The pharaoh was a semi-divine figure and belonged to a succession of dynasties that controlled life in the Ancient Egypt. The cooperation of this civilization was governed by a system of religious beliefs where the pharaoh guaranteed the unity of the people. How was life organized under the power of the pharaohs? What were the most important?
Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.
How were they?
As mentioned above, the Pharaoh was considered a semi-divine figure who ruled in the Ancient Egypt. In other words, the term Pharaoh (of biblical origin) is synonymous with the king.
In Egyptian, Pharaoh means casa grande, but this term could only be used purely, that is, when Egypt it became so as such from the New Kingdom (c. 1550 BC-1070 BC) after the reign of Hatshepsut.
The pharaohs identified with him god horus (Hellenic term meaning the elevated; in Egyptian called Hor), who was the celestial god of Egyptian mythology.
He was considered the initiator of the civilization of the Ancient Egypt. This divine being was represented with a semi-human aspect, that is, with the head of a falcon and the body of a man. On his head he wore a Double Crown, considered one of the most distinctive symbols of the pharaohs and gods of the Ancient Egypt.
Together with Pharaoh, his Great Royal Wife. He played the role of ritualist at various court festivals, such as the feast of Opet at Karnak, where the king and queen emulated the divine existence of various Egyptian gods. The Great Royal Wife was, in short, the great support of the pharaoh during his reign.
How did they rule?
For the pharaohs and, consequently, the civilization of Ancient Egypt, everything that happened on a daily basis had to do with religion. This included their form of government, which was governed on the basis of a religious belief system.
If there is one thing that historians agree on, it is that for the Egyptians, Pharaoh was considered a God and had a very close relationship with the rest of the gods of Egyptian mythology. The following video-documentary explains how Pharaoh Akhenaten ruled, who is considered to have changed Egypt during his rule:
The form of government was Theocracy, that is, the government of God. Pharaoh himself ruled until his death, so his power was for life and hereditary, since, after his death, one of his sons would become the new pharaoh. In exceptional cases, such as if the pharaoh had not had children or was too young to access the throne, it would be the priests and nobles who would provide a solution.
The rest of the inhabitants of Ancient Egypt were considered subjects: they could neither participate in the government, nor choose who would govern them, nor participate in the laws nor, of course, change or oppose them.
Pharaoh lived with his Great Royal Wife, who played the role of queen and transmitter of the royal lineage. During Ancient Egyptian history, many have been the great queens who have assumed absolute power after the death of their husbands, such as Queen Hatshepsut.
However, under the Great Royal Wife, the pharaoh could have as many women as he wanted and even promote them to this rank if he preferred.
How did they dress?
The way of dressing of the Egyptian pharaohs had the most peculiar characteristics among which stood out, above all the elements, the crown. There were numerous types of crowns, although, nevertheless, 7 are the best known classes in our days and of which their meaning is known:
- Red Crown or Desheret: it was the symbol of Lower Egypt, an area that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to Dashur (about 40 km from Cairo).
- White Crown or hedjet: it was the symbol of Upper Egypt, that is, the southern part of the country (from Memphis to the first cataract from the Nile River).
- Double Crown or Sejemty: it was the symbol of the unified Egypt. This is the crown worn by the god Horus, of which we have spoken above. It is called double precisely because it is an overlap of the Red Crown and the White Crown.
- Osiriaca Crown or Atef: it was used in some funeral rites as a sphere of influence of the god Osiris.
- Feathered Crown or Shuty: It was used by the Great Royal Wife and the Divine Adorer of Amun, who was the guarantee by which the transfer of powers from one pharaoh to another was facilitated.
- Hemrem or Triple Crown Atef: many are the historians who agree that this crown had a solar function. It is called Triple Atef because it is an overlap of three crowns Atef.
Apart from the crown, the pharaohs dressed in linen clothing, since this was the native plant of the region. His clothing stood out for being practically transparent, a quality that was used as a representation of his wealth.
On their heads, they wore the characteristic piece of linen with which the pharaohs are usually represented. This fabric is called nemes.
At the waist, the fabric that was tied was the shendyt, which was wrapped around the body, from back to front, and a tunic was placed on top.
As for the makeup, it was called kohl and they applied it around the eyes to reduce the reflection of the sun and avoid infections.
How did they live?
The daily routine of the Ancient Egyptian civilization is summarized in the customs and traditions of its inhabitants, including from their trades to the economy, which was based mainly on agriculture.
Livestock was also a very important economic activity at this time, thanks to the domestication of animals and harvesting.
The Egyptians created a revolutionary irrigation system that gave rise to a new concept of economics and storage, which, in turn, contributed to the development of writing, algebra, astronomy, etc.
In the educational field, there was the so-called House of Life, an institution dedicated to advanced level teaching. In it were the library, the archive and workshops for copying manuscripts.
Only the scribes and priests had access to the House of Life, which already existed in the Old Kingdom as confirmed by historians. It also tended to be the seat of the royal palace.
The ladies of the court were educated in the Jeneret House, where they were instructed in music and dance. There they learned to play instruments such as the lute, the harp or the flute and learned rituals and melodies that, it was believed, could appease even the deities.
As for the dwellings, the first known ones date back to the Predynastic Period and were built of adobes, with a roof of trunks covered with palm leaves and mud.
They were generally small, semi-subterranean houses with sloping roofs, similar to those that exist today. Currently, there are remains of this type of housing in Amarna and Deir el-Medina.
Here we leave you with a documentary that shows in detail what everyday life was like in Ancient Egypt:
What did they eat?
As we mentioned in the previous section, the Egyptians lived on livestock and agriculture, so it is clear that their diet was based on products of this type.
What is known today about the gastronomy of Ancient Egypt is thanks to the different engravings and hieroglyphs found in temples and tombs.
El pan and beer (call heneket) were staples.
Fish and meat were also part of the staple foods. Generally, pork, sheep, poultry and cow were the most used, although the last two were usually reserved for special occasions.
Whatever the type of meat, the way of preparation was roasted, dried and, finally, preserved in salting. The most consumed fish was mullet, from which the motley, a recipe that is still consumed throughout the Mediterranean today.
Garlic, onion, beans, peas, lentils, cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, leek, radishes… these were the most consumed vegetables in Ancient Egypt.
For their part, dates, grapes, pomegranates, melons and sycamore trees were the favorite fruits of this civilization. Finally, honey was used both in the preparation of desserts and in the preparation of many natural remedies.
How many dynasties were there?
The first dynasty of pharaohs began in the so-called Archaic Period, around the year 3000 BC. C., and it was known as Dynasty I. From there, a succession of the throne would begin that would end in the Hellenistic Period. In total, there were 33 dynasties. The following list shows the different periods in chronological order along with the dynasties that ruled within each one:
- Archaic Period (3000-2686 BC): Dynasties I and II.
- Ancient empire (2686-2181 BC): Dynasties III, IV, V and VI.
- First Intermediate Period (2181-2025 BC): Dynasties VII and VIII, and Dynasties IX and X.
- Middle kingdom (2125-1773 BC): Dynasties XI and XII.
- Second Intermediate Period (1773-1550 BC): Dynasties XIII, XIV, XV, XVI and XVII.
- New kingdom (1550-1069 BC): XNUMXth, XNUMXth and XNUMXth Dynasties.
- Third Intermediate Period (1069-656 BC): Dynasties XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV and XXV.
- Late Period (672-332 BC): Dynasties XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX and XXXI.
- Hellenistic period (332-30 BC): Macedonian and Ptolemaic Dynasties.
How were they buried?
In Ancient Egypt, the Egyptians carried out a series of burial rituals necessary to, according to their religious beliefs, ensure the immortality of the deceased after death.
The main funeral custom was the mummification, which followed a series of protocols that included everything from magic spells to the inclusion of specific objects inside the tombs. Below is a video-documentary that explains step by step what the process of mummification:
Through mummification, the corpse was prevented from reaching the state of natural putrefaction and, in this way, the preservation of its material body was ensured in order to be able to join the soul in the Hereafter and continue on its way.
The Egyptians believed that every human being was made up of ba and ka, the first being the soul and the second the awakening in his new life. With mummification, it was intended that both elements were reunited in the body in order to achieve immortality.
The process consists of placing the body on a flat board. Once there, a cut is made in the abdomen. This step was usually carried out by a priest wearing a mask of the god Anubis, the funerary god of Ancient Egypt.
Afterwards, the body was washed with palm wine and all the vital organs were extracted except the heart, which had to be left intact. Finally, they recited a series of spells drawn from the Book of the Dead.
Who were the most important?
Many are the pharaohs whose reign was a before and after for the Empire of Ancient Egypt. However, only a few have special relevance today for the Universal history.
From Dynasty I to Ptolemaic Dynasty, below we review the most important Egyptian pharaohs in chronological order.
Narmer or Menes
This was the first pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, who founded the first dynasty in approximately 3150 BC. During his reign, he conquered the lands of the Nile Delta and founded Memphis. He also had the Temple of Ptah built. His successor was Aha, who consolidated the unification of Egypt.
Of the II dynasty the pharaoh Hetepsejemuy stood out, who reigned between 2828 and 2800 BC
Its name means the two powers are at peace, something that most historians relate to the fact that, during his reign, the struggles between Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt ended.
One of the main advances that occurred during his reign is the move from using eponymous tablets to using cylinder seal impressions.
Djoser was the second pharaoh of the third dynasty and his rule lasted from approximately 2665 to 2645 BC It is also known under other names such as Necherjet, Dyeser, Djoser, Djeser y Dyeser.
Necherjet means divine body, while Dyeser and derivatives are equivalent to sublime. Her tomb is found to this day at Bet Halaf. Thanks to this pharaoh, the construction of the first monumental pyramid took place: the step pyramid of Saqqara.
Pharaoh Cheops (also called Khufu o Jeops) was the second pharaoh of the IV dynasty. During his 23-year reign, Cheops married Meretites and Henutsen and the monarchy reached its greatest power.
His importance in the history of Ancient Egypt was such that years later, during the late Egyptian period, he was venerated as a god. Without a doubt, the greatest feat of this pharaoh was the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza, whose completion dates from approximately 2570 BC
Pharaoh Teti (also called Others u Others) was the first pharaoh of the VI dynasty, whose rule lasted from approximately 2322 to 2312 BC Teti stood out for his attempts to establish a centralized government, as he saw how the nomarchs were acquiring more and more power.
In addition, he granted land to Abydos by decree and exempted the region from taxes due to its poor harvests. Currently, the only statue of the pharaoh that has been found can be found in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Amenophis III or Amenhotep III was the most important pharaoh of the 1390th dynasty, whose government spanned the period from 1253 to XNUMX BC.
It also receives other names such as Imenhotep III, Amenophis III y Memnon, all of them Hellenized names. Commonly, this monarch has been thought to be somewhat incapable, as he devoted much of his reign to building tombs and temples.
The king pharaoh Tutankhamun belonged, like Amenophis III, to the 1336th dynasty of Egypt, between 1327 and XNUMX BC He was also known as Ratotis, Rats o Atoris and his reign lasted a total of 9 years.
Young Tutankhamun was the last royal-blooded pharaoh of the dynasty. His reign is characterized by a return to normality in both the social and religious landscape.
Seti I or Sethy I was the second pharaoh of the XIX dynasty, who ruled a total of 15 years (1294-1279 BC). Son of Ramses I and Sitra, Seti I pacified and reordered Egypt. One of his greatest feats was dominating the mighty priests of Amun.
The XNUMXth dynasty was generally a family of warrior pharaohs, due to their military origin. Thus, the son of Seti I, Ramses II, was no exception.
Ramses II ruled for 66 consecutive years, specifically, from 1279 to 1213 BC He is known as one of the most famous pharaohs in the history of Egypt, due in large part to the many vestiges of his reign that have been preserved to this day .
Ramses II was a warrior king. As a young man, he accompanied his father on military campaigns to quell rebellions in Canaan and also later seconded him in the war against the Hittites.
It is also known as the builder king, since during his reign he built numerous huge temples on the banks of the Nile.
Daughter of Cleopatra V Tryphena and Ptolemy XII Auletes, she inherited the throne at 18 years of age along with her brother Ptolemy XIII, who was only 12 years old and later became her husband (this happened frequently in Ancient Egypt) .
This queen has always been credited with a extraordinary beauty, but numerous writings show that his charm came more from his personality.
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