The Pyramid of Khafre

The pyramid of Khafre is the second largest of the Ancient Egyptian Pyramids after Khufu’s, and is the tomb of the fourth- dynasty pharaoh Khafre. Khafre’s pyramid, called ‘’Khafre is Great’’, was built between 2558 and 25532 BC. It has a length of 215.25 m (706 ft) and rises to a height of 136.4 m (447.50 ft). The pyramid is made by limestone blocks (weighing more than 2 tons each). It sits on bedrock 10 m higher than its neighbor, the Pyramid of Khufu, which makes it appear to be taller.

Who was Khafre?

Khafra or Khafre (Greek Chephren) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 4th dynasty, who is thought to be the son of Khufu and Queen Meritites. According to the hieroglyphic representing his name, Khaf-Ra means ‘’Appearing like Ra’’ for some translators. Like his father Khufu, Khafre was depicted in folk tradition as a harsh, despotic rule pharaoh.

Two of Khafre’s wives are known Meresankh II, the daughter of his brother Kawab, and his chief wife, Khamerernebty. His eldest son, Menkaure who was succeeded him, is known as the builder of the third pyramid at Giza.

Not much is known about the reign of Khafre aside from his building projects. Khafre is the owner of the second largest pyramid at Giza, a valley temple, a mortuary temple and well as The Great Sphinx.

Inside Khafre’s pyramid

The pyramid contains 2 known chambers. There are no corridors leading into the heart of this pyramid, the burial chamber being underground, and a long descending passageway has to be negotiated to reach it. This entrance is 50 feet (15 m) above ground level, leading to the narrow passage, which descends at a 25-degree angle into the large burial chamber. In the burial chamber there is little to see except a sarcophagus made from black granite. The roof of this chamber is constructed of gabled limestone beams. The chamber is rectangular, 14.15 m by 5 m (46.4 ft x 16 ft), and is oriented east-west. By the time this pyramid was reopened in 1818 by Giovanni Belzoni, the body of the king and any sign of royal treasure had been long gone. Belzoni left his graffiti in this chamber on March 2, 1818, which is still present today on the south wall of the burial chamber.

Along a lower passage there is a subsidiary chamber. Nobody knows which purpose this served. It contains no sarcophagus and also includes a pointed ceiling. It is thought this pyramid’s equivalent of the middle or so-called Queen’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid which also has a pointed celling.

Valley temple of Khafre

The valley temple is part of the funerary complex including along with the pyramid, a mortuary temple, and a covered causeway leading to the valley temple. This is one of the best preserved Old Kingdom temples in Egypt.

The temple is built of megalithic limestone core blocks sheeted in red granite. Many of the internal elements are still intact; such has many single granite pillars in the T-shaped hall. The symmetrical rooms on either side of the central hall originally contained 23 statues of Khafre. It was thought that these permanent statues, made of diorite, would provide a place of the ‘’ka’’ should the mummy be destroyed. Only one of these statues has been found.

Khafre’s mortuary temple

The mortuary temple, unlike other temples include all five standard elements of later mortuary temples; an entrance hall, a columned court, five niches statues of the pharaoh, five storage chambers, and an inner sanctuary.

The entrance to the mortuary temple in the east led through to a small antechamber adored with a pair of monolithic pink granite pillars. About the entrance area were a few small chambers that are thought to have been storage annexes or serdabs. In the investigation of the mortuary temple, this area was found strikingly similar to the valley temple. There were over 52 life size statues of Khafre, but these were removed and recycled, possibly by Ramesses II. The temple was built of megalithic blocks (the largest is an estimated 400 tonnes), but it is now largely in ruins.

Khafre’s mummy

Khafre’s mummy and the treasures buried with it are gone now, like all too many of ancient Egypt’s treasures, taken by grave robbers. But his mortuary temple at Giza yielded one of the finest extant Old Kingdom statues an almost undamaged life-size seated diorite figure of the king enjoying the protection of the god Horus. A statue of Khafre under the protective shadow of a falcon is in the Cairo Museum.