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Topic – Ancient Egypt: Egypt’s Women Pharaohs

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Read about Egypt’s women Pharaohs, or click on the play button below to listen aloud.

Egypt’s Women Pharaohs

Picture of the Pyramid of Giza and Sphinx

The ancient Egyptian civilization lasted for 3000 years. Egypt was ruled by pharaohs during most of that time. Pharaohs were like kings or emperors. Some Egyptians believed that pharaohs were gods.

Pharaohs came from one family or dynasty. Thirty families ruled ancient Egypt at different times. It was usually a war that ended a dynasty or family line. Then another family would take over and become pharaohs.

The eldest son of the pharaoh would become the next pharaoh after his father died. If there were no sons, another male relative would become pharaoh. Sometimes women became pharaohs, but this did not happen often. Two of the best-known women pharaohs were Hatshepsut and Cleopatra.

Hatshepsut

Sphinx of Queen Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut (Hat-shep-soot) was a royal princess. When Hatshepsut’s husband Thutmose II died, his son Thutmose III was too young to be pharaoh. His stepmother Hatshepsut ruled Egypt for him as pharaoh for 22 years. It was hard to be a woman pharaoh. She had to be very smart to keep power. Instead of fighting with other countries, she traded with them. This made Egypt a very rich country. She built many important buildings throughout Egypt. She started dressing as a male pharaoh. She even wore a fake beard. She said that she was the daughter of a god.

After she died, her stepson Thutmose III became pharaoh. He destroyed her statues and anything that had her name on it. This was probably because she took the rule of Egypt away from him when he was very young.

Cleopatra

Cleopatra was also a royal princess. Her family had ruled Egypt for 300 years. When Cleopatra’s father died, he gave the throne to her and her younger brother. Her brother forced her from the throne. Cleopatra made a partnership with Julius Caesar, one of the leaders of Rome. His army defeated her brother and Cleopatra became pharaoh on her own.

Cleopatra was very smart. She spoke seven languages. She also claimed to be an Egyptian god in human form. Cleopatra built up Egypt’s trade with other countries. During her rule, Egypt was very wealthy, and she was very popular.

In the end, though, she was defeated in war by another Roman leader. Then Rome began to rule Egypt. Cleopatra was the last pharaoh of Egypt.


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