The pyramid of the pharaoh Khafre (Khafra)
The second largest of the Great Egyptian pyramids on the plateau of Giza belongs to Pharaoh Khafre (Khafre). Each Egyptian pyramid is interesting in its own way, but the tomb of Khafre is immediately striking to tourists thanks to the remains of the cladding on the top, the central position and the fact that it seems the tallest of all.
Although the access to the inside of the Khafre pyramid is closed to tourists, it is interesting to look at from outside, especially if you know what to look for. All this we will tell on this page.
Which of the three pyramids in Giza - Pharaoh Khafre
Most tourists confuse the pyramids of Cheops and Khafre. Knowing the fact that the tomb of Cheops is the largest of all ancient monuments in Egypt, most tourists believe that it is in the center (see the photo on the right).
In fact, in the center of the photo is exactly the pyramid of Khafre. It really looks the tallest, although it's not. Pharaoh Hefren very successfully selected a place for the construction, just at this point the plateau of Giza is 10 meters higher than at the site of the pyramid of Cheops.
The pyramid of Khafre immediately after the construction was 143.5 meters in height. Now it has decreased to 136.5 meters, that is, it lost only 7 meters for 4600 years of its history. The pyramid of Cheops during this period of time became lower by 10 meters. Another plus three meters in favor of Chephren.
As a result of these circumstances, tourists think that it is the highest, although this is an illusion. To date (an article published in August 2015), the pyramids of Cheops and Khafre have a height of 137 and 136.5 meters. That is, Cheops is still ahead.
What is it interesting for tourists, and what can you see?
As we have already noted, tourists are not allowed inside. Of course, you can go inside, but you need to issue a special permit in the Antiquities Service of the Arab Republic of Egypt. This business is troublesome and long.
The Antiquities Service issues one more type of permission - to climb the summit. If you go through a certain set of bureaucratic procedures in this department, you can get an official permission to climb to the top of the pyramids of Cheops or Mikerin . But, on the pyramid of Chephren, one can not ascend, it is absolutely forbidden.
The reason for this is the upper "cap" of the structure, which is now in an unstable state and may begin to collapse.
This "hat" - the main distinguishing feature of the tomb of the pharaoh Khafre. At other pyramids in Giza, the external cladding was completely lost, becoming the source of building material for local residents.
Once such a covering covered the entire surface of the monument. Facing made of two types of stone - red granite from Aswan and white limestone from Tours. The granite was more expensive, since it had to transport almost 1000 kilometers along the Nile on ships.
Pharaoh Chefren was able to afford the facing of red Aswan granite, but only at the first few levels up to a height of 3 meters. The rest was covered with turkish limestone. The stones were polished, and the pyramid shone under the rays of the bright sun. The ancient Egyptians called it the "Great Kafra."
The geometric form of this structure is very interesting. Are you familiar with the expression "Egyptian triangle"? This is the name of the classical rectangular triangle with the ratio of sides 3 to 4 to 5.
The pyramid of Khafre is the most ancient example, when architects followed such proportions (see the photo on the right). The angle of inclination of the face is 53.1 degrees, which almost corresponds to the parameter of the "Egyptian triangle" - 53.08 degrees.
One can only wonder how 4600 years ago the Egyptians already knew these proportions and were able to build an object that completely corresponds to them.
Although, there is an opinion that it happened purely by chance. We know for certain that the Egyptians were familiar with the geometric figure of the Egyptian Triangle. About this we are told by "papyrus Ahmes" - an ancient document of educational purpose. But the "papyrus Ahmes" dates from the Middle Kingdom era, and the buildings in Giza were erected in the earlier era of the Old Kingdom.
Every Pharaoh of ancient Egypt was deified after death. He became a real god, he was offered sacrifices and prayed. Each pyramid was part of a common architectural complex, which included: its very small pyramids and temples. In the small pyramids, the close relatives of the ruler rested, in the temples of the temple the priests conducted religious ceremonies.
Another feature of the pyramid of Chephren is that its resting temples are very well preserved. If you pay attention to the neighboring tomb of Pharaoh Cheops, then there is nothing like this, in place of the temples there were only foundations.
There is only one small pyramid here, it does not have a name, but only the designation "GII". Now it is not known exactly who rested there. There is a lot of hypothesis on this score, the most common one assumes that the eldest son of Pharaoh Khafre rested there.
Even now it is clear what majestic structures were the resting temples. The first of them has a size of 113x49 meters, the second 50х45 meters. The first temple is located right next to the pyramid, and the second is 500 meters from it, it is called the "Temple of the Valley."
The Temple of the Valley has been preserved better, even now the buildings are 13 meters high. The size of the building blocks here amaze the imagination, some of them weigh 40 tons each.
It was in the temple of the Valley that the famous statue of Pharaoh Khafre from the stone of diorite was found. See the photo on the right. Pharaoh is depicted sitting on the throne, and behind in the image of a falcon depicts the god Horus - the patron of the royal power in Egypt. In total, about 200 statues of the pharaoh Khafre were found in the temple of different sizes.
The Temple of the Valley is very well preserved due to the fact that it was covered with sand. He was unearthed only in 1853. From the pyramid to the temple of the Valley led a completely enclosed corridor, which was used by the priests. Up to now it has not been preserved completely.
In the temple near the pyramid, you can look at the building block of limestone weighing 400 tons. On this block, Egyptologist scientists argue about this day. It is difficult to imagine how the ancient Egyptians could move it.
Interesting in the pyramid of Khafre, which is not visible to tourists
It is believed that at the top of each pyramid was a special stone, which in our time is usually called the word "pyramidon", and the ancient Egyptians called it "Benben". It is symbolically connected with the legend of the creation of the world by the god Atum.
No such stone from the big pyramids has survived, and not a single written source describes them in detail. Now, the stones "benben" are found, but they are left from small buildings.
It is believed that the "pyramidons" of the large pyramids were covered with gold and inscribed with inscriptions, but this is only a hypothesis. It turns out that there is no exact certainty that they existed at all.
The pyramid of Khafre is the only evidence of the existence of the stones of the "pyramids". At the top of the structure is a square platform, and in the center of the site is a depression of a square shape. This design served, presumably, the fastening of such a stone.
It's just interesting how the thieves removed it from there? He weighed several tons, and at a height of 140 meters still need to climb, and there at a height to manage somehow to overturn it and throw it down. This is a big mystery!
It's a pity, but tourists can not look at the top of the Khafre pyramid, they have not yet built any lifts to the summit. Inside tourists are also not allowed. Do not worry, there is really nothing to watch. If you want to see what's inside the pyramid, you can get inside the neighboring Cheops pyramid for 100 Egyptian pounds .
When and by whom is the pyramid uncovered and where are the treasures
The first of the Europeans, this pyramid was opened by Giovanni Belzoni - the famous Italian Egyptologist and researcher, famous for the opening of the Abu Simbel temple . In 1818 he discovered that the pyramid of Khafre was empty, and treasures, and the sarcophagus with the mummy had long been removed. Rather, the external granite sarcophagus remained, but there are no internal sarcophagi.
Before Belzoni, the Arabs uncovered the tomb in 1372, the Arab historian Ibn Abd al-Salam writes about this. They also found nothing of value.
The pyramid of Khafre, as well as the other pyramids of Giza, was plundered 4000 years ago in the "first transition period" - the era of crisis and anarchy in the history of Egypt . Even the mummies of the pharaohs of the ancient kingdom have not survived to this day.
However, unlike Cheops, we know quite a lot about Pharaoh Harf. Thanks to the statues of the departed temples, we know exactly what it looked like. Little is known about his deeds.
A little about the pharaoh Himrene
Many guides say that Chephren was the son of Cheops and the next following Pharaoh, such information is easier to digest by tourists. But this is not so, another pharaoh named Djedefra ruled between them.
The pyramid of Djedefra is located far from the Giza plateau 10 kilometers to the northwest. This pyramid is almost completely disassembled for building materials, only the foundation remains of it. In the photo on the left you can see this sad picture.
The most common version says that Chephren was the son of Cheops and the brother of Jedephra, inherited the throne after him.
According to an alternative version, Chephren was a brother of Cheops, but this assumption is very doubtful.
Hephren ruled Egypt for 24 years, and possibly longer. In mastaba under the index G 7650 there are inscriptions, which Egyptologists call "the will of Prince Nekur." It says about the "13th count of the cattle of the reign of Pharaoh Chefren." The cattle account was conducted in Egypt every two years.
This part of the history of Egypt has an interesting alternative version written by ancient Greek historians Manetho and Herodotus. According to their version, Cheops (Khufu) ruled for 50 years, and Khafre (Khafra) is 56 years old, the people of Egypt suffered from their tyranny for 106 consecutive years.
This version is untenable. First, there is no pharaoh Djedefra in it, and he certainly existed, it is mentioned in the sources. Secondly, people did not live that long. Even Pharaoh Ramses II ruled 66 years, and this was an extraordinary case of longevity among the Egyptians.
Hephren left the memory behind him as a cruel ruler. He acted like his father - he closed the temples and drove the Egyptians to build a pyramid and other monuments.
It is believed that he ordered to cut out from a solid rock a huge statue with the body of a lion and a man's head. Now we can see it on the plateau in Giza - this is the Great Sphinx . It is believed that the face of the Sphinx is copied from his image. You can try to evaluate the truthfulness of this hypothesis. See the photo of the face of the Sphinx and the face of the statue of Khafre .
In foreign policy, Khafre did not show himself, nothing is known about his military exploits. The period of the ancient kingdom was relatively peaceful, as Egypt had no rivals in the district. In fact, there was no one to fight with, except nomadic tribes on the Sinai peninsula.
What's inside and the main mystery
The configuration of the interior spaces in the Chephrenian pyramid is simpler than in the Cheops pyramid . There is only one burial chamber (we recall that there are three of them in the crypt of Cheops). In it stands a sarcophagus, and immediately there were canopies (vessels with internal organs of the pharaoh).
The burial chamber measures 14 by 5 meters. There is nothing mysterious about it, except for one fact. Giovanni Belzoni found here the bones of a large horned animal - supposedly a bull. What they did here is unclear. Perhaps they were brought by some of the previous thieves.
The main mystery of the Khafre pyramid is two entrances and two tunnels leading to the funerary room. These tunnels are connected not far from the entrance to the cell.
The first entrance is at an altitude of 11.5 meters on the surface of the pyramid, the second is located right at the bottom (see the picture above). The main question: why builders had to make two entrances? They understood perfectly well that this would only hurt, since it doubled the chances of finding the entrance of thieves. Apparently, for such a decision there were good reasons.
The most adequate theory is that the builders feared the premature death of the pharaoh. The burial chamber and the passage into it were prepared at the very beginning of construction in order to be ready for the worst. Then, during the construction, the upper official passage was created (pictured right).
The second riddle of the pyramid of Chephren is a hall that can be found in the middle of the lower corridor. He could not serve as a funerary chamber or receptacle for canopies, since all this was found in the main chamber, and in tombs of the times of the Old Kingdom there could always be only one "inhabitant".
The most popular hypothesis is that it is a treasure trove. This is doubtful, since the size of the burial chamber itself is sufficient to accommodate a large number of wealth.
The burial chamber is 71 square meters in area, which is comparable to the area of the famous tomb of Tutankhamun , located in the Valley of the Kings near the city of Luxor. In addition, it is far from the burial chamber, which is not typical for Egyptian burials.
There is an opinion that this pyramid was built in several stages. In the beginning, a small pyramid was created, then it was enlarged. As a result of these actions, two passes were formed, and this small camera was originally planned as the main burial chamber.
This theory has an indirect confirmation. Hephrenus was the brother of Pharaoh Djedefra. We know that Jedefra rules 11 cattle accounts - that's 22 years. That is, the pharaoh Khafre entered the throne already in adulthood, he was clearly not young. It is logical that the architects were afraid of his death. At that time, the age of 40 was already considered advanced, and up to 60 years, about the same number of people lived as they are now living to 90. Hence the rush, from here several tunnels, hence the overstrain of the country's forces and hatred of Pharaoh.
We hope that you will find many interesting things on the Giza plateau, and read our other articles about Egypt ( links below ).
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