The second pyramid built on the Giza Plateau, and the second largest in Egypt, Khafre’s Pyramid takes advantage of its superior location to steal the limelight on the plateau.
Possibly symbolic of a second son who was not his father’s first choice to reign, Khafre’s Pyramid steps forward from the plateau’s horizon as if to say “I will have my day in the sun…”
Pharaoh Khafre was known as Chephren to the Greeks, and his name, Khaf-Ra, means “Appearing like Ra.” One of Pharaoh Khufu’s sons, he was preceded in kingship by his brother, Djedefre, who ruled for about eight years. After Djedefre’s early death, Khafre assumed the throne, making him the fourth king of the Fourth Dynasty. He was succeeded by his son, Menkaure.
Khafre is believed to have reigned between 2572—2546 BC, although this is not certain. It is probable that the length of his reign was 25 years or so, although the Ptolemaic-Era historian Manetho gives the length of his reign as a very unlikely 66 years.
In addition to building the second largest pyramid in Egypt, Khafre had a penchant for commissioning statues of himself. Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass noted that Khafre had placed 23 life-sized statues of himself in his valley temple, seven larger-than-life statues of himself in his mortuary temple, with an additional 12 around its courtyard, and either built the Great Sphinx in his own image or (even worse) had his face carved over the original.
The Pyramid of Khafre
The Pyramid of Khafre, also called the Pyramid of Chephren, is the second largest in Egypt. We are not sure of when its construction was completed, but it was most likely early in Khafre’s reign. The original height of the Khafre‘s Pyramid would have been about 471 feet, although there has been some loss due to erosion and its missing capstone. It is currently about 455 feet high. The limestone casing at the topmost section of the pyramid is still largely intact, giving an idea of how the pyramids might have originally appeared.
The sarcophagus in Khafre’s burial chamber is cut from a single large block of granite, and is partially sunk into the floor. No mummy or other remains were found in Khafre’s pyramid. There is a second pit in the floor which may have held the canopic jars containing Khafre’s internal organs, but this is not certain. It has been speculated that Khafre’s Pyramid may have served a ceremonial purpose rather than as a burial place, although both possibilities could be true. There is a second chamber within the pyramid the purpose of which is unknown.
There are two entrances to Khafre’s Pyramid situated one above the other. Some Egyptologists speculate that this may be because the pyramid was originally planned to be much larger, but others postulate the second entrance was built simply as a result of a change in plans.
Khafre’s mortuary temple was plundered for building materials, but its foundation remains and shows that the temple was quite large, and was constructed in a manner similar to his valley temple, which is intact. Khafre’s valley temple was buried under sand until the 1800’s and is in excellent condition, serving as a valuable example of temple construction from that era. Like the mortuary temple, the valley temple is constructed of a limestone core lined with pink Nubian granite imported from Aswan.
Photograph “WIKI – Khafre_statue.jpg” by Jon Bodsworth is provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License. In short: you are free to share and make derivative works of the file under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license identical to this one. Official license
ALL OTHER photographs and text are copyright by Keith Payne, 2009, all rights reserved.