The government and religion of Ancient Egypt were very closely connected. The head of the government was called “the Pharaoh”, and it was believed that the Pharaoh was the “divine representative of the gods.” Otherwise said, the Egyptian people believed that the Pharaoh was a human the gods chose to act as a special servant.
Ancient Egypt’s government ran on a system called the “social hierarchy” – the social hierarchy was a system where everybody in society was born with a specific role to play, and nobody had a chance of rising above that role. If you were born a peasant, you stayed a peasant for the rest of your life.
If you were born to royalty, you became Pharaoh. The Pharaoh was the single figure at the top of the social hierarchy and was the absolute ruler of Egypt.
Some of the most famous Pharaohs of Egypt were the boy king, Tutankhamun, and the Pharaoh queen Cleopatra. The Pharaohs were holy figures, often associated with different gods – Cleopatra was named the “new Isis” by her people, for example, after the Egyptian goddess of magic.
Tutankhamun, meanwhile, was associated with the god “Amun,” who is sometimes referred to as the King of the Gods.
The boy Pharaoh, Tutankhamun, is one of the most famous Pharaohs because of how he was buried. Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered on the 4th of November, 1922. All Egyptian Pharaohs were buried in very grand, expensive tombs, and many were buried inside pyramids – triangle-based structures filled with a maze of corridors.
Many pyramids and tombs were booby-trapped to prevent intruders from entering, so explorers found it very difficult to see what the inside of a Pharaoh’s tomb really looked like.
Tutankhamun’s tomb was very well preserved in comparison and gave historians a great deal of knowledge about Egyptian burial rituals. Tutankhamun was buried in a solid gold coffin, wearing a priceless mask that was designed to look like his face. The Mask of Tutankhamun is one of the world’s most valuable historical artifacts, and this brought great attention to him and his reign.
He was also famous because of his age – he first became Pharaoh when he was 9, and died when he was 18. His death is a mystery, though some historians believe he died of a broken leg!
Cleopatra VII is probably the most famous Pharaoh of Egypt, however. Though most Pharaohs were men, Cleopatra was a woman. She faced great discrimination during her reign, and yet still went down as one of Egypt’s greatest rulers. She was proclaimed a goddess by her people and ruled over Egypt in a time of great prosperity and wealth.
Cleopatra was famed for her beauty and charm, and was renowned worldwide for her intelligence – she was able to speak over five languages, and handled nearly all of her government’s affairs independently. Her love affairs with Julius Caesar (emperor of Rome) and Marc Antony (his right-hand man) are some of the most famous love stories in history.
Her death is also a great mystery. The stories say that, after her husband Marc Antony killed himself, she allowed herself to be bitten by a poisonous snake – an asp – and that this is what killed her.
The Pharaohs of Egypt play a huge role in the history of the world. There have been many movies made about them, particularly about Cleopatra VII, and the image of the Pharaoh has become synonymous (very strongly associated) with power in modern culture.
Though the role of the Pharaoh eventually faded in Ancient Egypt, their religious importance was unparalleled, and many Pharaohs (Ramses II, Hatshepsut, Khufu) are responsible for the legacy of Ancient Egypt that we study today.
What role did the Pharaoh play in Ancient Egypt?
– The Pharaoh was the king of Egypt and the head of the Egyptian government.
What connected did the Pharaoh have to the religion of Ancient Egypt?
– The Pharaoh was revered as a divine figure, and some were believed to be gods.
Name two Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.
– Tutankhamun and Cleopatra VII.
What were the triangle-based structures that the Pharaohs were buried in called?
– The pyramid.
Who were the two men Cleopatra engaged in famous relationships with?
– Julius Caesar, and Marc Antony.