A collective name given to the twenty-odd dynasties of supreme rulers that governed the kingdom of Egypt in ancient times.

Each pharaoh was believed to be the living incarnation of the hawk god Horus, which is one of the reasons they notoriously married their sisters, mothers and daughters - to keep the divine blood undiluted, as it were.

The culture of the time of the pharaohs - at least 3,000 documented years - was of course extremly diverse, and the political shifts and power plays between the kings and their various flunkies have been used to fill libraries, let alone books. However, the ancient Egyptian culture still managed to maintain an incomprable consistency and uniformity of style which renders its artefacts immediately recognisable as "Egyptian".

The pharaohs are further famous for their penchant for grand exits - or in other words, their magnificent tombs, among which are the immense and myseterious pyramids at Giza, the great temples at Luxor and the famous Valley of the Kings, in an unfashionable corner of which was unearthed the un-looted and now world famous tomb of king Tut-Ankh-Amun.