Pyramid of Khafre - Chepren


Khafre was the son of Khufu who supposedly built the Great Pyramid in the 4th Dynasty.

He ruled from 2520-2494 B.C. and is responsible for the second largest pyramid complex at Giza, which includes the Sphinx, a Mortuary Temple, and a Valley Temple.


Original name: Khafre is greatest
Original height: 143.5 m / 478.3 ft
Present day height: 136.4 m / 454.7 ft
Base length: 215.25 m / 717.5 ft - 11 acres
Angle of inclination: 53 10'
Estimated volume: 1,659,200 m3 / 2,168,900 cu. yd
Date of construction: 4th dynasty, c. 2570 BC
Average Weight of Individual Blocks of Stone:
2.5tons, some of the outer casing blocks of stone weigh in at 7 tons

There is no evidence that anyone was ever buried in the main chamber.

No inscriptions have been found in the pyramid, however there is a sarcophagus in the main chamber. There are two entrances that lead into the pyramid which are placed one directly above the other. The upper entrance is 50 feet (15m) above the ground. This is the one that is used for entrance now. A narrow passage leads into a large limestone chamber. This passageway descends at a 25 degree angle to the chamber. The walls are lined with red granite. This inner chamber is quite large, 46.5' x 16.5' x 22.5' (14.2m x 5m x 6.9m). The roof of the chamber is set at the same angles as the pyramid face.

This is designed to take the weight of the pyramid, as is the relieving chambers in Khufu's pyramid. Apparently the roof designed this way has worked, the pyramid has not collapsed.

The lower corridor is directly under the upper corridor. This lower corridor once contained a portcullis, which could be let down to prevent entry. This corridor declines on the same angle as the upper and eventually joins into the upper. Once joined, the passageway leads into the inner chamber.

Located in the lower passage is a burial chamber that is apparently unfinished and unused. It is in the bedrock under the pyramid. The passageway leads through this chamber and joins the upper corridor.

Khafre's pyramid is hardly smaller than the one of his father, Khufu. As it has a more elevated position and its sides have a steeper angle of inclination, it even appears to be the larger in size. It is the only pyramid that still has parts of its outermost layers of Tura limestone.

The most distinctive feature of Khafre's Pyramid is the topmost layer of smooth stones that are the only remaining casing stones on a Giza Pyramid.

Khafre whose older brother Djedefre died after a few years of governance, dreamed of having the biggest pyramid ever, even bigger than the one of Cheops, his dead father. His plans failed.

After Khufu's pyramid had already been opened and entered in the 7th and the 13th century AD, it was Giovanni Belzoni who wandered around in its passages and chambers in 1818. He entered Khufu's pyramid from one of its two entrances on the northern side and made his way along a descending passageway which had a length of 32 m / 107 ft. Then, he followed a horizontal shaft that lead him directly into the burial chamber where he discovered an austere sarcophagus of pink granite (2.62x1.06m / 8.73x3.53 ft) - it was empty, just like the sarcophagus that was found in the pyramid of Cheops.

Two entrances - The upper one sealed with a metal door.

The pyramid contains 2 known chambers. One chamber is subterranean, carved into the very bedrock. The other has its floor carved into the bedrock while its upper walls and ceiling pierce into the base of the pyramid.

Descending steps

First Chamber - carved in the plateau bedrock is 34' x 10' - no sarcophagus and also includes a pointed ceiling. This chamber may have served for storage of offering material, treasure, or have been the equivalent of a serdab. Perhaps it is this pyramid's equivalent of the middle or so-called Queen's Chamber of the Great Pyramid, which also has a pointed ceiling. However, this room does not contain any niche in the wall for the life-size statue of the king, instead its east wall frames the entrance.

Burial Chamber - 46.5 ft. long and 16.5 ft. wide - pointed ceiling.

There is a unique black granite sarcophagus in this room in that it was built to be sunken into the floor. The original lid, though no longer attached, lies propped up next to the coffer near the west wall. It is possible that the open niche against the east side of the coffer held the king's canopic chest, the box containing the mummified organs of the king, within ceremonial vases.

Images - Guardian's Egypt


The Mortuary Temple

East of the pyramid lies the Mortuary Temple, 110 m / 367 ft in length, the biggest stone block as heavy as 400 tons. Since the structure has been used as a quarry throughout the centuries, the columns and the granite have disappeared. What is left once was a large temple with hallways leading to a courtyard in the center of the building which contained five chapels, a few magazines and a sanctuary.

The Mortuary Temple of Khafre / Chephren is to the east of the pyramid and is better preserved than Khufu's temple. Chephren's temple is more elaborate, although the statues and other contents have been stolen than his father's. Some of the limestone walls had granite casing, which is still present in some places. Parts of a small sanctuary, outhouses, a courtyard and a large hall with pillars still remain.

A causeway that connected the Mortuary Temple to the Valley Temple is better preserved than any other causeway. It was hidden in the sands until Mariette found it in 1852. The causeway is 500m long and was lined with red granite which protects the limestone.

There are two entrances to the temple that face east and lead into a T-shaped hall which has huge pillars. Twenty-three statues of Chephren were found in this hall. The only one which remains intact is in the Egyptian Museum.

This statue, which is possibly the most famous Egyptian statue, shows Chephren sitting in his throne with a hawk perched on the back of the throne. Chambers can be found on the south side of the hall, but a passage that joined the causeway is now closed off to visitors.


The Valley Temple

Coming along the causeway, one encounters the valley temple of the pyramid of Chephren which is made from pink granite. What wrongly used to be regarded as the Sphinx temple is still in very good condition. A T-shaped hall held 16 monolithic pylons, each of them 4.15 m / 18.8 ft high. Two Sphinxes each had once guarded the two entrances. The temple was probably used for the process of mummification as remains of a "purification tent" were found in 1995.



a: Pyramid of Khafre
b: Secondary pyramid
c: Mortuary temple
d: Causeway
e: Sphinx
f: Valley temple
g: Sphinx temple
h: Mastabas


Khafre may be best known for his statues - most famous among them - the Sphinx. He is considered the greatest maker of statues of the Pyramid Age.

There are emplacements in his pyramid temples for 58 statues, including four colossal sphinxes, each more than 26 feet long, two flanking each door of his Valley Temple; two colossal statues, possibly of baboons, in tall niches inside the entrances of the Valley Temple; 23 life-size statues of the pharaoh in the Valley Temple fragments of several have been found with his name inscribed on them); at least seven large statues of him in the inner chambers of his Mortuary Temple; 12 colossal Khafre statues around the courtyard of his Mortuary Temple; and ten more huge statues in the Sphinx Temple.





NOVA Online - Pyramid of Khafre
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