Who Was The Richest Egyptian Pharaoh Ever?

The Bangles made everybody want to walk like an Egyptian, unless that Egyptian was King Tut, who likely "died from a broken leg," according to the BBC. The only thing better than not walking like a broken-legged Egyptian would be rolling like a pharaoh with enough money to bankroll a bunch of pyramids. Sadly, much like Tut's leg, that pharaoh fantasy has a fatal flaw. Per the Ancient History Encyclopedia, ancient Egypt used a barter system for most of its existence.

Obviously, pharaohs still had ways of counting their nonexistent pennies. The Ancient History Encyclopedia writes that "land ownership meant wealth." Moreover, according to Nadine Moeller, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, grain served as currency. As described in the book The Egyptian World, "The Egyptians computed salaries in units of bread and beer," which suggests that rich Egyptians were literally rolling in dough. But who was the biggest breadwinner of all the pharaohs? 

Ramses II was the king of pops

If sowing wild oats counts as amassing grain currency, then Ramses II was hands-down the richest pharaoh ever. Per the Ancient History Encyclopedia, he boasted more than 200 wives and concubines and sired 96 sons and 60 daughters. PBS says he fathered 80 sons and 60 daughters. Either way, Ramses clearly needed loads of dough to feed all those mouths.

Ramses was rich enough to fund the largest construction project Egypt had ever seen. He had an entire village populated by craftsmen who built two giant tombs. He had his name etched on structures across all of Egypt, and "there is virtually no ancient site" in the country that doesn't somehow reference him. Described by Reuters as "the most powerful and celebrated ruler in ancient Egypt," Ramses also lorded over a lot of land, expanding the empire to include Nubia and Syria. 

The richest man in the ancient world

Ramses II wasn't the only big spender of antiquity. According to the BBC, Pharaoh Tuthmosis III was once the richest man on Earth. Tuthmosis had a circuitous route to power. His stepmother, Hatshepsut, who was also his aunt, snatched the royal carpet from underneath him, ruling Egypt in his place for over 20 years. When Tuthmosis took the reins, Egypt was vulnerable to attack. But he would prevail in battle, amassing the "the biggest empire ever conquered and ruled by one king," per PBS.