Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Khufu: Pharaoh Who Built a Wonder

Pharaoh Khufu
Egypt is a land of desert sands. Even though the desert sands were inhospitable, Egypt became a cradle of civilization because of the River Nile provided food and water to sustain life. Thus Egyptian contributed many of its knowledge to the creation of the modern word. Great monuments to the glory that was Ancient Egypt can be seen across its lands. These monuments became tourist destination and site for archaeologists to study. Among the great monuments was the Great Pyramid of Giza which was synonymous to name to man who laid buried in it, the Pharaoh Khufu.

Khufu was the 2nd Pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty of Egypt, reigning from the 2589 BCE up until 2566 BCE. He was the son of the Pharaoh Snefru and the Queen Hetepheres. He was given a full name of Khnum-khufu or in English, “the God Khnum protects me.”  He was the pharaoh who initiated the construction of one of the remaining old Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramid of Giza.

He took power while he was in his twenties. To prepare for his resting place, he ordered the construction of a pyramid that would dominate other pyramids before his reign. He pointed the Giza plateau as the location of his pyramid. The construction was placed under the command of his nephew and vizier, Hemiunu. 300,000, who were prisoners of war, on contrary of some opinion that they were slaves, toiled to move 2.5 tons of blocks from a quarry 500 miles to the construction site in Giza. After two decades of work the Great Pyramid stood 750 ft. tall, making it the tallest building in the ancient world, and occupying 230 sq. m. It was covered with limestone that gave it additional awe factor to those who would see it. It was indeed a tomb fit for the most powerful man in northern Africa.

Alongside the Great Pyramid lies the three small pyramid. These pyramids were dedicated to the Pharaoh’s three queens. The first queen was Meritites who gave birth to Prince Kewab. The second queen was Henutsen who gave birth to Prince Khufuk and Prince Khafre. The third queen was disputed but was thought to be Neferkau who said to have gave birth to Padjedee.

Many sources depicts Khufu as a despot and a tyrant. From Egyptian literature, Khufu was mostly depicted as ruthless and demanding, for example was the Khufu and the Magician. Herodotus, who called Khufu as Cheops, wrote about the reign of Khufu as a terror. He also wrote that Khufu used that slaves to build his pyramid, which most believes.

But many also believes that Khufu was not a tyrant but was just a common ruler. He fought battle in the Sinai. He also built structures in Memphis.

Sadly, nothing much is known about the Pharaoh Khufu. Most were based on few records that let some perception to stay. And because of few sources, many relay on these sources and speculate the rest. It also made difficult to know what the true nature of his reign was. Regardless, Khufu made his mark in history by building one of the greatest wonder of the world.

Bunson, M. Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece. New York: Fact on File, 2002. 

Shaw, I. The Oxford History of Egypt. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. 

“Khufu.” NNDB Tracking the Entire World. Accessed January 27, 2014. http://www.nndb.com/people/344/000162855/

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