God-Kings of the Nile

Egyptian civilization was the greatest civilization in the ancient world,  and certainly  the most  long  lived,  lasting for more  than 3000 years. In the popular mind the immediate images are those of the pyramids,  the great Sphinx at Giza,  the  enormous  temples and  the fabulous  treasures  that have been preserved  in  the dry  sand  of  Egypt.  But what of the people who were responsible for such splendors?The ancient Egyptian pharaohs were god-kings on earth who became gods in their own right at their death. They indeed held the power of life and  death  in  their hands - their symbols of  office,  the crook and flail,
are indicative of this. They could command resources that many a modern-day state would be hard pressed to emulate. One has only to conjure with some statistics  to  realize  this.  For example,  the Great Pyramid of
Khufu (Cheops) at Giza, originally 481 ft  (146 m) high and covering 13.1 acres  (5.3 hectares) was the tallest building in the world until the 19th century AD, yet it was constructed in the mid-3rd millennium BC,  and we  still  do  not know exactly how  it was  done.  Its  base area  is  so  vast that  it  can  accommodate  the cathedrals  of  Florence,  Milan,  St Paul's and Westminster Abbey in London  and  St  Peter's  in Rome,  and  still have some space left over.
The vast  treasures of precious metal and  Egyptian jewelry that, miraculously,  escaped  the attentions of  the tomb  robbers  are almost beyond comprehension. Tutankhamun's  solid gold  inner coffin  is  a priceless work
of  art;  even  at  current  scrap  gold  prices  by weight  it would  be worth almost £1  million  (£8.63  £892,262.27million)  and his gold  funerary mask £105,000 [).  He  was  just  a  minor  pharaoh  of  little  consequence  - the wealth  of  greater  pharaohs  such  as  Ramesses  II,  by  comparison,  is unimaginable.
The names of other great pharaohs resound down the centuries. The pyramid-builders numbered not merely Khufu, but his famous predecessor  Djoser  - whose  Step  Pyramid  dominates  the  royal  necropolis  at
Saqqara  - and  his  successors  Khafre  (Chephren)  and  Menkaure (Mycerinus).  Later  monarchs included  the  warriors  Tuthmosis  III (Thutmose III), Amenhotep  III,  and  Seti  I,  not  to mention  the  infamous  heretic-king Akhenaten. Yet  part  of  the  fascination  of  taking  a  broad approach  to Egyptian  history  is  the  emergence  of  lesser  names  and  fresh  themes. The importance of royal wives in a matrilineal society and the extent to which Egyptian queens could and did reign supreme in their own right  Sobekneferu, Hatshepsut,  and Twosret  to  name but  three  - is  only  the most prominent among several newly emergent themes.
The known  170 or more pharaohs were  all  part  of  a  line of  royalty that stretched back  to  c. 3100 BC  and forward  to  the  last of  the native  pharaohs who  died  in 343  BC,  to  be  succeeded by Persians  and  then  a  Greek line of Ptolemies until Cleopatra VII  committed suicide in 30 BC. Following  the  3rd-century  BC  High  Priest  of  Heliopolis,  Manetho  whose  list  of  Egyptian  kings  has  largely  survived  in  the writings  of Christian clerics  - we can divide much of  this  enormous  span of  time into 30 dynasties. Egyptologists  today group  these dynasties into longer eras,  the  three  major  pharaonic  periods  being  the
Old,  Middle  and  New  Kingdoms,  each  of  which ended  in  a  period  of  decline  given  the  designation
'Intermediate Period'.
In  Chronicle  of the  Pharaohs,  that  emotive  and incandescent  3000-year-old  thread  of  kingship  is
traced,  setting  the  rulers  in  their  context.  Where  possible,  we  gaze  upon  the  face  of  pharaoh,  either
via reliefs and statuary or,  in some rare and thought provoking  instances,  on  the  actual  face  of  the
mummy of  the royal  dead. Across  the centuries  the artist's  conception  reveals  to  us  the  god-like  com
placency  of  the  Old  Kingdom  pharaohs,  the  care worn  faces of the rulers of the Middle Kingdom, and
the powerful and confident  features  of  the militant  New Kingdom  pharaohs.  Such  was  their  power  in
Egypt,  and  at  times  throughout  the  ancient  Near East,  that Shelley's words,  'Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!',  do  indeed ring  true as a reflection of  their omnipotence.
Egypt and  the Nile 
Egypt  is a  land of extreme geographical contrasts, recognized by  the ancient Egyptians  in  the names that  they gave to  the two diametrically opposed areas. The rich  narrow agricultural strip alongside  the Nile was called Kmt (Kemet or Kermet), 'The Black Land', while the  inhospitable desert was Dsrt (Desert today),  'The Red Land'. Often, in Upper Egypt,  the desert  reaches  the water's edge. 
There was also a division between  the north and the south,  the line being drawn  roughly  in  the area of modern Cairo. To  the north was Lower Egypt where  the Nile  fanned out, with  its several mouths,  to  form  the Delta (the name coming from  its inverted shape of the foutb  letter, delta,  of  the Greek alphabet). To tbe south was Upper Egypt,  stretching to Elephantine (modern Aswan). The two kingdoms, Upper and Lower Egypt, were united in c.3100 BC,  but each had  their own regalia. The low Red Crown (the deshret)  represented Lower Egypt and its symbol was  the papyrus plant. Upper Egypt was represented by  the  tall White Crown (the hedjet),  its symbol being the flowering lotus. The combined Red  and White crowns became the shmty. The two lands could also be  embodied in The Two Ladies,  respectively  the cobra 
goddess Wadjet of Buto, and  the vulture goddess Nekhbet of Nekheb. 

God-Kings of the Nile

Egyptian civilization was the greatest civilization in the ancient world,  and certainly  the most  long  lived,  lasting for more  than 3000 years. In the popular mind the immediate images are those of the pyramids,  the great Sphinx at Giza,  the  enormous  temples and  the fabulous  treasures  that have been preserved  in  the dry  sand  of  Egypt.  But what of the people who were responsible for such splendors?The ancient Egyptian pharaohs were god-kings on earth who became gods in their own right at their death. They indeed held the power of life and  death  in  their hands - their symbols of  office,  the crook and flail,
are indicative of this. They could command resources that many a modern-day state would be hard pressed to emulate. One has only to conjure with some statistics  to  realize  this.  For example,  the Great Pyramid of
Khufu (Cheops) at Giza, originally 481 ft  (146 m) high and covering 13.1 acres  (5.3 hectares) was the tallest building in the world until the 19th century AD, yet it was constructed in the mid-3rd millennium BC,  and we  still  do  not know exactly how  it was  done.  Its  base area  is  so  vast that  it  can  accommodate  the cathedrals  of  Florence,  Milan,  St Paul's and Westminster Abbey in London  and  St  Peter's  in Rome,  and  still have some space left over.
The vast  treasures of precious metal and  Egyptian jewelry that, miraculously,  escaped  the attentions of  the tomb  robbers  are almost beyond comprehension. Tutankhamun's  solid gold  inner coffin  is  a priceless work
of  art;  even  at  current  scrap  gold  prices  by weight  it would  be worth almost £1  million  (£8.63  £892,262.27million)  and his gold  funerary mask £105,000 [).  He  was  just  a  minor  pharaoh  of  little  consequence  - the wealth  of  greater  pharaohs  such  as  Ramesses  II,  by  comparison,  is unimaginable.
The names of other great pharaohs resound down the centuries. The pyramid-builders numbered not merely Khufu, but his famous predecessor  Djoser  - whose  Step  Pyramid  dominates  the  royal  necropolis  at
Saqqara  - and  his  successors  Khafre  (Chephren)  and  Menkaure (Mycerinus).  Later  monarchs included  the  warriors  Tuthmosis  III (Thutmose III), Amenhotep  III,  and  Seti  I,  not  to mention  the  infamous  heretic-king Akhenaten. Yet  part  of  the  fascination  of  taking  a  broad approach  to Egyptian  history  is  the  emergence  of  lesser  names  and  fresh  themes. The importance of royal wives in a matrilineal society and the extent to which Egyptian queens could and did reign supreme in their own right  Sobekneferu, Hatshepsut,  and Twosret  to  name but  three  - is  only  the most prominent among several newly emergent themes.
The known  170 or more pharaohs were  all  part  of  a  line of  royalty that stretched back  to  c. 3100 BC  and forward  to  the  last of  the native  pharaohs who  died  in 343  BC,  to  be  succeeded by Persians  and  then  a  Greek line of Ptolemies until Cleopatra VII  committed suicide in 30 BC. Following  the  3rd-century  BC  High  Priest  of  Heliopolis,  Manetho  whose  list  of  Egyptian  kings  has  largely  survived  in  the writings  of Christian clerics  - we can divide much of  this  enormous  span of  time into 30 dynasties. Egyptologists  today group  these dynasties into longer eras,  the  three  major  pharaonic  periods  being  the
Old,  Middle  and  New  Kingdoms,  each  of  which ended  in  a  period  of  decline  given  the  designation
'Intermediate Period'.
In  Chronicle  of the  Pharaohs,  that  emotive  and incandescent  3000-year-old  thread  of  kingship  is
traced,  setting  the  rulers  in  their  context.  Where  possible,  we  gaze  upon  the  face  of  pharaoh,  either
via reliefs and statuary or,  in some rare and thought provoking  instances,  on  the  actual  face  of  the
mummy of  the royal  dead. Across  the centuries  the artist's  conception  reveals  to  us  the  god-like  com
placency  of  the  Old  Kingdom  pharaohs,  the  care worn  faces of the rulers of the Middle Kingdom, and
the powerful and confident  features  of  the militant  New Kingdom  pharaohs.  Such  was  their  power  in
Egypt,  and  at  times  throughout  the  ancient  Near East,  that Shelley's words,  'Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!',  do  indeed ring  true as a reflection of  their omnipotence.
Egypt and  the Nile 
Egypt  is a  land of extreme geographical contrasts, recognized by  the ancient Egyptians  in  the names that  they gave to  the two diametrically opposed areas. The rich  narrow agricultural strip alongside  the Nile was called Kmt (Kemet or Kermet), 'The Black Land', while the  inhospitable desert was Dsrt (Desert today),  'The Red Land'. Often, in Upper Egypt,  the desert  reaches  the water's edge. 
There was also a division between  the north and the south,  the line being drawn  roughly  in  the area of modern Cairo. To  the north was Lower Egypt where  the Nile  fanned out, with  its several mouths,  to  form  the Delta (the name coming from  its inverted shape of the foutb  letter, delta,  of  the Greek alphabet). To tbe south was Upper Egypt,  stretching to Elephantine (modern Aswan). The two kingdoms, Upper and Lower Egypt, were united in c.3100 BC,  but each had  their own regalia. The low Red Crown (the deshret)  represented Lower Egypt and its symbol was  the papyrus plant. Upper Egypt was represented by  the  tall White Crown (the hedjet),  its symbol being the flowering lotus. The combined Red  and White crowns became the shmty. The two lands could also be  embodied in The Two Ladies,  respectively  the cobra 
goddess Wadjet of Buto, and  the vulture goddess Nekhbet of Nekheb. 

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