A pharaoh is an ancient Egyptian ruler. Ancient Egypt had hundreds of pharaohs. That is because its history is very long. The ancient Egyptian empire lasted from about 3150 BCE to about 31 BCE.
You can figure out how long that is by doing a simple subtraction problem.
There were about 170 pharaohs in all. Most Egyptologists, those are people who study ancient Egypt, think that Menes was the first pharaoh of Egypt, and they know that Cleopatra VII was the last.
What the Pharaoh Wore
Egyptian pharaohs wore ceremonial clothes. Many of the things that they wore or carried were symbols of their power and position in Egyptian society. Look carefully at the pharaoh that is pictured above then Think Inside of the Box!
Let’s start with the head of the pharaoh! The pharaoh is wearing a nemes crown. The Nemes is a striped head cloth that covers the entire back of the head and neck.
Some Egyptologists think that it is meant to look a little like a lion’s mane. Whenever you see a pharaoh shown as a sphinx, they will be wearing this crown.
Do you see that tiny cobra on top of the nemes crown? It is called a uraeus. The uraeus is an upright cobra. It means that the pharaoh is ready to strike at his enemies with venom at any time. The uraeus is the symbol of the ancient Egyptian goddess Wadjet.
Have you ever noticed that pharaohs always have a beard? This is called a false beard. In real-life, most Egyptian men were cleanshaven, but pharaohs, even the female ones, wore fake beards. Usually the beards were plaited like a big braid. No one is really sure why the ancient Egyptian pharaohs did this, but it somehow connected the pharaoh to the gods.
Do you see the brown object that the pharaoh is holding? That is called a flail. The flail is a tool that helps to separate grains from their husks. The flail symbolizes the pharaoh as the person who provided food for his people.
What do an ancient Egyptian pharaoh and Little Bo Peep have in common? That striped object with the pharaoh is called a crook. A crook was a tool used by shepherds to help gather and move their flocks of sheep. It’s Time to Think Inside of the Box!
Symbols of Pharaohs
Ancient Egyptian pharaohs used many things to symbolize their power and leadership. Think of the nemes crown that looks like a lion’s mane. The lion is strong and powerful. He is often called the king of the jungle! The uraeus features a venomous cobra about to strike! The crook, a tool of shepherds, shows that the pharaoh leads and protects his people. Moreover, the flail symbolizes the pharaoh’s role as the provider of food for his people.
Symbols of Presidents Pharaohs are not the only leaders that are closely associated with symbols. This is the seal of the President of the United States. What things do you see here? What might they symbolize?
The ancient Egyptians had hieroglyphs to represent letter sounds, whole words, parts of words, and even complex ideas. They also had symbols to represent numerals.
The ancient Egyptians had to be pretty good at math too! Think of all those pyramids, tombs, sphinxes, massive statues, and palaces that they were famous for building. You can’t make any of that stuff without mathematics. You also need math to trade goods and measure the land for planting crops.
Look at the symbols above to see how the ancient Egyptians wrote their numerals. Take a guess at what the numeral below and on the left is. Hint! Read the numeral from left to right. The larger numbers always come first.