Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Pyramid of Khafre

The pyramid of the Fourth Dynasty Pharaoh Khafre is the second largest of Egypt's "Great" pyramids (it is the middle pyramid in the photo). Like other pyramids this one had a mortuary temple adjacent to the pyramid and a "Valley Temple" where the King's mummified body would have been initially brought for the Pharaoh's funeral. A long causeway connected the two temples.

The Valley Temple has very little decoration, consisting of plain rectangular granite columns and lintels. It originally contained statues of Khafre; one of which is preserved in the Cairo Museum and is one of the great works of art in Egyptian history.
The mortuary temple had what would become the standard plan for this type of temple, an entrance hall followed by a courtyard, statue niches and an inner sanctuary where offerings would have been made to the King's Ka (soul). It is thought that the final services would have been performed for the King's mummy in this temple.

The famous Great Sphinx sits just north of the causeway of the pyramid, very near the Valley Temple. Between paws of the Sphinx is a stela (see photo) erected many centuries after the death of Khafre. This stela tells the story of a young prince who fell asleep in the shadow cast by the mostly sand-covered body of the sphinx. As the prince slept, the Sphinx appeared to him in a dream and promised him the throne if the prince would have the sand cleared away from the Sphinx. The prince did so and became King of Egypt as Tuthmose IV. The stela has two representations of the Pharaoh offering to the Sphinx above the text describing Tuthmose's dream.

Photos copyright John Freed

No comments:

Post a Comment