"King of Upper
and Lower Egypt"
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace. The title of Pharaoh started being used for the king during the New Kingdom, specifically during the middle of the eighteenth dynasty.
- 1 History of the Pharaoh title
- 2 Regalia
- 3 Crowns and headdresses
- 4 Titles
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 External links
History of the Pharaoh title
Pharaoh, meaning "Great House", originally referred to the king's palace, but by the reign of Thutmose III (ca. 1479-1425 BC) in the New Kingdom, had become a form of address for the person of the king.
The term pharaoh ultimately was derived from a compound word represented as pr-`3, written with the two biliteral hieroglyphs pr "house" and `3 "column". It was used only in larger phrases such as smr pr-`3 'Courtier of the High House', with specific reference to the buildings of the court or palace itself. From the twelfth dynasty onward the word appears in a wish formula 'Great House, may it live, prosper, and be in health', but again only with reference to the royal palace and not the person.
The earliest instance where pr-`3 is used specifically to address the ruler is in a letter to Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), who reigned c. 1353 - 1336 BC, which is addressed to 'Pharaoh, all life, prosperity, and health!. During the eighteenth dynasty (sixteenth to fourteenth centuries BC) the title pharaoh was employed as a reverential designation of the ruler. About the late twenty-first dynasty (tenth century BC), however, instead of being used alone as before, it began to be added to the other titles before the ruler's name, and from the twenty-fifth dynasty (eighth to seventh centuries BC) it was, at least in ordinary usage, the only epithet prefixed to the royal appellative.
From the nineteenth dynasty onward pr-`3 on its own was used as regularly as hm.f, 'His Majesty'. The term therefore evolved from a word specifically referring to a building to a respectful designation for the ruler, particularly by the twenty-second dynasty and twenty-third dynasty.
For instance, the first dated instance of the title pharaoh being attached to a ruler's name occurs in Year 17 of Siamun on a fragment from the Karnak Priestly Annals. Here, an induction of an individual to the Amun priesthood is dated specifically to the reign of Pharaoh Siamun. This new practice was continued under his successor Psusennes II and the twenty-first dynasty kings. Meanwhile the old custom of referring to the sovereign simply as Per'o continued in traditional Egyptian narratives.
By this time, the Late Egyptian word is reconstructed to have been pronounced *par-ʕoʔ whence comes Ancient Greek φαραώ pharaō and then Late Latin pharaō. From the latter, English obtained the word "Pharaoh". Over time, *par-ʕoʔ evolved into Sahidic Coptic prro ⲡⲣ̅ⲣⲟ and then rro (by mistaking p- as the definite article prefix "the" from Ancient Egyptian p3).
Scepters and Staves
Scepters and staves were a general sign of authority in Ancient Egypt. One of the earliest royal scepters was discovered in the tomb of Khasekhemwy in Abydos. Kings were also known to carry a staff, and Pharaoh Anedjib is shown on stone vessels carrying a so called mks-staff. The staff with the longest history seems to be the heqa-scepter, sometimes described as the shepherd’s crook. The earliest examples of this piece of regalia dates to pre-dynastic times. A scepter was found in a tomb at Abydos which dates to the late Naqada period.
Another scepter associated with the king is the was-scepter. This is a long staff mounted by an animal head. The earliest known depictions of the was-scepter date to the First dynasty of Egypt. The was-scepter is shown in the hands of both kings and gods.
The Flail was later closely related to the ‘’heqa’’-scepter, but in early representations the king was also depicted solely with the flail, as shown in a late pre-dynastic knife handle which is now in the Metropolitan museum, and on the Narmer Macehead.
The earliest evidence we have of the use of the Uraeus – a rearing cobra – is from the reign of Den from the First dynasty of Egypt. The cobra supposedly protected the pharaoh by spitting fire at its enemies.
Crowns and headdresses
Narmer Palette Narmer wearing the white crown Narmer wearing the red crown
The red crown of Lower Egypt – the Deshret crown – dates back to pre-dynastic times. A red crown has been found on a pottery shard from Naqada, and later king Narmer is shown wearing the red crown on both the Narmer macehead and the Narmer palette.
The white crown of Upper Egypt – the Hedjet crown – is shown on the Qustul incense burner which dates to the pre-dynastic period. Later King Scorpion was depicted wearing the white crown, as was Narmer.
The combination of red and white crown into the double crown – or Pschent crown – is first documented in the middle of the First dynasty of Egypt. The earliest depiction may date to the reign of Djet, and is otherwise surely attested during the reign of Den.
The khat and nemes headdresses
The khat headdress consists of a kind of “kerchief” whose end is tied almost like a ponytail. The earliest depictions of the khat headdress comes from the reign of Den, but is not found again until the reign of Djoser.
Egyptologist Bob Brier has noted that despite its widespread depiction in royal portraits, no ancient Egyptian crown ever has been discovered. Tutankhamun's tomb, discovered largely intact, did contain such regalia as his crook and flail. No crown was found however among the funerary equipment.
It is presumed that crowns would have been believed to have magical properties. Brier's speculation is that crowns were religious or state items; a dead pharaoh could not retain a crown as a personal possession. The crowns may have had to be passed along to a successor.
During the early dynastic period kings had up to three titles. The Horus name is the oldest and dates to the late pre-dynastic period. The Nesw Bity name was added during the middle of the 1st dynasty. The Nebty name was first introduced towards the end of the 1st dynasty. The Golden falcon (bik-nbw) name is not well understood. The prenomen and nomen were introduced later and are traditionally enclosed in a cartouche. By the Middle Kingdom, the official titulary of the ruler consisted of five names; Horus, nebty, golden Horus, nomen, and prenomen for some rulers, only one or two of them may be known.
Nesw Bity name
The Nesw Bity name was one of the new developments from the reign of Den. The name would follow the glyphs for the “Sedge and the Bee”. The title is usually translated as king of Upper and Lower Egypt. The nsw bity name may have been the birth name of the king. It was often the name by which kings were recorded in the later annals and king lists.
The Horus name was adopted by the king, when he took the throne. The name was written within a square frame representing the palace, named a serekh. The Horus name of several early kings expresses a relationship with Horus. Aha refers to “Horus the fighter”, Djer refers to “Horus the strong”, etc. Later kings express ideals of kingship in their Horus names. Khasekhemwy refers to “Horus: the two powers are at peace”, while Nebra refers to “Horus, Lord of the Sun”.
The earliest example of a nebty name comes from the reign of king Aha from the 1st dynasty. The title links the king with the goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt Nekhbet and Wadjet. The title is preceded by the vulture (Nekhbet) and the cobra (Wadjet) standing on a basket (the neb sign).
Golden Horus name
The Golden Horus or Golden Falcon name was preceded by a falcon on a gold or nbw sign. The title may have represented the kings divine status. The Horus associated with gold may be referring to the idea that the god’s bodies were made of gold. The gold sign may also be a reference to Nubt, the city of Set. This would suggest that the iconography represents Horus conquering Set.
Nomen and Prenomen
The prenomen and nomen were contained in a cartouche. The prenomen often followed the King of Upper and Lower Egypt (nsw bity) or Lord of the Two Lands (nebtawy) title. The prenomen often incorporated the name of Re. The nomen often followed the title Son of Re (sa-ra) or the title Lord of Appearances (neb-kha’).
- Ancient Egyptian royal titulary
- Egyptian chronology - Conventional Egyptian chronology
- History of Egypt
- List of Pharaohs
- Pharaoh of the Exodus
- Great Royal Wife, the chief wife of a Pharaoh
- Islamic view of the Pharaoh of the Exodus
- ^ Beck, Roger B.; Linda Black, Larry S. Krieger, Phillip C. Naylor, Dahia Ibo Shabaka, (1999). World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell. ISBN 0-395-87274-X.
- ^ a b c d Dodson, Aidan and Hilton, Dyan. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. 2004. ISBN 0-500-05128-3
- ^ Redmount, Carol A. "Bitter Lives: Israel in and out of Egypt." p. 89-90. The Oxford History of the Biblical World. Michael D. Coogan, ed. Oxford University Press. 1998.
- ^ Ancient Egyptian Grammar (3rd ed.), A. Gardiner (1957-) 71-76
- ^ Hieratic Papyrus from Kahun and Gurob, F. LL. Griffith, 38, 17. Although see also Temples of Armant, R. Mond and O. Myers (1940), pl.93, 5 for an instance possibly dating from the reign of Thutmose III.
- ^ "pharaoh." in Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j Wilkinson, Toby A.H. Early Dynastic Egypt Routledge, 2001 ISBN 978-0415260114
- ^ Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press 2000, p. 477
- Sir Alan Gardiner Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs, Third Edition, Revised. London: Oxford University Press, 1964. Excursus A, pp. 71–76.
- Brier, Bob. PhD. History of ancient Egypt (Audio). The First Nation in History. The Learning Company. 2001.
Ancient EgyptOutline · IndexPortal · List of major topics Pharaohs (list) Protodynastic Period
(prior to 3150 BC)
Early Dynastic Period
1st Intermediate Period
(2181–2040 BC)Wadjkare • Qakare IbyMeryibre Khety • Merykare • Kaneferre • Nebkaure Akhtoy
2nd Intermediate Period
(1782–1570 BC)Anather • Yakobaam
3rd Intermediate Period
(525–332 BC)Dynasty 27Dynasty 31
(332–30 BC)♀ indicates female pharaoh
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