ruler of Ancient Egypt

As ancient Egyptian rulers, pharaohs were both the heads of state and the religious leaders of their people. The word “pharaoh” means “Great House,” a reference to the palace where the pharaoh resides. While early Egyptian rulers were called “kings,” over time, the name “pharaoh” stuck.

Pharaoh of Egypt
The Pschent combined the Red Crown of Lower Egypt and the White Crown of Upper Egypt
A typical depiction of a pharaoh usually showed the king wearing the nemes headdress, a false beard, and an ornate shendyt (skirt)
(after Djoser of the Third Dynasty)
StyleFive-name titulary
His Majesty
First monarchKing Narmer or King Menes (by tradition)
(first use of the term pharaoh for a king, rather than the royal palace, was c.1210 B.C. with Merneptah during the nineteenth dynasty)
Last monarch
Formationc. 3150 BC
  • 343 BC
    (last native pharaoh)[1]
  • 30 BC
    (last Greek pharaohs)
  • 314 AD
    (last Roman Emperor to be called pharaoh)[2]
ResidenceVaries by era
AppointerDivine right
"Great house"
in hieroglyphs




"King of Upper
and Lower Egypt"
in hieroglyphs

As the religious leader of the Egyptians, the pharaoh was considered the divine intermediary between the gods and Egyptians. Maintaining religious harmony and participating in ceremonies were part of the pharaoh’s role as head of the religion. As a statesman, the pharaoh made laws, waged war, collected taxes, and oversaw all the land in Egypt (which was owned by the pharaoh).

Many scholars believe the first pharaoh was Narmer, also called Menes. Though there is some debate among experts, many believe he was the first ruler to unite upper and lower Egypt (this is why pharaohs hold the title of “lord of two lands”). Pharaohs were typically male, although there were some noteworthy female leaders, like Hatshepsut and Cleopatra. Hatshepsut, in particular, was a successful ruler, but many inscriptions and monuments about her were destroyed after her death—perhaps to stop future women from becoming pharaohs.

After their deaths, many pharaohs were entombed and surrounded by riches they were meant to use in the afterlife. Explorers and archaeologists have discovered these tombs and learned a great deal about ancient Egyptian society from them. One very famous example was in 1922 when archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamen, a pharaoh who died when he was only nineteen.



Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Hatshepsut was the second historically confirmed female pharaoh. She came to the throne in 1478 BC. This masks presents the idealized forms of Hatshepsut's face, perfect features with equal symmetry!

King Tutankhamun


King Tutankhamun was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who ruled between 1334 - 1325 BC. Tutankhamun was the last of his royal family to rule during the end of the 18th Dynasty.

Cleopatra VII


Cleopatra VII was the queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt. The Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt was an ancient Hellenistic state. Cleopatra’s leadership saw her forestall the fall of Egypt to the Roman Empire.

Amenhotep III


Amenhotep III was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. He ruled Egypt from June 1386 to 1349 BC. He reigned during the peak of Egypt's artistic and international power.

King Narmer


King Narmer was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Early Dynastic Period. Scholars have considered Narmer the unifier of Egypt and founder of the First Dynasty.

Ramesses III


Ramesses III was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty in Ancient Egypt. Ramesses III reigned from 1186 to 1155 BC and is believed to have been the last great monarch of the New Kingdom to wield power over Egypt.

Thutmose I


Thutmose I was the third pharaoh of the eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Thutmose I campaigned deep into the Levant and Nubia, pushing the borders of Egypt farther than before.

Pepi I Meryre


Pepi I Meryre was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh and the third king of the Sixth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled for over forty years during the 24th and 23rd centuries BC, towards the end of the Old Kingdom Period.

King Userkaf


Userkaf was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and the founder of the Fifth Dynasty. Userkaf reigned during the Old Kingdom Period for seven to eight years in early 25th century BC. It is believed that Userkaf may have been a high priest of Ra before ascending to the throne.



Djedefre was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh king of the 4th Dynasty during the Old Kingdom. Djedefre was the son and immediate throne successor of Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Queen Nefertiti


Nefertiti was a queen of the 18th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt and the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten. Nefertiti and her husband were known to lead a religious revolution as the couple only believed in one god, Aten, the disc of the sun.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Clayton 1995, p. 217. "Although paying lip-service to the old ideas and religion, in varying degrees, pharaonic Egypt had in effect died with the last native pharaoh, Nectanebo II in 343 BC"
  2. 2.0 2.1 von Beckerath, Jürgen (1999). Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen. Verlag Philipp von Zabern. pp. 266–267. ISBN 978-3422008328.