Sneferu is famous for being the founder ruler of the Fourth Dynasty of ancient Egypt's Old Kingdom. His Hellenized name was ‘Soris’, as mentioned by the Greek Historian Manetho. In the Egyptian dialect, Sneferu's name was also written as ‘Snefru’ or ‘Snofru.’
When Did Sneferu Reign?
Although there were originally different opinions regarding the period of Sneferu's reign, it is now accepted that he ruled Egypt for 24 years, from 2613 B.C. to 2589 B.C., as mentioned in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. He is credited with building three pyramids, which are still intact and exhibit a new form of architectural design introduced by this king.
Sneferu ascended the throne of Egypt after the death of his predecessor Huni, as mentioned by the ancient Greek historian Manetho in his records. Sneferu was succeeded by his son Khufu, who is famous for the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Sneferu is known to have been a kind and efficient ruler, who was remembered for many generations after his time because he did his best for his countrymen. His reign was also marked by the military raids to Nubia and Libya, where he imprisoned numerous people to use them as a slave labor force at his pyramid sites. Sneferu was also known to have constructed the first Egyptian ship, which was named ‘Praise of the Two Lands.' He had it built with cedar wood that he most likely imported from Lebanon.
Sneferu's Personal Life
Even though Sneferu succeeded Huni, it is not yet proven that he was the son of his predecessor. But Sneferu's mother’s name was Meresankh I, as per the inscription stated on the Cairo Annals Stone. His chief wife was Queen Hetepheres I, who was also the mother of Khufu. According to various historical records, Sneferu had 8 sons: Khufu, Ankhhaf, Kanefer, Nefermaat I, Netjeraperef, Rahotep, Ranefer, and Iynefer I. As per the inscriptions, he also fathered 5 daughters: Hetepheres A, Nefertkau I, Nefertnesu, Meritites I, and Henutsen.
Among his sons, Khufu succeeded him to the throne; while Nefermaat I and Kanefer served as viziers or ministers under their father. Kanefer continued to work as a vizier for his brother Khufu; whereas Nefermaat I then became the priest in the Egyptian temple of Goddess Bastet. Ankhhaf also served as vizier under his nephew and the next Pharaoh, Khafre. Rahotep worked as the High Priest in the temple of the Sun god Ra in Heliopolis.
Pyramids Built By Sneferu
The most prominent 3 pyramids built by Sneferu are all located in Dahshur or Dashur (in English), which was the royal necropolis, erected in the desert on the west side of the River Nile. These three pyramids were named as the Red Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid, and the Medium Pyramid. Sneferu modified the structure of the pyramid to a great extent, which was also followed while building the Great Pyramid of Giza by his son Khufu. The medium was the first pyramid that was built by Sneferu, and this massive structure housed the burial chambers of some notable members of the royal family. The Bent Pyramid was also known as the Rhomboidal or Blunted Pyramid, which has its name due to the change in the inclination angle from 55° to 43° in the upper tiers. The Red Pyramid is believed to contain the sarcophagus and mortal remains of Sneferu in a hidden chamber, although that has not yet been discovered.