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Khafre was an Egyptian king from the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom in ancient Egypt. He ascended the throne after the death of his elder brother Djedefre, probably around 2570 B.C.He ruled Egypt for 26 years and was succeeded by his son, Menkaure. According to the record of the ancient historian Manetho, Khafre was briefly succeeded by a king named Bikheris, but nothing else is known about him. There is no Egyptian inscription or Westscar papyrus documents discovered from an ancient site to tell us more about Khafre. Moreover, several artifacts discovered recently clearly indicate that Menkaure was the direct successor of his father.

Khafre was also called Khafra, Khefren, and Chephren, using the local Egyptian language. There is also much dispute regarding the ruling period of this Pharaoh, as there is nothing written anywhere on this account. Although the ancient historian Manetho wrote in his records that Khafre’s reign continued for 66 years, modern historians do not accept that fact and believe that he ruled for a little more than 26 years.

Khafre was known to be a cruel and harsh ruler. He closed down many of the temples of Egypt, following the trend started by his father Khufu.

Khafre's Family Life

It is definitely clear that Khafre was a son of Pharaoh Khufu, but his mother’s name could not be ascertained due to the lack of any solid evidence. Many scholars think he was the son of Queen Meritites I, due to an inscription written in her honor by Khafre, probably after her death during his reign. However, some historians oppose this theory, as this inscription does not state anything clearly about his relationship with the deceased queen. According to them, Khafre could just be paying his homage to her memory, even in spite of being the son of Queen Henutsen, another wife of Khufu.

Khafre had many wives, although their names were not known until recently. The inscriptions only revealed the names of 4 of them: Queen Khamerernebty I, Queen Meresankh III, Hekenuhedjet, and Present. Khafra had been known to father no less than 12 sons and 3 daughters. As per various inscriptions, Queen Khamerernebty I was the chief queen of Khafre and the mother of the next Pharaoh, Menkaure. Queen Meresankh III was actually the niece of Khafre, as she was known to be the daughter of his brother Kawab and Hetepheres II, and she was the mother of 4 sons of Khafre, and their names were Khentetka, Niuserre, Nebemakhet, and Duaenre; along with a daughter whose name was Shepsetkau. Sekhemkare was the son of Queen Hekenuhedjet, as per the inscription found in the tomb of this prince. Another queen, Persenet, was the mother of another son, called Nikaure.

The Pyramid of Khafre in Giza

The Pyramid built by Khafre is considered to be the second largest of its kind, built in the Giza necropolis. It was named as ‘Wer(en)-Khafre’, in the Egyptian language, which meant ‘Khafre is Great’. This huge structure, made of Tura limestone blocks also consists of a valley temple, a mortuary temple, and the Sphinx temple, to support the colossal Great Sphinx of Giza, apart from the main pyramid. Several statues of Khafre are discovered in the Valley Temple, where fragments of inscriptions are found with the Horus name of Khafre on them. The base of the pyramid was made of pink granite slabs, which were arranged one after another, a unique architectural feature that started from the design of this pyramid.

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