The more we learn about ancient Egypt, the more fascinating it becomes. From mummification and luxurious tombs to twisted relationships between feuding pharaohs like Cleopatra and Tutankhamun, ancient Egypt’s chilling secrets will intrigue anyone. Here are the most disturbing facts about the mysterious, unearthed world of ancient Egypt.
“Pharaoh” sounds fancy, but what did pharaohs actually spend their days doing? They basically had two roles. On the one hand, they were called the Lord of the Two Lands, meaning they ruled ancient Egypt and did political stuff like collect taxes, make laws, and start a whole bunch of wars. They were also called the High Priest of Every Temple, meaning the pharaoh built temples and performed religious ceremonies.
Worst Boss Ever
Akhenaten was an Egyptian ruler who was basically the worst boss possible. To build his new city in honor of the god Amarna, he brought 20,000 people to the site and forced them to work until they pretty much dropped dead. The bones found in the town’s cemetery suggested that more than two thirds of the men broke at least one bone while they worked.
And that’s not even the worst part. The other third literally broke their backs. And if anyone tried to escape, he ordered them to be stabbed to death. Basically, the choice was either work to death or be killed.
Egyptian Dennis the Menace
Pepi II was only six years old when he became King of Egypt, and he behaved exactly as one would expect a spoiled young prince to act. When an explorer wrote to him claiming to have met a dancing pygmy, he ordered the man to bring it to the palace so he could see it for himself. His attitude didn’t change with age. He made slaves strip naked and cover themselves in honey just so the flies wouldn’t bother him.
They’re Totally Fake!
Most statues of pharaohs depict them with long, tightly braided beards, but it was all a lie. The beards were completely synthetic. Cleanliness was highly important to the ancient Egyptians. For them, this meant keeping their faces free of hair. The beards were worn to imitate the god Osiris, who also wore a fake beard. Pharaohs believed that imitating his luscious artificial locks, they could also attain his eternal reign.
An A-maze-ing Discovery
Egypt is home to all sorts of mysterious ancient sites, but perhaps the most intriguing is the labyrinth which unwinds beneath Hawara. Mentions of the enormous Labyrinth of Egypt appear in the writings of Pliny, Herodotus, and Diodorus. Modern scholars wondered if they would ever find it, until everything changed on one special day in 2008…
The ancient Egyptian port city Heracleion was said to have collapsed into the sea. Everyone thought it was a myth until 1933, when a British air force pilot spotted the undersea ruins. But it would take until 1999 for archaeologists to precisely locate the city and start exploring. Even though they’ve only visited less than 5% of the site, their findings have made scholars’ jaws drop. In addition to coins, tools, and statues of gods, there are several statues of an Egyptian pharaoh that no one can recognize.
The boy-king Tutankhamun is one of the most famous ancient Egyptian pharaohs–for a chilling reason. No one quite knows how a Pharaoh could have died so young. Over the years, scholars have wondered whether Tut was murdered, or had a nasty a chariot accident, an unfortunate encounter with a hippo, or an old-fashioned combination of malaria, a broken leg, and a bone disorder.