Can you name ten important people in America today? They might include a lawmaker or a singer. You might also know of a scientist or a writer. People in such jobs help the country in important ways.


Naming people in ancient Egypt is harder, though. The Egyptians wrote down some of their history. Most records only name rulers, though. These rulers were called pharaohs.


Pyramid Builders Make Their Mark

One non-ruler was Imhotep, an architect who lived about 5,000 years ago. This period was during Egypt's Old Kingdom. It lasted from about 2700 to 2100 B.C.E. Imhotep was the architect of Pharaoh Djoser.


Imhotep built the Step Pyramid. It has six layers or steps. Experts think of it as an important first step in building Egypt's pyramids. Egypt is famous for these structures.


Egyptian leaders worked to build better pyramids, including Khufu. Khufu was pharaoh from about 2580 to 2565 B.C.E. He is responsible for building the Great Pyramid at Giza. More than 147 meters (480 feet) tall, this pyramid is one of the most famous structures ever built. It was the tallest structure in the world for thousands of years.


Famous Rulers Of Egypt

Egypt's New Kingdom began about 3,700 years ago. It lasted from 1560 to 1070 B.C.E.


Hatshepsut ruled from 1473 to 1458 B.C.E. She began as a queen who was married to Thutmose II. She later became pharaoh herself. She was Egypt's first woman ruler.


After Hatshepsut died, her stepson took the throne. His name was Thutmose III. He tried to erase proof of his step-mother's rule. It seems he wanted to keep the tradition that only men could be pharaohs. Egypt became very powerful during his rule. It controlled many of the lands around it, including parts of Syria and Nubia.


About 100 years later Amenhotep IV became pharaoh. He tried to force major changes to Egypt's religion. He said people should not worship their old gods. He told them to worship the sun god, Aten. Amenhotep changed his name to Akhenaten. After he died, though, Egyptians went back to worshipping their old gods.


Non-Egyptian Rulers Stake Their Claim

Rulers of other lands also conquered ancient Egypt. They then became pharaohs. Cambyses II was a king of the Persian Empire. An empire is made up of different kingdoms controlled by one leader. Cambyses II conquered the Egyptians in 525 B.C.E. He was later followed by the Macedonian king Alexander the Great. Alexander had conquered Persia and other lands. Egypt surrendered to him and he became its ruler.


Cleopatra VII was also a famous ruler. She led Egypt from 51 to 30 B.C.E. Egypt was then conquered by the Romans. It became part of the Roman Empire. Ancient Egypt was no longer an independent kingdom.


Key Figures of Ancient Egypt

This granite sphinx from the Temple of Amun in Karnak (Thebes) depicts Thutmose III, the sixth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty. 

ancient Egypt

civilization in northeastern Africa, lasting from 3200 BCE to about 400 CE.


to go up.


(69-30 BCE) queen and last reigning pharaoh of ancient Egypt.


authority or control.


ruler of an empire.


group of nations, territories or other groups of people controlled by a single, more powerful authority.

Gaius Octavius

(63 B.C. -14 A.D.) first Roman emperor; defeated Caesar’s assassins and political rival Mark Antony, establishes the Roman Empire.


(~1495-1458 BCE) Egyptian pharaoh.


rectangular burial mound with sloping walls and a flat roof, usually made of mud

Nile River

(5,592 kilometers/3,473 miles) river in East Africa.


ruler of ancient Egypt.


title of religious leader in many faiths.


three-dimensional shape with a square base and triangular sides that meet in a point.


lasting only a short time.