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definition - Khafra

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Khafra in hieroglyphs

Reign: around 26 years

Predecessor: Radjedef
Successor: Bikheris? Menkaure?

F12 F34
Powerful heart of Horus
Horus name
G16 F12 G17

Strong for the Two Ladies
Nebty name
S42 G7 S12

The Golden Falcon is Powerful
Golden Horus Name
Hiero Ca1.svg
N5 N28
Hiero Ca2.svg
He appears like Re
Birth name
Khafre statue.jpg
Diorite statue of Khafra (close-up)

Khafra (also read as Khafre, Khefren and Chephren) was an ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) of 4th dynasty during the Old Kingdom. He was the son of Khufu and the throne successor of Djedefre. According to the ancient historian Manetho Khafra was followed by king Bikheris, but according to archaeological evidences he was rather followed by king Menkaure. Khafre was the builder of the second largest pyramid of Giza. Some of the egyptologists also credit him with the building of the Great Sphinx, but this is highly disputed. There´s not much known about Khafra, except the historical reports of Herodotus, who describes Khafra as a cruel and heretic ruler, who closed the Egyptian temples.



  Cartouche name Kha'afre in the Abydos-List

Khafre was a son of king Khufu and the brother and successor of Djedefre.[1] Khafre is thought by some to be the son of Queen Meritites I due to an inscription where he is said to honor her memory

Kings-wife, his beloved, devoted to Horus, Mertitytes.
King's-wife, his beloved, Mertitytes; beloved of the Favorite of
the Two Goddesses; she who says anything whatsoever and it is done
for her. Great in the favor of Snefr[u] ; great in the favor
of Khuf[u] , devoted to Horus, honored under Khafre. Merti[tyt]es.[Breasted; Ancient Records]

Others argue that the inscription just suggests that this queen died during the reign of Khafre.[2] Khafre may be a son of Queen Henutsen instead.[3]

Khafre had several wives and he has at least 12 sons and 3 or 4 daughters.

Other children of Khafre are known, but no mothers have been identified. Further sons include Ankhmare, Akhre, Iunmin, and Iunre. Two more daughters named Rekhetre and Hemetre are known as well.[1]


There is no agreement on the date of his reign. Some authors say it was between 2558 BC and 2532 BC; this dynasty is commonly dated ca. 2650 BC–2480 BC. While the Turin King List length for his reign is blank, and Manetho's exaggerates his reign as 66 years, most scholars believe it was between 24 to 26 years, based upon the date of the Will of Prince Nekure which was carved on the walls of this Prince's mastaba tomb. The will is dated anonymously to the Year of the 12th Count and is assumed to belong to Khufu since Nekure was his son. Khafra's highest year date is the "Year of the 13th occurrence" which is a painted date on the back of a casing stone belonging to mastaba G 7650.[4] This would imply a reign of 24–25 years for this king if the cattle count was biannual during the Fourth Dynasty.

  Pyramid complex

  Khafre's Pyramid and the Great Sphinx.

Khafra built the second largest pyramid at Giza. The Egyptian name of the pyramid was Wer(en)-Khafre which means "Khafre is Great".[5]

The pyramid has a subsidiary pyramid, labeled GII a. It is not clear who was buried there. Sealings have been found of a King's eldest son of his body etc. and the Horus name of Khafre.[5]

  Valley Temple

The valley temple of Khafre was located closer to the Nile and would have stood right next to the Sphinx temple. Inscriptions from the entrance way have been found which mention Hathor and Bubastis. Blocks have been found showing the partial remains of an inscription with the Horus name of Khafre (Weser-ib).Mariette discovered statues of Khafre in 1860. Several were found in a well in the floor and were headless. But other complete statues were found as well.[5]

  Mortuary Temple

The mortuary temple was located very close to the pyramid. From the mortuary temple come fragments of maceheads inscribed with Khafre's name as well as some stone vessels.[5]

  Great Sphinx and Sphinx temple

The sphinx is said to date to the time of Khafre. A temple dedicated to Haremakhet was erected by Khafre. It was located right in front of the paws of the Sphinx. The sphinx has the face of a human and the body of a lion. In ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology the sphinx would tell riddles and kill whoever failed to solve them. [5]

  Khaefra in ancient Greek traditions

The ancient Egyptian historian Manetho called Khaefra “Sûphis II.” and credited him with a rulership of 66 years, but didn´t make any further, interesting comments about him.[6][7][8][9]

The ancient greek historians Diodor and Herodot instead depicted Khaefra as a heretic and cruel tyrant: They wrote that Khaefra (whom they both called “Khêphren” in attempt to parody Khaefra´s name) followed his father Khêops on the throne, after the megalomaniac and tyrantly ruler had died. Then Herodot and Diodor say that Khaefra ruled for 56 years and that the Egyptians had to suffer under him like under his father before. Since Khufu was said to have ruled for 50 years, the authors claim that the poor Egyptians had to suffer under both kings for altogether 106 years.[6][7][8]

But then they describe a king Menkaura (whom they call “Mykerînós”) as the follower of Khaefre and that this king was the counterpart of his two predecessors: Herodot describes Menkaura as being saddened and disappointed about Khufu´s and Khaefre´s cruelty and that Menkaura brought peace and piety back to Egypt.[6][7][8]

Today modern Egyptologists evaluate Herodot´s and Diodor´s story as some sort of defamation, based on both author´s contemporary philosophy. Over-sized tombs such as the Giza-pyramids must have appalled the Greeks and even the later priests of the New Kingdom, because they surely remembered the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten and his megalomaniac building projects. This extremely negative picture was obviously projected onto Khaefra and his daunting pyramid. The view was possibly promoted by the fact, that during Khaefra´s lifetime the permission of the creation of oversized statues made of precious stone and their displaying at open places in public was limited to the king only. At their lifetime, the Greek authors and mortuary priests and temple priests couldn´t explain the impressive monuments and statues of Khaefra better than as the result of a megalomaniac character. These views and resulting stories were avidly snapped up by the Greek historians and so they made their also negative evaluations about Khaefra, since scandalous stories were easier to sell to the folks than positive (and therefore boring) tales.[6][7][8][9]


  1. ^ a b c Dodson, Aidan and Hilton, Dyan. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. 2004. ISBN 0-500-05128-3
  2. ^ Grajetzki, Ancient Egyptian Queens: A Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Golden House Publications, London, 2005, ISBN 978-0-9547218-9-3
  3. ^ Tyldesley, Joyce. Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt. Thames & Hudson. 2006. ISBN 0-500-05145-3
  4. ^ Anthony Spalinger, Dated Texts of the Old Kingdom, SAK 21 (1994), p.287
  5. ^ a b c d e Porter, Bertha and Moss, Rosalind, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings Volume III: Memphis, Part I Abu Rawash to Abusir. 2nd edition (revised and augmented by Dr Jaromir Malek, 1974. Retrieved from gizapyramids.org
  6. ^ a b c d Siegfried Morenz: Traditionen um Cheops. In: Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde, vol. 97, Berlin 1971, ISSN 0044-216X, page 111–118.
  7. ^ a b c d Dietrich Wildung: Die Rolle ägyptischer Könige im Bewußtsein ihrer Nachwelt. Band 1: Posthume Quellen über die Könige der ersten vier Dynastien (= Münchener Ägyptologische Studien. Bd. 17). Hessling, Berlin 1969, page 152–192.
  8. ^ a b c d Wolfgang Helck: Geschichte des Alten Ägypten (= Handbuch der Orientalistik, vol. 1.; Chapter 1: Der Nahe und der Mittlere Osten, vol 1.). BRILL, Leiden 1968, ISBN 9004064974, page 23–25 & 54–62.
  9. ^ a b Aidan Dodson: Monarchs of the Nile. American Univ in Cairo Press, 2000, ISBN 9774246004, page 29–34.

  Further reading

  • James H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt Part I, §§ 192, (1906) on 'The Will of Nekure'.

  External links



All translations of Khafra

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