Ancient Near East Titles of Nobility

I’m looking for flavourful noble titles for my Barbarian Conqueror King setting, which is a sword & sorcery/sword & sandal setting inspired (in its human part) by the ancient Near East (especially the Levant and Egypt). I’d love to have a list of Egyptian noble titles, as well as Levantine/Canaanite ones.

Oh, and if you can find Mesoamerican noble titles for my Lizardmen it’ll be even better!

I've had absolutely no luck in finding either Ancient Egyptian or Ancient Canaanite titles, ever. Even ancient Persian ones are fairly hard to find in tiers that resemble those of the western feudal system. It's like "Shahenshah, Shah, Satrapes, done."


I’ll call the rulers by their Roman titles, then.

You could try looking for Ethiopian titles… I think they had “Ras” along the way and built up to Emperor.

Thanks for the tip! I’ll also check with some of the locals here in Israel, maybe they know something more.

Caliph, Shiek, Pasha. These might help.

I know a handful of Egyptian ones. The obvious start is pharaoh, the king (note that this is a Greek word, derived from per-aa “Great House”).

His chief advisor is the tjaty, what we would call a vizier.

Lower rulers were heri sepat, or official of the province (translating loosely) - these are what the Greeks called nomarchs.

A haty was a city mayor.

An imy-ra was an overseer, but this title could be used at various levels; the imy-ra per hedj was the Overseer of the House of Silver, or the royal treasuruer. The imy-ra kawet nesut was the Royal Architect.

Persian varied over time, but the titles I’ve seen from various sources are:
Shahan Shah - King of Kings
Shahzada - Prince
Marzpan - Governor-General of a conquered area (historically used in Armenia)
Khshathrapavan - subordinate ruler (the source of our word Satrap). I’m not clear on how (or if) they were different from a Marzpan; it may be the same title from different eras.
Sirdar - roughly equivalent to a Count
Mir - clan elder or local ruler

So, I’m by no means an expert on the subject, but I’ve gleaned the following from spending far too much time on Wikipedia:

The basic unit of society in the Valley of Mexico, at least during the period of Aztec hegemony, was the “Altepetl,” a term derived from the Nahuatl words for “water” and “mountain.” An altepetl was something like a city-state, though it also denoted a particular cultural or ethnic group; the Aztecs imagined the whole world as being made up of altepetl units, which informed the way they conducted wars, diplomacy, and the like.

Traditionally, each altepetl was governed by a hereditary ruler called a Tlatoani, though the rulers of the Aztec empire would later reign in local autonomy by replacing these leaders with appointed stewards called Calpixqui.

The altepetl were further organized into 38 provinces for the purpose of organizing tribute collection; each province was overseen by a Huecalpixque, who in turn, answered to the Petlacalcatl, a high official answering only to the emperor, or Huetlatoani himself.

The bureaucracy of the Aztec empire was actually really complex; you can read more, and find more titles, here:

Aren’t these Ottoman? This is a bit late, historically speaking, compared to the titles I’m looking for (Near East, about 2,000 or so BCE).

This is really interesting. Thanks for posting it.

You just made my day. Thank you!

Here are some from Sumer:

King: Sarrum
Queen: Sarratum
King of: Sar
Prince: Mar Sarrum (son of King) or Malku

Royal Attendant: Marruz Pani
Vizier: Sukkallum

Lord: Belum
Lord of: Bel
Lady: Beleti
Vassal: Bel Ade U Mamit

Father: Abum
Father of: Abi
Mother: Ummum
Heir: Aplum

City: Alu
Citizen: Mare Ali

House: Bitum
House of: Bit

Commanders: Sut Resi
Commanded: Alaksu Qabu

Thanks, DrPete! This is exactly what I was looking for!

Also awesome!

I like these!

I was asking because the titles I remember from the (Hebrew) Old Testament are quite general in nature; this has to do with the simpler (compared to the later empires and feudal kingdoms) nature of Levant society during most of the Biblical Era.

King: Melekh
Queen: Malkah

Note that any sovereign ruler can be called a “Melekh” in the old testament, from tribal chiefs, through the rulers of the various Canaanite city-states to the Pharaoh (“Melekh Mitsrayim”) and even the Persian King of Kings (“Melech Ha’Melachim” or simply “Melech Paras” - King of Persia).

Lord: Sar (this can also mean Vizier; in modern Hebrew this means Minister)

Another world for lord: Adon (the Hebrew God - The Lord - is called “Adonai”)

Commander: Sar Tsava

Judge: Shofet (this could also mean various semi-formal leaders of multiple tribes, sometimes a military leader as well; rarely hereditary)

Priest: Cohen (in Judaism this is a hereditary title, and was so long before there were kings; a person with a “Cohen” last name is technically a priest even today, though you can be a Rabbi without being a Cohen, and the title means relatively little as the Temple is still not rebuilt).

There is also Seren, which is a Philistine ruler.

There is a fantastic article on Israelite titles at


More on Hebrew and Biblical titles.

Seren probably comes from the same root as Tyrant (the Philistines were related to the Mycenaeans in culture and language, though they soon adopted Canaanite gods). In modern Hebrew Seren is a military rank equivalent to Captain.

EVERY kind of sovereign ruler could be called a Melekh. A tribal chief is a Melekh. The ruler of a city-state is a Melekh. The ruler of a small kingdom such as Israel or Judea is a Melekh. The ruler of an empire such as the Pharaoh or the Persian King of Kings is a Melekh. The Roman Empire was called “Malkhut H’Rishaa” - Kingdom of Evil - by the Jews during the wars between them.

Sar could also mean an officer. For example, a Roman Centurion was called “Sar Meaa” - “Lord of a Hundred”. The best translation is Lord, though in modern Hebrew the meaning is Minister.

Nasi means “president” in modern Hebrew but originally meant a tribal chief.

Shofet is often translated as “Judge”; originally, a Shofet was more than a judge - essentially a semi-formal, sometimes temporary, leader of a tribal confederacy, who also served as an arbiter and judge, but could also be a military leader.

Nabuzaradan, Nebuchadnezzar II’s general, was called in Hebrew “Sar Tabakhim” - Lord of the Butchers.