Menkaure was the fifth king in the line of the Fourth Dynasty in the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt. According to archeological evidence, he ascended the throne after his father's death, Khafre, in 2530 B.C. His name was also called ‘Menkaura’ in the ancient Egyptian dialect. According to the historian Manetho, Menkaure succeeded a king called Bikheris. He ruled Egypt for roughly 18 or 22 years, as indicated by the historical evidence that was discovered so far about him. His younger son, Shepseskaf, succeeded Menkaure.
As a pharaoh, Menkaure is remembered for his kindness and religiosity, unlike his father, Khafre, and grandfather, Khufu. In modern history, he is particularly famous for constructing his tomb at the Giza necropolis, now universally known as the 'Pyramid of Menkaure.' Menkaure most likely died in 2500 B.C., according to the writings found in his tomb.
Menkaure's Family History
The Turin King List and other historical evidence indicate that Menkaure was the son of Pharaoh Khafre and the grandson of the famous Pharaoh Khufu. His mother was Queen Khamerernebty I, as it was mentioned on a flint knife discovered in his tomb. He had several brothers, some of whom served as viziers in the royal court of Menkaure; as per the evidence, their names were Nebemakhet, Nikaure, Iunmin, and Nikaure. Another younger brother, Sekhemkare, joined the royal court after the death of Menkaure, probably due to his minor age during the reign of his elder brother.
Menkaure was known to have two wives; one of them was his sister, Queen Khamerernebty II. His second wife was his half-sister, Queen Rekhetre. According to what's known today, Menkaure had three sons and two daughters. His eldest son was Crown Prince Khuenre, the son of Queen Khamerernebty II, who died at an early age before his father. Hence, his second son, Shepseskaf, became his successor to the throne, as per the Turin King List. Menkaure had another son, Sekhemre, discovered from a statue at Menkaure's pyramid. Khentkaus I, the Queen of the next Pharaoh, Shepseskaf, was a daughter of Menkaure. In contrast, his second daughter died at an immature age during the lifetime of her father, as per the record of the Greek historian Herodotus.
The Pyramid of Menkaure
In the Egyptian language, the Pyramid of Menkaure was known as 'Netjer-er-Menkaure' or 'Menkaure is divine.' The vast foundation base of this pyramid was built of limestone and measured 108.5 meters in length. This pyramid is the smallest among the three pyramids excavated in the Giza necropolis, with a height of only 65.5 meters. Apart from the main pyramid, this complex has three smaller pyramids, two of which were left incomplete for an unknown reason. Among these three pyramids, the largest and the most completed one houses a statue of a Queen.
His wife, Queen Khamerernebty II, was also probably buried in any of these three pyramids. The mortuary temple of the main pyramid of Menkaure holds three statues of the Pharaoh and Queen Khamerernebty II with an Egyptian Goddess, built of pink granite. The burial chamber of this main pyramid lies to the west of its mortuary temple, where the large stone sarcophagus is found, which is made of basalt and bears hieroglyphic writings and decorations like a palace facade. The valley temple of this pyramid was made of bricks and housed several statues of Menkaure and his wives, along with several Egyptian deities.