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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

Pharaoh:
King of Egypt

Supported through the generosity
of the Dorset Foundation

The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt presented themselves as all-powerful, brave military leaders and devout rulers. As representative of the gods on earth, it was a pharaoh’s duty to maintain universal order through ritual and by protecting Egypt from foreign enemies. Their monuments and treasures project an image of power, but the realities of Egyptian kingship were often very different. At times, Egypt was divided by civil war, conquered by foreign powers, or ruled by competing pharaohs.

The objects in this exhibition have been chosen to explore the role of kingship in ancient Egypt. They are divided into themes, reflecting royal life, duties, and challenges. Spanning over 3,000 years of history, they range from exquisite palace decorations to accounts of assassination attempts. While many surviving objects from Egypt project the image pharaohs wanted us to see, the exhibition also explores the realities of ruling this dynamic civilisation.

All of the objects in the exhibition can be found in the British Museum collection database online. See all of the objects 


Born of the gods

Pharaoh was thought to be an incarnation of the god Horus, and when he died he was transformed into the god Osiris.

See all Born of the gods objects 

A home for the gods

The Egyptian word for temple means ‘House of God’ and temple building was an essential part of the pharaohs’ relationship with the gods.

See all Home for the gods objects 

Pleasing the gods

As High Priest, pharaohs performed the most important religious rituals, making offerings of prayer, clothing, food, drink and perfume.

See all Pleasing the gods objects 

Royal life

Pharaohs often had very large families. Ramses II, for example, was said to be father to over 80 children.

See all Royal life objects 

Palace life

Palaces were not only homes, but also official residences where domestic and foreign guests were received.

See all Palace life objects 

Royal regalia and titles

Royal clothing separated the pharaoh from ordinary people, from elaborate jewellery to crowns and fine linen.

See all Royal regalia and titles objects 

Festivals and memory

Pharaohs celebrated their control over Egypt at jubilee festivals, but ancient stories show us they were not always highly-regarded.

See all Festivals and memory objects 

Officials and government

In the time of the pharaohs a vast administration of officials and scribes ensured the smooth running of the country.

See all Officials and government objects 

Adopting royal traditions

Ancient Egypt experienced several invasions, and foreign rulers often adopted Egyptian royal titles and religious traditions.

See all Adopting royal traditions objects 

A country in chaos

Ancient Egyptians believed pharaoh was responsible for maintaining order, but at times the country was divided by civil war.

See all A country in chaos objects 

Imagery of war

Many artistic representations from ancient Egypt show pharaohs engaged in battle, smiting their enemies.

See all Imagery of war objects in this theme 

War and diplomacy

Pharaohs had armies to fight their battles for them, but they often relied on diplomacy, trading letters and gifts with foreign powers.

See all War and diplomacy objects 

Royal burial

Deceased kings were identified with Osiris, Lord of the Underworld, and the sun-god Ra to ensure their rebirth in the afterlife.

See all Royal burial objects