(2589-2566 BC) was the 4th Dynasty (2613-2498) pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid of Giza. Originally, the Great Pyramid stood 481 feet (146.6 m) tall. Although commonly called Cheops (and also Suphis) because of the late Greek influence on Egypt, the name Khufu is the original ancient Egyptian name for this king as demonstrated by his own cartouche. He reigned for approximately 24 years.

The Grea Pyramid - Copyright (c) Copyright 1998 Andrew Bayuk, All Rights ReservedAlthough the Great pyramid has such fame, little is actually known about its builder, Khufu. Ironically, only a very small statue of 9 cm has been found depicting this historic ruler. This statue, pictured above and below, was not found in Giza near the pyramid, but was found to the south at the Temple of Osiris at Abydos, the ancient necropolis.

According to various inscriptions, Khufu probably did lead military into the Sinai, and raids into Nubia and Libya.

Khufu was the son of another great pyramid builder, King Sneferu. Khufu’s mother’s name was Hetepheres.

Although King Sneferu was remembered as a benevolent and beneficent ruler, Khufu is believed by some to have been a more ruthless and cruel despot. He was rumored in later times to have been prone to enjoying the fantastic stories of the reigns of his predecessors, as well as tales of magic and the mystical. His fame lasted throughout Egyptian history and he still had a funerary cult as late as the Saite Dynasty (26th Dynasty). Of course, whether or not he was a cruel ruler, he did command a tremendous ability to organize and mobilize worker. There was an extremely large amount of manpower necessary to build the Great pyramid and its surrounding complex and tombs. Certainly Khufu would have had the benefit of witnessing the previous pyramid projects of his father, Sneferu.

The Great Pyramid stands witness to the ability of Khufu to lead and coordinate his people. Current theories espouse that the building of the Great Pyramid was not achieved by slave labor. Instead, the project defrayed taxes, which were paid in the form of goods and services as there was no monetary system. Also, due to the annual inundation of the Nile there was always a yearly segment of the population that had some time that they could not spend in their homes.

Curiously, although his father was probably buried in Dahshur, Khufu chose the Giza plateau to situate his pyramid, temples, and perhaps, his tomb. Also curiously, he did not choose the highest spot on the plateau, which was later used by his son and successor, Khafre. This gave Khafre’s pyramid the illusion of being taller, when in fact the Great Pyramid is the actually the taller pyramid.

The Solar Boat of Khufu - Copyright (c) Copyright 1997 Andrew Bayuk, All Rights Reserved

In addition to the splendor of the Great Pyramid, an exciting ancient wooden boat was found sealed in a pit at the base of the Great pyramid.

The Solar Boat of Khufu - Copyright (c) 1997 - Andrew Bayuk, All Rights Reserved
This boat was interred in pieces and has since been reassembled, restored and housed in a climate controlled museum over the site of the original pit.

King Khufu - Copyright (c) Copyright 1998 Andrew Bayuk, All Rights Reserved

Khufu had several sons and his immediate successor was his son Djedefre (Radjedef). Curiously, Djedefre also chose to build his pyramid at a location other than that of his fathers. Instead Djedefre was buried to the north at a site now known as Abu Roash. A remaining son of Khufu – Khafre, was to join his father building his pyramid at the higher spot in on the Giza plateau. Although Khufu’s pyramid is actually bigger than Khafre’s, the higher ground provides the illusion that Khafre’s pyramid is taller. After the death of Khafre, his son Menkaure built his smaller pyramid at Giza, eventually completing the last of the famous pyramids at Giza.


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