians were sometimes tricked by their religious leaders into paying money, so that the gods could purify the sins of the people and their children. Ancient Egyptian religion and culture had really high respect towards their gods, and did everything they could to keep the gods happy.

The Egyptians performed many rituals that were part of their religion, but which they incorporated within their literature. For example, when a person died, their body was mummified, therefore the person who mummifying the body was performing a ritual. Another example is that the Egyptians would practice reading the Book of the Dead so that they would be ready to read from it during judgment of the Dead. Egyptians were obsessed with the after-life. They thought they would reincarnate into many different animals before they actually died. Ancient Egyptian people gave up a lot of their resources so that they could perform rituals, and so they could construct their temples. They did all these rituals and these things so that they could gain the favor of the gods. They also did it so that they could interact with the gods on a personal level through prayer and magic. Throughout Egypt’s history people have performed many different rituals and ceremonies in order to get closer to the gods.

There are many literary features within ancient Egyptian religious literature. An example of that is how they used magic, within their society. Magic was a big part of ancient Egyptian society, as was sorcery. Many sorcerers had a high place in the pharaoh’s palace, and were even sometimes seen as advisors to the royal family. Many Egyptian priests were highly influential, and were believed to use magic to fight bad luck. Priests were supposedly given magical powers by the gods, so that they could change fate or destiny. A lot of their magic was used in their literature, and this literature was stored in their ancient temples and their libraries. Another literary feature that was used in their literature was their reference to gods, and to higher powers. Egyptian creation myths have many gods, and each of those gods are responsible for creating a certain unexplainable phenomenon. For instance they had Amun who was the god of creation, and Thoth who was the god of wisdom, and secrets. These gods had a huge role in Egyptian literature, and they always had some type of animal characteristic. This is yet another feature the Egyptians like to use combinations such as animal-god, or animal-human. The main example of this is the Sphinx. The Sphinx is half pharaoh and half cat. The Egyptians have many stories that explain how the Sphinx was created and found, and it is supposed to represent half pharaoh and half god. They mentioned a lot about half creatures in their literature, and many of these stories were preserved on tablets and in libraries. Egyptians used a lot of literary features in their literature a lot of these features had a significant role in Egyptian religion.

Many places associate culture and every aspect of life with religion. One of those places, Egypt tried to make religion heavily influenced within every aspect of their lives. They did everything so that they would be blessed. They listened to their "lords", a lot of times their pharaohs, and they always praised the gods. This is shown within their tales, and their literature. These religious tales had a great significance to Egyptian, as well as African literature. Ancient Egyptians throughout their history have greatly tied religion in with their literature.


Nyankh-khnum and Khnum-hotep Edit

The best known case of possible homosexuality in ancient Egypt is that of the two high officials Nyankh-Khnum and Khnum-hotep. Both men lived and served under pharaoh Niuserre during the 5th Dynasty (c. 2494–2345 BC). [1] Nyankh-Khnum and Khnum-hotep each had families of their own with children and wives, but when they died their families apparently decided to bury them together in the same mastaba tomb. In this mastaba, several paintings depict both men embracing each other and touching their faces nose-on-nose. These depictions leave plenty of room for speculation, because in ancient Egypt the nose-on-nose touching normally represented a kiss. [1]

Egyptologists and historians disagree about how to interpret the paintings of Nyankh-khnum and Khnum-hotep. Some scholars believe that the paintings reflect an example of homosexuality between two married men and prove that the ancient Egyptians accepted same-sex relationships. [2] Other scholars disagree and interpret the scenes as an evidence that Nyankh-khnum and Khnum-hotep were twins, or even possibly conjoined twins. No matter what interpretation is correct, the paintings show at the very least that Nyankh-khnum and Khnum-hotep must have been very close to each other in life as in death. [1]

King Pepi II and his general officer Sasenet Edit

A well known story, dating back to the Middle Kingdom, tells about an anonymous citizen, who comes to the audience hall of king Pepi II (here named by his birth name, Neferkarê). The citizen wants to lament about an unnamed circumstance, but the king does not want to listen to the laments, so he orders his royal musicians to drown the stranger's speech with noise. Disappointed, the stranger leaves the palace. When this happens several times, he orders his friend, the high official Tjeti, to follow the king. The king in turn is frequently leaving the palace during the night. Tjeti finds out that king Pepi II keeps visiting his loyal general officer Sasenet for several hours, then returning home. [3]

The chapter in which king Pepi II visits his loyal general officer is subject of passionate discussions. Especially one certain phrase stays in the centre of investigations: the text says, that "his majesty went into Sasenet's house and did to him what his majesty desired". The phrase "doing what one desires" is a common flowery phrase to describe sex. [4] For this reason, some scholars are convinced, that the papyrus reveals king Pepi's homosexual interests and his same-sex relationship to his general officer. [1] But other scholars are instead convinced, that the passage is merely an allegoric pun to religious texts, in which the sun god Râ visits the underworld god Osiris during the middle four hours of the night. Thus, king Pepi II would be taking the role of Râ and Sasenet would take the role of Osiris. The phrase "doing what one desires" would therefore be overrated and misinterpreted. [3]

Horus and Seth Edit

A further famous story about same-sex intercourse can be found in the Kahun Papyri, dating back to the Middle Kingdom. It contains the nearly completely preserved story of the Osiris myth and the legendary fight for the throne of Egypt between Horus and Seth. The chapter in question reports that Seth was unutterably jealous about his young nephew Horus, because Horus was very young and popular. He was quite pampered by the other gods. Seth instead had very few companions and he was comparatively unpopular because of his choleric and vindictive behaviour. As a result, Seth tried to either chase away or even kill Horus, no matter what the cost. When Seth constantly fails, he plans to humiliate his rival so badly that Horus would be banned from Egypt forever. Seth invites Horus to a party and convinces the teenage Horus to drink more than Horus could normally cope with. When Horus is drunk, Seth seduces him to sleep over the night in one bed together. When lying together in one bed, Seth grabs Horus and rapes him. But Horus has tricked Seth his drunkenness was staged. He catches Seth's semen with his hands and hides it. The next morning, Horus runs to his Mother, Isis, to tell her what happened. Isis is at first speechless with rage and disbelief, then she tells Horus to masturbate and use his semen to lubricate Seth's favorite food (Egyptian lettuce). Oblivious, Seth eats the manipulated lettuce, then he goes to the divine court to inform on Horus. At first, the divine judges swear at Horus, but when Thoth, the scribe of the court, calls for Seth's semen to emerge from the body of Horus, instead the semen of Horus emerges from the body of Seth. Seth blushes in embarrassment and shock, then flees. Horus is acquitted. [1] [3]

The famous rape of Horus by his jealous uncle is also a subject of passionate discussion. While most scholars agree that the papyrus clearly describes rape, it must remain open, if it actually describes a homosexually driven deed. Background of the dispute are Seth's motives: he does not love Horus in contrast, he hates his nephew and the rape was clearly performed to humiliate Horus. The only common ground between the rape and homosexuality is that the act was of same-sex nature. [3] But some scholars [ who? ] are not so sure and point out that Seth was often credited with alternative sexual interests. [ citation needed ]

Others Edit

Two military men named Ramose and Wepimose or Wepwawetrnose who dedicated Salakhana Stela CM004 might have been a couple.

Suty and Hor who are known of the famous stela, often regarded as a locus classicus of twins, could have been a male couple.

At Sheikh Fadl, there is a tomb dating to the 6th or 5th Century BCE with an Aramaic inscription apparently written by one member of a male couple to another, in which the speaker says "I cannot abandon him, I shall rest with him I love Lekii (personal name?) very much." [5]

It remains unclear what exact view the ancient Egyptians fostered about homosexuality. Any documents, or literature that contain stories involving sexual acts never name the nature of the sexual deeds but instead use flowery and euphemistic paraphrases. While the stories about Seth and his sexual behavior may reveal rather negative thoughts and views, the tomb inscription of Nyankh-khnum and Khnum-hotep may instead suggest that homosexuality was likewise accepted. Ancient Egyptian documents never clearly say that same-sex relationships were seen as reprehensible or despicable. No ancient Egyptian document mentions that homosexual acts were punishable offenses. Thus, a direct evaluation remains problematic. [1] [3]

In Talmudic literature, the ancient Egyptians are known for their liberal sexual lifestyles and are often used as the prime example of sexual debauchery. Rashi describes an Egyptian practice for women to have multiple husbands. Maimonides refers to lesbianism as "the acts of Egypt.” While polyandry and lesbianism are characteristics of the ancient Egyptians according to religious Jewish discourse, male-male homosexual relationships are usually attributed to Sodom, Gomorrah, and Amalek. [6]

The Pharaoh Erased From History

When archaeologists found this bust in the sands of North Africa in the 19th century, nobody knew who this guy was. Well, it is Pharaoh Akhenaten, and almost all evidence of him, his wife Nefertiti and the monotheistic religion they introduced to Ancient Egypt was deliberately erased from history.

Around 1350 BC, Pharaoh Amenhotep IV decided that all the gods of Ancient Egypt were a lie, except for one: the sun God Aten. He build a new capital for him in the desert 200 miles south of Cairo, and changed his name to Pharaoh Akhenaten (“Of great use to Aten”).

Presumably it was the earliest recorded instance of monotheism. Nobody knew about it, until the excavation of his lost city began. Incredible inscriptions and statues have been unearthed there, including these busts of Akhenaten himself .

the famous bust of Nefertiti .

. and this house altarpiece, which shows Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti with their three eldest daughters under the sun disc Aten. His rule must have been strong, his fame widespread and his power seemingly unquestioned. And yet just fifty years after his death, his name had been deleted from the royal lists, his buildings razed .

Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs


Which Ancient God did the Egyptians Believe their Pharaoh Represented?

A Pharaoh was the most powerful person in the kingdom in part due to his role as high priest of every temple. The Pharaoh was believed to be part-man, part-god by the ancient people of Egypt.

Enshrined in the belief system of the Ancient Egyptians was the doctrine that their Pharaoh was an earthly incarnation of Horus, the falcon-headed god. Horus was the son of Ra (Re), the Egyptian’s sun god. Upon a pharaoh’s death, he was believed to become Osiris the god of the afterlife, the underworld and rebirth in death and journeyed through the heavens to be reunited with the sun while a new king assumed Horus’ rule on Earth.

Establishing the Egyptian Line Of Kings

Many historians hold the view that the story of Ancient Egypt begins from when the north and the south were united as one country.

Egypt once consisted of two independent kingdoms, the Upper and the Lower Kingdoms. Lower Egypt was known as the red crown while Upper Egypt was referred to as the white crown. Sometime around 3100 or 3150 BCE the pharaoh of the north attacked and conquered the south, successfully uniting Egypt for the first time.

Scholars believe the name of that pharaoh was Menes, later identified as Narmer. By uniting Lower and Upper Egypt Menes or Narmer became the first true pharaoh of Egypt and began the Old Kingdom. Menes also became the first pharaoh of the First Dynasty in Egypt. Menes or Narmer is depicted on inscriptions of the time wearing the two crowns of Egypt, signifying the unification of the two kingdoms.

Menes founded the first capital of Egypt where the two formerly opposing crowns met. It was called Memphis. Later Thebes succeeded Memphis and became the capital of Egypt to be succeeded in turn by Amarna during the reign of King Akhenaten.

Menes/Narmer’s reign was believed by the people to reflect the will of the gods, however, the formal office of the king itself was not associated with the divine until later dynasties.

King Raneb also known in some sources as Nebra a king during Egypt’s Second Dynasty (2890 to 2670 BCE) is believed to be the first Pharaoh to connect his name with the divine, positioning his reign as reflecting the will of the gods.

Following the reign of Raneb, the rulers of the later dynasties were similarly conflated with the gods. Their duties and obligations were seen as a sacred burden placed on them by their gods.

The Pharaoh and Maintaining Ma’at

Chief among the Pharaoh’s religious duties was the maintenance throughout the kingdom of Ma’at. To the ancient Egyptians, Ma’at represented the concepts of truth, order, harmony, balance, law, morality and justice.

Maat was also the goddess personifying these divine concepts. Her realm encompassed regulating the seasons, the stars, and the deeds of mortal men together with the very deities who had fashioned order from chaos at the moment of creation. Her ideological antithesis was Isfet, the ancient Egyptian concept of chaos, violence, injustice, or to do evil.

The goddess Ma’at was believed to impart harmony through the pharaoh but it was up to the individual pharaoh to interpret the goddess’ will correctly and to act appropriately on it.

Maintaining Ma’at had been a command of the Egyptian gods. Its preservation was vital if the ordinary Egyptian people were to enjoy their best possible lives.

Hence, warfare was viewed through the lens of Ma’at as an essential facet of the pharaoh’s rule. Warfare was viewed as necessary for the restoration of balance and harmony throughout the land, the very essence of Ma’at.

The Poem of Pentaur written by the scribes of Rameses II, the Great (1279-1213 BCE) epitomizes this understanding of war. The poem sees Rameses II’s victory over the Hittites during the Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE as restoring Ma’at.

Rameses II portrays the Hittites as having thrown the balance of Egypt into disorder. Thus the Hittites needed to be dealt with harshly. Attacking neighbouring territories of competing kingdoms was not just a battle for control over vital resources it was essential to restoring harmony in the land. Hence it was the pharaoh’s sacred duty to defend Egypt’s borders from attack and to invade adjoining lands.

Egypt’s First King

The ancient Egyptians believed Osiris was Egypt’s first “king.” His successors, the line of mortal Egyptian rulers honoured Osiris, and adopted his regalia the crook and the flail to underpin their own authority, by carrying. The crook represented kingship and his undertaking to provide guidance to his people, while the flail symbolised the fertility of the land through its use in threshing wheat.

The crook and flail were first associated with an early powerful god named Andjety who was eventually absorbed by Osiris in the Egyptian pantheon. Once Osiris was firmly entrenched in his traditional role as Egypt’s first king, his son Horus also came to be connected with the reign of a pharaoh.

Sacred Cylinders of the Pharaoh and the Rods of Horus

The cylinders of the Pharaoh and the Rods of Horus are cylindrical objects often depicted in the hands of Egyptian monarchs in their statues. These sacred objects are believed by Egyptologists to have been used in religious rites to focus the pharaoh’s spiritual and intellectual energy. Their use is similar to today’s contemporary Komboloi worry beads and Rosary Beads.

As supreme ruler of the Egyptian people and the intermediary between the gods and the people, the pharaoh was the embodiment of a god on Earth. When the pharaoh ascended the throne he was immediately linked with Horus.

Horus was the Egyptian god who banished the forces of chaos and restored order. When the pharaoh died, he was similarly linked with Osiris, the god of the afterlife and ruler of the underworld.

As such, through the pharaoh’s role of ‘High Priest of Every Temple’, it was his sacred duty to construct magnificent temples and monuments celebrating his personal achievements and offering reverence to the gods of Egypt who bestowed upon him the power to rule in this life and who act as his guide him during the next.

As part of his religious duties, the pharaoh officiated at major religious ceremonies, selected the sites of new temples and decree what work would be carried out in his name. The pharaoh, however, did not appoint priests and rarely actively participated in the design of the temples being constructed in his name.

In his role of ‘Lord of the Two Lands’ the Pharaoh decreed Egypt’s laws, owned all the land in Egypt, directed the collection of taxes and waged war or defended Egyptian territory against invasion.

Establishing the Pharaoh’s Line of Succession

Egypt rulers were usually the preceding pharaoh’s sons or adopted heirs. Usually these sons were the children of the pharaoh’s Great Wife and main consort however, occasionally the heir was a child of a lower-ranked wife whom the pharaoh favoured.

In an effort to secure the legitimacy of their dynasty, pharaohs married female aristocrats linking their lineage to Memphis’, which at that time was Egypt’s capital.

This practice is speculated to have begun with Narmer, who selected Memphis as his capital. Narmer consolidated his rule and linked his new city to the older city of Naqada by marrying its princess Neithhotep.

To maintain the purity of the bloodline, many pharaohs married their sisters or half-sisters, while Pharaoh Akhenaten married his own daughters.

The Pharaohs and their Iconic Pyramids

The pharaohs of Egypt created a new form of monumental construction, which is synonymous with their rule. Imhotep (c. 2667-2600 BCE) King Djoser’s (c. 2670 BCE) vizier created the imposing Step Pyramid.

Intended as Djoser’s eternal resting place, the Step Pyramid was the tallest structure of its day and ushered in a new way of honouring not only Djoser but also Egypt itself and the prosperity the land enjoyed under his reign.

The splendour of the complex surrounding the Step Pyramid together with the structure’s imposing height of the pyramid demanded wealth, prestige and resources.

Other 3rd Dynasty kings including Sekhemkhet and Khaba constructed the Buried Pyramid and the Layer Pyramid following Imhotep’s design. Pharaohs of the Old Kingdom (c. 2613-2181 BCE) continued this model of construction, which culminated in the Great Pyramid at Giza. This majestic structure immortalised Khufu (2589-2566 BCE) and demonstrated the power and divine rule of Egypt’s pharaoh.

How Many Wives did A Pharaoh Have?

Pharaohs frequently had several wives but only one wife was officially recognized as the queen.

Were the Pharaohs Always Men?

Most pharaohs were male but some famous pharaohs, such as Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and later Cleopatra, were female.

Egypt’s Empire and the 18th Dynasty

With the collapse of Egypt’s Middle Kingdom in 1782 BCE, Egypt was ruled by enigmatic Semitic people known as the Hyksos. The Hyksos rulers retained the panoply of the Egyptian pharaohs, thus keeping Egyptian customs alive until the royal line of the Egyptian 18th Dynasty overthrew the Hyksos and regained their kingdom.

When Ahmose I (c.1570-1544 BCE) expelled the Hyksos from Egypt, he immediately set up buffer zones around Egypt’s borders as a preemptive measure against other invasions. These zones were fortified and permanent garrisons established. Politically, administrators reporting directly to the pharaoh governed these zones.

Egypt’s Middle Kingdom produced some of its greatest pharaohs including Rameses the Great and Amenhotep III (r.1386-1353 BCE).

This period of Egypt’s empire saw the pharaoh’s power and prestige at its height. Egypt controlled the resources of a vast swath of territory stretching from Mesopotamia, through the Levant across Northern Africa to Libya, and south into the great Nubian Kingdom of Kush.

Most pharaohs were male but during the Middle Kingdom, the 18th Dynasty’s Queen Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BCE) ruled successfully as a female monarch for over twenty years. Hatshepsut brought peace and prosperity during her reign.

Hatshepsut re-established trading links with the Land of Punt and supported wide-ranging trade expeditions. Increased trade triggered an economic boom. Consequentially, Hatshepsut initiated more public works projects than any other pharaoh apart from Rameses II.

When Tuthmose III (1458-1425 BCE) ascended the throne after Hatshepsut, he ordered her image removed from all her temples and monuments. Tuthmose III feared Hatshepsut’s example might inspire other royal women to ‘forget their place’ and aspire to the power Egypt’s gods had reserved for male pharaohs.

The Decline of Egypt’s Pharaohs

While the New Kingdom elevated Egypt to its loftiest successes militarily, politically and economically, new challenges would present themselves. The supreme power and influences of the office of pharaoh began a decline following the highly successful reign of Ramesses III (r.1186-1155 BCE) who ultimately defeated the invading Sea Peoples in an attritional series of battles waged on land and at sea.

The cost to the Egyptian state of their victory over the Sea Peoples, both financial and in terms of casualties was catastrophic and unsustainable. Egypt’s economy began a steady decline following the conclusion of this conflict.

The first labour strike in recorded history took place during the reign of Ramesses III. This strike seriously questioned the pharaoh’s ability to fulfil his duty to maintain ma’at. It also posed troubling questions as to how much Egypt’s nobility really cared for the wellbeing of its people.

These and other complicating issues proved instrumental in ending the New Kingdom. This period of instability ushered in the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1069-525 BCE), which drew to an end with an invasion by the Persians.

During Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period power was shared almost equally between Tanis and Thebes initially. Real power fluctuated periodically, as first one city, then the other held dominion.

However, the two cities managed to rule jointly, despite their often diametrically opposed agendas. Tanis was the seat of a secular power, while Thebes was a theocracy.

As there was no real distinction between one’s secular and religious life in ancient Egypt, ‘secular’ equated to ‘pragmatic.’ Tanis rulers came to their decisions according to the often-turbulent circumstances confronting them and accepted responsibility for those decisions even though the gods were consulted during their decision-making process.

The High Priests at Thebes consulted the god Amun directly on every aspect of their rule, placing Amun directly as the real ‘king’ of Thebes.

As was the case with many positions of power and influence in ancient Egypt, the king of Tanis and the High Priest of Thebes were frequently related, as were the two ruling houses. The position of God’s Wife of Amun, a position of significant power and wealth, shows how ancient Egypt came to an accommodation in this period as both daughters of the rulers of both Tanis and Thebes held the position.

Joint projects and policies were frequently entered into by both cities Evidence of this have come down to us in the form of inscriptions created at the direction of the kings and priests. It seems each understood and respected the legitimacy of the other’s rule.

After the Third Intermediate Period, Egypt was unable to once again resume its previous heights of economic, military and political power. In the latter part of the 22nd Dynasty, Egypt found itself divided by civil war.

By the time of the 23rd Dynasty, Egypt was fragmented with its power split between self-proclaimed kings ruling from Tanis, Hermopolis, Thebes, Memphis, Herakleopolis and Sais. This social and political division fractured the previously united defence of the country and the Nubians took advantage of this power vacuum and invaded from the south.

Egypt’s 24th and 25th dynasties were unified under Nubian rule. However, the weakened state was unable to resist successive invasions by the Assyrians, as first Esarhaddon (681-669 BCE) in 671/670 BCE and then Ashurbanipal (668-627 BCE) in 666 BCE. While the Assyrians were eventually driven out of Egypt, the country lacked the resources to beat back other invading powers.

The social and political prestige of the office of pharaoh waned precipitously following the Egyptian defeat by the Persians at the Battle of Pelusium in 525 BCE.

This Persian invasion abruptly ended Egyptian autonomy until the emergence of Amyrtaeus (c.404-398 BCE) 28th Dynasty in the Late Period. Amyrtaeus successfully freed Lower Egypt from Persian subjugation but was unable to unify the country under Egyptian rule.

The Persians continued to reign over Upper Egypt until the 30th Dynasty (c. 380-343 BCE), of the Late Period once again unified Egypt.

This state of affairs failed to last as the Persians returned once more invading Egypt in 343 BCE. Thereafter, Egypt was relegated to the status of a satrapy until 331 BCE when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. The Pharaoh’s prestige declined still further, after the conquests of Alexander the Great and his founding of the Ptolemaic Dynasty.

By the time of the last pharaoh of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, Cleopatra VII Philopator (c. 69-30 BCE), the title had given up much of its lustre as well as its political power. With Cleopatra’s death in 30 BCE, Egypt was reduced to the status of a Roman province. The military might, religious cohesion and organizational brilliance of the pharaohs had long faded into memory.

Reflecting on the Past

Were the ancient Egyptians as all-powerful as they appear or were they brilliant propagandists who used inscriptions on monuments and temples to claim greatness?


Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

pharaoh, (from Egyptian per ʿaa, “great house”), originally, the royal palace in ancient Egypt. The word came to be used metonymically for the Egyptian king under the New Kingdom (starting in the 18th dynasty, 1539–1292 bce ), and by the 22nd dynasty (c. 945–c. 730 bce ) it had been adopted as an epithet of respect. It was never the king’s formal title, though, and its modern use as a generic name for all Egyptian kings is based on the usage of the Hebrew Bible. In official documents, the full title of the Egyptian king consisted of five names, each preceded by one of the following titles: Horus, Two Ladies, Golden Horus, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, and Son of Re. The last name was given to him at birth, the others at coronation.

The Egyptians believed their pharaoh to be the mediator between the gods and the world of men. After death the pharaoh became divine, identified with Osiris, the father of Horus and god of the dead, and passed on his sacred powers and position to the new pharaoh, his son. The pharaoh’s divine status was portrayed in allegorical terms: his uraeus (the snake on his crown) spat flames at his enemies he was able to trample thousands of the enemy on the battlefield and he was all-powerful, knowing everything and controlling nature and fertility.

As a divine ruler, the pharaoh was the preserver of the god-given order, called maat. He owned a large portion of Egypt’s land and directed its use, was responsible for his people’s economic and spiritual welfare, and dispensed justice to his subjects. His will was supreme, and he governed by royal decree. To govern fairly, though, the pharaoh had to delegate responsibility his chief assistant was the vizier, who, among other duties, was chief justice, head of the treasury, and overseer of all records. Below this central authority, the royal will of the pharaoh was administered through the nomes, or provinces, into which Upper and Lower Egypt were divided.

For further discussion of the pharaoh’s role in Egyptian society, religion, and art, see ancient Egypt: The king and ideology: administration, art, and writing.

Were the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt hybrid Aliens?

As a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, this site may earn from qualifying purchases. We may also earn commissions on purchases from other retail websites.

Were the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt hybrid Aliens? And is it possible that Humans are not from Earth as some suggest?

There are many people who believe that Ancient Egypt and its history are filled with mystery. From the construction of the Great Pyramid to ancient Egyptian mythology there have been dozens of enigmas that have baffled scholars.

Now, a new study suggests that Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs were subjected to genetic engineering by beings, not from Earth. Could this be the ultimate connection to the “Gods,” the reason why Akhenaten, for example, claimed: “There is only one god, my father. I can approach him by day, by night.”

According to a new study, which is the result of a 7-year-old study which mapped the genomes of 9 Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh’s, the rulers of ancient Egypt have numerous mysterious traits. Some researchers even believe that Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs could have a strong otherworldly connection printed in their DNA. Even though Akhenaten’s mummy has not been found (officially) many believe that his awkward shape and behavior points to a mysterious origin, one that many argue is connected with the Gods.

In 1352 BC, Akhenaten ascended to the throne as the tenth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. Almost immediately, he instituted a series of radical religious changes, including a ban on references to multiple gods. He abandoned traditional Egyptian polytheism and introduced the worship of the Aten, a disk-shaped object.

Research suggests humans are not from Earth

Many researchers have come to the conclusion that human beings are not from Earth. One of them is American ecologist Dr. Ellis Silver who presented his book: Humans are not from Earth. The author argues that humans may not be “natives” to Earth – and may have arrived separately from elsewhere. Silver provides arguments based on human physiology, suggesting that we have not evolved along with other life forms on Earth, but that we actually come from elsewhere in the universe, brought here by extraterrestrial beings tens of thousands of years ago.

“The Earth approximately meets our needs as a species, but perhaps not as strongly as whoever brought us here initially thought,” Silver said in an interview with Yahoo news.

Silver believes that some of the chronic diseases that affect the human race – such as back pain, could be a very important sign that suggests that humans actually evolved in a world with less gravity. Silver also talks about other uniquely human traits, like the fact that the heads of babies are relatively large that women have difficulty giving birth, in the past, this was often fatal for the mother, child or both.

Researchers have focused on several singular medical abnormalities to explain Akhenaten’s appearance. Among them are Frohlich’s Syndrome, Klinefelter Syndrome, or Marfan Syndrome. But the truth is that experts cannot agree. Unconventional thinking suggest Akhenaten might, in fact, be the result of Alien intervention and that his mysterious appearance and way of ruling over Egypt is without a doubt an indication that could point to an otherworldly connection.

Is Akhenaten’s mummy hidden from sight because it is evidence of Alien contact? While the bodies of many pharaohs and members of their families have been preserved as mummies, no mummy of Akhenaten has been found. Many people believe that we have not been able to find the mummy of Akhenaten because it would shatter Ancient Egyptian history and origin as we know it.

In the last couple of years, there are numerous researchers who look to the stars hoping for answers. American ecologist, Dr. Ellis Silver is just one of those who believe that Earth and humans are two different concepts and that somewhere out there, our makers are waiting for us.

The Hyksos mystery solved

Also, archaeologists and other scholars have long puzzled over the rapid occupation of Egypt by the mysterious Hyksos without a military confrontation. Those scholars advocating a revised chronology have identified the Hyksos with the Amalekites, who attacked the Israelites fleeing from Egypt. It is plausible that the Amalekites flowed into Egypt without resistance because of God&rsquos decimation of the Egyptian army under the Red Sea.

The identification of the Hyksos with the Amelekites would explain the otherwise strange passage &lsquoAmalek was the first of the nations&rsquo (Numbers 24:20), and why an Egyptian would be &lsquoservant to an Amalekite&rsquo (1 Samuel 30:13). This makes sense in the revised chronology where the Amalikites ruled the mighty Egyptian empire.

Their current obscurity fulfils God&rsquos prophecy to Moses, &lsquoI will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven&rsquo (Exodus 17:14). Thus hardly anyone today has even heard of them, let alone their former pre-eminence The physical extermination (see also Was this a war crime?) was first fulfilled in the time of Saul, but he disobeyed God (1 Samuel 15), so the Amalekites still caused mayhem in David&rsquos time so he practically finished the job (1 Samuel 30).

Were Egyptian Pharaohs literate? - History

The pharaoh Senusret I (SEHN-oos-ret) ruled from about 1971 to 1926 B.C.E., during the Middle Kingdom. He was a strong leader who ruled a stable, unified Egypt. Art, literature, and architecture flourished during his reign .

The arts thrived under Senusret’s rule. The pharaoh controlled mines filled with gold, copper, and gems such as purple amethyst. Artisans fashioned these materials into beautiful pieces of jewelry. Bracelets and necklaces were often highly detailed. They were also decorated with stones like turquoise.

Some of the greatest works in Egyptian literature were written during Senusret’s reign. “The Story of Sinuhe” tells of a young official named Sinuhe who overhears a plot to kill the pharaoh. Fearing for his own life, Sinuhe flees Egypt. He thrives in his new land, but he grows very homesick. When a new pharaoh calls him home, Sinuhe returns joyfully to Egypt.

Senusret’s greatest accomplishments were in religious architecture. He had many temples, shrines, and religious monuments built and improved.

Perhaps Senusret’s finest architectural achievement was the White Chapel. (A chapel is a small temple. ) It was made of alabaster, a hard white stone. Some historians think that the chapel was originally covered in a thin layer of gold.

Beautiful artwork decorated the chapel’s pillars. Carved scenes showed the pharaoh with various gods. Birds, animals, and Egyptian symbols were also depicted.

Senusret wanted his memory to live on through his monuments. But few of his buildings survived the passage of time. A later pharaoh took the White Chapel apart and used the pieces in a monument of his own. Archaeologists later discovered the pieces and reconstructed the White Chapel.

Gods and Goddesses

The ancient Egyptians religious believes reflected the importance of nature in their lives. Egyptians believed that different gods controlled the forces of nature, giving good harvests or causing crops to die. They thought gods had the power of life and death over everyone. Egyptians were polytheistic. People in each village worshiped a village god in addition to other gods. They also identified certain gods with animals such as cats.

The sun god Amon-Re was the most important Egyptian god. The east, where the sun rose, symbolized birth to the Egyptian. The west, where the sun set, represented death. Thus, Egyptians always built tombs and funeral temples on the west bank of the Niel River.

Another goddess that people paid very special attention was the Osiris, the god of the Nile and the god of the dead, who weighed each person’s heart in judgment. She was the goddess of magic, who people considered to be the goddess of fertility.

“One of the most famous legends involving Isis putting the body of her husband back together after he was killed by Seth the Egyptian god, impregnating herself with his body and giving birth to their son Horus Egyptian falcon god”.