The Reign of a Pharaoh

What I take away from this week’s lectures/readings is the shear power that a Pharaoh and the rest of the bureaucracy that governs the state.  I was aware of the fact that the pyramids were constructed under the Pharaoh’s command and that it would typically be his tomb, but I was unaware of the outlying graves that were his political followers.

Another interesting aspect from the readings in particular was the fate of those who served some Pharaohs.  In particular around the 1st Dynasty when Pharaohs would have their servants sacrificed to serve them in the afterlife.  It would have been a tough life being a servant to a Pharaoh.  The vast number of possessions which were included in the pyramids for the Pharaoh is also an interesting concept.  I understand that the Egyptians were large believers in their life in the Underworld, but I like to believe there is more to the story of them keeping their possessions.  It would be nice to think that they preserved these goods for the future archaeologists to eventually find them, but then again that would be like grave-robbing which most pyramids were built to prevent.

After learning about how the political hierarchy in ancient Egypt, the fact that many of the viziers were buried around the Pharaoh tells me that the political power was intended to be kept localized as a single entity.  I would imagine that when a Pharaoh passed on, he imagined that he would continue to reign in the afterlife and thus wanted to keep his administration close as to not have to find them in the Underworld.  This is especially true with the fact that the servants were sacrificed as I mentioned before.  A Pharaoh could not have believed that he would have been stripped of power upon death and so I think it is absolutely plausible to believe that an “Underworld Hierarchy” could have been envisioned by the people of Egypt.

One thought on “The Reign of a Pharaoh

  1. That’s interesting that viziers were buried with the pharaoh. I knew that servants, guards etc. were all buried with the pharaohs, but I thought that the viziers would be allowed to live, and serve the next pharaoh (it seems like, at least in some works of literature, movies, music etc. there’s a wise advisor who continues to advise the son or heir after the father figure has died). Of course, such ideas are definitely the work of a very different culture/society that what we have today. Another thought I had after reading your post concerns the idea that pharaohs would continue to rule in the underworld. Eventually, there would be a lot of dead pharaohs, and I wonder if the ancient Egyptians believed each one would govern his own underworld/afterlife, or if there was only one underworld, and all the dead pharaohs were constantly at war trying to gain supremacy in it (of course, the idea of being at war after you’re already dead is kind of weird (after all, how could you ever determine who won if they were all dead to begin with; it sounds like something from a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie with various bands of immortal pirates fighting each other), but then again, the ancient Egyptians believed in lots of things that we would consider weird or bizarre nowadays).

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