King Neferefre of Ancient Egypt
King Neferefre, also known as Raneferef, Ranefer, and in Greek as Cherês, was an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh renowned for his relatively short reign during the Old Kingdom period. Believed to have ruled in the 25th century BC, he is recognized as a notable figure of the Fifth Dynasty.
Neferefre was most likely the eldest son of Pharaoh Neferirkare Kakai and Queen Khentkaus II, ascending to the throne as Prince Ranefer. His reign, however, was abruptly cut short, leading to the unfinished construction of his pyramid, symbolic of the king's eternal existence.
Early Life and Accession to the Throne
Neferefre Isi was the presumed eldest son of Pharaoh Neferirkare Kakai and Queen Khentkaus II. While little is known about his early life, Neferefre was known as Prince Ranefer before he ascended to the throne. Following his father's death, he inherited the kingship, stepping into one of the most influential roles in Ancient Egyptian society.
Reign and Unfinished Pyramid
Upon his accession, Neferefre constructed a pyramid for himself in the royal cemetery of Abusir called Netjeribau Raneferef, translating to "The bas of Neferefre are divine." The pyramid, however, was never completed.
An inscription by a mason indicates that the works on the stone structure were abandoned during, or shortly after, Neferefre's second year of reign, suggesting an unexpectedly short period on the throne. This, alongside the scarcity of attestations contemporaneous with his control, is evidence posited by Egyptologists that the king died prematurely after two to three years in power.
Excavations at the site of the unfinished pyramid have revealed a treasure trove of information about the Pharaoh and his reign. It is one of the few sites where actual documentation of the progression of pyramid construction was discovered, providing modern archeologists with invaluable insights into the architectural practices of that era.
Legacy and Death
Neferefre's premature death resulted in an interrupted reign and an unfinished monument meant to carry his legacy forward into eternity. Despite the mysterious and abrupt end to his power, he left behind a riddle for archeologists and Egyptologists that continues to yield insights into Ancient Egyptian civilization, royal rituals, and construction techniques.
The location of Neferefre's mummified remains within the incomplete pyramid confirms the king's intended final resting place. This fact suggests a sudden and unexpected death, leading to a rushed burial in the half-finished pyramid and thus sealing the structure as it was, unfinished.
Although short-lived, King Neferefre's life coincided with a symbolic transitional period during Egypt's Fifth Dynasty, during which the importance of the cult of Ra became more prevalent, thus influencing and shaping Egyptian religious practices for centuries to come.
Queen Khentkaus Acted As A Ruler
Queen Khentkaus I was a queen of ancient Egypt during the 4th dynasty. She may have been the daughter of pharaoh Menkaure, the wife of King Shepseskaf, the prophet Userkaf (the founder of the 5th dynasty), and the mother of Sahure.
Khentkaus I significantly influenced the royal court and policy during this period. Her name means "She whose Ka is powerful," indicating her strong spiritual connection.
Her pyramid complex, which includes a burial pyramid and an accompanying temple, was discovered in Giza, and it provides many details about her life and the era she lived in.
The pyramid of Abusir has been a significant source of archaeological evidence surrounding his rulership, but questions and mysteries remain.
What is clear from the evidence is that there was a pharaoh known as Neferefre or Raneferef who reigned sometime during the 5th dynasty. As a crown prince, his name was Raneferef, but he later changed his name to Neferefre when he assumed the throne. Neferefre's name, in Egyptian, meant beautiful. He was the son and successor of Neferirkare. His mother was Khentkaus. It is yet to be known whether Neferefre had any wives or children.
In 2015, a tomb was discovered by archaeologists suspected to be the tomb of his wife, Khentkaus III.