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The old Egyptian empire spanned much more than 3,000 years and also an approximated 170 pharaohs – indigenous Narmer, who ruled in the 31st century BC, come Cleopatra, who committed suicide in 30 BC.

You are watching: Why were egyptian pharaohs unusually powerful rulers

The pharaoh’s function in the empire was hugely important, transcending the of a typical monarch in the it straddled both spiritual and political spheres. Indeed, pharaohs were considered to it is in near-deities that were however saddled through the distinctly earthly obligations of statesmen and also women.

Though their reigns stretch ago deep into antiquity, the lives of the pharaohs space still vividly evoked through the impressive treasures of ancient Egypt that proceed to be uncovered today. Right here are 10 facts around the pharaohs.

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1. They to be both spiritual and politics leaders

It to be a pharaoh’s duty to command Egypt in both spiritual and political matters. These twin roles came with distinct titles: “High monk of Every Temple” and the “Lord the the two Lands”.

As a spiritual leader, every pharaoh was supposed to lug out sacred rituals and effectively act together a conduit in between the gods and also the people. Political leadership, meanwhile, encompassed more pragmatic pertains to like legislation, diplomacy and the provision of food and resources to your subjects.

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2. Just pharaohs could make offerings to the gods

In their roles as high priests, the pharaohs made sacred offerings come the god on a day-to-day basis. The was thought that only the pharaoh can enter a divine temple and commune through the spirits of the gods.

3. The pharaohs were concerned as incarnations the Horus


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Horus was depicted in countless forms yet most frequently either together a falcon or a male with a falcon head.


In life, the pharaohs were thought to it is in incarnations the the divine being Horus before in death ending up being Osiris, the god of the afterlife. Each new pharaoh was thought about to it is in a new incarnation the Horus.

4. Akhenaten presented monotheism, but it didn’t last

The regime of Akhenaten represents a quick departure from polytheism in old Egypt. Akhenaten was named Amenhotep IV at birth but changed his surname in accordance v his radical monotheistic beliefs.

The meaning of his brand-new name, “He who is of service to the Aten”, honoured what he thought to be the one true god – Aten, the sun God. ~ Akhenaten’s death, Egypt quickly returned come polytheism and the timeless gods he had disavowed.

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5. Make-up to be obligatory

Both male and also female pharaohs wore make-up, many notably an applications of black kohl about their eyes. It’s assumed that this offered several purposes: cosmetic, helpful (as a method of reducing irradiate reflection), and also spiritual due to the fact that the almond-shaped eye make-up amplified their resemblance to the god Horus. 

6. The crook and flail were crucial symbols that pharaonic authority


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Here, the god the the afterlife, Osiris, is presented holding a crook in his left hand and a flail in his right.


Often illustrated in the hand of pharaohs, the crook and flail to be widely offered symbols of power in old Egypt. Generally depicted together and also held throughout the chest the pharaohs, they created an insignia the kingship.

The crook (heka), a cane through a hooked handle, represented the pharaoh’s shepherd-like function of caring for his subjects, when interpretations that the flail’s (nekhakha) symbolism vary.

A stick with 3 strands the beads attached come the top, the flail was either a weapon supplied by shepherds to protect their flock, or a device to thresh grain.

If the former interpretation the the fail’s usage is accurate, climate it could symbolise a pharaoh’s for sure leadership and their responsibility to preserve order, while together a thresher, it could symbolise the pharaoh’s function as a provider.

7. They frequently married their relatives

Like plenty of royals v history, Egyptian pharaohs no averse to marrying in ~ the family members to maintain royal bloodlines. Marital relationship to sisters and also daughters was not unheard of.

Studies the Tutankhamun’s mummified body have revealed that he was the product that incest, a reality that indeed led to wellness issues and also undesirable characteristics, including an overbite, feminine hips, unusually large breasts and a club foot. Tutankhamun was simply 19 when he died.

8. Tutankhamun may it is in the most famous pharaoh, yet his power was fairly inauspicious


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British archaeologist Howard Carter and also associates rebuild the moment they opened the shrine the Tutankhamun in 1923.


Tutankhamun’s fame derives almost exclusively native the exploration of his tomb in 1922 – one of the great archaeological find of the 20th century. “King Tut”, as he became known after ~ the discovery of his spectacular burial site, just reigned for 10 years and died aged simply 20.

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9. Their beards weren’t real

The pharaohs were typically depicted with long braided beards but in truth they were all more than most likely clean shaven. The beards were fakes, worn come imitate the god Osiris, that is illustrated sporting a handsome beard. Indeed, face hair was such a must-have that even Hatshepsut, the very first female pharaoh, sported a fake beard.

10. The largest of the pyramids is Khufu’s an excellent Pyramid

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The an excellent Pyramid the Giza is the oldest and only making it through wonder the the 7 Wonders that the ancient World. Constructed over a 10 to 20-year period, beginning about 2580 BC, it to be designed as a tomb for the Fourth dynasty pharaoh Khufu.

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It was also the very first of the three pyramids in the Giza complex, i m sorry is also home to the Pyramid that Menkaure, the Pyramid that Khafre and also the an excellent Sphinx. The good Pyramid remains one of the biggest structures ever before built and an awe-inspiring testimony to the old Egyptians’ architectural ambition and also ingenuity.