2012/03/16

The King Khafre, the 4th King of Egypt's 4th Dynasty

The King Khafre, the 4th King of Egypt's 4th Dynasty





Khafre (Chephren), the builder of the second pyramid on the famous Giza Plateau near Cairo is a fine example. His birth name was Khafre, which means "Appearing like Re". He is also sometimes refereed to as Khafra, Rakhaef, Khephren or Chephren by the Greeks, and Suphis II by Manetho. He was possibly a younger son of Khufu (Cheops) by his consort, Henutsen, so he was required to wait out the reign of Djedefre, his older brother, prior to ascending to the throne of Egypt as the fourth ruler of the fourth Dynasty. However, there is disagreement on this matter.


There are rumors of a problem with the succession of Khafre. Some authorities maintain that Djedefre may have even stole the throne, perhaps as a younger brother of Khafre, and that Khafre may have even murdered him. Much of this speculation originates from the fact that Djedefre broke with the Giza burial tradition, electing instead to locate his tomb (pyramid) at Abu Rawash. However, there is little real evidence to support such a conclusion, and in fact, Khafre continued Djedefre’s promotion of the cult of the sun god Re by using the title “ the Son of the Sun” for himself and by incorporating the name of the god in his own.


We know of several of Khafre's wives, including Meresankh II (the daughter of his brother, Kawab) and his chief wife, Khameremebty I. His sons include Nekure (Nikaure), Sekhemkare and Menkaure, who succeeded him and married Khameremebty II, Khafre's daughter and Menkaure's sister.

Identifying him with Suphis II, Manetho gives his reign as lasting 66 years, but this certainly cannot be substantiated. Modern Egyptologists believe he may have ruled Egypt for a relatively long period, however, of between the 24 years ascribed to him by the Turin Royal Cannon papyrus (which was apparently confirmed by an inscription in the mastaba tomb of Prince Nekure), and 26 years. He is thought to have ruled Egypt from about 2520 to 2494 BC.








It is clearly evident from the fine mastaba tombs of the nobles in his court that Egypt was prosperous while Khafre held the throne. Carved on the walls of the tomb of Prince Nekure, a "king's son", was a will to his heirs. It is the only one of its kind known from this period, and in it he leaves 14 towns to his heirs, of which at least eleven are named after his father, Khafre. Though his legacy was divided up among his five heirs, 12 of the towns were earmarked to endow the prince's mortuary cult.


We do know that Khafre participated in some foreign trade, or at least diplomacy, for objects dating from his reign have been found at Byblos, north of Beirut, as well as at Tell Mardikh (Ebla) in Syria. He apparently also had diorite quarried at Tashka in Nubia and probably sent expeditions into the Sinai.

Though there are few inscriptions left for us to completely understand the era of Khafre's rule, he did leave behind some of the most important treasures ancient Egypt has to offer. Besides his pyramid complex at Giza, most Egyptologists believe he also built the Great Sphinx and that it is his face that adorns this huge statue, which sits just beside his valley temple. In addition, the life size diorite statue of Khafre found in his valley temple and now located in the Egyptian Antiquities Museum is one of the most magnificent artifacts ever discovered.


Like his father Khufu, Khafre was depicted in fold tradition as a harsh, despotic ruler. Though as late as the New Kingdom, Ramesses II seems to have had no qualms about taking some of the casing from his pyramid at Giza for use in a temple at Heliopolis, by Egypt's Late Period, the cults of the fourth dynasty kings had been revived, and Giza became a focus of pilgrimage.

Royal Tomb of Akhenaten

The Tomb of King Akhenaten
























Akhenaten : he was a king (Pharaoh) from the Eighteenth dynasty who ruled Egypt for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. He is especially noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, which is sometimes described as monotheistic or henotheistic. An early inscription likens him to the sun as compared to stars, and later official language avoids calling the Aten a god, giving the solar deity a status above mere gods.
Akhenaten tried to bring about a departure from traditional religion, yet in the end it would not be accepted. After his death, traditional religious practice was gradually restored, and when some dozen years later rulers without clear rights of succession from the Eighteenth Dynasty founded a new dynasty, they discredited Akhenaten and his immediate successors, referring to Akhenaten himself as "the enemy" in archival records.





















Location of the Tomb

The tomb is located located six kilometres up the Royal Wadi which separates the hills surrounding Akhetaton from the east and thus separating the northern private tomb from the southern ones.
The entrance to the tomb is cut in the floor of the wadi facing east.

Plan of the Tomb
The entance leads to a stairway of 20 steps with a central slide of about one metre in width. The side walls of the stairway were originally covered by a layer of plaster, many parts of which has disappeared
nowadays.
The staircase leads to a long undecorated sliding corridor that inclines at an angle of 16 degrees. The corridor was once covered by a layer of plaster few traces of which can still be seen.
Halfway in the right side of the corridor there opens a doorway that leads to 6 unfinished corridors and chambers. Opposite the doorway to these chambers is another rectangular opening about 22* 3. 50 meters wide. This opening was probably for making another room or rooms but was never finished. At the end of the corridor there is a second
 Sliding staircase of about 18 steps and a central slide of 1 meter in width. The staircase declines at an angle of 40 degrees. The side walls are also undecorated but they were once covered by a layer of plaster.
At the top of this staircase to the right a doorway opens and leads to three rooms known as alpha beta and gamma that were decorated.
On the wall opposite to this doorway another rectangular opening was made for making another room or series of rooms but work was abandoned.
At the foot of the staircase lies a doorway that leads to the well shaft. The shaft is about 3.12m deep. The of the room that form the upper part of the well were once decorated by scenes of the royal couple making offerings to Aton. However they all disappeared nowadays. The function of the well is to protect the tomb from floods ans severe storms.
The well room directly leads to the door of the burial chamber of the King. The entrance to this chamber was blocked by stone blocks arranged 6 horizontally and 2 vertically. The same type of these blocks was found inside the well, which shows that the burial chamber was opened
The burial chamber is squared in shape measuring about 11*11m. The floor of the southern side of the  chamber is slightly raised about 35 cm. The roof of this area is supported by two pillars. The walls and ceiling of this chamber were once coated by a layer of plaster and then painted. However only few scenes can still be seen.
The area behind the pillars was used in storing funerary equipment.
In the middle of the floor area lies the base of the sarcophagus of the king.
At the corner of the right wall of the burial chamber another chamber was cut but it was abandoned.
At the end of the corridor there is a second
 Sliding staircase of about 18 steps and a central slide of 1 meter in width. The staircase declines at an angle of 40 degrees. The side walls are also undecorated but they were once covered by a layer of plaster.




































Decoration of the Royal Tomb


Burial Chamber


Thischamber which is considered the largest in the tomb was the
best decorated in the entire tomb as the walls, ceilings and piers were all decorated by colorful scenes. However these scenes were destroyed by the followers of Amun to take revenge from Akhenaton. Only parts that remained are those high on the walls as the destroyers couldn’t reach them.
However from these remains scholars were able to put together some of the scenes that must have occupied these walls.
Among these scenes is a scene depicting the king and the queen followed by four of their daughters, in front of heaped offering tables as they are making offerings to Aten, under the rays of Aton. Behind them the wall is divided into 4 registers showing rows of attendants.
Another scene represents the king, queen and her daughters, all under the rays of the Aton, mourning the death of a female figure to the right represented under a canopied shrine decorated by a frieze of cobras. Scholars believe that the figure was that of queen Tiye. The scene also contains mourners in different
Attitudes.
On a third wall there is an adoration scene showing 5 representations of the Aton, the biggest is shown above the royal couple who are shown adoring the sun disc.
Another scene on the northern wall just opposite to the base of the sarcophagus shows the royal family mourning a figure of an unknown deceased placed under a canopy which is in turn surmounted by a representation of Aton.
As for the pillars they were probably decorated by representations of the sun disc as well as by inscriptions giving epithets of Aton and names and titles of the king and the Queen.






 


The rooms Alpha, Beta and Gama
They were cut during the 12th regnal year of Akhenaton after the death of Meketaton. The three rooms led to one another. The walls alpha and Gama are decorated while that of bita was undecorated either because it was used as a stoe room for the other rooms or because it was never finished.
The rooms Alpha , Beta and Gama
They were cut during the 12th regnal year of Akhenaton after the death of Meketaton. The three rooms led to one another. The walls alpha and gama are decorated while that of bita was undecorated either because it was used as a stoe room for the other rooms or because it was never finished.

Room Alpha
The room is 5.5 m square and 3 m. high. The walls and the ceiling were coated by a layer of plaster then painted by colourful scenes. The room contains four niches on the northern, southern, eastern and western walls. These niches were cut after the walls were completely decorated.. They were made to contain amulets and magical bricks inscribed by chapter 151 of the book of the dead. After they were filled with their contents they were sealed with plaster. The contents of these niches were stolen. The niches imply that alpha was a burial chamber.

The western and the eastern walls are decorated in the same way but on the eastern wall the sun is rising while on the western wall the sun is setting. Both walls show the royal couple followed by two of their daughters, all under the rays of the Aton. They are performing the morning rituals in front of the sanctuary of the great temple. Behind the royal couple the scene is divided into registers showing fan bearers courtiers and charioteers, all in front of the gates of the palace.
 
The northern wall is a continuation of the scene on the eastern wall as all the figures on this wall face the direction of the rising sun. The wall is divided into 7 registers. The first 4 represent the military and civil population of Akhetaton in different postures. As for the other 3 they represent  Nubians and Asiatics adoring the Aton.
The southern wall represent the royal family while mourning the death of Meketaton.  The scene represents two episodes. The first represent the royal couple in one of the rooms of the palace, under the rays of the Aton and they are leaning forward in a mourning attitude. Outside the room female mourners are represented while weeping. The second episode represents the couple in the same attitude but in front of the deceased body lying on a funerary bed.

Gama
The room is 3.5 * 2m. In hight. The walls of the room and the ceiling were once coated with plaster. It was probably the burial chamber for Meketaton.  The scenes on the walls of this room are in a bad condition. However one of the scenes is similar to the scene on the southern wall of Alpha. It represents the royal couple in front of the funerary bed of Meketaton.
On the opposite wall another scene represents a figure of Meketaton under a canopy decorated by a cavetto cornice. In front of the canopy the royal couple are shown leaning in a mourning attitude under the rays of Aton. Behind the couple there are three of the deceased s sisters all with signs of grief. The rest of the scene show female mourners in different attitudes.