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Netjerykhet (Djoser)
2630-2611 B.C., 3rd Dynasty
The second king of the 3rd Dynasty was Netjerykhet, the son of Khasekhemwy. Also known as
Djoser, he ruled for almost two decades and is accredited with building the Step Pyramid at
Saqqara. The king's vizier, Imhotep, was the architect of that great tomb, and of the magnificent
Funerary Complex of Djoser at Saqqara. Egypt experienced a seven year famine during Djoser's
reign, so he sought the counsel of Imhotep and one of his governors, Medir, and agreed to travel to
Elephantine at Aswan. Once there he erected a temple to the god Khnum, who was said to have
controlled the flow of the Nile. The famine ended, miraculously enough, and people believed it was
due to this act of faith.
2575-2551 B.C., 4th Dynasty
The first king of the 4th Dynasty was an active military leader. His campaigns against the Nubians
and the Libyans are recorded on the Palermo Stone. He began trade with the Mediterranean nations
and initiated a series of construction projects throughout Egypt. To supply Egypt with timber, he
sent a fleet of forty ships to Lebanon. While there, he erected monuments to commemorate the
event. He built his mortuary complex at Dashur, including the Maidum Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid,
and the Red Pyramid. The bent pyramid is thought to be an architectural link between the Step
Pyramid and the true pyramids. Snofru was deified by the kings of the 12th Dynasty. Many of the
rulers of that time built their own mortuary complexes beside his.
Khufu (Cheops)
2551-2528 B.C., 4th Dynasty
Cheops was the second king of the 4th Dynasty and was the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Khufu was succeeded by Radjedef, his son by a lessor wife, whose reign was abruptly ended. He
was succeeded by Khephren, Khufu's son by Queen Henutsen. A miniature statue of Khufu is on
display at the Cairo Museum. This is the only likeness of him known to be in existence.
Montuhotep II (Nebheptre)
2007-1956 B.C., 11th Dynasty
Montuhotep II was not only the fourth king of the 11th Dynasty but also the first king of the Middle
Kingdom. Montuhotep took the city of Herakleopolis, which was the capital of the kings of the rival
10th Dynasty. This victory established the rule of the land from Thebes. He fought against the
Libyans in the Delta and the Asiatics in the Sinai. He built his mortuary complex at Deir el Bahri
where he and his wives and members of his court were buried. The sarcophagi contained important
information about the Egyptian language at the close of the First Intermediate Period. Also
discovered at Deir el Bahri were the bodies of 60 soldiers, all having died of battle wounds. They
wore shrouds marked with cartouches and seals of Montuhotep II.
Amenhotep I (Djeserkare)
1514-1493 B.C., 18th Dynasty
The son of Ahmose and Queen Ahmose Nefretiri was the second king of the 18th Dynasty. Facing a
Libyan uprising his first year as king, Amenhotep successfully overcame the Libyans on two
occasions and prevented an invasion in the Delta area. Next in line for battle were the Nubians.
Upon his victory, Amenhotep brought captives back to Thebes. Amenhotep was given the rare
honor of being declared a titular god upon his death by the priests. His accomplishments included
elaborate building complexes at the Karnak Temple in Thebes. He utilized different types of stone
including alabaster from Hatnub. He repaired and restored many ancient temples along the Nile. He
was the first pharaoh to build his tomb separate from the temple. Because of the looting of tombs,
he had his built in an inconspicuous place in Thebes. Amenhotep’s son died in infancy so his
military commander Thutmose, who was married to the king’s sister, assumed the throne upon
Amenhotep’s death.
Thutmose I (Akheperkare)
1493-1481 B.C., 18th Dynasty
The third king of the 18th Dynasty was a commoner by birth. He had married Ahmose, a sister of
Amenhotep I, and was named king when the king died childless. Ahmose bore him two sons who
were passed over for Thutmose II, who was born to Mutnofret. Thutmose built an extension to the
temple of Amon at Karnak. He added pylons, courts and statues. He led a campaign into Nubia
where he penetrated beyond the Third Cataract. He defeated the Nubian chief in a hand to hand
combat and returned to Thebes with the body of the fallen chief hanging on the prow of his ship.
His greatest campaigns were in the Delta. Warring against the Hyksos he subdued tribes and finally
reached the Euphrates River. To commemorate his victory he built a hypostyle hall at Karnak, made
entirely of cedar wood columns. His remains were found in the cache, with others, at Deir el Bahri.
Thutmose brought Egypt a sense of stability and his military campaigns healed the wounds of
Hatshepsut (Maatkare)
1473-1458 B.C., 18th Dynasty
Hatshepsut, the fifth ruler of the 18th Dynasty, was the daughter of Thutmose I and Queen Ahmose.
As was common in royal families, she married her half-brother, Thutmose II, who had a son,
Thutmose III, by a minor wife. When Thutmose II died in 1479 B.C. his son, Thutmose III, was
appointed heir. However, Hatshepsut was appointed regent due to the boy's young age. They ruled
jointly until 1473 when she declared herself pharaoh. Dressed in men’s attire, Hatshepsut
administered affairs of the nation, with the full support of the high priest of Amon, Hapuseneb and
other officials. When she built her magnificent temple at Deir el Bahari in Thebes she made reliefs
of her divine birth as the daughter of Amon. Hatshepsut disappeared in 1458 B.C. when Thutmose
III, wishing to reclaim the throne, led a revolt. Thutmose had her shrines, statues and reliefs
Amenhotep II (Akheperure)
1427-1392 B.C., 18th Dynasty
Amenhotep, the seventh king of the 18th Dynasty, was a fierce ruler that excelled in both
horsemanship and archery. While a prince, he was given the command of the naval base near
Memphis. In his first year as king the Asiatics rebelled, but to no avail. He spent his second year in
Syria overcoming several uprisings. His victorious return to Egypt was indicated by the captive
officers that were hanging upside down on the prow of his ship. The same were beheaded in a
ceremony by Amenhotep’s own hand. His son, Thutmose IV assumed the throne when Amenhotep
died at the age of 45. His remains show signs of a systemic disease, which probably attributed to his
death. He built a court in the Temple of Luxor that was later decorated by Tutankhamun and
Horemheb. Amenhotep II's tomb is in the Valley of the Kings in Thebes.
Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten)
1352-1336 B.C., 18th Dynasty
Amenhotep IV-better known as Akhenaten, the new name he took early on in his reign-ushered in a
revolutionary period in Egyptian history. The Amarna Interlude, as it is often called, saw the
removal of the seat of government to a short-lived new capital city, Akhetaten (modern el-Amarna),
the introduction of a new art style, and the elevation of the cult of the sun disc, the Aten, to preeminent status in Egyptian religion. This last heresy in particular was to bring down on Akhenaten
and his immediate successors the opprobrium of later kings. He was buried in the Valley of the
Kings. After his death, statues of him were destroyed or disfigured, very few remain.
Tutankhamun (Nebkheprure)
1336-1327 B.C., 18th Dynasty
The 12th king of the 18th Dynasty was only eight or nine years old at his succession. His father,
Smenkhkare, died at the age of 25 and the cause remains a mystery. Tutankhamun was married to
Ankhesenamon, the third daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. The couple originally lived at el
Amarna but later moved to Memphis where they refurbished the apartments of Amenhotep III. The
Restoration Stela gives an account of his effort to stabilize the government and to restore the
temples and honors of the old gods after the Amarna period. He paid the priest and palace staff from
his own pockets. He built a mortuary temple close to Medinet Habu, with two colossal statues, but
they were usurped by his successors. Tutankhamun died at the age of 19 by a head injury. He was
buried in the Valley of the Kings. Two mummified fetuses were found in coffins that had been
sealed by his name. These are believed to have been his children that were born prematurely.
Ramsses II (Usermaatresetepenre)
1279-1213 B.C., 19th Dynasty
The son of Seti I and Queen Tuya was the third king of the 19th Dynasty. Called Ramesses the
Great, he lived to be 96 years old, had 200 wives and concubines, 96 sons and 60 daughters. One
son, Prince Kha-m-was, was a high priest of Ptah, governor of Memphis, and was in charge of the
restoration of the Pyramid of Unas. This son was buried in The Serapeum. Ramesses II outlived the
first thirteen of his heirs. Ramesses was named co-ruler with his father, Seti I, early in his life. He
accompanied his father on numerous campaigns in Libya and Nubia. At the age of 22 Ramesses
went on a campaign in Nubia with two of his own sons. Seti I and Ramesses built a palace in Avaris
where Ramesses I had started a new capital. When Seti I died in 1290 B.C., Ramesses assumed the
throne and began a series of wars against the Syrians. The famous Battle of Kadesh is inscribed on
the walls of Ramesses temple.
Ramesses' building accomplishments are two temples at Abu Simbel, the hypostyle hall at Karnak,
a mortuary complex at Abydos, the Colossus of Ramesses at Memphis, a vast tomb at Thebes,
additions at the Luxor Temple, and the famous Ramesseum. Among Ramesses' wives were
Nefertari, Queen Istnofret, his two daughters, Binthanath and Merytamon, and the Hittite princess,
Maathornefrure. Ramesses was originally buried in the Valley of the Kings. Because of the
widespread looting of tombs during the 21st Dynasty the priests removed Ramesses body and took
it to a holding area where the valuable materials such, as gold-leaf and semi-precious inlays, were
removed. The body was then rewrapped and taken to the tomb of an 18th Dynasty queen, Inhapi.
The bodies of Ramesses I and Seti I were done in like fashion and all ended up at the same place.
Amenhotep I's body had been placed there as well at an earlier time. Seventy-two hours later, all of
the bodies were again moved, this time to the Royal Cache that was inside the tomb of High Priest
Pinudjem II. The priests documented all of this on the linen that covered the bodies. This
“systematic” looting by the priests was done in the guise of protecting the bodies from the
"common" thieves.
Ramesses XI (Menmaatresetepenptah)
1099-1069 B.C., 20th Dynasty
Ramesses XI was the tenth and the last king of the Twentieth Dynasty as well as the New Kingdom.
The reign of this king was a period of turmoil. Ramesses was not a very energetic or vital ruler. The
viceroy of Nubia, Panehsi, went from Elephantine to Thebes to try to stop the unrest that was
arising from contention over the region that was between the high priest of Amon and others. At the
same time there was a famine and was called the "Year of the Hyena." Hrihor was left in Thebes by
Panehsi to control the affairs there. He soon assumed the role of the high priest of Amon and
eventually became the vizier as well. This was the cause of the eventual downfall of Panehsi.
Panehsi rebelled and stopped Egypt's domination in Nubia. Hrihor administered the affairs of Egypt
while Ramesses XI remained in seclusion. Upon the death of Ramesses, Hrihor and Smendes
divided Egypt between themselves. Ramesses was technically pharaoh until his death, but Hrihor
was the ruler of Upper Egypt for all practical purposes. Ramesses' death marked the end of the
Twentieth Dynasty and the New Kingdom. His tomb is located in the Valley of the Kings.