10 Bizarre Facts About The Pharaohs Of Ancient Egypt

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10 Bizarre Facts About The Pharaohs Of Ancient Egypt



he pharaohs of Egypt were treated like gods. They were rulers of one of the first great civilizations, living in absolute luxury, with dominion over an empire the likes of which the world had never seen. They dined on milk and honey. Teams of people died building statues in their honor. And, when their own lives came to an end, they were buried in world wonders that have stood for more than 4000 years.

Nobody had ever had that type of power before. The pharaohs were pioneers in a new frontier of decadence, exploring the new world of absolute power and luxury in ways that nobody ever had before. They were enjoying life like never before—and sometimes, they got a bit carried away.


10Pepi II’s Obsession with Pygmies


Pepi II was about six years old when he became the king of Egypt. He was a tiny child ruling a massive kingdom, and his priorities were more or less where you would expect a six-year-old boy’s to be.

The young king, as you might imagine, was a little spoiled. Shortly after he became king, an explorer named Harkhuf wrote him a letter reporting that he had met a dancing pygmy. It was the greatest thing Pepi II had ever heard. He had to see it for himself.

“Drop everything!” Pepi II ordered Harkhuf. “Come north to the palace at once!” He wanted that dancing pygmy—and he would not risk it for anything. Harkhuf was under strict orders not to let anything happen to the pygmy. “When he goes down with you to the boat, get trusty men to stand around him on the gangplank—don’t let him fall in the water! When he goes to bed at night, get trusty men to lie all round him in his hammock. Inspect ten times a night!”

Pepi II got his dancing pygmy, and pretty much everything else he ever asked for. He was spoiled, to say the least, and he learned to accept that he was more important than other people. By the time he had grown up, he was so corrupt that he made his slaves strip naked, cover themselves in honey and follow him around just to keep the flies away.

9Sesostris’s Giant Genital Monuments


Sesostris was one of the greatest military commanders in Egyptian history. He sent warships and troops to every corner of the known world and stretched his kingdom further than anyone had ever seen. And, after each battle, he commemorated his success—by setting up a big pillar with a picture of someone’s genitals.

Sesostris left pillars on the sites of every battleground. For the most part, these were engraved with the usual boasting—who he was, how he had subdued his enemies, and how certain he was that the gods were in favor of his “invade everyone” policy.

But Sesostris left a little extra mark that sort of worked like a review of the opposing army. If they were strong and had fought valiantly, he would engrave a picture of a penis on it. But if they did not put up much of a fight, he would carve a picture of a vagina.

These pillars were left all across the continent, and they stood the test of time. Herodotus saw some of Sesostris’s monuments first-hand. 1500 years after they were erected, they still stood in Syria, engraved with the genitals of failure.


8Pheros’s Urine Baths


Sesostris’s son, Pheros, was blind. It was most likely a disease he had inherited from his father, but the official Egyptian story was that he had been cursed. The Nile was flooding, as the story goes, and Pheros got fed up with it for refusing to cooperate. So he threw a spear at the river, figuring that was probably how you make water go down, and, for his insolence, was struck blind by the gods.

Ten years later, an oracle told Pheros that he could get his sight back. All he had to do, she told him, was wash his eyes with the urine of a woman who had never slept with anyone other than her husband.

Pheros tried using his wife’s, but it did not work. He was still blind, and his wife now had some explaining to do. First, though, Pheros gathered up every woman in town, made them pee into a pot and poured it into his eyes.

It worked. After going through dozens of women, Pheros found one who was not cheating on her husband and got his sight back. He married her on the spot—and burned his old wife to death.

Or, at least, that is how the legend goes. Of course, it is unlikely that Pheros really got his sight back through magic urine. Maybe he just needed a good story to explain a weird habit.

7Hatshepsut’s Fake Beard


Hatshepsut was one of the few women to rule over Egypt. She had big plans in mind. She would build some of Egypt’s greatest wonders—but it would not be easy. Egypt may have been a bit more progressive than the other countries around it, but they still did not treat women as equals. As queen, she a lot working against her.

So, Hatshepsut ordered her people to only ever draw her as a man. In every picture, she was to be drawn with rippling biceps and a full beard. She called herself the “Son of Ra” whenever she introduced herself, and it is very likely that she actually wore a fake beard in real life, too.

She managed to accomplish a lot while she was alive, in part by tricking everyone into thinking she was a man—but it did not pan out. Her son ended up erasing her from history to hide that a woman had ever been king. He did it so well, in fact, that we did not even find out she existed until 1903.

6Amasis’s Fart-Based Diplomacy


Amasis was not exactly the most polite Pharaoh to ever sit on the throne. He was an alcoholic. He was a kleptomaniac who would steal his friends’ stuff, put it in his house, and then try to convince them that they had never owned it in the first place.

He got the throne by force. The king had sent him to calm down a rebellion, but when he got there, he realized the Rebels had a pretty good chance of winning—so he decided to lead them, instead. Ever a master of tact, he sent the king his declaration of war by lifting up his leg, farting, and telling a messenger, “Take that back to the king!”

All Amasis’s uncouth habits, though, actually led to some major reforms. When he had been a poor kleptomaniac, he had been sent to stand in front of oracles who were supposed to be able to divine whether he was innocent or guilty. When he was king, every oracle who had let him off the hook was punished for being a fraud. If they had really been able to speak to god, Amasis figured, they would have known he was guilty.


5Actisanes’s City of Noseless Criminals


Amasis’s people did not put up with him for long. He was a harsh ruler, and it did not take long before he was overthrown. This time, the revolution was led by an Ethiopian named Actisanes, who was determined to take a gentler approach.

Actisanes had a new idea for dealing with criminals. Every person who committed a crime, he ruled, would have their nose cut off. Then they would be sent off to a town he called Rhinocolura—literally, the town of cut-off noses.

This would have been one hell of a weird town to visit. It was exclusively populated by noseless criminals, forced to fend for themselves in one of the harshest environments in the country. The water was contaminated, and they lived off scattered pieces of brine that they found lying around.

Today that sounds harsh—but for a sixth century B.C. ruler, this was considered the height of benevolence. Romans wrote about Rhinocolura, calling it an example of Actisanes’s “kindly manner towards his subjects.” Back then, if you broke the law and just lost your nose, you were getting off easy.

4Ramses II’s 100 Children


Ramses II lived so long that people started getting seriously worried that he might never die. In a time when most kings got assassinated within the first few years, Ramses II lived to be 91 years old. He enjoyed his time alive, too. Right up until the very end, he built more statues and monuments than anyone—and he slept with more women than anyone, too.

By the time he had died, Ramses II had at least 100 children with at least nine wives. It took a lot of sleeping with women to get there, but he made sure he put the hours in.

Ramses II married pretty well every girl he saw. When he invaded Kheta, he refused to sign a peace treaty unless they handed over their eldest daughter. And he did not shy away from his daughters, either. He married at least three of his own kids, including his first-born.

He may have married four. Historians are not sure whether his wife Henutmire was his daughter or his sister—but, since this is Ramses II we are talking about, there is no reason that “daughter,” “sister,” and “wife” have to be mutually exclusive.

3Cambyses’s Hatred for Animals


Cambyses was not actually Egyptian, he was Persian, and the son of Cyrus the Great. After his nation conquered Egypt, though, he was put in charge of the country. And so, he was a ruler of Egypt—and, apparently, someone who absolutely hated animals.

Nearly every story the Egyptians told about Cambyses involved him ruining the life of one animal or another. Early on, he went to see Apis, a bull the Egyptians treated as a god. Right in front of the priests of Apis, he pulled out a dagger and started stabbing the bull, laughing at them and saying, “This is a god worthy of the Egyptians!”

It was not just that he liked picking on Egyptians, though. He just liked watching animals suffer. In his spare time, he put on fights between lion cubs and puppies and made his wife watch as they tore each other apart.

2Akhenaten’s City Built on Broken Backs


Akhenaten changed Egypt completely. Before he took the throne, the Egyptians had many gods, but Akhenaten cut out every god but one: Aten, the god of the sun. It meant a major upheaval in how Egypt was run, and it took a lot of work to do it. So much, in fact, that he literally worked his people to death.

He built a whole new city, Amarna, in honor of his god. He moved 20,000 people there and had them build it, no matter how badly their bodies ached. These people had to push through everything. Based on the bones in the town cemetery, more than two-thirds of his workers broke a bone while they were working, and a good one-third of them broke their spines.

The people were barely fed. Almost every person in the town was malnourished, and they were not allowed to do anything about it. If they broke rank and tried to snatch a little something extra, they were sentenced to be repeatedly stabbed.

And it was all for nothing. As soon as Akhenaten died, everything he did was destroyed. His very name was erased from Egyptian history.

1Menkaure’s Refusal to Die


Even a Pharaoh dies. Though their titles called them undying, every pharaoh knew his end would come. And, though they built pyramids to take them onto the afterlife, every pharaoh must have had his doubts about what would come when they closed their eyes for the last time.

Menkaure, a pharaoh who ruled in the 26th century B.C., definitely had his doubts. When an oracle came to him and told him that he only had six years left to live, he was terrified. He did everything he could to avoid it.

He decided he could fool the gods. As long as night never came, Menkaure figured, a new day would never begin. If a new day never began, time could not pass—and he could not die. So, every night, he lit up as many lamps as he could and convinced himself it was still daytime.

For the rest of his life, Menkaure would not sleep. He spent every night up drinking and celebrating under artificial light, terrified of the moment when his light finally went out.

Top 10 Celebrities Who Lived Double Lives

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Top 10 Celebrities Who Lived Double Lives



Celebrities are a lot like us. They have secrets, and sometimes they even have aspects of their lives that, for one reason of another, they keep hidden for years. But, in Hollywood, your secrets can only stay hidden for so long.


10Joaquin Phoenix


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Joaquin Phoenix gained critical success for his role as rockabilly legend Johnny Cash in the 2005 biopic Walk the Line. Phoenix shined as the “Man in Black,” even learning to play the guitar and mimic Cash’s dulcet vocals. In the process, Phoenix gained a reputation for his extreme commitment to character, to the point that his roles often spilled into the actor’s personal life.

In 2012, Phoenix again garnered praise for his role in The Master. In the film, Phoenix portrayed a war veteran lured into a cult by its charismatic leader, played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. In preparation for the role, Phoenix drew from experience with a cult that he knew well—the one he lived with for many years.

As a child, Joaquin, along with his brother River, grew up in the controversial religious group called the Children of God. Phoenix’s family joined the group in the early 1970s and, during Joaquin’s formative years, traveled throughout South America with the church.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Phoenix explained his family’s infatuation with the group: “I think my parents thought they’d found a community that shared their ideals. Cults rarely advertise themselves as such.”

Ultimately, the family left the Children of God after becoming disenchanted, and Joaquin has put the whole experience behind him in pursuit of his prolific acting career.

9Dolph Lundgren


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Dolph Lundgren, a Swedish-born male model, made a name for himself, early, as a hypermasculine ’80s action star. With a black belt in karate, Lundgren began his career as a competitive martial artist while moonlighting as a club bouncer. It was at a club that Lundgren met, and began a relationship with, model-actress Grace Jones. His tryst with Jones would lead to a chance encounter with writer-director Sylvester Stallone and to Lundgren’s breakout role as Ivan Drago, the Soviet-bred antagonist of Rocky IV. The rest is Hollywood history, but acting marked a sharp turn away from Lundgren’s first career choice: chemical engineer.

Despite his macho persona onscreen, Lundgren possesses a genius-level intellect, and before he ever stepped foot in the ring with the “Italian Stallion,” Lundgren was a promising and sought-after academic star.

The actor excelled at science from an early age and was even offered a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lundgren describes the day he rode his motorcycle to meet with university staff: “The professors are waiting for the star student from Sweden and then they see me ride past outside all decked out in leather. They probably didn’t know what was going on.” Thankfully, Lundgren abandoned his career in academia, and we can all enjoy his talents in not one, but three installments of The Expendables.


8Rock Hudson


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Rock Hudson came to fame in the 1956 classic Giant, starring alongside heavyweights Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. Hudson’s looks coupled with his boundless charm made him an instant celebrity.

Actors with Hudson’s talent rarely stay single long, and in 1955, Hudson married actress Phyllis Gates. However, unknown to Gates, the marriage was arranged by her employer and Hudson’s agent Henry Wilson. The coupling was meant to keep up appearances as Hudson, the man coveted by women around the world, was gay.

Predictably, Hudson and Gate’s marriage ended quickly, but due to societal pressure, Hudson would remain in the closet for several more decades. In 1984, Hudson defied years of suppression to publicize his sexuality, becoming one of the first openly gay stars in Hollywood and a model for generations to come.

A year later, Hudson also revealed his diagnosis with AIDS. Hudson used his image and fame to bring public attention to the disease and helped spread awareness of its dangers. Sadly, Hudson died in October 1985. He was 59. As one of the first openly gay men in Hollywood, and an early advocate for AIDS victims, Hudson’s legacy lives on to this day.

7Chuck Barris


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Barris came to prominence in the 1960s working as an assistant to Dick Clark. With a loan of $20,000, from his father-in-law, Barris was able to develop his first television show The Dating Game, which became a huge success. Later, Barris created The Gong Show, an instant classic, that showcased contestants performing wacky talents.

For most people, the life of a successful TV producer would be enough, but not for Barris. He liked to keep busy, and while working on various projects, the producer claimed to have been very busy operating covertly as a spy for the United States government.

In his 1984 autobiography Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Barris alleges to have been an assassin for the CIA during the ’60s and ’70s. While the claims of the book are dubious, and Barris offers no evidence to back them up, his story was interesting enough for George Clooney to make a movie out of it in 2002. Barris has gone on to write many more books, including Della: a Memoir of My Daughter, in which he recounts the tragic loss of his only daughter to drug abuse.

The CIA officially denies all of Barris’s claims about his time as a spy—but then they would, wouldn’t they?

6Caitlyn Jenner


Photo credit: US Mission to the UN

Bruce Jenner was born in 1949 in Mt. Kisco, New York. In high school, Jenner proved to be a gifted athlete, lettering in football as well as basketball. He once took up water skiing as a hobby and went on to become the East Coast All-Over Champion in 1966, 1969, and 1971.

After high school, Jenner attended Graceland College on a football scholarship, but he was sidelined by a knee injury that left him limited to basketball and track.

In 1971, Jenner participated in his first decathlon, and by 1972, Jenner was competing in the decathlon at the Munich Olympics, where he finished 10th overall in the event. In 1976, Jenner won the gold in the Men’s Decathlon at the Montreal Olympics and was declared, by the media, to be the “world’s greatest athlete.” Jenner accomplished all of this while living with a deep personal secret that wouldn’t emerge for another 40 years.

In 2014, Jenner announced his divorce from his longtime wife, Kris Jenner. A year later Jenner shocked the world when he revealed that he had undergone gender reassignment surgery. At the age of 65, Caitlyn Jenner, introduced herself to the world. In 2015, ESPN awarded Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, and to this day, Caitlyn is one of the most prominent public figures to come out as transgender.



5Sam Hurd


Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall

Sam Hurd was once a talented college football star at Northern Illinois who was known not only for his skills on the field but also for his friendly personality and devout Christian faith. In 2006, Hurd’s hard work paid off when he signed a contract to play for his favorite childhood team, the Dallas Cowboys. Hurd was handed a chance at NFL fame, but Sam had other ambitions in mind.

It was a mere five years later, in 2011, that Hurd was arrested outside of a Chicago steakhouse. Like so many others in the NFL, this arrest was drug-related, but Hurd wasn’t interested in scoring a few ounces of weed on a Saturday night. No, he was busted while trying to purchase a kilogram of cocaine from an undercover cop.

Hurd, allegedly, told the officer that he wanted to purchase an additional 5–10 kilos of coke a week, as well as 1,000 pounds of marijuana. He planned to distribute the drugs throughout Chicago in an operation that would have given Walter White a run for his money. On top of this, Hurd told the cop he was already selling 4 kilos of coke per week.

As if these confessions weren’t proof enough of Hurd’s poor judgment, consider that, at the time of his arrest, he had just signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Bears reported to be worth $5 million. Rather than collect his massive paycheck, Hurd found himself in a courtroom in November 2013, where he was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison on the charge of drug trafficking. Let Hurd’s story be a lesson for all: Sometimes people can really screw up a good thing. Don’t believe it? Just google Aaron Hernandez sometime.

4Coco Chanel


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Coco Chanel, a legendary Parisian designer, was born in Saumur, France in 1883. By the age of 27, Chanel owned a successful clothing shop, and within a decade, she had launched her first perfume line and introduced the world to her “little black dress,” revolutionizing the fashion industry.

Unfortunately, by the 1930s, Chanel witnessed her native France invaded by Hitler’s army. Although France was quickly overwhelmed by the scourge of Nazis, many French citizens chose to resist the Germans at every turn. Chanel, however, was less than resistant. During the war, Chanel began dating a Nazi officer named Hans Gunther von Dincklage. This relationship might have been written off as a harmless, if not regretful, tryst, but renowned journalist Hal Vaughan claims otherwise.

In his book Sleeping With The Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War, Vaughan asserts that Chanel did not object to the Nazi occupation because she, herself, was an anti-Semite. Vaughan goes even further to claim that Chanel acted as a Nazi Intelligence operative. The journalist pens an intrigue-fueled story in which Chanel is portrayed as jet-setting across Europe, her Nazi boyfriend in tow, and acting as a celebrity ambassador for the Nazi regime.

After the war, Chanel absconded to Switzerland (not a suspicious move at all), but in later years, she was able to reestablish herself in France with the backing of the wealthy Wertheimer family. The Wertheimers still hold majority control the Chanel brand to this day but are reluctant to speak on Chanel’s wartime activities.

3Alice Cooper


Photo credit: Kreepin Deth

Heavy Metal frontman Alice Cooper always had a flair for the dramatic. Performing with his band of the same name, Cooper pioneered the art of Shock Rock, a stage performance that drew its style from the macabre and horror genres. He developed a stage-persona that capitalized on the band’s outlandish music, makeup, and behavior. In one of his more bizarre stunts, Cooper once threw a live chicken off stage, not knowing that the bird couldn’t fly. Cooper watched in horror as a rabid crowd tore the animal apart. With that stunt, Cooper may have cornered the market on shock, but few fans know his most shocking persona—that of a self-described “prodigal son.”

Cooper grew up in a strictly religious house, and both his father and grandfather preached the gospel as Evangelical pastors. After living for decades as a typical hard-drinking rock star, Cooper had a change of heart. The rock star finally saw the light, and for the past several years, he has lived as a devout Born-again Christian. Cooper hasn’t quit rocking, though, and he hasn’t completely abandoned his onstage antics, but now he views himself more as an actor playing a character when onstage. He has, however, removed the live poultry from his act.

2Patty Hearst


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Patty Hearst was born lucky. As the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst—think the 19th-century Rupert Murdoch—she was the heir to the fortune her family built through a media empire that thrives to this day. Yet, by the age of 19, it seemed that Hearst’s luck may have finally run out.

The world was shocked when, as a freshman at Berkeley University, Hearst was kidnapped from her dorm room by members of a homegrown terrorist group calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. The urban terrorists abducted Hearst with the goal of extorting a ransom from Heart’s wealthy family. The plan may have worked too, but sometimes plans, and allegiances, can change.

Two months into her abduction, Hearst again shocked everyone by announcing her full-fledged allegiance to her captors via released audiotapes. Some believed that Hearst was pressured into supporting the group, but all myths were dispelled when Hearst was caught, on camera, taking part in a bank robbery along with the SLA. Hearst was also culpable in extorting an estimated $2 million from her father, during her abduction.

In 1975 Hearst was arrested by the FBI, convicted of bank robbery, and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Her sentence was subsequently commuted by President Jimmy Carter, and Hearst was released in 1979. Many have questioned Hearst’s actions during her abduction, and some have chalked up her behavior to Stockholm Syndrome, where a victim begins to identify with their captors overtime. Maybe Hearst, scared and young, was desperate to cope with her circumstances in any way possible. We may never know. As for her part, Hearst has remained tight-lipped about her time with the SLA.

1Vin Diesel


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Vin Diesel is known as a tough guy, and his roles in movies like The Fast and the Furious, Pitch Black, and xXx have done little to dispel that macho persona. But this tough guy might have the darkest secret of all. A secret so dark, so cloaked in mystery that Diesel has kept it locked away in the dungeon of his past for years. Until, during promotion for his movie The Last Witch Hunter, Diesel was forced to reveal his long-hidden truth.

Vin Diesel is . . . a closet Dungeons and Dragons player.

Actually, maybe not quite closeted. Diesel has given plenty of hints to his love for the role playing game throughout his career. Take, for instance, his role of Xander Cage in xXx. Diesel insisted that the character of Cage have the name “Melkor” tattooed on his chest. Melkor just so happens to be the name of Diesel’s real-life Dungeons and Dragons character.

Another nod to Diesel’s fandom came in 2004 when he wrote the foreword to 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons and Dragons. And then there was the time that Diesel posted a video, on his own YouTube channel, that featured him, and others, playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons that ended with Diesel declaring, “I just played a game of Dungeons and Dragons . . . and I had so much fun!”

Kerr lives in Texas, where he works as a high school English teacher by day and a freelance writer by night. He recently had his short story “Prospectors” published inHelios Quarterly.