The remains of the Egyptian pharaohs remain some of the most treasured relics in the world with each mummy given a royal parade whenever it is excavated or moved. The government recently moved all the mummies to the country’s new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in what most Egyptologists described as disturbing the dead. The moving of the mummy of the pharaoh TUT especially drew most of the attention as some believe that his tomb had a warning that said death would come swiftly to whoever disturbed the King’s tomb. The myth was allegedly the cause of the recent disasters in the country including blockage of the Suez Canal and the train collision that killed over 300 people. Anyway, those are just myths. Ancient Egypt is still a timeless piece of history and these 10 are its most famous leaders today.
Tutankhamun did not exactly make major improvements to ancient Egypt but his remains transformed the modern world’s view of Egyptology. His mummy was discovered in 1922 renewing global interest in the remains of Egyptian pharaohs. The young king’s remains were quite intact and his body was discovered to have had scoliosis and multiple strains of malaria.
He also had a deformed leg and so had to walk with a cane. It is not clear what killed him, but he went down as the last king of the 18th Dynasty having ruled for just 10 years between 1342-1325BC. He is believed to have reversed his father’s reforms of the kingdom by restoring the worship of Amon in Egypt after his father Akhenaten forced the kingdom into the monotheistic worship of the god Aten.
Cleopatra remains one of the most famous women in history and also the last official ruler of Great Egypt. She was a strong woman that knew her way around politics. She inherited the throne from her father Ptolemy XII, meaning she was of Greek descent from the lines of Alexander the Great. She learned and spoke Egyptian fluently though which made her very famous among the local people. She managed to keep Egypt as an independent kingdom from Rome throughout her years of rule first by starting an affair with Julius Caesar then starting another one with his successor Mark Antony. She refused to bow to Octavian the Roman emperor choosing to commit suicide in 30BC when the Romans defeated her armies. She remains the last great pharaoh of Egypt.
Menes is also known as the father of Egypt having ruled between 3,200 to 3,100 BC. During his rule, Menes united what was then Lower Egypt and upper Egypt under one crown making him the first ruler of the first dynasty. He is believed to have rerouted the River Nile through Lower Egypt making irrigation possible in more areas than it was before. During his rule, the ancient capital of Memphis was established. He is said to have been killed by a hippopotamus after ruling Egypt for over 6 decades.
Egyptian Pyramids improved over the years as architectural techniques advanced but they can all be drawn back to the famous Step Pyramid which was commissioned by this pharaoh. Not much is known about his life except for the fact that he was a third dynasty Pharaoh who lived between 2630 and 2611 BC. He also commissioned the construction of great cities of the old kingdom including Heliopolis and Gebelein. He is also credited with consolidating the Sinai Peninsula under Egypt through military action that forced the rebelling tribes in the area into submission.
Akhenaten was the son of Amenhotep III, the greatest pharaoh in Egyptian history who build the great temple of Amon. He was born Amenhotep IV but chose to name himself Akhenaten after the god Aten because of his monotheistic views. This is the Pharaoh that tried to turn all of Egypt from polytheism to the worship of the Sun God Aten.
He also moved the capital from Thebes to Amarna. His rule was largely influenced by his wife Nefertiti who is believed to have ruled after his death. His reign negated most of his father’s achievements as he persecuted the worshipers of Amon and nearly bankrupted the dynasty with his extremities and the cost of the construction of his new capital. His son Tut tried to reverse some of this but he didn’t have enough time for that.
This was probably the greatest pharaoh of all. He was more like Solomon of Israel, presiding over diplomatic, cultural and infrastructural development of Egypt rather than military advancement. He had a long peaceful reign between 1386 and 1350BC and presided over the construction of the temple of the god Amun, believed to be the creator by Egyptians. There are no other major structures linked to him but over 250 statues of him have been extracted which is linked to increased cultural activity during his reign and his fame among all the people.
Hatshepsut was the daughter of King Thutmose I and the wife to Thutmose II who died shortly into his reign leaving his wife to rule from 1479 to 1459 BC. She was the 5th ruler of the 18th dynasty and one with a great legacy of peace and development comparable only to that of Amenhotep III. She commissioned the construction of many temples and other buildings. She also led the military campaign against Nubia during her long reign. Before she died, she constructed the great mortuary tomb for herself. Her stepson son Thutmose III tried to wipe out traces of her reign after her death though.
Egypt enjoyed its greatest days during the 19th dynasty and more so, during the long reign of Ramesses II between 1279 and 1213BC. He signed the first known peace treaty in the world with the Hittites which suggests that he could be diplomatic when given a chance. However, he expanded the borders of the kingdoms to its farthest extent into Syria and Nubia. He actually brought the end to the Nubian revolt. He moved his capital from Thebes to the lower Nile building his own city known as Pi Ramesses. Building the new city came at a great cost but that cannot overwrite his great achievements. He remains the greatest king of the New Kingdom which is why many Egyptians call him the Great Ancestor.
Thutmose III is also considered the Napoleon of Egypt because of his great military exploits that saw him win more battles than any other pharaoh before him. He officially took over power in 1458 after his stepmother and aunt Hatshepsut died. During the years of Hatshepsut’s reign, Thutmose had focused on military training and planning his dream of Egypt. He led 17 campaigns against neighbouring kingdoms and conquered lands from the Niya Kingdom in Syria to Most of the Nubian kingdom setting the boundary at the famous Fourth Cataract on the lower parts of the Nile. He presided over what many call the greatest time for Egypt. He also constructed many monumental buildings including more than 50 temples.
Khufu is known as the pharaoh that commissioned the Great Pyramid at Giza which would make him the most famous pharaoh in the world today. He was the second pharaoh of the Fourth dynasty which existed in the Old Kingdom. There is little information about him from his time as king except for conflicting accounts from Greek and Egyptian sources around 300BC. Egyptian sources portray him as a great king that presided over a prosperous Egypt and was famous among the people. The Greeks portray him as a heavy-handed tyrant. He also commissioned the construction of buildings and temples although most of it was destroyed in the destruction of the old Kingdom.