Egypt was one of the first great civilizations on Earth, enjoying enormous wealth, luxury, and dominion over other civilizations around the globe. The Ancient Egyptians indulged in rich foods and built massive monuments in their own honor. The pharaohs also amassed great power and expanded their empire. Yet, they had some bizarre behaviors that many of us today would think are quite weird.
Here are 11 bizarre facts about pharaohs of Ancient Egypt:
1. Male & female pharaohs wore tons of makeup.
When it comes to cosmetics, both Egyptian men and women were known to wear copious amounts of it. In fact, it was no big deal for an Egyptian pharaoh to take a few moments to line his eyes before heading off to a celebration.
While makeup was mainly for vanity purposes, it was also believed to give them the protection of the gods Horus and Ra. Egyptiansalso believed that their cosmetics had healing powers. In fact, it was thought to repel insects, protect the eyes from the sun, and to ward off infections.
Makeup was made by grinding ores into a substance called kohl. It was then applied around the eyes using a wooden, bone, or ivory utensil. The powdered mineral was also used to apply bold highlights from the brow line to the base of the nose. Women would apply red paint to their cheeks and use henna to color their hands and fingernails. Men and women both wore perfumes made from oil, myrrh, and cinnamon.
2. Amasis used farting as part of his diplomatic strategy.
Amasis, also known as Ahmose II reigned during the 26th dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He was a general who seized the throne during a revolt against King Apries. Amasis was known to be a shrewd and an opportunistic ruler. King Apries had sent him to calm a rebellion, but when he arrived, he saw that the rebels had a good chance of winning. So, he decided to lead them instead, and they declared him king. He sent the king his declaration of war by lifting up his leg, farting, and telling a messenger, “Take this back to the king!”
Amasis killed King Apries in battle but later gave him a royal burial.
Amasis was also known to be an alcoholic and a kleptomaniac who would often steal things that belonged to his friends.
3. Many historians believe King Tut was killed by a hippopotamus.
Tuankhamun, or King Tut, was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty during the period known as the New Kingdom, or the New Empire Period. He ascended to the throne at the age of nine. When he became king, he married his half-sister, Ankhesenpaaten. They had two daughters, both were stillborn.
While little is known about King Tut’s life, many historians believe that his death may have been a result of a hunting accident. Scans of his body reveal that he was embalmed without his heart or chest wall, which is not traditional Egyptian burial practices and suggests that he may have suffered a horrific injury prior to his death. One of the most likely causes for his wound would have been a bite from a hippopotamus.
Evidence reveals that Egyptians hunted beasts for sport, and statues found in King Tut’s tomb also depict him in the act of throwing a harpoon.
4. Hatshepsut wore a fake beard.
Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypts and the second historically confirmed female pharaoh, the first being Sobekneferu.
She came to the throne in Egypt in 1478 BC, ruling jointing with Thutmose III, who had ascended to the throne at the age of two. Hatshepsut was considered one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty.
However, being a female ruler wasn’t always easy. So, she ordered people to only draw her as a man, and in each picture, she was drawn with a full beard. She opted to wear false beards along with masculine attire to preserve the air of divinity. She also called herself the “Son of Ra” when she introduced herself.
While she tricked people into thinking she was a man, it didn’t work as well as she had planned. Her son ended up erasing her from history to hide the fact that a woman had been king.
5. Ramses II forged one of the earliest peace treaties in history.
Ramses II reigned for 67 years during the 19th dynasty of the 12 century BC and was known as “Ramses the Great”. He had many successes as pharaoh and Egypt had become enormously wealthy during his reign. He was not only one of Egypt’s greatest warriors, but he was also a peace-maker. Most importantly, he was the first king in history to sign a peace treaty.
The Egyptians had fought with the Hittite Empire for over two centuries for control over the land in modern day Syria. However, in 1259 B.C. Ramses II and the Hittite King Hattusili III negotiated a famous peace treaty that ended the conflict and decreed that the two kingdoms would aid each other in the event of an invasion by a third party. The Egyptian-Hittite treaty is now recognized as one of the oldest peace treaties.
6. Pheros was obsessed with urine baths.
While Pheros’ life story is rather fascinating, there is little archaeological evidence to support it. According to legend, Pheros had lost his vision when he threw a spear into the waters of the flooding Nile.
He was then told that he would regain his sight if he washed his eyes with the urine of a woman who had never slept with anyone other than her husband. He tried using his wife’s urine, but it did not work (which meant she had some explaining to do).
So, he gathered all the women in the town and made them pee in a pot and then poured all the urine into his eyes. It finally worked. After going through dozens of women, he found one who was not cheating on her husband and his sight returned. He married her on the spot (ironically, making her unfaithful to her husband) and burned his old wife to death.
While this may just be a legend, it is still an interesting way to explain his unusual urine fetish.
7. Ramses II had over one hundred children.
Ramses the II had more than a hundred children. However, the exact number is uncertain due to the inscriptions of the names being damaged or incomplete..
Ramses II was able to produce so many offspring due to two main factors: One, he lived to be approximately 96 years old and had 200 or more wives. The high number of wives and children was due partially to the high death rate during the time period. It is thought that approximately one-third of births resulted in death. Either way, it looks like Ramses II had great success with producing offspring.
8. Sesostris’ erected giant genital monuments.
Sesostris I, one of the greatest military commanders in Egyptian history, succeeded his father, Amenemhet I, after a 10-year co-regency and brought Egypt to a peak of prosperity. WhileAmenemhet Ifocused on domestic reforms, Sesostris led the expedition against the Libyans in the Western Desert.
He sent troops to every corner of the world and expanded his kingdom. After each battle, he celebrated his success—by erecting a big pillar with a picture of someone’s genitals. He left these pillars on the sites of every battleground, and would have them engraved with some type of boasting.
After each battle, he would review whether or not the opposing army fought strong and courageously. If they did, he would engrave a picture of a penis. If they didn’t put up much of a fight, he would carve a picture of a vagina.
These pillars were left all across the continent, and still stood in Syria 1500 years after they were erected.
9. Actisanes cut off noses of all criminals.
Actisanes was a legendary king of Ethiopia who conquered Egypt’s ruler Amasis and was determined to govern with justice.
However, when it came to criminals, Actisanes did not mess around. In fact, he decreed that every person who committed a crime would have his or her nose cut off. They would then be sent off to a town called Rhinocolura- the town of cut-off noses. While this sounds cruel to us, it was actually pretty compassionate back then, compared to other nations.
10. Egyptian rulers were usually fat.
While Egyptian art often depicts pharaohs as being trim and fit, that was not likely a true depiction. Their diets consisted of beer, wine, bread, honey, lots of sugar, and studies reveal that they may have been chubby around the middle.
Examinations of mummies have also indicated that Egyptian rulers were overweight and unhealthy. In fact, many suffered from obesity-related diseases such as diabetes.
For example, Queen Hatshepsut was depicted as fit and slender, but historians believe that she was overweight and balding.
11. Cambyses II hated animals.
Cambyses II, the son of Cyrus the Great, was the emperor of Achaemenid Empire. Cambyses furthered the empire into Egypt during the Late Period by defeating the Egyptian Pharaoh Psamtik III during the battle of Pelusium in 525 BC.
Even though Cambyses was not actually Egyptian (he was Persian), he was the ruler of Egypt, and apparently, he hated animals.
Just about every story the Egyptians shared about Cambyses included him harming animals. He even stabbed the bull Apis (a bull the Egyptians treated as a god), and he laughed at them while he was stabbing the animal. In his free time, he put lion cubs and puppies together and made his wife watch them tear each other to pieces. Cambyses reallyenjoyed watching animals suffer.