This will be an unusual list, but then, Egypt is an unusual land. What follows is as accurate a rendering of every ruler I have a record of since the unification of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms. It is a very long list, for Egypt has been a civilized country almost longer than any other. The sheer weight of names is somewhat numbing, but contained within this huge roll-call of more than 575 individuals are some of the most famous, and infamous, rulers ever to have trod the stage of history. Browse through this list, therefore, and consider the 51 centuries that it speaks of...

Currently, this page is a as complete a record as I have of all 51 centuries of Egyptian history. Also included are Athribis-Heliopolis, Busiris, the Coptic Patriarchs of Alexandria, Selected Governors of later Egypt, the Hyksos, Leontopolis, Libu, Lower Egypt, Mendes, Naukratis, Nomarchs, Pelusium, Pharbaithos, Sais, Sebennytos, Sinai, Thebes, Upper Egypt, and Xois.

EGYPT (General Survey) For notes on ancient Egyptian religion, click here.

For a listing of the Orthodox Patriarchs of Alexandria, click here.

THE CALIPHATE Here commences the long association of Egypt with the world of Islam. For a general survey of all the Caliphs, click here. To put this in a certain perspective, Pharaonic Egypt encompasses some 2575 years, or about 50% of Egyptian history. The Classical era, a time when Egypt was usually under foreign domination, lasted 1166 years, or close to 23%. Islamic Egypt has covered 1368 years as of this writing, somewhat over 26% of the total.


ATHRIBIS AND HELIOPOLIS During the 22nd through 26th dynasties, the cities of Athribis and Heliopolis were under the control of a hereditary princedom, nominally subservient to the Pharaohs. They were located in the Upper Delta - Heliopolis was just north of modern Cairo, and Athribis was about 40 miles (65 km.) northwest of Heliopolis.

BUSIRIS [often Bucyrus] (Pa-Ausari) A major cultic center for Osiris (the Egyptian name means "House of Osiris"); briefly an autonomous principality. It was located in the central Delta region, about 40 miles (65 km.) from the sea, and about 20 miles (33 km,) northwest of Leontopolis.

COPTIC PATRIARCHS OF ALEXANDRIA The Copts - the word is a Westernization of the Arabic al-Qibt, itself derived from the Greek Ægyptioi, = "an Egyptian" - as an identifiable ethnic group came into being when Arab Muslim residents began calling themselves al-Misri [Arabic for "Egyptian"], reserving "al-Qibti" for the indigenes (purely as an aside, the native Egyptian term for themselves is "Khem", from which the word "Chemistry" is derived). They are the largest Christian sect in Egypt, and have long been in conflict with the Orthodox community of that country. The Coptic Church split with Orthodoxy in the late 440's after the Fourth Ecumenical council declared Monophysitism, the doctrine that Jesus had  a single nature (as opposed to a human and a divine nature) was heresy. The Copts appointed their own patriarchs in Jerusalem, Antioch and elsewhere, but the most important patriarchate was that of Alexandria, which existed alongside the Orthodox patriarchate (rarely peacefully). Today the Coptic Patriarchs of Alexandria have the title of Pope and the Coptic church shares communion with other Monophysite churches, including the Jacobites of Syria, the Armenian church, and the Abyssinian Church of Ethiopia. It should be noted that in recent decades the Coptic and Orthodox communities have achieved a more careful understanding of the nature of the conflict between the two, with the result that the original Monophysite controversy has been nearly abandoned as a significant issue.
    There is a very real sense in which these people are the lineal heirs to the entire weight of ancient Egyptian heritage and culture; for although they are drastically outnumbered by their Muslim neighbours, the Coptic liturgical language (spoken in everyday life as late as the 17th century) is the directly evolved descendent of the ancient Egyptian language. Persecuted or heavily restricted for better than 1550 years, the Coptic community very gradually grew smaller, more insular, and less vital. Just in the last 45 years or so, they have undergone something of a renaissance, though. Pope Kyrillos VI decided that they needed to reach out or die, and so he encouraged the establishment of Coptic parishes around the world. The effort seems to have been successful, and now Coptic churches can be seen in many locales undreamt of in earlier ages. In each, part of the liturgy is devoted to prayers for the continued well-being of Egypt and of the Nile.

The list is the same as that of the Orthodox patriarchs of Alexandria until the schism of the late 440's.

GOVERNORS of EGYPT From late Classical times to nearly today, Egypt has often been within the sphere-of-influence of one great power or another. Here are lists associated with the provincial leaders in such eras...

HYKSOS A (probably) Semitic people who invaded Egypt during the 1700's BCE from the Levant. Their origins are unknown but they may have been connected to the loose grouping of tribes referred to as "Hebrew". The Greek word Hyksos is usually translated as deriving from the Egyptian for "Shepherd Kings" but may actually derive from the Egyptian phrase "Hikau Khausut" meaning "Lords from Other Lands". Though their hegemony was short-lived, the Hyksos left a lasting impact on Egypt; they introduced the composite bow, the khopesh sword, the horse and the chariot as well as many Canaanite gods and religious concepts. Despite their contributions and relatively peaceful reigns they were hated as foreigners by Egyptians such as Manetho, who fulminates about them at length. Their putative invasion may actually have been a peaceful settlement, especially in light of the fact that the Fourteenth Dynasty that preceded them was almost certainly Semitic as well. Manetho’s nationalist pride notwithstanding, much of the Fifteenth Dynasty appears to have been a prosperous and peaceful time. The extent of the Hyksos’ overlordship over most of Egypt is disputed among scholars. Traditionally they were supposed to have utterly dominated the Two Lands; more recent scholarship suggests that their direct rule was over only a small part of Lower Egypt, and that while they extracted tribute from other rulers (including the Theban dynasts of the Seventeenth Dynasty), they were content to refrain from meddling in internal affairs. They formed alliances with the Nubians and various Libyan peoples, possibly as a counter to the growing power of the Theban kings. The throne names of these kings is given in parenthesis. The Hyksos were defeated by Ahmose, a client prince from Thebes, who then declared himself Pharaoh - first of the XVIIIth Dynasty, the beginning of the New Kingdom. The Hyksos were gradually driven out of Egypt and eventually chased all the way to the town of Sharuhen, in Canaan (modern day Tel Ajjul, Israel). After a 3-year seige, according to the Egyptian account, Sharuhen was sacked and the Hyksos annihilated. The Hyksos are identified with the group of peoples referred to as "Shasu" by the Egyptians. Groups connected with the Shasu may have included the Midianites, Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, and possibly the ancestors of the ancient Israelites.

LEONTOPOLIS Located in the central Delta about 50 miles (80 km.) north of modern Cairo, this city provided a rival dynasty to the Libyan rulers during the 8th century BCE. The bases for the late 23rd dynasty dissidents (both on the West Bank) were: Herakleopolis, about 65 miles (105 km.) south of modern Cairo near Bani Suwayf, and Hermopolis, about 150 miles (240 km.) south of Cairo (near modern Mallawi), quite close to Amarna on the East Bank.

LIBU The Libu were a Libyan tribe which invaded Egypt during the 20th dynasty. They were settled along the western edge of the Nile Delta and occaisionally seized major towns along the river.
LOWER EGYPT The "Black Land" (from the nature of the alluvial soil around the Nile, and in the Delta), comprising Mediterranean Egypt, the Delta, and the northern Nile.

MENDES A hereditary principality started during the 22nd dynasty. It was located in the east-central Delta, north of Leontopolis by about 20 miles (33 km.) or so.

NAUKRATIS Greek trading colony in the western Delta, roughly equidistant between Athribis to the south and Alexandria on the coast. It was initially founded by Milesians (settlers from the city of Miletus, in Ionia) toward the beginning of the XXVIth dynasty, in the time of Psammetichus I (664-610). King Amasis of Egypt (570-526) gave the city its automony, which made it a Greek city (the only one) in Egypt, and the monopoly of marine trade in Egypt (Herodotus' Histories, II, 178-179). The city was the site of several temples to Greek gods, but it also had a temple to Egyptian gods Ammon and Thoth (identified by the Greeks with Zeus and Hermes, respectively).

Nomarch is the Greek term for Egyptian provincial governor - the equivalent Egyptian title is Hery-tepkh` (Great [or High] Lord). They were the officials responsible for administering the provinces (Gk. Nomos), Egy. Sepat [pl. Hesepu]), and given the length of Egyptian history, the range of their authority and autonomy varied widely from era to era. At times (especially the early First Intermediate Period to the rise of the New Kingdom at the end of the Second Intermediate Period), they had nearly plenary power within their districts; in other periods of strong centralized control they were more in the nature of bureaucrats and functionaries. At times the position was hereditary, held by a clan of local magnates, but nomarchs could also be appointed by the pharaoh. When the central government was weak – at times of foreign invasion or civil war, for example – rulers of individual nomes would quite frequently assert themselves and establish hereditary lines of succession. Conflicts between these different hereditary nomarchies were common during, for example, the First and Second Intermediate Periods. At times nomarchs, such as Mentuhotep of Thebes, were able to assert their control over the entire country as pharaoh. The division of the kingdom into nomes can be documented as far back as the Old Kingdom (in the 3rd millennium BCE) and continued even up until the Roman period.

There were 20 traditional nomes in Lower Egypt and 22 in Upper Egypt (currently, there are 29 Muhāfazāt over the whole nation - 7 of these are solely or mostly all desert). They were known by number as well as name.

The nomes of Lower Egypt (with provincial capitals listed in parenthesis) were:

01     Aneb-Hetch (Memphis) First capital of ancient Egypt, and usually the largest city. 20 m. s. of Cairo.
02     Khensu (Letopolis)     
03     Ament (Apis)     
04     Sapi-Res (Ptkheka)
05     Sap-Meh (Sais)     
06     Khaset (Xois)     
07     A-ment (Hermopolis Parva, Metelis)     
08     A-bt (Heroonpolis, Pithom)     
09     Ati (Busiris)
10     Ka-khem (Athribis)
11     Ka-heseb (Leontopolis)
12     Theb-ka (Sebennytos)
13     Heq-At Iunu (Heliopolis)     
14     Khent-abt (Sile, Tanis)
15     Tehut (Hermopolis Parva)
16     Kha (Mendes)
17     Semabehdet (Diospolis Inferior)
18     Am-Khent (Bubastis)     
19     Am-Pehu (Leontopolis Tanis)
20     Sopdu (Per-Sopdu)

The nomes of Upper Egypt (with provincial capitals listed in parenthesis) were:

01     Ta-Seti (Elephantine)
02     Thes-Hor (Apollonopolis Magna)
03     Ten (Hierakonopolis)
04     Waset (Thebes)
05     Herui (Coptos)
06     Aa-ta (Tentyra)
07     Seshesh (Diospolis Parva)
08     Abdju (Abydos)
09     Min (Panopolis)
10     Wadkhet (Aphroditopolis)
11     Set (Hypselis)
12     Tu-ph (Antaeopolis)
13     Atef-Khent (Asyut)     
14     Qesy (Cusae)
15     Un (Khmunu, Hermopolis Magna)
16     Meh-Makhte (Oryx)
17     Anpu (Cynopolis)
18     Sep (Alabastronopolis)
19     Uab (Oxyrhynchus)
20     Atef-Khent (Herakleopolis Magna)
21     Atef-Pehu (Crocodilopolis, Arsinoë)
22     Maten (Aphroditopolis)


ANPU (Cynopolis) In the vicinity of modern Samalut, about 125 miles (200 km.) south of Cairo. ATEF-KHENT (Asyut) The west bank of the river, some 200 miles (320 km.) south of Cairo, by modern Asyut. ATEF-PEHU (Crocodilopolis) Principle town in the Fayyum Depression, a low-lying marshy area - a lake in very ancient times - west of the Nile. The chief town was located where modern Al-Fayyum is now, 24 miles (38 km.) west of the river and around 60 (96 km.) miles south of Cairo. ATI (Busiris) In the north-central delta, about 65 miles (105 km.) north of Cairo. In Pharaonic times it hosted a major temple to Osiris. KA-HESEB (Leontopolis) In the central delta, where Mit Ghamr stands now, about 45 miles (72 km.) north of Cairo. In the chaos following the decay of the New Kingdom, and the invasion of the Delta by the Libyans, the local Nomarchs constituted themselves a Twenty-Third Dynasty of Pharaohs, 818-715. KHA (Mendes) In the northeastern Delta, about 25 miles southwest of the coastal inlet Lake Manzilah, and 9 miles (14½ km.) southeast of the modern city of Al-Mansurah.
KHENT-ABT (Tanis) In the eastern Delta, about 10 miles (16 km.) southwest from the coastal inlet Lake Manzilah and about 72 miles (116 km.) northeast of Cairo - the town of San al-Hajar al-Qibliyah is just north of the site. MEH-MAKHTE (Oryx) Between Un and Anpu, roughly where modern Al-Minya stands today. In the extreme southeast corner of this Nome is located the famous rock tombs near Beni Hassan. MIN (Panopolis) Located near modern Akhmim, some 240 miles (386 km.) south of Cairo. QESY (Cusæ) Some 180 miles (290 km.) south of Cairo, near modern Al-Qusiyah.
SOPDU (Per-Sopdu) In the eastern Delta, about 43 miles (70 km.) northeast of Cairo, near modern Saft el-Hinna.
TEN (Hierakonopolis) The Third Nome, some 40 miles (64 km.) south of Thebes.
TA-SETI (Elephantine) The First Nome of Upper Egypt, and thus the traditional frontier between the empire and the Nubian highlands. It was based at Elephantine, by the First Cataract - modern Aswan, some 120 miles (192 km.) south of ancient Thebes.
THEB-KA (Tjebennetjer, Sebennytos) In the northern Delta, near modern Samannud, 62 miles (100 km.) north of Cairo. This district is famed as the home of the priest Manetho, writer of an extensive history of Egypt down to Ptolomaic times.
THES-HOR (Edfu) The Second Nome of Upper Egypt, located between Hierokonopolis to the north and the First Cataract at Aswan, to the south.
UN (Khmunu) Roughly equidistant between modern Cairo and ancient Thebes. This Nome contains the El-Amarna site, capital of the 14th century monotheist heresiarch Pharaoh, Akhnaten.
WASET (Thebes) Capital of Egypt in the 2nd Millenium. 446 miles (717 km.) south of modern Cairo.

PELUSIUM A Greek name for the northern Sinai coast; a petty Kingdom seems to have existed here, long before the Greeks. Why the Sixteenth Dynasty is counted among the Pharaonic dynasties of Egypt is somewhat unclear - these kings were described by Manetho as native Egyptian, but clearly were Semitic in origin. They were likely vassals of the Hyksos guarding the western frontiers of Egypt; some sources refer to them by the tribal designation Kysos. Most of the names are known from only single references. As with the fourteenth dynasty, the presence of several kings named “Yakob” or Jacob has led some scholars to speculate on connections with the Biblical character of the same name. Only the first two names on the list can be confirmed archeologically, the others may be inventions. The dates of this dynasty seem to have been 1663 to 1555.

PHARBAITHOS A hereditary principality beginning in the 22nd Dynasty

SAIS Located in the western delta, this city provided a base for an ephemeral rival to the Libyan dynasts of the 8th century.

SEBENNYTOS A city located near modern Sammanud in the central Delta just across the river from  Busiris, a cultic center for Isis and several other gods. During the 700's and 600's it formed an autonomous principality under Egyptian rule. In later days it became famous as the home of Manetho, an Egyptian priest living in Ptolemaic times whose History of Egypt (fragments of which survive via extensive quotations and reviews by other ancient authors) provides the basic structure underlying Egyptological studies even today. He is sometimes regarded as having produced anti-semitic material - technically accurate in that his extensive and highly critical coverage of the Hyksos invasion 1300 years before his time was widely repeated and distributed.

SINAI The triangular landmass which connects Africa to Eurasia, bounded on the east by the Gulf of Aqaba, on the west by the Gulf of Suez and, in ancient times, a swampy area known as the "sea of reeds", and to the north by the Mediterranean. Until the 1800's merchants wishing to travel between the Mediterranean to the Red Seas would have to cross overland, usually at  Suez. It was a major center of copper mining in ancient times and, as the land bridge between Asia and Africa, the site of  several vital trade routes. In addition to being the site of the Biblical Mount Sinai, the Sinai peninsula was also an early center of Christian monasticism- the Codex Siniaticus, the oldest manuscript of the New Testament, was unearthed there in 1844.
Note also, the presence of the Eastern Orthodox bishops and (1567) Archbishops of Sinai, always abbots of St. Catherine's, beneath Mt. Sinai itself.

THEBES An important center in Upper Egypt, located about 120 miles (200 km.) north of the First Cataract. Toward the end of the XXth Dynasty, conditions deteriorated to such a point that the High Priest of Amun, seated at Thebes (in Upper Egypt), became effectively independent, and established a line of Theocrats. Not reckoned as a Dynasty per se, these priests nevertheless governed southern Egypt for roughly 135 years.
UPPER EGYPT The "Red Land", comprising the arid highlands and the deserts of central and southern Egypt. (Note: some authorities regard "Scorpion" and Narmer, who seem to have been Kings of Upper Egypt, as belonging to the Dynastic Era, within a "Dynasty Zero".)

XOIS (Avaris, Goshen) Located in the eastern delta, this "dynasty" consists of another series of apparently unrelated kings who ruled from Xois in the Delta over a small portion of Lower Egypt. There are several different versions of the regnal list for this Dynasty; the following attempts to consolidate them but largely follows the Turin Canon, and most of the dates are conjectural. Many of the names are problematic due to the lack of inscriptions and the entire list should be approached with a degree of skepticism. Many of the kings of the Fourteenth Dynasty bear Canaanite and Ammorite names, suggesting that this dynasty, identified as Egyptian by Manetho, was in fact Semitic and possibly connected with the Hyksos. Interestingly, Xois is located squarely within that region known in the Bible as “the Land of Goshen”, where the Israelites were settled and ultimately enslaved. Although the dynasty is supposed to have lasted only some 65 years, there may have been as many as 76 kings ruling in Xois, about most of whom nothing is known.