Pharaohs of the Sun
RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK, HOW EGYPT'S DESPOTS AND DREAMERS DROVE THE RISE AND FALL OF TUTANKHAMUN'S DYNASTY
For more than two centuries Egypt was ruled by the most powerful, successful, and richest dynasty of kings in its long end epic history. They included the female king Hatshepsut, the warrior kings Thutmose III and Amenhotep II, the religious radical Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti, and most famously of all for the wealth of his tomb the short-lived boy king Tutankhamun. The power and riches of the Pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty came at enormous cost to Egypt's enemies and most of its people. This was an age of ruthless absolutism, exploitation, extravagance, brutality, and oppression in a culture where not only did Egypt plunder its neighbours but Egyptian kings and their people robbed one another.
3,500 years ago ancient Egypt began two centuries in which it became richer and more powerful than any other nation at the time, ruled by the kings of the 18th Dynasty. They presided over a system built on war, oppression, and ruthlessness, pouring Egypt's wealth into grandiose monuments, temples, and extravagant tombs. Tutankhamun was one of the last of the line and one of the most obscure. Among his predecessors were some of the most notorious and enigmatic figures of all of Egypt's history. Pharaohs of the Sun is their story, showing how the glamour and gold was tainted by selfishness, ostentation, and the systematic exploitation of Egypt's people and enemies.