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Ancient Egypt


The pharaoh and his queen receiving tributesThe pharaoh and his queen receiving tributes Pharaoh was the title for the man (and, in a few cases, woman) who was king (or queen), high priest and ruler of ancient Egypt. The Egyptians believed that the pharaoh was more than just a ruler: he was almost a god, descended from Re, the sun god. They believed that the spirit of the falcon god Horus entered the pharaoh at his coronation. When he died, his spirit united with the god of the Afterlife, Osiris, and Horus’s spirit passed to the next pharaoh.

The pharaoh makes offerings to the god Amun-Re.The pharaoh makes offerings to the god Amun-Re.

Governing Egypt

The pharaoh had absolute power, but he had to rely on his ministers to help him govern Egypt. His most important official was the vizier, his “prime minister”. As god-king, the pharaoh was the chief priest of every god in Egypt. All offerings to the gods were made in his name. The pharaoh was entrusted by the gods with keeping order in the land. Known as ma’at, the principle of justice and mercy was one that even the pharaoh himself was obliged to respect. He was also responsible for ensuring that offerings were made to the gods so that they would continue to bless Egypt with floods, and thus provide the harvest on which all his people depended for their livelihoods.

The pharaoh runs on heb sedThe pharaoh runs on heb sed

Heb sed

The king was too awesome a figure to be referred to by name. Instead, Egyptians spoke of him as “the Great House”, in Egyptian, peraa, which was the origin of the word “pharaoh”.

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