Posts Tagged ‘Fourth Dynasty’

riddles of the sphinx-tabWho built the Great Sphinx?  Why did they build it?  How did they build it?  These questions and more are addressed in Riddles of the Sphinx, by the PBS series NOVA.

Featuring Mark Lehner, Zahi Hawass, Rick Brown, Gunter Dreyer, Richard Redding, Rainer Stadelman, and Fathi Mohamed.

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In the first part of January the media began breaking the news that the old yarn about slaves having built the pyramids had finally been dispelled.  Dr. Zahi Hawass of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities announced that three large tombs had been newly discovered very close to the pyramid itself.  As the final resting place of some of the overseers of the workforce, both the structure and location of the tombs made it clear that these were no slaves.

Dr. Hawass’ statement that “These tombs were built beside the king’s pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves” (source) was widely repeated in the press under headlines announcing that the belief that slaves had built the pyramids could now be retired.  But Egyptologists have long known that the Slave Hypothesis was pure Hollywood. 

Along with Hawass, Egyptologist Mark Lehner began uncovering the truth of the pyramid builders more than 20 years ago.  Lehner was consumed with the question of where such a large workforce could have lived.  After conducting the first detailed “to scale” survey of the Giza Plateau, he narrowed his focus to the area around the enigmatic Wall of the Crow, a colossal wall with no apparent related structures.

Lehner hit pay dirt, and his dogged pursuit of these ancient builders led to the excavation of the very city where they lived and worked—a large complex of barracks and permanent housing, distribution centers, industrial sites, and scribal workshops.  The recently discovered tombs tell us something of the status of the workers, but the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders gives us the everyday details of their lives.

Most of Em Hotep’s readers will be familiar with Dr. Lehner and his work.  But if you are not, then his total absence from the recent news stories may have left you with an incomplete picture of just how strong the case against the Slavery Hypothesis really is.  In this three-part series we will take a look at what Lehner discovered about the pyramid builders.  We will examine the evidence that the workforce had a surprisingly modern division of labor, followed by a tour of the city itself.

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Fourth Dynasty

   Posted by: Keith Payne


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   Posted by: Keith Payne



dynasties header 

Dating systems

The primary source for the dates used in the Em Hotep Dynasties pages is the chronology developed by Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson for the British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. In an effort to be as comprehensive as possible other dating systems were used to fill in the blanks.  These various systems were chosen based on how closely they could be integrated to the Shaw and Nicholson chronology.  Note that dates in Egyptian chronologies may radically vary from one Egyptologist to the next.

In addition to Shaw and Nicholson, chronologies from the following sources were used in the compilation of the Em Hotep Dynasties pages.


  • Digital Egypt for Universities – An online learning and teaching resource in Egyptology developed at University College London.
  • Aiden Dodson – Research Fellow, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol.
  • Detlef Franke – Institute of Egyptology of the University of Heidelberg.
  • Peter Piccone – Associate Professor of Ancient Near Eastern History, University of Charleston, SC.
  • Donald Redford – Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Pennsylvania State University.
  • Kim Ryholt – Associate professor of Egyptology at the University of Copenhagen.
  • Turin Cannon – A king’s list that names most of the Pharaohs from the First Dynasty to the Second Intermediate Period. 



The Dynasties of Ancient Egypt


Predynastic Period

Zero Dynasty:  From Nomads to Villages, From City-States to Kingdoms


Early Dynastic Period

First Dynasty:  The Formative Years of Egyptian Culture

Second Dynasty:  Religious and Political Strife Threatens the Union


Old Kingdom Period

Third Dynasty:  Egypt Enters its Pyramid Age

Fourth Dynasty:  The Zenith of the Pyramid Age

Fifth Dynasty:  The Decline of the Pyramid Age and the Rise of the Solar Cult

Sixth Dynasty:  The Twilight of the Old Kingdom


First Intermediate Period

Seventh and Eighth Dynasties:  The Center Cannot Hold, Things Fall Apart

Ninth and Tenth Dynasties:  The Herakleopolitan Dynasties


Middle Kingdom Period

Eleventh Dynasty:  The Restoration of the Union of Upper and Lower Egypt

Twelfth Dynasty:  Power, Peace, and Prosperity


Second Intermediate Period

Thirteenth Dynasty:  Rise of the Hyksos, Descent into Chaos

Fourteenth Dynasty:  The Kings of the Delta

Fifteenth Dynasty:  The Hyksos Dynasty

Sixteenth Dynasty:  The Kysos Dynasty

Seventeenth Dynasty:  Thebes in Turmoil Rediscovers its Egyptian Spirit


New Kingdom Period

Eighteenth Dynasty:  The Egyptian Renaissance and the Dynasty of Celebrities

Nineteenth Dynasty:  Might Makes Right—The Ramesside Period Pt. 1

Twentieth Dynasty:  From Greatness to Irrelevancy—The Ramesside Period Pt. 2


Third Intermediate Period

Twenty-First Dynasty:  The Tanite Dynasty and the Amun Priesthood

Twenty-Second Dynasty:  The Libyan Dynasty

Twenty-Third Dynasty:  The Libyan Federation of Egypt

Twenty-Fourth Dynasty:  The Great Chiefs of the West


Late Period

Twenty-Fifth Dynasty:  The Kushite Dynasty

Twenty-Sixth Dynasty:  The Saite Dynasty

Twenty-Seventh Dynasty:  The First Persian Dynasty

Twenty-Eighth Dynasty:  The Short Reign of the Liberator

Twenty-Ninth Dynasty:  The Mendean Kings

Thirtieth Dynasty:  The Last Egyptian Dynasty

Thirty-First Dynasty:  The Second Persian Dynasty


Ptolemaic Period

Thirty-Second Dynasty:  The Macedonian Dynasty

Thirty-Third Dynasty:  The Ptolemaic Dynasty



Copyright by Keith Payne, 2009.  All rights reserved.

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Khafre’s Valley Temple

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Old Kingdom, Lower Egypt, Temples, The Giza Plateau

kvt-tabValley temples were not just the entrance point to pyramid complexes, they were the connection to the Nile River–the eternal source of life for Egypt.  Architectural genius, incredible feats of engineering, and a huge workforce whose actions were as choreographed as any ballet were all required to assure that the Boats of the Gods had access to Khafre’s pyramid complex.  For the Ancient Egyptians, preparation for the afterlife was serious business.

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The Pyramid of Pharaoh Userkaf

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Old Kingdom, Lower Egypt, Pyramids, Saqqara

usr-tabPharaoh Userkaf is one of the many Egyptian kings who have left very few clues regarding his biography and reign.  Well, he did leave a pyramid and a few temples from which we have been able to extract a couple of details. 

Actually, these structures contain some intriguing clues about Userkaf and his times, and a shadow of things to come.

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The Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Old Kingdom, Lower Egypt, Pyramids, The Giza Plateau

khu-tabWhen Pharaoh Khufu set out to trump his father’s pyramid at Meidum he set the bar higher than would ever be achieved again.  Khufu had a reputation for being a cruel and despotic ruler, and ignoring all other speculation about how the Great Pyramid was built, the sheer logistics of completing the project within the presumed timeframe suggests in the very least a classic overachiever.  Whatever else may be true of Khufu, the man knew how to get things done.

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The Pyramid of Pharaoh Khafre

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Old Kingdom, Lower Egypt, Pyramids, The Giza Plateau

kha-tabThe 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…”

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Pyramid of Pharaoh Menkaure

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Old Kingdom, Lower Egypt, Pyramids, The Giza Plateau

man-tabPerhaps it would be a stretch to call Menkaure’s Pyramid modest, but it is significantly smaller than those of Khufu and Khafre.  He is recalled much more fondly than his autocratic grandfather and seems to have been less vain than his statue-happy father, although more of his statues survived intact and are of such exquisite craftsmanship as to suggest that maybe quality over quantity was Menkaure’s trademark. 

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