The Ancient Egyptian Coronation Ceremony

The crowning of the new king gave rise to grand celebrations.
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The coronation ceremony of the pharaoh in ancient Egypt was a grand public event. The festivities pertaining to the coronation often lasted for days, as the crowning of a new ruler was a time of great joy and celebration for the nation. It was believed that the gods were in attendance during the rituals and festivities, and were represented by their attendants -- high priests gowned in ceremonial masks.

1 Induction Rites and Rituals

The actual crowning ceremony consisted of a series of ritual performances honoring the transition from one leader to the next. In some dynasties the new pharaoh was inducted in by his predecessor, while in other periods the new pharaoh only ascended to the thrown once his predecessor had passed away. In all cases, it was required of the new ruler to be present at the burial of the previous ruler. During the opening rites, the heir was presented to the people wearing both the white and red crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. He then would pay tribute to the gods of Upper and Lower Egypt, respectively, by entering the hall of each pantheon wearing the corresponding crown. In later dynasties, the coronation rituals became more elaborate, including purification rites and journeys down the Nile to receive the crown from the gods.

Rachel Alexander is a cultural and political area specialist of South Asia and the Middle East. She received the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship in 2011, and again in 2012, to live in northern India and study advanced Hindi. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from Loyola University of Chicago.