Who're the Pharaohs of Them All?

Written by: Anna, Andrea, Amelia, Shannon

Introduction

Photo by John McLinden.

Photo by John McLinden.

          There were about 30 dynasties in ancient Egyptian history over 3000 years. Ancient Egyptian pharaohs were worshipped as God Kings, being mortal rulers and divine deities. Thrones were primarily succeeded from father to son. After Rome conquered Egypt, Pharaohs ruled Egypt from 3150 B.C. and 30 B.C. A new kingdom is born every time a new family took control of the throne. Intermarriages were common to ensure that the throne was kept within the family. The ancient Egyptian era has brought one of the earliest significant religious compositions known and some of them have built outstanding works that they had left behind that still stands today.

 

King Amenhotep III (Amenhotep Heqa Waset): (c.1391 - c.1354 BC)

Amenhotep III by Sam Howzit.

Amenhotep III by Sam Howzit.

          Amenhotep III was remarkable in many ways during his reign. He managed to preserve peace and with the additional help of military campaigns, borders were strengthened. Expansion followed as they grew and the nation prospered.

          King Amenhotep III could then focus on other aspects of his city, where he contributed most significantly. He built the most luxurious of Egypt’s monarchs - Two stone giants measuring seventy feet high and weighing seven hundred tons was carved out of a single rock. 250 other buildings, temples, statuary, and stele were also built under his orders which attested to his success. Monuments such as the Colossi of Memnon of Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple are the only ones that remained.

Colossi of Memnon, by zolakoma.

Colossi of Memnon, by zolakoma.

          Amenhotep Heqa Waset distinguished himself from the rest having displayed and practised diplomacy. He obtained respect and fostered a profitable relationship with other nations through his generosity of sending extravagant gifts of gold. He also gained respect back at home as he maintained honor of his own nation’s women by refusing requests for them to be sent as wives to foreign nations. Lastly, he was the first Pharaoh to issue news bulletins to inform his own people about the royal family and their ongoing activities and achievements. It was a genius idea to build a sense of belonging and foster cohesiveness amongst the people.

 

Akhenaten aka Amenhotep IV (1351 BC -1337 BC)

Akhenaten, by Wikimedia Commons.

Akhenaten, by Wikimedia Commons.

          Amenhotep IV, more famously known as Akhenaten, was a pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. He came into rule around 1353 BCE (and was in power for 17 years), reigning first as Amenhotep IV, before adopting the name Akhenaten five years after he ascended the throne (Mark, 2014). For the first 5 years of his reign, he followed the practices of his father, including polytheism (belief in or worship of more than one god). However, it soon became apparent that the young pharaoh was vastly different from his predecessors, building temples devoted to Aten, an aspect of the sun god Ra, instead of Amun (a traditional god who his ancestors all worshiped).

          In the fifth year of his reign, Amenhotep IV underwent a dramatic change, enforcing monotheism, regarding Aten as the one and only god there was, as well as converting his name to Akhenaten (of which he will be referred to from here on). In fact, many historians believe that Akhenaten was the first person in history to bring about the idea of monotheism (Redford, 1996). Upon this conversion to Atenism, Akhenaten ordered all temples and structures containing other gods to be removed, stamping out any religious practices, as well as doing away with inscriptions that had the words “gods” in them. Akhenaten also moved the capital of Egypt from the traditional site of Thebes to a new city he built specially for Aten - Amarna (Mark, 2016).

Akhenaten & his wife Nefertiti, with three of their 5 children, under the rays of their god, Aten. Photo by MCAD Library.

Akhenaten & his wife Nefertiti, with three of their 5 children, under the rays of their god, Aten. Photo by MCAD Library.

          Under his rule, Atenism quickly became Egypt’s state religion for about 20 years. However, only the royal family were allowed to have direct interaction with Aten. This was because Akhenaten declared himself to be descended directly from Aten, regarding himself as divine, and acted as a mediator between the common man and Aten. It was due to these drastic changes that Akhenaten was known as “the heretic king’ by many scholars (Mark, 2014).

          He was, ultimately, one of the most significant pharaohs due to his radical thinking in an era where the worshipping of many gods was the core of that culture.

 

King Tutankhamun aka King Tut (1333 BC-1323 BC)

King Tut by Jon Callas.

King Tut by Jon Callas.

         

King Tutankhaten (King Tut) was born approximately in the period of 1341 B.C.E, and is the son of Akhenaten, and wife Tiye, who rose to power in 1332 to 1323 B.C.E, according to biography.com. While some archaeologists concluded their hypothesis that he was the offspring of Amenhotep III and his wife Tiye, where the DNA evidently claimed that King Tut’s parents were siblings.On the other hand,others disagreed, and still believes his birth is still a mystery,while only one archaeologist believes his mother might be Nefertiti (Gannon M,2013).

         King Tut would have been one of the significant pharaohs in ancient Egypt if not for his short reign, and soared in popularity only after the discovery of his well-preserved tomb, that was later discovered by other historians. He lived to his name as “ the living image of Aten,“ while his father banned the honoring of all the other gods than his son, the sun disk ( Bio.,Early Life,2015).

         King Tut then married Ankhesenamun, his half sister, who was also the offspring of Nefertiti, during the year of his reign. Unfortunately, the two children they had were both stillbirths, and his blood-line ceased after his reign. This was seen as an opportunity byhis elder brother Ay, also known as Vizier. He gained alliance with Horemheb, one of Egypt's best captain warriors, where they worked to overturn Akhenaten’s mandate long-established irreligious beliefs.This evidently shows why researchers believed that King Tut's first years of his reign’s authority were most likely controlled by them as well (Bio., Early Life, 2015).

       

Tutankhamun & his wife. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Tutankhamun & his wife. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

        

  Determined to change, Tutankhaten converted his name to Tutankhamun, “ the living image of Amun”. In the process of serving the country, there was a war outbreak between Nubians and Asiatics goals to claim lands and power over trade routes.

         Secondly, King Tut's was also well-known for restoring temples, where temples signify a holy atmosphere, and is where the purpose of god's blessing was hopefully fulfilled in regaining trust from the gods, and to grant blessings for his people. He was so detailed that he supervised the conclusion of the maroon dusty silver colored lions at Soleb, and also the continuation of the constructions at the holistic sites in Karnak (Bio.,Boy King in Power,2015). According to Ancient Egypt Encyclopedia ( The New Kingdom & The Amarna Period), King Tut had been reminded in making a difference in history by destroying any allusions of his father’s sole loyal worshiped being.  Not only that, he also did return the city back to her rightful owner, Thebes, which contradicts his father's doing.

         King Tut might have been able to contribute his part if he were to live a longer life. Unfortunately, he passed on at the age of 19. Since there were no successful child born, his death lead to severe political disputes, regarding the heir of his throne. There seemed to be an assumption, however, that Ankhesenamun have had requested foreign help,but it was a failed attempt due to the disruption made by Ay and Horemheb, who still retained some control of the kingdom, even after King Tut's many attempts to break away from them. (Bio.,Death and Burial,2015)

        

Tutankhamun's coffin. Photo by Rafel Miro.

Tutankhamun's coffin. Photo by Rafel Miro.

         

 Luckily, King Tut efforts were not in vain, since his dedicated accomplishments for the county can still be witnessed today, by examples from Universal Studio Egyptian rides, where some fictitious statues were used as a representation of his reign. Another significant example would be from ‘Night of the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014)’ movie, where some comedic lines of King Tut existed, impersonated his accent as well as reenacted his egocentricity superiority in power that he believed he still possesses.

          King Tut might have been able to contribute his part if he were to live a longer life. Unfortunately, he passed on at the age of 19. Since there were no successful child born, his death lead to severe political disputes, regarding the heir of his throne. There seemed to be an assumption, however, that Ankhesenamun have had requested foreign help,but it was a failed attempt due to the disruption made by Ay and Horemheb, who still retained some control of the kingdom, even after King Tut's many attempts to break away from them. (Bio.,Death and Burial,2015)

Ramesses II aka Ramses the Great (1279 BC – 1213 BC)

Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

          Ramses II was the third, one of the most powerful and influential, pharaoh of the 19th dynasty. He ruled for approximately 40 years of his life, till his death which was due to the health detriments that was taking a toll on him. He had led a long and meaningful as a pharaoh and dedicated his life to rule Egypt.

          

The Ramesseum by Ian Gampon

The Ramesseum by Ian Gampon

          The reign of Ramses II had numerous military battles and he became one of the famous Egyptian pharaohs known for his military strength.  Ramses II's army was 100,000 men strong, which is considerably a huge number at that point of time. Ramses II's most famous battle was the Battle of Kadesh, which took place at a city which is Syria today. The conclusion of the war was that none of the parties was victorious and Ramesse II had to call off the war due to some operations issues.

            Ramses  II had a religious impact on Egypt. After reigning for thirty years, Ramses II celebrated the Sed festival, which signifies that the Pharaoh turn into Gods.

Abu Simbel, temple of Ramesses the Great. Photo by eviljohnius.

Abu Simbel, temple of Ramesses the Great. Photo by eviljohnius.

          The fact that the Egyptians worshipped Ramses II as a god, it then helped to secure his son's royalty, that led the army, who would rise to power following his death, not having to worry about the seizure of the throne.

          Ramses II was buried in the Valley of Kings, but had to be replaced because of an ongoing war then. In 1881 his body was moved to Cairo's Egyptian Museum.

The Valley of Kings by mariejirousek.

The Valley of Kings by mariejirousek.

 

Conclusion

          All in all, ancient Egypt was a fascinating era, with different rulers having different styles of reign that sometimes differed greatly with the preceding or succeeding pharaohs, as seen by the rise and fall of religions and traditions. Each pharaoh was significant in their own time, paving the way to the future with their various rules and implementations. Just like in today’s world, as compared to ancient Egypt, some decisions made do not stand the test of time, mainly because society has been too long focused on one particular way of life.

          That said, despite all these changes brought about by the power of the human psyche - different pharaohs wanting different things although the people of that time were used to living in a particular way - the legacy of the ancient Egyptian empire endured. In the same way, while our society might go through many changes over time, we will continue to move forward and endure.

 

References

http://www.ancient-egypt-online.com/ramses-II.html

n.d.(2015, August 4). Retrieved October 29, 2016, from http://www.biography.com/people/king-tut-9512446#!

M. G. (2013, February 13). King Tut's Parents Were Cousins, Not Siblings: Researcher. Retrieved October 29, 2016, from http://www.livescience.com/27106-king-tut-parents-were-cousins.html

Mark, J. J. (2009, September 02). Ancient Egypt. Retrieved October 29, 2016, from http://www.ancient.eu/egypt/

Redford, D. B. (1996). The Monotheism of Akhenaten | The BAS Library. Retrieved from http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBKAM&Volume=0&Issue=0&ArticleID=2

 

Mark, J. J. (2014, April 17). Akhenaten - Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www.ancient.eu/Akhenaten/

Mark, J. J. (2016, July 29). Amun - Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www.ancient.eu/amun/

Amenhotep III - KingTutOne.com. (2016). Retrieved October 26, 2016, from http://kingtutone.com/pharaohs/amenhotep3/

BBC - History - Amenhotep III. (2014). Retrieved October 26, 2016, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/amenhotep_iii.shtml

J. Mark, @. J. (2011, July 15). Amenhotep III. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from http://www.ancient.eu/Amenhotep_III/