The Pharaohs were the ancient rulers of Egypt. They wielded a tremendous amount of power and influence over both the land and the people who lived there.
These pharaohs were revered as living gods who were entrusted with the duty of preserving Ma’at, also known as the equilibrium of the universe.
Egypt was controlled by a great number of prominent pharaohs over the course of multiple dynasties. These pharaohs left behind spectacular legacies in the form of enormous buildings, temples, and tombs during their reigns.
Historians and archaeologists have devoted a significant amount of time and energy to researching the pharaohs and their reigns because of the significant impact they had on the political, social, and cultural environment of ancient Egypt.
The achievements, military victories, and construction endeavors of several of these pharaohs have helped to make them famous and beloved throughout history.
The magnificent structures that these ancient Egyptian pharaohs built are still standing today, and their influence can also be seen in the country’s art, literature, and religious practices.
Famous Egyptian Pharaohs
Tutankhamun, usually known as King Tut, was an 18th dynasty Egyptian pharaoh who ruled from 1332 BC to 1323 BC. He succeeded to the throne at an early age, perhaps nine or ten years old, and his reign was relatively brief and unremarkable until his tomb was discovered in 1922.
British archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, and it was discovered to be virtually complete, containing a wealth of treasures and artifacts.
The discovery of his tomb, which had been buried for nearly 3,000 years, was a huge archaeological accomplishment that revealed new insight on ancient Egypt’s art, religion, and culture.
Also Read: Facts About the Pharaohs
A solid gold death mask, jewelry, furniture, swords, and chariots were among the goods discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb. The tomb also housed a collection of food, wine, and other commodities thought to be necessary for the pharaoh’s journey to the afterlife, as well as a number of canopic jars containing the pharaoh’s organs.
In terms of military conquests or architectural projects, Tutankhamun’s reign was essentially unremarkable, and historians believe he was a weak ruler who was eclipsed by his advisors.
Yet, the discovery of his tomb has elevated him to the status of one of ancient Egypt’s most famous and well-known pharaohs. Many of the riches discovered in his tomb are now on exhibit in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, where they continue to captivate and inspire people all over the world.
2. Cleopatra VII
Cleopatra VII, sometimes known as Cleopatra Philopator, was the final Egyptian pharaoh, ruling from 51 BC to 30 BC. She was born into the governing Ptolemaic dynasty, which had been formed following Alexander the Great’s death by one of his generals.
Cleopatra was famous for her beauty and brilliance, as well as her relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. As she fled to Rome after her brother attempted to depose her, she became Caesar’s lover and political ally. She returned to Egypt with Caesar and gave birth to a son named Caesarion.
Following Caesar’s assassination, Cleopatra allied herself with Mark Antony, one of Caesar’s generals and the ruler of the eastern provinces. She became Antony’s lover and political ally, and they had three children together.
As Antony’s political opponent, Octavian, launched war on Egypt, their relationship soured. After being defeated at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide the next year. Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire after Octavian became the first Roman Emperor.
Cleopatra was well-known for her brilliance and ability to communicate in a variety of languages, including Greek, Egyptian, and Roman. Her sponsorship of the arts and sciences was equally well-known, and her court was a hub of scholarship and culture.
Cleopatra’s legacy has inspired innumerable works of art and literature, and she remains one of ancient history’s most famous and memorable personalities. Over the years, her narrative has been idealized and mythologized, and her image has come to signify beauty, power, and femininity.
3. Ramses II
Ramses II, often known as Ramses the Great, was an Egyptian 19th dynasty pharaoh who reigned from 1279 BC to 1213 BC. He is one of Egypt’s most famous and powerful pharaohs, and his reign is generally referred to as the “golden period” of Egyptian civilization.
Ramses II was well-known for his military battles, large-scale construction projects, and diplomatic contacts. During his long reign, he led multiple military campaigns against the Hittites and other bordering states, and it is estimated that he fought in over 100 wars.
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Ramses II was a prolific builder who commissioned numerous large temples, statues, and monuments around Egypt, in addition to his military exploits. The temple complex at Abu Simbel, which boasts four colossal sculptures of Ramses II cut into the rock face, is perhaps his most famous architecture effort.
Ramses II was also noted for his diplomatic contacts, and it is thought that through diplomatic marriages and other ways, he created alliances with surrounding states. The Treaty of Kadesh, the world’s first recorded peace treaty, was signed by him and the Hittites.
Ramses II was also a religious leader who commissioned countless great temples and monuments to ancient Egyptian gods. Throughout his reign, he promoted the worship of other gods, believing himself to be the living embodiment of the god Horus.
Ramses II’s legacy has inspired innumerable works of art and literature, and he remains one of ancient Egypt’s most famous and memorable pharaohs.
His construction achievements and military battles left an indelible impact on Egypt, and his reign is frequently regarded as the pinnacle of Egyptian civilization.
Hatshepsut was an Egyptian pharaoh who reigned from 1479 BC to 1458 BC, during Egypt’s 18th dynasty. She is one of Egypt’s few female pharaohs, and she is noted for her successful reign and construction achievements.
Hatshepsut was the daughter of King Thutmose I and married her half-brother, Thutmose II, who succeeded their father as pharaoh after his death. Hatshepsut became regent for her infant stepson, Thutmose III, after Thutmose II died, but later crowned herself pharaoh and ruled in her own right.
Hatshepsut is remembered for her prosperous reign, during which she stimulated trade, commissioned several construction projects, and established diplomatic contacts with surrounding powers.
She was also a prolific builder, commissioning a plethora of temples, statues, and monuments around Egypt. The temple at Deir el-Bahri, famed for its massive architecture and spectacular reliefs, is perhaps her most famous building accomplishment.
Hatshepsut was especially well-known for her support of the arts, and her court was a hub of study and culture. She is thought to have commissioned various works of art, including depictions of herself as a male pharaoh, complete with beard and conventional male clothes.
Upon Hatshepsut’s death, her successor, Thutmose III, attempted to remove her legacy from history, defacing or destroying many of her statues and monuments. Her legacy, however, has been perpetuated through archaeological findings and ancient historians’ works.
Hatshepsut is remembered today as one of Egypt’s most successful pharaohs and a trailblazing female monarch who questioned established gender stereotypes. Her construction initiatives and cultural patronage made an indelible effect on Egypt, and her narrative continues to inspire people all around the world.
Akhenaten was an Egyptian pharaoh who reigned from 1353 BC to 1336 BC during Egypt’s 18th dynasty. He is well known for his attempt to convert Egypt’s religion from polytheism to worship of a single god, Aten.
Amenhotep IV was his birth name, but he changed it to Akhenaten to represent his new religious convictions. He held that the sun disc, Aten, was the only god worthy of worship, and he pushed Aten worship above all others.
Akhenaten commissioned various temples and monuments around Egypt to promote his new religion, notably the city of Akhetaten, which was dedicated to the worship of Aten. He also pioneered new artistic techniques based on naturalism and realism, with an emphasis on the human body.
Despite his efforts to popularize his new religion, Akhenaten’s reign was fraught with controversy and hostility. Many of the traditional polytheistic religion’s priests and authorities resisted his reforms, and his new creative techniques were also divisive.
Upon Akhenaten’s death, his successors abandoned his religious reforms and reinstated Egypt’s original polytheistic faith. Several of his temples and monuments were demolished, and his name was wiped out of history.
Yet, Akhenaten’s legacy has recently been rediscovered and praised. His endeavor to construct a new monotheistic religion represented a significant departure from conventional Egyptian beliefs, and his aesthetic forms continue to inspire artists and designers worldwide.
6. Thutmose III
Thutmose III was an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled during the 18th dynasty from 1479 BC to 1425 BC. He is remembered for his military campaigns and the extension of Egypt’s empire.
Thutmose III was the son of Thutmose II and Hatshepsut, the regent during his childhood. Upon Hatshepsut’s death, Thutmose III ascended to the throne and launched a series of military expeditions to expand the Egyptian empire.
Thutmose III led approximately 15 military expeditions during his reign, most notably against the kingdoms of Mitanni, Nubia, and Syria. He was famous for his tactical brilliance and inventive military methods, including as dividing his army into small, mobile groups to surprise and overwhelm his opponents.
Thutmose III was a patron of the arts and architecture in addition to his military conquests. He commissioned several building projects throughout Egypt, notably the expansion and decoration of the Karnak temple complex with new reliefs and statues.
Thutmose III’s reign is often regarded as the pinnacle of Egyptian culture, and his military conquests and construction achievements left an indelible impact on Egypt. He is regarded as one of Egypt’s finest pharaohs, and his legacy continues to inspire people all around the world.
7. Amenhotep III
Amenhotep III was an Egyptian pharaoh who reigned from 1386 BC to 1353 BC during Egypt’s 18th dynasty. He is well-known for his large construction projects and diplomatic contacts with neighboring countries.
Amenhotep III, the son of Thutmose IV and Mutemwiya, ascended to the throne at an early age. Across Egypt, he commissioned several building projects, including the Temple of Luxor, which was devoted to the god Amun.
Amenhotep III was also a patron of the arts and architecture. He commissioned numerous statues and monuments, including the Colossi of Memnon, two gigantic stone statues of himself that stand at the entrance to his temple complex.
Amenhotep III was a competent diplomat who maintained favorable relations with neighboring powers such as the Hittites, Babylonians, and Mitanni, in addition to his building endeavors. He married princesses from these realms in diplomatic marriages, which helped to enhance his political relationships.
Amenhotep III’s reign is widely considered as a period of prosperity and stability in Egyptian history, and his construction projects and diplomatic connections left an indelible impact on Egypt. His son, Amenhotep IV, succeeded him and eventually changed his name to Akhenaten, attempting to create a new monotheistic religion to Egypt.
8. Seti I
Seti I was an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled from 1290 BC to 1279 BC during Egypt’s 19th dynasty. He is well-known for his military exploits, construction projects, and restoration of order following a period of instability.
Seti I was the son of Ramses I and Queen Sitre, and he ascended to the throne following his brother Amenmesse’s brief reign. Throughout his reign, he waged multiple military campaigns against the Libyans, Nubians, and other bordering powers.
Seti I was also a prolific constructor, commissioning a plethora of temples and monuments around Egypt. He was in charge of building the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak’s temple complex, which has gigantic columns and detailed reliefs depicting scenes from Egyptian mythology.
In addition to his construction endeavors, Seti I was a religious leader who encouraged the worship of ancient Egypt’s old gods. He believed it was his job to maintain Ma’at, the universe’s balance, and commissioned innumerable temples and monuments to the gods.
Seti I is also noted for restoring order in Egypt following a period of turbulence and insurrection. He led a number of military battles to quash uprisings and secure his authority, and he is credited for restoring the country’s peace and prosperity.
Seti I’s reign is widely recognized as a period of rebirth and restoration in Egyptian history, and his construction projects and military battles left an indelible impact on Egypt. He was followed by his son, Ramses II, who went on to become one of Egypt’s most famous and powerful pharaohs.
9. Ramesses III
Ramesses III was an Egyptian pharaoh who reigned from 1186 BC to 1155 BC during Egypt’s 20th dynasty. He is remembered for his military expeditions, construction initiatives, and successful defense against the Sea Peoples.
Ramesses III ascended to the throne as the son of Setnakhte and Queen Tiy-Merenese following a period of political turbulence and instability. Throughout his reign, he waged multiple military campaigns against the Libyans, Nubians, and other bordering powers.
Ramesses III was also a prodigious constructor, commissioning a plethora of temples and monuments around Egypt. He was in charge of building Medinet Habu’s temple complex, which has gigantic walls, stunning reliefs, and elaborate hieroglyphs.
Ramesses III is remembered for his victorious defense against the Sea Peoples, a group of seafaring invaders that attacked coastal cities throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Ramesses III led a successful war against the Sea Peoples, pushing them out of Egypt after defeating them in a huge naval battle.
Ramesses III’s reign is often considered as a period of stability and prosperity in Egyptian history, and his construction projects and military battles left an indelible impact on the country. His son, Ramesses IV, succeeded him and carried on many of his father’s policies and construction initiatives.
Khufu, commonly known as Cheops, was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who ruled during Egypt’s 4th dynasty, from around 2589 BC to 2566 BC. He is primarily remembered for commissioning the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Ancient World’s Seven Wonders.
The Great Pyramid of Giza, commonly known as the Pyramid of Khufu, was the largest and most ambitious of the Old Kingdom pyramids. It is thought to have taken 20 years to build, with tens of thousands of people and vast volumes of limestone stones.
Khufu was also in charge of various other construction projects around Egypt, such as temples, shrines, and fortresses. He was well-known for his military campaigns, particularly against the Nubians, as well as his support for the arts and religion.
Despite his many accomplishments, Khufu was not universally adored by his subjects. According to some historians, he was a brutal monarch who compelled his citizens to labor on his building projects against their choice. Others, on the other hand, say that his reign was marked by stability and prosperity, and that his construction projects provided much-needed employment and infrastructure for his citizens.
Khufu is known today as one of ancient Egypt’s most famous and powerful pharaohs, and the Great Pyramid of Giza remains one of the most recognizable and enduring emblems of Egyptian culture.
Sneferu was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who reigned from roughly 2613 BC to 2589 BC during Egypt’s 4th dynasty. He is well-known for commissioning several construction projects, including several pyramids, as well as for leading victorious military expeditions.
Sneferu was the first pharaoh to order the construction of a genuine pyramid, and throughout his reign, he oversaw the construction of three pyramids: the Meidum Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid, and the Red Pyramid.
The Bent Pyramid is so named because of its distinctive shape, which transitions from a high angle to a more moderate slope halfway up the structure.
Sneferu was a successful military leader who led multiple operations against the Nubians and other bordering states, in addition to his construction endeavors. He is known to have taken several prisoners of war and used them as labor on his construction projects.
Sneferu’s reign is widely considered as a period of prosperity and expansion in ancient Egypt, and his construction projects and military battles left an indelible impact on the kingdom. His successors, especially Khufu, who built the Great Pyramid of Giza, developed and improved on his pyramid-building techniques.
Despite his tremendous accomplishments, much of Sneferu’s reign remains a mystery, and historians continue to argue his legacy and impact on Egyptian history.
12. Pepi II
Pepi II was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who reigned from roughly 2278 BC to 2184 BC during Egypt’s 6th dynasty. He is remembered for his long reign, which lasted nearly 94 years, making him one of the world’s longest-reigning monarchs.
Pepi II came to the kingdom at the age of six, following the death of his father, Pepi I. He was first placed under the regency of his mother, Queen Ankhesenpepi II, but when he reached adulthood, he took complete control of the realm.
Pepi II led an era of prosperity and stability in ancient Egypt during his reign, commissioning numerous architectural projects. He maintained diplomatic contacts with surrounding powers and is known to have exchanged gifts and letters with Nubian and Near Eastern pharaohs.
Pepi II was also noted for his sponsorship of the arts, and his reign is associated with the development of ancient Egyptian literature and poetry. He is believed to have supported several scribes and poets, and some of their works have survived to this day.
Pepi II’s reign was not without controversy, despite his long reign and several accomplishments. The kingdom was plagued by political turbulence and economic instability near the end of his reign, and his grasp on power diminished as a result.
Pepi II is known today as one of Egypt’s most famous and longest-reigning pharaohs, and his sponsorship of the arts and construction projects left an indelible impression on the kingdom. His reign continues to fascinate historians and scholars, and his legacy continues to inspire people all across the world.
13. Seti II
Seti II was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who ruled during Egypt’s 19th dynasty, from roughly 1200 BC until 1194 BC. He is remembered for his brief rule and battles to keep control of the kingdom.
Seti II was the son of Merneptah and Queen Takhat, and he ascended to the throne after his father died. Political upheaval and revolt characterized his reign, as numerous authorities and regional leaders strove to exert their own authority.
Amenmesse, a high-ranking official who may have been a usurper or a co-ruler, was one of the most major challenges to Seti II’s rule. Amenmesse founded his own court and attacked Seti II’s power, but he was defeated and Seti II regained control of the country.
Seti II commissioned major building projects and supported the arts and religion during his reign. At Karnak, he erected a temple to the god Amun and commissioned several statues and reliefs depicting himself and his family in various positions and locations.
Despite his efforts to keep the kingdom under his control, Seti II’s reign was marked by instability and conflict, and he was eventually replaced by his son, Siptah.
Notwithstanding these difficulties, Seti II is acknowledged as an important character in Egyptian history, and his construction projects and support of the arts continue to captivate historians and students today.
14. Thutmose IV
Thutmose IV was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who reigned from roughly 1401 BC to 1391 BC during Egypt’s 18th dynasty. He is well-known for his military battles, construction endeavors, and his renowned dream stela.
Thutmose IV was the son of Amenhotep II and Tiaa, and he ascended to the throne after his father died. He waged a number of military campaigns against the Nubians and other bordering states during his reign, and he is reported to have captured numerous prisoners of war who were utilized as laborers on his construction projects.
The Dream Stele, a massive stone monument erected by Thutmose IV between the paws of the Great Sphinx at Giza, recounts one of the most famous occurrences of his reign.
Thutmose IV had a dream in which the Sphinx spoke to him and promised to make him king in exchange for his assistance in restoring the Sphinx to its former splendour, according to the inscription on the stela.
Thutmose IV claimed to have fulfilled this promise by cleaning the sand from surrounding the Sphinx, and he then had the Dream Stele constructed to celebrate his feat.
Thutmose IV was also in charge of several construction projects throughout Egypt, notably the expansion and decoration of the Temple of Karnak with new sculptures and reliefs.
Despite his tremendous accomplishments, Thutmose IV’s rule was relatively brief, and he was followed by his son, Amenhotep III, who went on to become one of Egypt’s most powerful and well-known pharaohs.
15. Senusret I
Senusret I was the second pharaoh of Egypt’s Twelfth Dynasty. He ruled from 1971 BC to 1926 BC and was one of the Dynasty’s most formidable kings.
Senusret I was the son of Amenemhat I. His prenomen, Kheperkare, means “the Ka of Re is produced.” He extended Egypt, allowing him to govern over a prosperous era.
In his 10th and 18th years, he maintained his father’s aggressive expansionist policy against Nubia by leading two excursions into the region and establishing Egypt’s formal southern border near the second cataract, where he erected a garrison and a triumph stele.
He also planned a trip to a Western Desert oasis. Senusret I maintained diplomatic connections with the kings of certain Syrian and Canaanite towns. He also attempted to concentrate the country’s political system by allying himself with nomarchs.
His pyramid was built in el-Lisht. Senusret I is mentioned in the Tale of Sinuhe as having raced returned to the royal palace in Memphis from a military expedition in Libya after learning of his father, Amenemhat I’s, assassination.