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
Pharaoh was thought to be an incarnation of the god Horus, and when he died he was transformed into the god Osiris.
The Egyptian word for temple means ‘House of God’ and temple building was an essential part of the pharaohs’ relationship with the gods.
Pharaohs often had very large families. Ramses II, for example, was said to be father to over 80 children.
Palaces were not only homes, but also official residences where domestic and foreign guests were received.
Pharaohs celebrated their control over Egypt at jubilee festivals, but ancient stories show us they were not always highly-regarded.
In the time of the pharaohs a vast administration of officials and scribes ensured the smooth running of the country.
Ancient Egyptians believed pharaoh was responsible for maintaining order, but at times the country was divided by civil war.
Many artistic representations from ancient Egypt show pharaohs engaged in battle, smiting their enemies.