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Kings of Ancient Egypt

Egypt's Past Ancient Kings and People
Because ancient Egyptian history dates back more than 5000 years, the historians and egyptologists (someone who studies Egypt) need a way to describe certain time periods. They call these time periods a dynasty. A dynasty is a period of years in which a certain king or his family is in control of the lands. A king's son was usually the next to inheirit the throne. If this power ever passed out of the family, a new dynasty begun. In the paragraphs below, click on the names of the kings to see more detailed information of their reign.
Early Dynastic Period - Not much is known about the pharaohs during the very early times. Their monuments are well studied artifacts, however.
1st Dynasty: 3050-2890 BC
Horus Aha
Egyptologists are still not certain who Aha really is. Being such ancient history, finding the information to complete the research has been very hard to do. Many of them think that Aha was actually Menes, but they're not completely sure, as the records from so many years ago just aren't clear. They have, however, found artifacts that could possibly link King Aha as being Menes, the ruler who united Upper and Lower Egypt in the 1st Dynasty.
Old Kingdom - Pyramids were building in Giza and Dahshur during this time period
3rd Dynasty: 2650-2575 BC
Sanakhte (Nebka)
Sanakhte, also known as Zanakht, Zanacht, Nebka or Nebkha is perhaps the founder of the 3rd Dynasty of rulers. Some historians think that maybe Nebka and Sanakhte are not the same person, and that Nebka founded the dynasty and Sanakhte ruled it later. There is not much known about this king and there is no proof of his rule of Egypt yet. Archaeologists are not sure if they have found his tomb yet or not, because if they have, it was not clearly marked as his.
4th Dynasty: 2575-2467 BC
SnefruSnefru was likely the first pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty. There is some debate as to whether or not he is the son of Huni, the king before him. Some think that was he was not, and this is why the new dynasty began. Snefru is known for his pyramid building techniques and probably transformed the pyramid into what it is today. His sons, as part of the royal family, became Viziers (royal advisor), keeping the royal power all within the family.
Khufu (also known as Cheops) is credited with the creation of the Great Pyramid at Giza. He had three wives and several sons. Khufu probably reigned as king for as many as 24 years. He made life miserable for the ancient Egyptians that lived under him. He closed the temples and would not permit sacrifices to the gods. He made everyone work for him, and work very hard. It was said by an ancient historian that Khufu even put his daughter into a brothel to earn more money for his projects. There was much hate toward Khufu.
KhafreKhafre is the builder of the second pyramid in Giza. The first was made by Khufu. Khafre had several wives, as most kings did back in those days. Most historians think that Khafre is credited with building the great sphinx, and that it is his face that the sphinx was patterened after. Khafre was known as a harsh and mean leader like his father, Khufu.
Menkaure was the son of Khafre, and was thought to be much nicer of a king than his father and grandfather. He built the third pyramid at Giza, and it is not nearly as big as the other Giza landmarks. His reign was probably about 28 years, and it is thought that his son probably finished the construction of Menkaure's valley temple, once again proving that the commoners enjoyed this king's reign much more than the ones before him. His cult (worship) continued on for some time after his death.
5th Dynasty: 2575-2467 BC
SahureSahure was the second king of the king of the 5th dynasty. His reign started the decline of pyramid building, and his pyramid was not of as good a quality as those kings who died before him. Economic trade was strong during his reign, more than combat, and the Egyptians likely dealt with other foreign cultures for trade as well.
6th Dynasty: 2345-2184 BC
Although his reign was likely only about 12 years, Teti was the first king of the 6th Dynasty. Teti's wife was Queen Iput I, who was probably the daughter of the last king of the 5th Dynasty. There is very little known about Teti's reign, other than the fact that he may have been murdered.
Middle Kingdom - Times were good, and foreign trade was booming. Jewelrymaking techniques are refined during this period.
11th Dynasty: 2055-1987 BC
Mentuhotep II
Mentuhotep IIMentuhotep II is credited with uniting Egypt under one leader after the despair of the First Intermediate Period. Upper and Lower Egypt were now being ruled by just one king again. While his rule started off peaceful, it didn't stay that way forever, as there were some bloody battles fought while Mentuhotep II was king.
12th Dynasty: 1991-1759 BC
Amenemhet I
Amenemhet IAlthough he was not of royal blood, Amenemhet I was the first king of the 12th Dynasty. He was the vizier of the king before him, Mentuhotep IV. Either Mentuhotep IV had no heirs, or he was just a weak king, and upon his death the throne was up for grabs. Amenemhet, when he worked as the vizier, would prophesize of a great leader coming to power to lead the people to good fortune. Amenemhet was forseeing himself, and his reign lasted for 30 years.
Senusret III
Senruset III ruled over Egypt for about 37 years as the 12th Dynasty's 5th pharaoh. His statues showed him with very humanistic features, rather than the uptight looking god type statues of previous kings. He was likely very large, at over 6'6", and was a great warrior and active military leader. He restructured Egypt's local governments, taking a lot of power away from the high nobles, and giving some power to the middle class citizens. In Nubia, Senusret III was worshipped as a god.
New Kingdom - There is extreme prosperity and new trends in art and architecture (buildings). Toward the end of the 19th Dynasty, the priesthood gains a lot of power and corrupts the government, sending it into ruin. Tombs were robbed in the 20th Dynasty by head officials. The priesthood gains even more power.
18th Dynasty: 1539-1295 BC
Ahmose IAhmose I most likely became leader of Egypt at the tender young age of 10. His father and brother had both died, and that left him in line for the throne. His mother, Queen Ashotep was a powerful woman and probably shared in the ruling power until he was older. By age 20, he had led battles to help keep invaders out of Egypt, he lived to be about 35, and his mummy was found, though his pyramid never has been.
Thutmose I
Thutmose I came into power because he married the daughter of Ahmose I and Queen Ahmose Nefertary. This gave him rights to the throne. He was a successful military leader, but a commoner by birth. He campaigned against the Syrians, opening the route for trade and diplomacy in later times. His military campaigns and battles brought a sense of security to the Egyptians.
Thutmose II
Quite possibly a very weak man, Thutmose II took the throne after Thutmose I's (his father) death. He only ascended to the throne due to his two older brothers having died before him. He married Hatshepsut (his sister and cousin) to help establish his hold on Egypt as king, because she was powerful and well known. She was Thutmose I's daughter. Thutmose II declared his son, Thutmose III as his successor, but Hatshepsut took the throne upon his death, and is more of a well known pharaoh than her husband, Thutmose II ever was. Thutmose II's burial chamber has never been found, but his mummy was recovered from the royal cache of mummies at Deir al-Bahari.
HatshepsutHatshepsut was the first female pharaoh of Egypt, and the 5th pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. Until now, the women who were of royalty would marry a man, and the man would become Pharaoh. It is said that Hatshepsut made her appearance more masculine after she took the throne from Thutmose III. She also wore the male pharaoh's clothing. Mostly a peaceful pharaoh, she did lead a few expeditions and even participated in war to prove to the people of Egypt that she too, like the rest of her family, was a warrior pharaoh. When Thutmose III came to power and regained the throne, Hatshepsut all but disappeared from history. Thutmose III was bitter about Hatshepsut and tried to remove all traces of her from the monuments. Her body has never been found, but her temples are beautiful.
Thutmose III
Thutmose IIIThutmose III was heir to the throne when his father, Thutmose II died. His regent was Hatshepsut, Thutmose II's wife. Hatshepsut took the throne from Thutmose III and declared herself pharaoh until she died, at which time Thutmose III took his rightful position as pharaoh. He was likely a military man under Hatshepsut's rule. There must have been much bitterness and anger toward Hatshepsut, because when she died, Thutmose III destroyed all of the monuments to her, trying to erase her name from history. Thutmosis III's battles were recorded in lots of detail by his historian, marking him as a great pharaoh.
Amenhotep II
Amenhotep IIAn athletic young man, Amenhotep II probably reigned for most of his time as pharaoh pretty peacefully. In his early years, he led military battles to guarantee the peace for the later years. He built more temples and expanded on the monuments that were already there. There were likely many children that he fathered, but they are difficult to trace because he did not make his wives public. He also finished trying to wipe Hapshetsut's name from any monuments, to finish what his father, Thutmose III had started.
Amenhotep III
Amenhotep IIIAmenhotep III likely ruled for about 40 years as the 9th king of the 18th Dynasty. Egypt was very stable and properous during his reign. Egypt was pretty peaceful at this time too, and there weren't many military battles waged. Amenhotep III was likely a young boy when he was given the throne, and it is unknown who was acting as regent in charge during his early years. The kingdom propsered due to trade with other countries, and the royal family lived in luxury.
Amenhotep IV
Amenhotep IV was better known as Akhenaten. He married Nerfertiti who was a commoner, but the daughter of a vizier. They had several daughters, but their most famous child was their son, Tutenkhamen. Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten when he began to follow the worship of Aten rather than worshipping Amun like everyone else typically did. He died after about 16 years of reign as king, but his mummy has not been located. Experts are not sure if it was destroyed or hasnt been found yet.
TutankhamunQuite possibly born to Akhenaten, Tutankhamun was not as popular of a pharaoh as he seems to be today. He still is not very well known to the Egyptologists. King Tut was probably crowned king about age 9 so that Horemheb and Ay who were likely his caretakers, could take the rule. Scientists are not exactly sure why Tutenkhamun died at a young age either, though they think it might have been from a blow to the head or a deadly infection. He was buried in a small pyramid that was not well decorated like many who had passed on before him, though somehow, through the media hype, we still think of King Tut as a very popular Egyptian king.
horemhebAs the last king of the 18th Dynasty, little is known about who Horemheb's parents were. He became a strong military leader during the reign of Akhenaten. Horemheb was a very ambitious man, and when Ay died, he declared himself king, taking the throne. It is possible that Ay and Horemheb had Tutankhamen murdered before reaching adulthood so they could rule the kingdom themselves. Horemheb is credited with the restoration of tombs that had been ruined and robbed during his rule, and the leaders of the 19th Dynasty give him credit as their founder.
19th Dynasty: 1295-1187 BC
Seti I
Seti ISeti I was the son of Ramesses I and Queen Sitre. Seti I is known for his great building accomplishments in various temples. He was also a good military leader, leading expeditions to Syria. Seti I also led an attack on Syria and Lebanon to fight the Hittites. Seti I's mummy is one of the best preserved mummies to date. It was not located in his tomb, but in the royal cache at Deir al-Bahari.
Ramesses II
Ramesses IISeti I and Queen Tuya's heir to the throne was Ramesses II. He was the third king of the 19th Dynasty. He was called Ramesses the Great because he lived to be 96 years old and had 200 wives, 96 sons and 60 daughters. After his father died, he continued with the wars against Syria. The battles are shown as paintings in his temples. Ramesses II was buried in his own tomb when he died, but the priests systematically moved his body several times to keep common thieves from looting and destroying it.
merenptahMerenptah was the thirteenth son of Ramesses II. The first twelve heirs to the throne had already died by the time Ramesses II had passed on, because he lived to be so old. It is likely that Merenptah was in his sixties when he started his reign as king, and it likely didn't last for more than 10 years or so. Most of his reign was peaceful, but there were a few military battles between Syria and Lebanon, where he finished what his father had started against the Hittites. Merenptah's mummy was found in the royal cache at Deir al-Bahari.
Seti II
Ramesses IIISeti II is either the 5th or 6th ruler of the 19th Dynasty. His father was Merenptah and he took over reign when Merenptah, who was older when becoming king, died. Seti II may have ruled along with Amenemesses at the beginning of his reign, as Amenemesses tried to steal the throne for himself. Once Seti II had kicked Amenemesses out of power, Seti II's rule was likely a fairly peaceful one.
20th Dynasty: 1186-1069 BC
Ramesses III
Ramesses IIIRamesses III was the second king of the 20th Dynasty. He was one of the last great pharaohs of ancient Egyptian times. During his reign there was some economic trouble and Ramesses III also had to deal with a failed consipiracy to kill him. His harem of wives and others close to him went to trial and were accused of trying to murder the king. Many of them were put to death because of this. Ramesses III wife, Queen Tiy was put to death as a result of the trial. It was likely during the conspiracy trial that Ramesses III died himself, though its unknown what caused his death. The death of Ramsses III was the sign of the New Kingdom time period coming to an end.
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