Empires: Egypt’s Golden Empire

Built by men and women of astonishing ambitions, Egypt is renowned as one of the first great empires in the history of the world.

Empire: Egypt’s Golden Empire outlines the 500-year process of creating the nation, beginning in the 16th century B.C.

Through remarkably well-preserved letters and personal accounts, this documentary series tells the stories of Ahmose, Hatshepsut, Tutankhamun, and many of the country’s great rulers and ordinary citizens who helped to build the cities, temples, tombs, and technology that made ancient Egypt’s empire great.

Episode 1: The Warrior Pharaohs

Episode 1: The Warrior Pharaohs

Episode one focuses on the unification of ancient Egypt and its struggle to become a super power of the ancient world.

Egypt was occupied by foreigners except for a narrow strip of land around a town called Thebes. The capital and its royal family had fallen on hard times. But one local family was determined to revive it–the king of Thebes and his two young sons Ahmose and Kamose, who became freedom fighters and liberators of Egypt.

Through enormous struggle, hardships and personal tragedy, the enemy Hyksos was expelled, and Egypt was finally reunited. But their successor, Hatshepsut, put Egypt in jeopardy because she was a woman and declared herself pharaoh, breaking 2,000 years of tradition. She had stolen the throne from her stepson, Tuthmosis III.

He would have to wait 20 years before he ruled Egypt. When he came to the throne, Tuthmosis was determined to remove the record of his stepmother from history.

In a massive battle at Megiddo – the site of biblical Armageddon – he revealed himself as one of the greatest war generals.

Episode 2: The Pharaohs of the Sun

Episode 2: The Pharaohs of the Sun

Episode two looks at the rule of Amenhotep III, his successors and the ascension of the pharaoh to becoming a living god.

During the reign of Amenhotep III, Egypt was the center for culture and learning in the ancient world. Egypt had reached dizzying heights, but it stood on the brink of a devastating fall.

Amenhotep III’s son and successor, Amenophis IV, took the throne by storm, changed his name to Akhenaten and announced that the old gods of Egypt were dead. He moved his entire court and thousands of followers to the new capital city of Armana. By his side was Queen Nefertiti. Obsessed by his new religion, he lost sight of the empire. When Nefertiti died, his world crumpled and became a shell of his former self.

Akhenaten’s successor, Tutankhamun, was only 10 years old when he took the throne. By the time he was 19, all traces of Akhenaten and Nefertiti had been erased. With his death came the end of the great dynasty of the empire builders.

Episode 3: The Last Great Pharaoh

Episode 3: The Last Great Pharaoh

The third and final episode of Empires Egypt’s Golden Empire tells the story of Ramses the Great, great leader who resurrected the Egyptian empire. His reign was the high point in the life of the New Kingdom but was also the precursor of its ruin and destruction.

Ramses II embarked on the most ambitious building program the world had ever seen. His master craftsmen were responsible for the remarkable tomb-building in the Valley of the Kings and the most beautiful tomb, which was built for Ramses’ chief wife, Nefetari.

The world of Ramses II was the high point of Egyptian civilization. All pharaohs who came after him tried to recapture his greatness, yet no-one could. With Ramses XI, Egypt’s Golden Empire was over.

War and famine devestated the Egyptian kingdom at this point. It lead to travesties; such as wealthy tombs being robbed and desecrated.

To secure their ancient leaders and their spiritual afterlife, those left in charge created one last desperate act: the bodies of 40 pharaohs were moved and placed in a secret cave where they would lie undiscovered for 3,000 years.

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Empires: Egypt’s Golden Empire
  • Info
  • Release date2001
  • Full runtime2 hours 45 minutes
  • Narrated byKeith David
  • Production CompanyLion Television
  • Produced forPBS