ALRI Ancient Egypt Course
Unit 4: Important Pharaohs and Pharaohesses
ancient Egyptian names are simply modern transliterations of how we
think the Egyptians would say their names.
There will therefore be some inconsistency in spellings, depending on
where information comes from. There may even be
inconsistencies within this web site. This is something of which
I am aware and something that I don't really care about. You
shouldn't care either: keep an open mind.
on images or
links for larger versions of the images.
The curse of the Pharaohs legend has some basis. The ancient
Egyptians believed in curses, so they really did call on the gods to
bring disaster on anyone who disturbed their mummies. Many tombs
had inscriptions, but they weren't necessarily curses. Sometimes
the ancient Egyptians, who were animists, simply put words in the
"mouth" of a guardian statue describing its function. The
supposed curse in Tutankhamen's tomb really read: "It is I who
hinder the sand from choking the secret chamber. I am for the
protection of the deceased". This was correctly reported to the
public, but one newspaper reporter added his own words to the
inscription: "and I will kill all those who cross this threshold into
the sacred precincts of the Royal King who lives forever." For
more information on the Mummy's Curse, see http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/curse.htm.
All countries mark off their histories by the reign of important
rulers. We in the US, for example, remember and even compose
legends, about certain presidents and pretty much forget the
rest. (What do we know about President Harrison? How many
know there were two Presidents Harrison?) The ancient
Egyptians were no different, and thousands of years of intervening
history will have obscured some Pharaohs that they thought were
important. The above lists are some Pharaohs whose names
might ring a bell today. For more than you ever wanted to know
the Pharaohs, visit http://www.touregypt.net/kings.htm.
And for the official version of US presidential biographies, see http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/.
ruled about 3100 BC and is generally recognized as the Pharaoh who
unified ancient Egypt -- although there are some name difficulties in
the sources. He is, in fact, at least semi-legendary. We
have the Narmer palette, shown above, the Narmer mace, a few marked
stones and potsherds.
We don't even know his name -- it could have been Mernar just as easily
as it could have been Narmer, and the vowel sounds in his name are
conventional but conjectural. The palette and mace are, at best,
examples of political propaganda. We only assume that they date
from the time of Narmer's rule: they may be a later attempt to
explain the unification, which obviously happened. Despite our
lack of hard knowledge about Narmer, much has been written about him --
or, rather, many have written the same things about him. A recent
internet search (Google) brought up 186 thousand links to his
name (but some of them are links to a Finnish "metal" rock band).
For pretty much the total of what we "know" about Pharaoh Narmer, see http://touregypt.net/featurestories/narmer.htm
For information on his capital, Hierakonpolis, see http://www.archaeology.org/interactive/hierakonpolis/temple.html.
claim to fame is that he commissioned the first known
pyramid and certainly the first really big pyramid. He was the
pharaoh of the 3rd Dynasty (ruled c. 2667 - 2648 BC). The Djoser
statue shown is from his serdab (see below) and is now in the Cairo
Egyptian Museum. Djoser's architect, Imhotep, was one of the best
know Egyptians in ancient times, but not for his architecture: he
was eventually deified as a god of medicine. Internet searches for
Djoser and the most popular alternative spelling Zoser turned up almost
800 thousand links. The name Imhotep was also used for the
villain in many mummy movies, so internet searches for his name are
The first image shows a scholarly reproduction of the appearance of
Djoser's pyramid complex when it was built and how the pyramid looks
today. See http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/dsteppyramid1.htm
for much more information. The second image was shot through one
of two small holes in the serdab at the north side of Djoser's
pyramid. A serdab was an enclosed room from which the deceased
(personified in an image) could view ceremonies associated with the
funeral and later commemorations, and so the two holes in the front of
Djoser's serdab were put there so he could look out. Today they
are used by thousands of tourists to look in at a replica of his statue
that was found there. Djoser's serdab is explained at http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/dsteppyramid3.htm.
The third image shows Djoser running in his Heb-Sed ceremony. The
Heb-Sed ritual nominally took place in the 30th year of a ruler's reign and was
a trial of his or her physical capability to continue to rule. This
image is heavily processed for contrast when projected. An image
of the actual appearance of the relief is at http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/sedfestival.htm,
where there is also a short explanation of the festival.
The 4th Dynasty (c. 2613 - 2494) was the time of really big
pyramids. Senefru, the first ruler of the dynasty built
three. The first collapsed just as it was being finished.
The second was the Bent Pyramid which had to be altered ("bent" inward)
during construction, to keep it from falling. The third, the Red
Pyramid, which is considered to be the first "true" pyramid was built
at a shallower angle (see below). Members of his family, Khufu,
Khafre, and Menkaure, built the three great pyramids at Giza, and
Khafre (probably) also built the Great Sphinx. For more on
Pyramids, see http://www.mmdtkw.org/EGtkw0600-Pyramids.html, a later unit in this
course, and http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/pyramids.htm.
Senefru's Red Pyramid at Dahshur is actually just a little bit pinkish,
the color of the core stone. It was designed to be white, but the
outer white stone all was taken away for later uses.
A map and a
satellite image of the Giza plateau show the locations of the more
important monuments. The third image also shows how canals
connected the Valley Temples of the Pyramids to the Nile. Valley
temples were built above the inundation water line, i.e., behind
the cultivable area next to the river. For information about the
Giza Plateau, visit the web site of the Giza Plateau Mapping Project at
kicked out the Hyksos and established the 18th Dynasty, which begins
what modern scholarship calls the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt.
He became Pharaoh in about 1550 BC, probably when he was about ten
years old, after his father and older brother died. In the first years
of his reign, it is probable that his mother, Queen Ashotep ruled with
him, but by his tenth regnal year he was actively pursuing war against
the Hyksos. By the time he died in his 25th regnal year, the Hyksos
were gone, and Egypt was again unified under a native Egyptian
pharaoh. The key to his success was the ability of his ruling
family at Thebes to adopt and improve on Hyksos military technology:
bronze weapons, compound recurved archery bows, chariots, etc.
For more on Ahmose I, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmose_I.
I defeats the Hyksos single-handedly: in the manner of the pharaohs, he
takes credit for everything. The weapons are actually Egyptian
copies of Hyksos technology. Both weapons actually belonged, we
are told, to Ahmose I.
A small wheeled funerary boat from the early 18th Dynasty. This
appears to be a model, but no full-size examples have been found -- it
may have been a toy or just something made up for a tomb. Aside
from information about it from where it was found, we can date it by
the four-spoked chariot-style wheels. They are bronze, so they
are after Hyksos bronze technology was adopted, and they have only four
spokes, not the six of stronger later wheels. The two extra
wheel spokes were not added to increase carrying capacity (which was
controlled by rim strength) but rather to improve wheel rigidity on
turns, something that later gave Egyptian chariots a battlefield speed
advantage against the Hittites. An annual festival featuring
wheeled boats is still held in Luxor (ancient Thebes), but now it marks
the birthday of the semi-legendary 14th century Muslim Saint Yousif
al-Haggag, whose mosque is preserved in the ruins of the Luxor temple
complex. (See http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/haggag.htm
for more information.)
Despite the efforts of her successor/stepson, Thutmose III, many good
images of Hatshepsut are available. Her story is also well
known. Her reign was in the 18th Dynasty, c. 1473 - 1458.
She had at least one daughter, but no son, and when her husband,
Thutmose II, died, he named a son by a different wife as his
heir. The heir was still a child, so Hatshepsut was named
regent. She quickly usurped the throne and ruled on her own after
having herself crowned as Pharaoh. She only gradually appears in
the guise of a male pharaoh, adopting the regal kilt, the nemes
headdress, and the false beard. Eventually she dropped the
feminine hieroglyph "t' symbol from the end of her name and ruled with
the male name Hatshepsu.
She wasn't the first female
pharaoh, but, aside from Cleopatra VII (see below) she was certainly
the most important. Her innovations set patterns that were
followed throughout the New Kingdom period. Hers was the first
(and deepest) tomb dug in the Valley of the Kings (KV 20), and she
started it while her husband Thutmose II was still alive -- she was
already a very powerful lady. It was originally designed to put
her burial chamber directly below her Dayr al-Bahri temple, but the
to be diverted because of underground geological conditions. Her
commercial expedition to Punt (perhaps Somalia?) set the pattern for
future southern trading.
Thutmose III tried to obliterate
her reign, but apparently not in anger: he did it many years
after she died, perhaps when he realized his own mortality and wanted
to ensure that his line and not the line of her father's family would
retain the double crowns. More Hatshepsut information is at http://www.crystalinks.com/egypthatshepsut.html,
and at http://touregypt.net/historicalessays/hatshepsut.htm.
Hatshepsut's Valley Temple is at Dayr al-Bahri on the west side of the
Nile opposite Luxor. The cliff behind the temple is an eroded ridge,
immediately behind which is the Valley of the Kings and the entrance of
mummy was identified as Hatshepsut in June of 2007 ending long years of
speculation. The identification procedures included xrays, CT
scans, and DNA matching with her known grandmother.
The clinching evidence was a broken took found in a canopic box
inscribed with her name. The tooth exactly matched a gap in the
jaw of the mummy, and the root broken from the tooth was still in the
jawbone. See http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/06/070627-mummy-tooth.html
ruled from c. 1390 - 1352 BC. The main claim to fame
of Amenhotep and his wife Tiy is that they produced the heretic Pharaoh
Akhenaten. "Where did we go wrong?" they might ask.
Actually, Amenhotep was, for centuries, much more well known than
Memnon, or at least his
colossal statues were.
statues that stood in front of Amenhotep's Valley Temple (until the
temple was brought down by a 27 BC earthquake, Nile flooding, and
"stone mining") were misidentified by the ancient Greeks as the hero
Memnon. Both statues were also badly damaged by the earthquake,
and the one on the right (the northern one) "spoke" at dawn on sunny
days: moisture and cool air that had accumulated overnight in the
earthquake cracks wheezed out when the sun warmed the statue.
Greeks remembered their legend about the Ethiopian King Memnon who had
helped the Trojans against the Greek invaders. Achilles killed
Memnon in single combat by stabbing him through the breastbone. before
he died, Memnon, with his last breath, called out to his mother Aurora,
who was the daughter of Eos, who was, as you might guess, the goddess
of Dawn (Aurora was the "light of Dawn", and hence Aurora Borealis is
"northern dawn light".)
The statue continued to sing out at dawn,
and visitors came from miles around to hear the music, including
Emperor Hadrian, in 130 A.D. The Roman emperor Septimius Severus,
seeking to repair the statues in 199 AD, inadvertently silenced Memnon
forever. But the name stuck -- the statues are still called the Colossi
Amenhotep's fame came when folks finally were able to
read the inscriptions and identify him as the person seated in 64 foot
tall grandeur. The two statues were each cut from a single block
of white quartzite, making the two blocks the biggest ever quarried
anywhere. More information is at http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/egypt/thebes/colossi/colossi.html, and at http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/Memnon.html.
In March of 2008, the Egyptian antiquities authority announced the
discovery of a 12 foot statue of Queen Tiy, Amenhotep's wife, in
excavations near the site of the colossi. (See: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080322/lf_afp/egyptarcheology_080322202539).
Two sphinxes representing Tiy and Amenhotep III as well as 10 statues
in black granite of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet, who protected the
pharaohs, were also found by the archeologists. Two statues
are 50 feet high, three-quarters the size of the colossi, were also
found at the site in recent years. The authority hopes to display
all the finds in an outdoor museum at the site within five years.
http://www.mmdtkw.org/EGtkw05038AmenhotepIIILuxor.jpgThe ability to read
hieroglyphs and identify Amenhotep's colossi, also allowed acheologists
to identify this famous courtyard at the Luxor temple complex as
his. Almost all tours of Egypt include night visits to this
The statue of Amenhotep III was recently retrieved from a cache at
Karnak. Priest would never think of destroying an image of a
deceased sacred pharaoh, but they occasionally needed to make room in
the temples for new images. Old images, even those in good
condition like this one, were buried in sand pits in temple courtyards
and then paved over. The same procedure was used to protect
statues when enemies approached.
Two images of Tiy(e), the wife of Amenhotep III and mother of Amenhotep
IV, later known as Akhenaten, the Heretic Pharaoh.
Scientists have always wondered whether Akhenaten, who ruled c. 1352 -
1336, had some kind of congenital defect that made him look like
this. Some archeologists ascribe it all to an Amarna school of
art. Others say the school of art was like the Haitian Merengue
dance. The most popular Merengue story relates that Merengue, a
great hero of the revolution who had been crippled in one leg, was
welcomed home with a victory celebration. It was known that he loved to
dance but all he could do now, was step with one leg and drag the other
to close. Out of respect, everyone dancing copied him and the Merengue
was born. The Merengue is still the national dance of
Haiti. The analogous situation with the Amarna Style
would be a deformed ruler whose deformity was copied in the style of
art of his period.
Akhenaten's skull exhibits structures that coincide with the "Amarna
Style" images" the face is extremely long and narrow, the
cheekbones protrude out to the side, and the upper teeth protrude
accounting for these "Mick Jagger lips." His wife Nefertiti, at
least a half sib and maybe a full sister, exhibits similar trait, and,
if we can believe the images, they passed them on to their daughters.
Nefertiti, long touted as the ideal of feminine beauty, doesn't look so
hot when you get below her neck. She's wearing a hat in the
statues, but a mummy known as the "older woman" (meaning maybe 30 -
35), which may well be her (or one of her close relatives), shows the
same facial structure as Akhenaten plus a very long neck like the necks
in her images. In all her images she had a very narrow face,
which also corresponds to the head of the mummy. Note that this
is not the mummy recently identified by a newly minted British female
archeologist on US and UK television. Her "findings" and
"feelings" about the other mummy have been derided by almost all
Western monotheists really want to believe that Akhenaten was a
monotheist like them who was bent on eliminating pagan
polytheism. They are not so friendly, however, to other ancient
and modern solar worshipers. His worship of the solar disk does
have some things in common with pre-Nicene Christianity when many
Christians identified Christ with Apollo, the sun god, but that's a
whole different adventure concerning gnosticism, or the "light of the
world", etc. Maybe that can all be dealt with in a different
Akhenaten is remembered as a monotheist (who like most monotheists saw
nothing wrong with persecuting everyone else), but his real
contributions to ancient Egyptian history were two entirely different
things: first, his heretical behavior provoked a backlash from
which the monarchical power of the pharaohs never fully
recovered. The priests and nobles who reversed Akhenaten's heresy
always distrusted the monarch. It was a small step toward shared
rule but nowhere near "democracy": it was at about the same level as
the Magna Carta. Second, and more important for the study of
ancient Egypt, his new capital, Akhetaten (maps above, images below),
is the place where we best can study how non-aristocratic Egyptians
lived. The reason for that is the simple fact that, when
Akhenaten's heresy was repudiated, his city was also abandoned and was
treated as if its site was cursed. Nobody ever built another city
on the site, and because most of the site is above the inundation
level, the mud-brick neighborhoods of the city are still mostly
there. It is certainly the largest ancient habitation site in
Egypt. For information on the excavations at Akhetaten/Amarna,
Enhanced and height exaggerated imagery of the city site
A satellite view of one of the residential neighborhood of Akhetaten.
Model of the downtown riverfront.
downtown Akhetaten as reconstructed from impressions left by lower
courses of stones on the crushed rock foundations.
Reconstruction drawing of the Aten Temple from 1932 excavations.
A recent satellite image beside a 1932 site drawing.
Early and recent work among the mud bricks.
The Golden mask and what it hid -- note that he had the same kind of
buck teeth that Akhenaten had. Tut, who ruled from 1336 through
1327, was not a particularly
important pharaoh in his own time. He quickly moved his court
to the normal 18th Dynasty capital, Thebes, and changed his name from
Tutankaten to Tutankhamen, reflecting his abandonment of Aten and his
adherence to Amun. Though not particularly important in his own
time, Tut has been very important to
since 1922 when his un-plundered tomb was finally plundered. Tut
enthusiasm is still helping Egyptologists worldwide to get their
sponsorship and grants. Tut
himself was manhandled, stripped naked, his head was broken off, and
he was cut in half, broken up, and reassembled, and that was all in the
first few weeks after his
body was found. His wealth, which he had managed to hold on to
for thousands of years, was finally hauled off to museums and
warehouses. He was, however, allowed to stay in his tomb to be
visited by thousands of interesting tourists and a few interested
tourists. It has only recently been announced that as of November
2007, his mummy will be displayed in a climate controlled glass topped
case in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
Two rooms of the tomb were piled full Tutankhamun's possessions, which,
as you would expect, were kingly. The third and fourth room were the
burial chamber and the room that held his canopic shrine. The
second image shows Howard Carter opening the several ornamented boxes
that held Tutankhamen and his several layers of coffins, the outermost
of which is shown in the third image. Tut's mummy is shown
still stained with the resin which early Arab and Persian mummy
salesmen had misidentified as mummiyya, their word for bitumen or
The blackened skin of Tutankhamun led to demonstrations in the US and
the UK during the 2007 tour of some of Tut's treasures by blacks who
wanted Tut to be proclaimed as a black African. Instead, the
demonstrations provoked a strong statement by Zahi Hawass that Tut,
like all Egyptians, was not African at all, although he recognized that
Egypt is in Africa.
A March 2005 CT scan ruled out foul play in Tutankhamen's early death:
leg, probably broken shortly before his death, was the only injury
noted, and the examination team speculated that Tut may have died of a
infection associated with the injury. Conspiracy advocates had
long theorized that Tut was killed by a blow to the head: bone
fragments had been seen in the skull in earlier xrays. (They even
had a prime suspect for the "murder", Tut's successor,
Ay.) But these more recent tests showed no skull damage and said
the bone fragments were a normal part of removal of the brain through
the nose. For information on the CT scan and other tests, see http://guardians.net/hawass/press_release_tutankhamun_ct_scan_results.htm.
The two rooms
which contained Tut's jumbled furniture and furnishings were not
decorated, but the burial chamber, which now holds only the Stone
sarcophagus and the inner coffin holding Tut's body is beautifully
painted, as is the canopic shrine room. There is a theory that
the jumble in rooms c and d of the tomb was caused by early tomb
robbers who may have been surprised and fled with little or no
loot. Many archeologists believe, however that it was the result
of hurried burial practices and that this may also have been the case
in other tombs, the contents of which were carried away -- so we're not
likely ever to know. All the contents of the
rooms and all of their decorations are available at links shown in the
You will have noted the strange and probably painful positions assumed
by the human subjects of Egyptian Art. There is also no real
perspective, nor is there any size consistency. As in Medieval
European art, important people tend to be bigger than others.
There are stock poses that help to identify the situation
portrayed. One of the things that would have shocked ancient
viewers of Amarna Art was the loosening of situational poses. It
was all ratcheted down again when Tutankhamen moved the capital back to
Thebes, where, it is assumed, he came under the strong influence of the
priests and the more conservative members of the nobility who had
continued to reside in Thebes during the Amarna period..
Star charts were common on royal and noble tombs. They were there
to mark the hours (stages) of the passage of the deceased through the
darkness to the afterlife and by analogy the deathlike passage of the
world through nightly darkness. Formulae to ease the passage were
included in hieroglyphic panels.
Tutankhamun and his wife, who, after his death, married his successor
Ay, perhaps against her will. Ay was Tut's chief adviser and a
member of a commoner family that also may have produced produced Tiy,
the wife of Amenhotep III and mother of Akhenaten. Ay married
Ankhesenamun to prop up his legitimacy as Pharaoh.
The successors of Tutankhamun destroyed most of his monumental works
during their campaign to invalidate the rule of Tut's father
Akhenaten. Two statues, one each of Tut and his wife in the
Karnak temple complex, escaped the general iconoclasm. They
portrayed Tut as Amun-Ra and his wife as Amunet, the feminine aspect of
Amun, images that the priesthood of Amun would want to protect.
The suspicions of Ay and of Ay's successor, Horemeb, that Tut was
insincere in his conversion back to Amun may have been justified.
This gold encased throne found in Tut's tomb shows him and his wife
receiving the blessings of his father's god, Aten.
The first image shows a statue of Tutankhamen (17 ft. 4 in.) in the
newly renovated Egyptian Gallery at the Oriental Institute Museum at
the University of Chicago. The base is inscribed with the name of
Horemheb who had usurped the statue and erased the name of Ay who had
usurped it from Tutankhamun. The fragmented duplicate of
the first statue is shown where both were was found in 1930 in
Medinat Habu, across the Nile from Luxor. The second statue,
which has less damaged facial features, is now in the Cairo Egyptian
Museum. The internet site of the Oriental Institute is at http://oi.uchicago.edu/, and Cairo
Egyptian Museum site is at http://www.egyptianmuseum.gov.eg/.
The entrance of the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings is
seldom seen without its long line of waiting tourists. You have
to decide whether to join the line as you pass the ticket kiosk at the
entrance to the valley -- a separate ticket is required. There
is, in fact, nothing in this tomb (except Tut) that you can't see in
other Valley tombs, for which you buy a single ticket to visit three
tombs (or two tickets for 6, etc.) Your guide can help you decide
which tombs to see. The artifacts taken from the tomb fill a hall
in the Cairo Egyptian Museum, where there is also a line to get into
the small room where the golden mask is kept.
II "the Great" ruled from c. 1279 to
1213 BC, a very long reign. He was the third pharaoh on the 19th
Dynasty. By the time we get to him the New Kingdom is well past
its prime (which it probably reached with Amenhotep III of the previous
dynasty). His 66-year rule gave him ample time to set up a really
good public relations office and to build new temples and embellish old
ones with tales of his questionable military exploits. In his
monuments, he appears to have striven for big rather than elegant.
This granite colossal figure of Ramesses II was recovered for the
British Museum from the Ramesseum opposite Luxor in 1815 Giovanni
Belzoni. It is now in the British Museum in London. (The
story of its recovery is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Younger_Memnon.)
It was called, at the time "The younger Memnon" and was the King Tut of
its day, keeping alive the British "Egyptian fever" that started with
Napoleon's acquisitions (which had been captured by the British.)
Belzoni also excavated the Abu Simbel temple of Ramesses II.
Ramesses had built it as a monument to himself (there's also a
half-size temple of his wife, Nefertari) and as a showpiece to overawe
the Nubians. It is really big and really inelegant. The
four colossi are misproportioned and their musculature is only
schematically done. The most interesting thing about the temple
is that it was moved to its present location to save it from the rising
waters of Lake Nasser behind the Aswan High Dam.
The fallen colossal statue of Ramesses II at the Ptah Temple in
Memphis, like those at Abu Simbel, is huge but lakes fine detail.
hall of Abu Simbel has eight engaged statues of Osiris leading back to
a small shrine chamber. In the shrine are statues of Ptah, Ra,
Ramesses, and Amun. The temple was oriented by the ancient
Egyptians so that the statues of Ra, Ramesses, and Amun would be
illuminated by the dawn sunlight on the day of the solstice.
Ptah, the god of the night, would stay in darkness. The UNESCO
team that moved the temple was off by a fraction of a degree
much of the valley temple of Ramesses II is left. It was one many
Kingdom valley temples along the west side of the Nile opposite
Luxor. Many of those built in the area closer to the Nile
(lightest color on the map) have been seriously damaged by occasional
higher than normal inundations. "Occasional" over a period
of more than 3000 years can add up. Information on the
Ramesseum is available at http://www.archeo.ens.fr/8546-5Gren/clrweb/7dguylecuyot/GLRamesseumWeb.html.
A fallen colossal statue of Ramesses II at his Ramesseum inspired
Shelley's famous poem Ozymandias:
I met a
traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two
vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the
desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a
shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its
sculptor well those passions read
survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that
mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the
pedestal these words appear:
"My name is
Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my
works, ye mighty, and despair!"
beside remains: round the decay
colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and
level sands stretch far away.
Ozymandias represents a shaky transliteration into ancient Greek of a
part of Ramesses' throne name, User-maat-re Setep-en-re. The sonnet
paraphrases the inscription on the base of the statue, given by
Diodorus Siculus (90 - 20 BC) as "King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If
anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one
of my works."
Ramesses II in the Valley of the Kings is in even worse shape than his
Valley Temple. It's in part of the valley that is subject to
"occasional" flash floods. They are rare, bit over the past 3000
at least 12 levels of flood debris were deposited. The floods
destroyed tomb paintings that covered the walls leaving only plaster
fragments that were mixed with the debris. But even before the
Ramesses tomb was desecrated. His mummy was retrieved from his
tomb by worried priests of Amun and stashed with many others in the
Dayr al-Bahri Mummy cache. For information about tomb robberies during
the New Kingdom and how the
royal mummies were retrieved and hidden see http://www.thebanmappingproject.com/articles/article_2.6.html.
Ramesses has appeared in many movies.
Although the tomb of Ramesses was wrecked by floods, the heavily
restored tomb of his wife, Nefertari's looks quite well. For a fine
Internet essay on her tomb, the best in the Theban Hills, go to http://www.swarthmore.edu/Humanities/pschmid1/essays/Nefertari/nefertari.html.
KV-5, the Tomb of the sons of Ramesses II is the biggest in the Valley
of the Kings. Over the centuries it had suffered the same
fate as that of Ramesses I: it was filled with rubble washed down
in the flash floods that accompany thunderstorms over the Valley. In
addition, it had been robbed in antiquity. The tomb was examined
several times once exploration of the Valley in relatively modern times
started, first in 1825 by James Burton and later in 1902 by Howard
Carter, discoverer of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Carter used KV5
only as a dumping ground. None of the previous explorers was able
to penetrate past the first few rooms, and thus they saw nothing
unusual about the tomb. It was not until the Theban Mapping
Project, under Kent R. Weeks, decided to clear the tomb that its true
nature was discovered. During the initial stages of work, from
1987 to 1994, it still looked like a small and insignificant
tomb. In 1995, after doing substantial clearing in the outer
chambers of the tomb, the excavators discovered the long corridors,
lined with rooms (approximately seventy in all: bear in mind that
Ramesses sired at least that many sons), running back into the
hillside; a discovery which amazed the world and reignited popular
interest in Egyptology. Finds so far have included thousands of
potsherds, ushabti, faience beads, hieratic ostraca, glass vials,
inlays and even a large statue of Osiris, the god of the
afterlife. Further excavations have revealed that the tomb is
even larger than was first thought, as it contains more corridors, with
more rooms, running off from other parts of the tomb. At least 150
rooms or chambers have been discovered as of 2006, only about 10 of
which have been cleared. Work is still continuing on clearing the
rest of tomb. It is not yet open to the public and probably won't
be for several more years. You can, however, visit the tomb by
signing up for Dr. Weeks' fund raising tour in February 2008 -- about
$6895.00 plus air fair to Cairo. See http://www.sevenwonderstravel.com/weeks/TMP-registration-pricing-may-2008.pdf.
Ramesses portrayed himself as a great military commander, but history
says otherwise. His biggest "victory", at Qadesh was a sham. For
what actually happened at Qadesh, see http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/ancient/articles/kadesh.aspx.
never heard of Pharaoh Nectanebo I? He was the first pharaoh of
30th Dynasty, which lasted from 380 to 343 BC. There were only
pharaohs in that dynasty, and it was the last dynasty to have Egyptian
rather than foreign pharaohs. Nectanebo was how the Greeks
him, but his Egyptian name was Nekhtnebef. His tenure was based
squabble between Greeks and Persians who tried to cooperate to take
Egypt in 373 BC. The Greeks and Persians argued over whether to
the then Egyptian capital, Memphis, and, when they finally did move,
they got bogged down in the mud of the July 373 inundation and had to
retreat. The Persian-Egyptian alliance broke down and they all
home. The Persians, who were the potential super-power in the
then spent many years in internal dynastic infighting. Nectanebo
the pharaoh who "defended" Memphis and "chased away" the
invaders -- at least according to his propaganda machine.
come to power by killing his predecessor, Neferites (Nefaarud), and
therefore was careful to do all the things expected of a good
This included getting "face time" with his people by placing his images
throughout Egypt in thoroughly Egyptian forms, and the most Egyptian
form of all was the sphinx. (By this time, the Great Sphinx in
was the most popular pilgrimage/tourist site for Egyptians -- like the
Statue of Liberty and Disney Land rolled into one.)
One of the things that endeared Egyptian pharaohs and gave them
credibility with their people was taxes and tax enforcement.
Without the pharaoh's enforcement of regulated taxes, the people would
be exploited by local officials. A pharaoh who set nationwide
fair taxes and posted them so everyone could see them was considered a
defender of the rights of the people (even though the people might
still complain about the tax rates). Nectanebo was the first
in a long time to post the tax rates and conditions throughout Egypt on
duplicate steles like this one found intact at Naucratis (Kratj).
The imagery of the stele is especially important: it shows the
pharaoh receiving taxes from both the producers (left) and the
importers from "the Greek Sea": the locals were being protected
from cheap foreign imports.
Nectanebo also endowed new buildings on important temple areas.
At the great Hat-Hor temple in Dendera he built a "mamisi", supposedly
a place celebrating the union of two gods to produce a divine child,
who is often identified as the pharaoh. Hat-hor temples
celebrated childbirth (the cow and milk for the kids) so a mamisi at
her temple was especially important. The image shows three
buildings: in the foreground is Nactenebo's mamisi, in the background is
another mamisi built by Trajan (who, like Nectanebo was probably
motivated by public relations) and in between are the
ruins of a Coptic Christian basilica church. Incidentally, the
basilica architectural style is often thought of as
a Greek, Roman, or Christian invention, but the first structures built
on the plan of a nave with side aisles and clerestory windows were, in
fact Egyptian hypostyle halls, a prime example being the great
hypostyle hall at Karnak. The Greeks, Romans, and Christians all
saw Egyptian basilicas before they built any of their own. And --
the word basilica comes from the Greek phrase basilik oikía, which meant
royal house, which could be translated into ancient Egyptian a peraoh, which the Greeks wrote as pharaoh.
In addition to embellishing existing temple complexes, Nectanebo is
credited with starting the new complex on Philae Island.
Everything on the island was moved to a nearby higher island in the
1970s to avoid the rising waters between the Old Aswan Dam and the
Aswan High Dam.
Nectanebo is also responsible for one of the icons of ancient Egypt --
more sphinxes along the avenue of the sphinxes before the First Pylon
at the Luxor Temple complex. They are all in the
style of sphinxes of his time: rather than being recumbent, their
shoulders and back are raised. And they all
have his face, and his name is inscribed on the base of each.
There are, indeed, pictures of an avenue of sphinxes at the site that
date from before Nectanebo's time, but nobody knows where they might
have gone. The sphinxes there now are certainly his.
The 30th Dynasty was ousted in 343 BC when the Persians returned.
They and the Libyans and the Nubians had provided all of the pharaohs
of the Third Intermediate Period and of the Late Period except for
those of Nectanebo's 30th Dynasty. The three Persian pharaohs
that reigned after 343 were considered tyrants by the Egyptians -- they
exploited Egypt for the benefit of Persia. When Alexander chased
out the Persians and installed himself as pharaoh in 332 BC he was
received as a savior of Egypt.
The great Alexandrine, Ptolemaic, and Roman pharaohs will be covered in
a later unit.