Thursday, May 1, 2014

Khafre: The Builder of the Sphinx

The Great Sphinx of Giza in 1870's. The face is said to be modeled from Pharaoh Khafre
Egypt – land of the Pharaohs and pyramids. Its tombs and monuments fascinated both tourist and intellects alike. In the Giza Plateau, the staggering Great Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu stands as the testament of the power, wealth, and eternal life of the pharaoh. Next to the Great Pyramid of Khufu lies another monumental pyramid. And near to the plateau stands on guard a giant structure depicting a sitting lion with a head of a human known to all as the sphinx. This two iconic structures were the result of the reign of the Pharaoh Khafre.

Known as Chephren to the Greeks, he was born a prince of Egypt. He was the son of the Pharaoh Khufu and his queen, Henutsen. His name, Khafre, meant Appearing Like Re, showing the relation of the prince to the Gods. 

As the Pharaoh Khufu laid dying, the court awaits the next events. Khafre was not on the top spot of becoming the next Pharaoh. The first choice as Pharaoh was his older half-brother, Ra’djedef or Djedefre. However, his reign was brief. The sudden death of the Pharaoh Ra’djedef became a speculation to many scholars today because of lack of sources. Some say Khafre had his half-brother killed. But some saying a more innocent reason was that the Pharaoh just died prematurely.

So in 2520 BCE, Khafre took the throne as the fourth pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty. 

As soon as he consolidated power, he began his quests for his final resting place. Laborers were drafted. Materials were gathered. Preparations were made for the construction of a great tomb fit for a King.  The result of many decades of construction was the pyramid next to that of his father. A 470 feet tall, 702 square feet, and Tureh limestone covered pyramid, constructed on a 10 feet high plateau that added additional height, tower equally with Khufu’s. From the Giza Plateau, a causeway was built to connect the Pyramids to a nearby temple and to another testament of his reign, the Sphinx. The Sphinx looks away of the Pyramid and welcomes visitors wwho wanted to go to the Giza Pyramids. Many archaeologists stated that the face sculpted in the Sphinx is the face of the Pharaoh Khafre himself.

Besides building great monuments for his reign, he also put his house in order. He married Queen Khamerernebty, who gave birth to his son Prince Menkaure; Queen Merysankh, who gave birth to Prince Nebemakht. He also wedded Queen Nedjhekenu, who later bore a son, Sekhemhare. He also had another son, Nekure, to his wife Queen Presenti.

Under Pharaoh Khafre, Egypt saw continuous prosperity. Trade with the neighboring kingdoms, like the Nubians and the Hittites flourished. Not much records could be seen about the reign of Khafre, mostly written by Greek and some from his monuments.

The reign of Pharaoh Khafre ended in 2494 BCE. His body was then buried at his pyramid next to that of his father.

See also:
Andrianampoinimerina: Founder of a New Merina Kingdom
Khufu: Pharaoh Who Built
Ramkhamhaeng: Great Sukhothai King
The Rashidun Caliphate: Abu Bakar
Sunni Ali: The Rise of the Songhai Empire
Wu Zentian

Bibliography:
Baker, F. & Charlie Baker. Ancient Egyptians: People of the Pyramids. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. 

Bunson, M. Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2002. 

Dunn, Jimmy. "Khafre, the 4th King of Egypt's 4th Dynasty." Accessed on May 1, 2014. http://www.touregypt.net

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