Pharaohs were the Kings and Queens of Ancient Egypt. The pharaohs were often men but there were some famous women pharaohs too, such as Nefertiti and Cleopatra. They were supreme rulers.
This meant they were the heads of government and the head priests of every temple. It was quite common in those days for kings to also be priests.
In fact, the Ancient Egyptians thought that pharaohs were half-man, half-god.
Ancient Egyptians didn’t call them Pharaohs at all
The word Pharaoh is not how Ancient Egyptians referred to their Kings. Ancient Greeks called the kings of Ancient Egypt “pharaohs” and this is the word we use today.
The most famous tombs in the world
Ancient Egyptians were buried in pyramids in the Old and Middle Kingdoms (2628 – 1638 BCE).
These royal pyramids could take a whole lifetime to build. It was very important for Egyptian pharaohs to be buried with lots of riches, like jewels.
Their bodies were also persevered in a clever way. You can still see around 50 of these pyramids. They are so strong and well-built that they are still standing.
How do we know so much about pharaohs?
The bodies of the pharaohs were well preserved and were made into mummies. A lot of these tombs contain information about the pharaohs that were buried there and how they ruled.
This information was written in hieroglyphics, which was the writing system used by Ancient Egyptians.
Why have so many people studied Ancient Egypt?
There is a lot of information about Ancient Egyptians because they left behind a lot of well-preserved artefacts in tombs. The Romans also wrote about the Egyptians, too.
In 1882, Egypt became a colony of Britain. The British started to hear of the Ancient Kingdoms of their new colony, which they found very interesting.
The British quite wanted to show off to the rest of the world that they controlled such a rich country with a beautiful and elaborate history.
Because of this, the study of Egypt (Egyptology) became very popular. Archaeologists and scholars were sent to explore the ancient tombs.
They brought back many of the treasures they found to Britain to display in museums.
The pharaoh boy king found by a boy
The most famous pharaoh of all time is Tutankhamun, or King Tut. King Tut was only 9 years’ old when he became pharaoh and he reigned just nine years until he was 18.
But, did you know that it was a little boy who found the tomb of this most famous boy king?
Related: Famous Child Kings You Need to Know
A little boy was carrying water for a famous archaeologist called Howard Carter when he found the tomb. Howard Carter spent years trying to find a tomb but with no luck.
In 1891, Howard Carter headed to Egypt with an archaeologist. His job at the time was to draw the findings because he was an artist.
Archaeologists needed artists like Howard Carter because, even though cameras existed at this time, they couldn’t always take very clear, detailed, photographs.
Artists went along to document these findings from ancient tombs.
Carter worked for many archaeologists at the time. He was only 17 years old when he went to Egypt for the first time. However, Carter wasn’t the boy who actually discovered the tomb of King Tut at all.
Carter was working for a famous wealthy English man called Lord Carnarvon. Carnarvon was impressed by Howard Carter and got him to lead the expedition to explore deep in the Valley of the Kings.
No matter how hard they looked, they just couldn’t find any tombs. Then, when World War One began, they had to pause for a while.
After the War, Carter went back to the site to keep exploring but Lord Carnarvon was getting rather impatient. He told Carter he could only dig around for one more season.
Just before they gave up, on the 4th November 1922, a little boy was digging around with a stick in the sand when he struck gold.
The little boy was a water fetcher but he knew he had found something amazing. Slowly, beneath the sand, a stone step was revealed. He called Carter over.
Imagine their excitement when the stone steps led down to a sealed door and a secret chamber.
When Carnarvon entered the tomb, they found over 5,000 treasures of gold. Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter were very glad they didn’t give up.
They carried on exploring. In 1923, Carter found the body of King Tut himself, in mummy form, of course!
The greatest discovery of all time
If that little curious boy hadn’t dug around with a stick in the sand, we might never know about one of the most famous discoveries of all time!
It took over 10 years to completely excavate the tomb of King Tut. Carter finished in 1932.
The discovery of King Tut’s tomb was one of the most important discoveries for the study of Ancient Egypt because it was perhaps the best preserved of all the tombs.
From this discovery, we have learnt a lot about pharaohs and Ancient Egypt.
What was inside King Tut’s tomb when it was found?
Once inside King Tut’s tomb, there were lots of rooms, it was almost like an underground house!
They also found lots of treasures, including statues, gold jewellery, chariots, model boats, chairs, paintings, bows and arrows and shields.
A day in the life of King Tut and other Pharaohs
You might be wondering what life was like for the boy king who was born over 3000 years ago. We know so much about him because his tomb told us lots of stories through pictures and hieroglyphics.
He was very fashionable as king and was always covered in gold jewellery and had beautiful draped clothes made from white linen.
His sandals were found in his tomb and had the names of his enemies on the soles…this was so he trod on his enemies wherever he went. Even though he was a boy King, he was clearly very powerful.
He took his lessons at the court or palace, like most Kings and Queens around the ancient world.
Ordinary Egyptian boys and girls would not have gone to school, but King Tut learnt about astronomy, music and geometry.
For fun, King Tut would walk around the gardens of his elaborate palace, which was full of fig trees and beautiful pools.
We can imagine that all pharaohs had a nice life, just like King Tut. Thanks to Howard Carter and a curious little boy, we know in detail how kings or pharaohs in Africa lived.
How do we know so much about pharaohs?
What was the most famous discovery of Ancient Egypt?
Who discovered the tomb of King Tut?
What job did Howard Carter have before he was an archaeologist?
Name two items that were discovered in King Tut’s tomb.
What subjects did King Tut study at his home (palace) school?