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The gods had a little help, in the form of pharaohs. Pharaohs were the kings of Ancient Egypt. In hieroglyphics, pharaoh means “great house” or “palace”, a word that was eventually used to describe the king himself. The ancient Egyptians saw their pharaoh as a god, more specifically as the god Horus. They thought that when the pharaoh died, a new Horus was born to rule on earth, thus achieving eternal life. In reality, the pharaohs headed the government, the army, set taxes, judged criminals and were high priests of all the temples. All this was in theory, of course. Appointed officials did most of the work, in his name.

Famous Pharaohs

King Akhenaten made waves in ancient Egypt when he abandoned the old religion of worshippiung many gods and goddesses. Instead, he proclaimed that the sun god, Aton, was the only god. At one point, Akhenaten took Aton's name as his own. During King Akhenaten's reign, he created a new capital city and closed all temples not devoted to his god Aton. He went so far as to order the removal of the names of the other gods from the temples. However, he died before all this could happen. His wife, Queen Nefertiti, was as powerful as he. She helped her husband set up cults and temples devoted soley to Aton. Akhenaten and Nefertiti were hated among the Egyptian people. When they died, their names were removed from inscriptions and their temples were torn down.

After the death of King Akhenaten, a new pharaoh was placed into power: his son-in-law Tutankhamen. Tutankhamen was only 8 years old when he was put into power. King Tut, as most people know him, restored all the old gods and brought order to the chaos that his relative had caused. To prove his point, the boy king began the building of many temples devoted to the true son god, Amun-Re. This was a great feat for a mere boy. However, King Tutankhamen isn't famous for his accomplishments as pharaoh. He was made famous upon the discovery of his tomb. His rich burial mask, belongings, and mysterious curse made headlines around the world.

Female pharaohs, though uncommon, were not unheard of. One of the most famous was Cleopatra. Cleopatra's full title was Queen Cleopatra the Seventh. Her rule came at the end of the history of pharaohs, and so the old religions and beliefs were almost non-existent. She is known more for her love triangle with Mark Anthony and Julius Caeser. She tried to form a political alliance with Rome, but rather than admit defeat, she killed herself.

What Else Would You Like To Know?

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Some Egyptian graphics provided by the web site "The Tomb of the Chihuahua Pharaohs" which can be found listed in Yahoo.