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Colossal bust of Ramesses II

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Ideas of kingship in Egypt were inextricably linked to creation myths and the legends of Osiris, Egypt’s mythical first king. According to these, Osiris was murdered by his brother Seth, but avenged by his son Horus, who took his father’s place as the rightful ruler of Egypt. Every Egyptian king was seen as Horus in life and Osiris in death. This is reflected in art where the living king is represented naturalistically with a straight beard, and the dead king in the form of a mummy with a curved beard. Whether ruling the world of the living as Horus, or the world of the dead as Osiris, it was the king’s duty to maintain Maat, or divine order.

King Den shown defeating Egypt’s enemies

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In the centre, the falcon above his name indicates his status as the incarnation of the god Horus. Pharaohs were shown in this pose throughout Egypt’s history as late as Roman times.

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Amenhotep I represented as the god Osiris, in the form of a mummy

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Amenemhat IV making offerings to the creator god Atum

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Thutmose IV making offerings to the gods

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His kneeling posture indicates his humility and respect for the deities.

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Tutankhamun represented as a priest of Hapy

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Making offerings to the god of the Nile.

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Akhenaten, seated in an informal pose

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Receiving the blessings of the god Aten

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Royal seal of the female king Sobekneferu

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Notice the image of Horus above her name.

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Colossal bust of Ramesses II