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Khafre {Chephren} Pyramid

Chephren Pyramid

Khafre wanted his pyramid to be very close to his father’s pyramid at the Giza Plateau. He chose a location to the southwest of the Great Pyramid.

The monuments that Khafre constructed were made well and survived a lot of hardships over the centuries. Khafre’s pyramid ended up being an attractive backdrop to see when you visit the Great Sphinx. The Sphinx is positioned next to Khafre’s causeway.

The base of Khafre’s pyramid measures at 215 meters and the height of the pyramid itself is 143.5 meters. The pyramid is actually smaller than his father’s pyramid, but it doesn’t appear that way from a distance because Khafre’s pyramid was built on higher ground that has a steeper slope. Out of all the pyramids left, Khafre’s pyramid remains the best preserved one. Its height is almost the same as it originally was, thanks to the casing stones at the pyramid’s apex which remain intact.

In 1816, a man named Belzoni became the first person of modern history to enter the pyramid. He was the one who found the upper entrance in the pyramid and then the chambers which existed underground. English Colonel Fitzclarence created an inscription on the upper entrance to commemorate Belzoni for his discovery.

The pyramid’s core area had been constructed on a flat terrace. Limestone blocks that were irregularly shaped were used for it. They were abandoned after thieves had stripped away the Tura limestone casing blocks. Still, there are many normal-shaped limestone blocks under the casing that remains. On the southern side of the pyramid, there is well preserved red granite material on some of its outer skin.

The pyramid’s vertical axis is where you’ll find the burial chamber of Khafre. It is nothing extravagant, just a pit that was constructed inside the bedrock. Limestone blocks were used for the chamber’s roofing. This is just like what was done in his father’s pyramid in order to reduce the stress caused by the weight of the stones.

The burial chamber has words written on its southern wall. They read as follows, “Discovered by G. Belzoni – March 2nd, 1816.” Of course, it is written in Italian because Belzoni was Italian. He wasn’t the first to discover the chamber, though. On the west wall, he found writing that was left there by someone from the 12th century A.D.

The red granite sarcophagus of Khafre was discovered in the burial chamber. The sarcophagus was somewhat sunk into the floor. It had a damaged cover too. A pit was made near the sarcophagus, which experts believe was for the canopic chest. This would have been the chest which contained Khafre’s internal organs before he was mummified.

The complex of Khafre used to have a satellite pyramid, but most of it is destroyed. All that remains is some of its foundations. Historians think the satellite pyramid was used as a cult pyramid rather than for burials.

Khafre’s enormous mortuary temple has limestone pavement which separates it from the pyramid itself on the east side. Although, the pavement can be seen on every side of the pyramid.

In 1910, von Sieglin and Holscher excavated the temple to see what was hidden in it. They discovered it had a courtyard, entrance hall, storage rooms, offering hall, and 5 statue chapels.

The causeway, which is now ruined, is 494 meters long and links the mortuary temple to the well-preserved valley temple. No other valley temple is preserved this well. Giant monoliths made of limestone were used to construct the valley temple. In 1852, a French scholar named Auguste Mariette discovered this temple, but he falsely wrote that it was the Temple of the Sphinx. It was actually Khafre’s temple.

The structure had lintels and pillars made from big Aswan granite-based rectangular blocks. This gave it a unique and distinguished appearance, like the Osirion temple found in Abydos.

In 1860, while the valley temple was being excavated, Mariette discovered 7 statues that were dedicated to Khafre. One of which was a well-preserved diorite statue with a Horus falcon. This Egyptian sculpture is an exquisite work of art from Ancient Egypt and it is currently on display in the Cairo Museum.

No one knows for sure what the valley temple was used for. Some theorize that the embalming rites were done in this temple prior to Khafre’s funeral. As recently as 1995, small amounts of a purification tent had been discovered close to the temple. A few underground tunnels and ramps were discovered at this time too.

The Great Sphinx is located just to the north of the temple. It has an enclosure of its own. Some believe the Sphinx was designed when Khafre ruled Egypt, making it the country’s first large statue.

Updated On March 29, 2020