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Although not the first, nor the last woman to rule Egypt, and certainly not as well-known as the later Cleopatra, Queen Hatshepsut was the greatest and longest ruling Egyptian Queen. In her royal portraits and statues, she reinvented herself as a bearded male pharaoh, symbolising her authority in a male world. She died in 1458 BC after fifteen years of prolific monument building and world exploration. Her successors tried to erase her from history, but in typical fashion, she's defied them all and persevered.
Queen Nefertiti's elegant, chiselled face captivated the world when her now iconic limestone bust resurfaced in Amarna in 1912. She came to power as the wife of king Akhenaten, but their reign was controversial because of their devotion to the cult of the sun-god Aten. Their army of enemies destroyed almost all traces of their time in power. Today, the location of Queen Nefertiti's mummy and the details of her life and reign still remain a mystery.
Tutankhamun's magnificent golden death mask is one of Egypt's most iconic treasures. A boy king, Tutankhamun was a minor ruler. He was only 9-years-old when the fate of the empire fell upon his boyish shoulders. He ruled the country for 10 years and died when he was still a teenager.
Though he made his own mark on the temples of Karnak and Luxor, we know very little about his life. It's his perfectly preserved tomb and its glamorous horde of golden treasures which made him a household name, when Howard Carter discovered it in 1922.
Disputably the most powerful of all the pharaohs, Ramses the Great changed the face of Egypt with his architectural ambitions. Over a 67-year reign, he built more monuments to the glory of the gods and to himself than to any who came before or after him. Heroic on the battlefield, he not only expanded Egypt's borders but brokered the world's first ever peace accord, fending off the encroaching Hittites and creating a stable, unified country.
include Abu Simbel with its magnificent hypostyle hall, the Ramesseum at Thebes and his funerary complex with its collection of crumbling colossi.
It was Ahmose I who raised a rebellion against the occupying Hyksos and ushered in the New Kingdom in 1539. Ahmose I left a fine legacy through his temples built at Abydos and Karnak. But his greatest and most lasting legacy is his military might, recapturing and expanding the empire's lost borders. King of Egypt, he died after 25 years of reign. His tomb is now lost somewhere beneath Dra Abu el-Naga, but his mummy still lies in the Luxor Museum.
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