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Depiction of Ramesses II slaying one enemy while trampling another, from a rock-cut relief at Abu Simbel	Source: Aoineko/CC BY-SA 3.0

Five Cruelest Pharaohs in Egyptian History (Video)

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Egyptian history is replete with tales of pharaonic cruelty, and among the most notorious are the 5 cruelest pharaohs who left an indelible mark on the sands of time. In the First Dynasty, rulers like Hor-Aha and Djer exhibited a morbid fixation on the afterlife, leading to the heinous practice of human sacrifice to accompany them into eternity.

Khufu, known for commissioning the Great Pyramid of Giza, has been vilified by ancient Greek historian Herodotus as a tyrant who enslaved his people, although modern scholars debate the veracity of such claims. Thutmose I, famed for his monumental building projects, cemented his reputation through acts of brutal intimidation, such as personally beheading a Nubian king and parading his severed head as a warning to potential rebels.

Akhenaten's reign marked a radical departure from traditional religious practices, characterized by the exploitation and mistreatment of young slaves forced into backbreaking labor. Lastly, Ramesses II, despite his biblical portrayal as a merciless oppressor, is celebrated as one of Egypt's greatest pharaohs, his true legacy obscured by the passage of time and the embellishments of history. These pharaohs, whether through tyranny, cruelty, or radicalism, have left an enduring legacy that serves as a cautionary tale of the darker aspects of human nature.

Top image: Depiction of Ramesses II slaying one enemy while trampling another, from a rock-cut relief at Abu Simbel. Source: Aoineko/CC BY-SA 3.0

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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