Djedefre was one of Egypt's notable Pharaohs during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. He succeeded his father Khufu at around 2575 B.C., and ruled Upper and Lower Egypt for roughly 10 – 14 years only, as he died an early death and was succeeded by his brother Khafre. Djedefre was also known as Djedefra and Radjedef, as per ancient Egyptian inscriptions. However, he adopted the title of “Sa-Re”, which meant “the Son of Ra, the Sun-God” and he was the first Pharaoh to choose such a grandiose name. As per Manetho’s records, the Hellenized name of Djedefre was Ratoises.
Djedefre's Family Tree
Djedefre's father was Khufu, the great builder of the Pyramid of Giza. But his mother’s name is never mentioned and hence, remains unknown. His chief queen was his half-sister Hetepheres II, who was earlier the widow of his elder brother Kawab. He also married Queen Khentetenka, from whom he had three sons, namely Setka, Baka, and Hernet. He also had a daughter with Khentetenka named Neferhetepes. All of these children's names are mentioned in the fragments of the statues, found in the mortuary temple of the Pyramid of Djedefre, in Abu Rawash.
The Pyramid of Djedefre
Djedefre moved 8 Km north of Giza and established a new necropolis on a higher leveled ground in Abu Rawash. It is situated on the northern side of the Memphite necropolis and was discovered in a ruined condition towards the end of the 19th century. The total necropolis complex was enclosed by a thick boundary wall, much of which is now broken down. The mortuary temple of this pyramid is completely ruined now and connected to the entrance by a long causeway that runs from north to south; instead of east to west, as seen in the earlier pyramids of his predecessors.
Even the stone paving of this causeway is also completely destroyed now. There are only some fragments of some statues standing in the open courtyard, whose names have been deciphered from their bases and found to be of the children of Djedefre. But from the remnants of a row of pillars, recently excavated from the northeast side of this pyramid, it can be made out that there were some inscriptions written on them, probably about the deceased Pharaoh Djedefre. A partly damaged sphinx is also found in this pyramid complex, the face of which is believed to resemble that of Queen Hetepheres II, the wife of Djedefre. Hence, now scientists believe that the Great Sphinx of Giza was also built by Djedefre, as the face of that sphinx highly resembled his father Khufu.
Earlier, it was assumed that this pyramid might have been left incomplete; but recent discoveries have made it clear that this pyramid complex was intentionally destroyed, around the 2nd century A.D, when the statues of Djedefre and his children were deliberately damaged. But as per several pieces of evidence found from this site, this pyramid probably was built as the highest of its kind, with a height of 722 ft, which was higher than the Great Pyramid of Giza. There are also many architectural differences between this pyramid and those of the earlier Pharaohs, as here the burial chambers were built under the pyramid, instead of within the pyramid. It is believed that the inner chambers were constructed first and then the pyramid structure was built over them.