Ancient Egypt was one a thriving civilization, lasting over 3,000 years. The pharaoh that was the leader was thought to be both a man and a god. There were about 170+ pharaohs that were the leaders of Egypt, and it covered over thirty dynasties.
There were many cases where the title had to be given to the closest male relative. Only males were supposed to have the title of pharaoh, but if the pharaoh was a young child, the wife of the former pharaoh would step in as ‘regent’ and make the decisions for him. In one case, a woman took the title of regent and then assigned herself the title of pharaoh. Hatshepsut was the first known female pharaoh in the history of Egypt. Later in time, Cleopatra gave herself the same title.
Egyptologists (the people that study ancient Egypt) haven’t agreed as to who the first pharaoh was. Some think it may have been a man named Aha, while others believe that it was someone named Menes. Each time a new pharaoh family takes the throne it is referred to as a ‘dynasty’ and there is not much information available on the first and second dynasties. Archeologists have found a record called the Palermo stone that is a tablet containing some of the names of the pharaohs but it isn’t complete.
Because the pharaoh was considered to be a god, his duties included making sure the people were safe and the country made a profit. Many pharaohs did this by making war and conquering nearby cultures so that they could take their wealth and make sure they couldn’t attack them. Other pharaohs took a more peaceful choice and established good relations as well as trade with other countries.
People in the time of ancient Egypt thought that they needed to strengthen the bloodline of the pharaoh and they did this by marrying many of their own family members. They didn’t know the biology that we know today and that what they were actually doing was causing the line to weaken. Many of the pharaohs had children that died at birth or had sever medical problems.
When a pharaoh took the throne it was tradition that they begin working on their burial tomb. This is because it took so many years to build and create the very large structures. The pharaoh usually selected the location of the tomb. Traveling up the Nile River, they would choose a place on the west side of the Nile. Many of the tombs of the pharaohs have been discovered in an area known as the ‘Valley of the Kings’, but due to grave robbing, it is believed that there are more hidden tombs that are yet to be found.
In the class system of the ancient Egyptians, the pharaoh was at the top. Most pharaohs had one main wife that was the queen, but might have other wives as well. The oldest male child would be the heir to the throne. This rule cause a lot of problems as it encouraged people to murder the heir so that the next boy in line could become the pharaoh.
A pharaoh was believed to be able to speak to the gods, therefore, anything that the pharaoh requested was obeyed. There were groups of advisors that helped the pharaoh in making decisions. The pharaoh also had the temple priests to advise him.
The most famous pharaoh today is Tutankhamen, who is also called King Tut. His tomb was one of the few that was discovered that had not been robbed of all of its treasure. King Tut took the throne as a boy and then mysteriously died at the age of 18. His death was so sudden and unexpected that some of the burial tomb items are believed to have actually belonged to other kings, and they recurved and applied his name to them.