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Pharaoh, (from Egyptian per ʿaa, “great house”), originally, the royal palace in ancient Egypt. The word came to be used metonymically for the Egyptian king under the New Kingdom (starting in the 18th dynasty, 1539–1292 BCE), and by the 22nd dynasty (c. 945–c. 730 BCE) it had been adopted as an epithet of respect. It was never the king’s formal title, though, and its modern use as a generic name for all Egyptian kings is based on the usage of the Hebrew Bible. In official documents, the full title of the Egyptian king consisted of five names, each preceded by one of the following titles: Horus, Two Ladies, Golden Horus, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, and Son of Re. The last name was given to him at birth, the others at coronation.

Pharaoh (/ˈfɛəroʊ/, US also /ˈfeɪ.roʊ/; Coptic: ⲡⲣ̅ⲣⲟ Pǝrro) is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty (c. 3150 BCE) until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the actual term “Pharaoh” was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until Merneptah, c. 1200 BCE. In the early dynasty, ancient Egyptian kings used to have up to three titles: the Horus, the Sedge and Bee (nswt-bjtj), and the Nebty (nbtj) name. The Golden Horus and nomen and prenomen titles were later added.

In Egyptian society, religion was central to everyday life. One of the roles of the pharaoh was as an intermediary between the gods and the people. The pharaoh thus deputised for the gods; his role was both as civil and religious administrator. He owned all of the land in Egypt, enacted laws, collected taxes, and defended Egypt from invaders as the commander-in-chief of the army. Religiously, the pharaoh officiated over religious ceremonies and chose the sites of new temples. He was responsible for maintaining Maat (mꜣꜥt), or cosmic order, balance, and justice, and part of this included going to war when necessary to defend the country or attacking others when it was believed that this would contribute to Maat, such as to obtain resources.

Karnak: rock carving of pharaoh

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