The Egyptian Museum History Information
Khufu was the second king of Dynasty 4 of the Old Kingdom. We know very little about him, in spite of the fact that he built the most famous tomb in the ancient world, “The Great Pyramid”, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Turin Papyrus mentioned that he ruled for 23 years after the reign of his father Snefru. His real name was Khnum-Khufwy, which means “the god Khnum protects me”, and Khufu was his nickname.
Khufu planned that his son Kawab would be his heir. Kawab was a scribe and he wanted to be like his grandfather Senefru who was described by the Egyptians as a cultured and wise king. But Kawab died during the reign of his father.
Khufu’s mother was Queen Hetep-heres I, who according to Reisner’s theory was buried at Dahshur and her equipment moved by her son to a shaft at Giza. But Lehner and the author suggest that she was originally buried in the subsidiary pyramid G1a while her funerary equipment was moved during the First Intermediate Period by loyal priests to the nearby shaft. Khufu married Queen Merey-it-es, who was buried in G1b. He also married Queen Henutsen who is buried in G1c.
According to Reisner and Smith, after the death of Khufu, the royal family was divided into three branches. The first was headed by Khufu’s main queen who was the mother of DjedefHor and Buefre, who never succeeded to the throne. The second was headed by the mother of DjedefRe who took the throne after his father and ruled for eight years. The third branch was headed by the mother of Khafre.
The most important achievement of Khufu was building the great pyramid at Giza plateau. There were 13 architectural components attached to his pyramid. The royal family was buried in tombs and pyramids to the east and the officials were buried to the west of the pyramid. Recently the cult pyramid was discovered to the south-east of Khufu’s tomb. The program of the pyramid complex was designed in his reign and continued to be used until the end of the Old Kingdom.
The building of the Great Pyramid can provide us with important insights into the reign of Khufu. From the political side, it shows how Khufu controlled the wealth and the population of the country. He organized households all over Egypt into participating in the building of the pyramid, and providing the king with food (grain and beer), and with laborers. This organization reveals that the pyramid was the national project of the nation.
From the architectural point of view, the pyramid shows the skills and the brilliance of the overseer of all the king’s work along with his architects. It also demonstrates the Egyptian achievements in science, astronomy, art, and mathematics which were necessary for the building of that great tomb.
The pyramid project must have been a tremendous socializing force in the early Egyptian kingdom, with young conscripts from hamlets and villages far and wide departing for Giza. There, they would enter their respective gangs, phyles and divisions in scenes reminiscent of the most dramatic cinematic spectacles of Cecil B. De Mille.
The pyramid project involved tremendous organization of the work-force, and food, water, and beer supplies. It shows the social organization and the administration skills necessary for organizing such a work force. Recently, we discovered the site of the town of the pyramid builders. The discovery includes the support facilities, residential areas and cemeteries of the workers who created and maintained the pyramid.
The name of Khufu and his pyramid is always attached to a popular notion that the pyramid was built by slaves. But that was not the case, because the workers built their own tombs near the pyramid of Khufu, and prepared their tombs for eternity like nobles and officials. They were also paid by the king, or worked instead of paying tax. Finally, slaves could have built a building larger than Khufu’s pyramid, but could never create such an innovative work like the Great Pyramid. This pyramid indicates that they were proud to build the tomb of their great god.
Khufu used the granite quarry in Aswan, basalt from the oasis, and white fine limestone from Tura. The name of Khufu has been found written in the alabaster quarry at Hatnub. Two tablets bearing his name have been found in the Sinai. His name has also been found in Bubastis. It has also been inscribed on a temple at Byblos (Lebanon), which might imply that he sent an expedition there to bring back cedar wood that was used in the construction of his boats which were found in 1945 on the south side of his pyramid. Finally, his name was found written in the western desert to the north of Abu Simbel and northwest of Toshka, where they took the diorite to be used in the statues. There is very little evidence of Khufu in connection with other gods, except his small statuette found in building K in the temple of Khentiulmentiu at Abydos, and his name was also found on vessels in the temple of Horus at Nekhen.
The Westcar Papyrus that dates to the Middle Kingdom consists of popular tales about Khufu. The Egyptians described him sitting with his family listening to stories about their ancestors and the miracles that happened in the past. They also depicted him sending his son to bring the magician Djedi and relate to us a beautiful dialogue between a common man and a king. The most important point in these tales is that Khufu could not obtain information from Djedi about the mysterious document of Thoth that could help him to build his sepulchral chambers in the pyramid.
It the late period (26th Dynasty), Khufu was worshipped as a god – his name was found written on scarabs and names of two 26th Dynasty priest have been found who were, at that time, in charge of maintaining his cult.
To the east of the pyramid of Queen Henutsen the inventory stela was found, which mentions that Khufu found the temple of Isis beside the sphinx. Based on the writing style and scenes of gods, Egyptologists have dated the text to the Late Period.
Herodotus also said that Khufu closed the temples of the gods and forbade the Egyptians to present offering to gods other than himself, and was generally considered an unpopular king for the Egyptians. Manetho also relates that Khufu did not respect the gods and that he wrote a sacred book and that he (Manetho) obtained a copy of it. The Late Period tales and stories describe the king’s reputation and reveal how the Egyptians transferred stories and news about him throughout the pharaonic period.
There is a new theory that might explain the reason for all these stories. It seems that Khufu appointed himself as Re during his lifetime. There is much evidence to support this theory (Hawass: 1994). This would explain the reason for all the bad publicity about Khufu both in terms of cruelty and impiety.
The most remarkable points in his reign are the king’s office becoming divine kingship, and the complex family relationship can be deduced through the large tombs located near the king.
Khufu was remembered by the Egyptians throughout pharaonic history, and many tales were told about him. Even today the spiritual aspect of the pyramid and its builder touches our hearts and causes us to make a plaintive futile cry for immortality.
The Second Pyramid History Information
Khafre (2576-2551 BCE), fourth King of the fourth dynasty, Old Kingdom. The son of Khufu, Khafre (or Khephren to the ancient Greeks) is best known as the owner of the second pyramid at Giza.
As with the other Kings of that dynasty, written records that date to his reign are scarce; even information on family relationships and the lengths of individual reigns at that time may often be conjectural. Two of his wives are known: Meresankh II, the daughter of his brother Kawab, and his chief wife, Khamerernebty.
His eldest son, Menkaure, builder of the third pyramid at Giza, succeeded him. Two other sons are recognized: Nikaure and Sekhemkare. His daughter Khamerernebty II became Menkaure’s chief queen. Khafre succeeded his brother, Djedefre, who had ruled for eight years. Ideologically, Khafre continued Djedefre’s promotion of the cult of the sun god re by using the title “ the Son of the Sun” for himself and by incorporating the name of the god in his own.
Khafre built his pyramid at Giza next to that of his father. His pyramid complex has survived better than many others, in part because of the innovative construction method of using massive core blocks of limestone encased in fine lining slabs. The whole complex served as a temple for the resurrected god-King after his funeral, with statues incorporated into the design of both the mortuary and valley temples. There exist emplacements for more than fifty-four large statues of the King. None of the statues from the mortuary temple has survived, and it has been suggested that they were recycled in the New Kingdom.
All the lining slabs were also removed in antiquity, and with them any inscription and reliefs; only the megalithic core blocks remain. Khafre’s valley temple, however, is one of the best preserved from ancient Egypt, Fragments of several statues of the King were discovered there, including the famous statue of the King seated on a lion throne with the falcon of the Horus behind his head, reflecting the belief that the King was a living incarnation of the god. Each of the two entrances to this temple were once flanked by a pair of sphinxes 8 meters (26 feet) long.
The only remaining inscriptions in the building are around the entrance doorways; they list the King’s names and titles, those of the goddess Bastet (north doorway), and those of Hathor (south doorways). Recent work in front of the valley temple has revealed the location of a ritual purification tent and two ramps with underground tunnels that extend toward the valley.
Next to the valley temple, the Great sphinx lies inside its own enclosure. Its position next to Khafre’s causeway and certain architectural details indicate that it was an integral part of the pyramid area; that colossal lion statue with the head of the King, carved out of a sandstone outcrop, represents Khafre as the god Horus presenting offerings to the sun god. From the eighteenth dynasty forward, the Sphinx was a symbol of Kingship and place of pilgrimage; and a small chapel was erected between its paws.
Political events of Khafre’s reign can be deduced only from scant archaeological remains and rare inscriptions, which show that his workmen were exploiting the diorite quarries at Toshka in Nubia and that expeditions were sent to Sinai. His name was found on a list of other fourth dynasty Kings at Byblos, implying diplomatic and commercial links.
Like his father Khufu, Khafre was depicted in folk tradition as a harsh, despotic rule: His pyramid complex was used as a quarry in the late New Kingdom, and the lining slabs and statues were removed to adorn other temples and royal establishments. By the Late period, however; the cults of the fourth dynasty kings had been revived, and Giza had become a focus for pilgrimage.
The Smallest Pyramid History Information
Menkaure is the son of Khafre and the grandson of Khufu of Dynasty IV. He bore the titles Kakhet and Hornub. There are doubts that Menkaure could be the son of Khafre, because the Turin Papyrus mentioned a name of a king between Menkaure and Khafre, but the name was smashed. A Middle Kingdom text written on a rock at Wadi Hamamat includes the names of the kings: Khufu, Djedefre, Khafre, Hordedef and Bauefre. This text indicates to some that Hordedef and Bauefre ruled after Khafre.
But it seems that their names were not written as kings because Menkaure’s names were not mentioned. It has been suggested that Hordedef’s name was mentioned because was a wise educated man in this period and perhaps Bauefre was a vizier.
He built the smallest pyramid at the Giza plateau, and is called “Menkaure is Divine.” The pyramid is remarkable because it is the only pyramid in Dynasty IV that was cased in 16 layers of granite, Menkaure planned to cover the surface with granite but he could not because of his sudden death.
The pyramid complex of Menkaure was completed by his son and successor Shepseskaf but the temples has architectural additions which were made during Dynasties V and VI. This suggests that the cult of Menkaure was very important and perhaps differed from the cults of Khufu and Khafre.
At the pyramid’s entrance, there is an inscription records that Menkaure died on the twenty-third day of the fourth month of the summer and that he built the pyramid. It is thought that this inscription dates to the reign of Khaemwas, son of Ramsses II. The name of Menkaure found written in red ochre on the ceiling of the burial chamber in one of the subsidiary pyramids.
H. Vyse found a basalt sarcophagus and inside it a skeleton of a young woman. The sarcophagus was lost in the Mediterranean between ports of Cartagena and Malta when the ship “Beatrice” sank after setting sail on October 13, 1838. We still have the lid from the wooden anthropoid coffin found inside the pyramid which bears the name and titles of Menkaure.
Menkaure’s main queen was Khamerernebty II, who is portrayed with him in a group statue found in the Valley Temple. It is believed that she is buried in Giza.
Shepseskaf completed the pyramid complex of his father with mudbrick and left an inscription inside the Valley Temple indicating that he built the temple for the memory of his father.
Menkaure ruled for 18 years. There are two inscriptions found in his pyramid complex. The first was a decree bearing the Horus name of Merenre of Dynasty VI. The decree stated that the Valley Temple was in use until the end of the Old Kingdom. The objects found in some of the storage rooms of the temples show that the king’s cult was maintained and that the temple had a dual function as a temple and a palace.
The second decree of Pepi II was found on the lower temple vestibule, awarding privileges to the priests of the pyramid city. In the adjacent open court and in the area just east of the temple lie the remains of the Old Kingdom houses. Pepi II’s decree indicates that these houses belonged to the pyramid city of Menkaure. Here lived the personnel responsible for maintaining the cult of the deceased king.
The statuary program found inside the complex displays the superb quality of arts and crafts. The triads in Menkaure’s valley temple suggest that his pyramid complex was dedicated to Re, Hathor, and Horus. In addition, they show the king’s relationship with the gods and are essential to his kingship, indicating both a temple and palace function.
The textual evidence indicates that the high officials had more privileges in his reign that in any other period. They had many statues in their tombs; the inscriptions and the scenes increased and were set on rock-cut tombs. In the tomb of Debhen an inscription was found describing the kindness of Menkaure.
When Debhen came to visit the king’s pyramid, he asked the king for permission to build his tomb near the pyramid. The king agreed and even ordered that stones from the royal quarry in Tura should be used in building his tomb. The text also mentions that the king stood on the road by the Hr pyramid inspecting the other pyramid.
The name “Hr” was also found written in the tomb of Urkhuu at Giza, who was the keeper of a place belonging to the Hr pyramid. It is not clear what the Hr pyramid is. Is it a name of a subsidiary pyramid, or the name of the plateau? The Debhen texts is a revelation of f how the king tried to inspire loyalty by his people giving them gifts.
Menkaure also had a new policy – he opened his palace to the children of his high officials. They were educated and raised with the king’s own children. Shepsesbah is one of those children. The textual and archaeological evidence of the Old Kingdom indicates that the palace of the king was located near his pyramid and not at Memphis. Menkaure explored granite from Aswan and he sent expeditions to Sinai. Excavations under the author revealed a pari of statues of Ramses II on the south side of Menkaure’s pyramid. The statues were made of granite, and one represents Ramses as king whiles the other as Atum-Re.
The name of Menkaure was found written on scarabs dated to the 26th Dynasty, which may imply that he was worshipped in this period.
Herodotus mentioned that Menkaure died suddenly and added that there was an oracle from the Buto statue that foretold that he would live for 6 years. Menkaure started to drink, and enjoy every moment of his remaining years. However, Menkaure lived for 12 years, thus disproving the prophecy. Herodotus also said that his daughter committed suicide. The Greek historian also wrote that the Egyptians loved Menkaure more than his father and grandfather. The Late Period tales were based on Menkaure’s reputation during the Old Kingdom. He ruled with justice, gave freedom to his officials to carve statues and make offerings, and stopped the firm rules.
E1-Makrizi, the Arab historian named Menkaure’s pyramid as the colored pyramid because of the red granite casing.
Sphinx History Information