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The ruler of ancient Egypt was called pharaoh . Pharaohs were looked upon as more than rulers. They were gods chosen to lead the people and maintain order, and provided an important link between the Egyptian people and their gods. This word comes from "per-ao" or "great house." The title shows respect for the king by referring to him as the palace where government decisions were made. Egypt was usually ruled by a man, although a few women did rule in their own right.

This carving of Seti I shows the great ruler who restored order to the kingdom and returned Egyptian art and architecture to the powerful style of past dynasties. Seti is depicted as strong and forceful, wearing the ruler’s nemes headdress and false beard. The beard connects Seti I to Osiris, the god of the underworld who reigns for all time. Since Egyptian rulers belonged to the realm of the gods, they were represented as eternally strong and youthful. Seti’s muscular shoulders and strong gaze suggests that he not only maintained order, but also provided strong leadership for the people.

We know this is Seti because his name appears on the back of the sculpture in a cartouche. A cartouche is an oblong frame designed to enclose the name of a ruler.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University,
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester and Dallas Museum of Art
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