June 19, 2012

The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P9

The next pyramid on the Giza plateau is that of Khafre, whom Herodotus calls Chephren. However, Khafre was not Khufu’s immediate successor. Possibly dissension broke out in the royal family after Khufu’s death; his true successor should have been his eldest son, Kawab, who, for this purpose, had already been married to the royal heiress Hetepheres IL Since Kawab was only buried in a mastaba, we may assume that his death preceded that of his father, and a prince named Djedefre ascended the throne. Djedefre was the son of Khufu by a secondary queen, and was married to a woman called Kenteten-ka, who was perhaps Queen Henutsen’s daughter. Djedefre must certainly be considered an usurper since at Khufu’s death a number of the latter’s sons by the royal spouse Merytyetes were still alive. Nevertheless, Djedefre attempted to legalise his kingship by marrying Kawab’s widow Hetepheres n, because she was the woman in that generation who carried the succession.

Ancient Egyptian Pyramid
Whether or not the true royal princes, Djedefhor and Baufre c'ied, as has sometimes been suggested, a violent death is not certain. In any case, Djedefre was evidently loyal to his father since his name was found on one of the roof slabs of Khufu’s boat pit. It may, however, be significant that Djedefre shunned the Giza necropolis and instead began building a pyramid five miles further north at Abu Roash. He chose a curiously desolate spot on a steep rock, more than 150 m. above the Nile valley. To overcome the difficulty of access an immense building ramp, a mile long, and in places rising to 12 m. above the surrounding terrain, was constructed. Whether the pyramid itself was ever finished is not known since it has been used extensively as a quarry down to modem times. Its ground plan indicates a relatively modest size of 97 m. square, smaller even than Zoser’s Step Pyramid. The present superstructure is only 12 m. high and the construction of the tomb chamber at the bottom of a wide shaft seems to be the return of a pattern used in the Third Dynasty. Altogether, the site suggests some form of break with the traditions of the Fourth Dynasty. If such a break took place it was of short duration. Djedefre ruled for only eight years and the crown then passed on to another of Khufu’s sons: Khafre.

In the choice of his pyramid site and in the magnificence of his monument, Khafre closely followed Khufu’s example, which strengthens the impression that Djedefre’s tenure of the throne was regarded as an unfortunate interlude. Khafre was probably the son of Khufu’s secondary queen, Henutsen, and was married to his sister, Khamerernebti 1. However, his legitimate succession was ensured when he later married not only the widow of Khufu’s original crown prince, Kawab, and of Djedefre, the heiress Hetepheres 11, but also her daughter. This lady, Meresankh in, as well as her mother, were now the first in line to confer the crown of Egypt on their husbands.

Khafre’s pyramid at Giza stands close to Khufu’s and in size is almost its twin. Its height of 140 m. is almost the same and it appears, in fact, to surpass it by virtue of having been erected on slightly higher ground. Moreover, while Khufu’s pyramid has been completely stripped of its casing of white Tura limestone, this has remained intact at the upper part of Khafre’s monument. The pyramid measures 216 m. square, which means that its angle of elevation is slightly steeper, 52 20 , and it therefore does not share with the great pyramid the accurate representation of the ratio ! / 27r. As at Djedefre’s pyramid, the lowest layer of casing blocks consists of granite.

Altogether Khafre’s pyramid is not quite so carefully constructed, as is apparent from the variation in size of its building blocks. On the other hand, its mortuary temple at the east face is more impressive and the valley building at the bottom of the causeway is the most magnificent structure that has come down to us from the Old Kingdom. It is a very massive building of large limestone blocks, completely faced inside and out with polished red granite. The central hall is T-shaped and its roof is supported by sixteen unadorned square granite pillars. It has an alabaster floor. Mariette, who excavated the valley building in 1853, found in it the exquisite diorite statue of the pharaoh, now one of the greatest treasures of the Cairo Museum. Another, immense, portrait of Khafre is the head of the Sphinx which, even today, after having served as a target for Turkish artillery practice, clearly bears the pharaoh’s features. The representation of a lion’s body with a human head seems to have been an established type even earlier, and Khafre’s architects made use of a knoll of rock for the same purpose on a gigantic scale.

Egyptian Pyramid Age :
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P1
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P2
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P3
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P4
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P5
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P6
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P7
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P8
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P9
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P10

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