King c.2589-2566 BC.
    Khufu, and his successors Khafre and Menkaure, are more generally known by the Graecised forms of their names which are Cheops, *Chephren and *Mycerinus.In the fifth century BC, *Herodotus preserves a tradition that the Egyptians who lived during the reigns of Cheops and his son *Chephren, hated and despised their rulers; Cheops closed the temples and tyrannically forced his subjects to build his massive tomb, known today as the Great Pyramid at Giza. He used the proceeds from his daughter's prostitution to help towards the cost of this enormous edifice.
    Although this is probably largely a fanciful story told to *Herodotus when he visited Egypt, Cheops is also represented in Egyptian sources as an autocrat. In the Westcar Papyrus, it recounted how the king was entertained by the magician Djedi and ultimately learnt of the fate of his dynastic line; he is contrasted here with his predecessor, *Sneferu, whose genial nature is emphasised. Cheops was obviously a devoted and pious son, for he completed the burial of his mother *Hetepheres, apparently causing her mortal remains to be interred in a new tomb near his own pyramid, after her original tomb had been ransacked.
    In contrast with his reputation as a tyrant, Cheops was also accredited with great sacred wisdom and knowledge and was stated to be the author of a hermetic book. In fact, few verifiable details have survived regarding his character or his reign, and he can now only be judged as the builder of his great funerary monument, the Great
    Pyramid, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. He abandoned the traditional royal burial place at Saqqara and selected a new site at Giza for his pyramid. Giza had several sound advantages: the plateau provided a dominating and spectacular setting for his pyramid and the subsidiary buildings. It was near the capital city of Memphis and there was ready access to a major source of building material in the limestone quarries at Tura. The grandiose scheme included the pyramid and a necropolis for the burial of his family and members of the court. Three small neighbouring pyramids may have housed the burials of favourite queens, although this is by no means certain.
    The Great Pyramid rose to a height of 481 feet and its bulk is greater than that of any building known to have been constructed by man. There were two complete changes of plan relating to the construction of the internal chambers and corridors. Originally, the complex would also have incorporated a funerary or mortuary temple (for the service of offerings), a covered causeway, and a Valley Temple located at the place where the desert met the cultivation. There were pits cut into the subterranean rock around the pyramid to house five wooden boats—three on the east side and two on the south. Two boat pits were discovered in 1954; one was opened, and the boat it contained was removed and reconstructed by archaeological and restoration experts. This vessel of cedarwood which measures over 130 feet in length, can now be viewed in a special museum built at Giza. The exact purpose of such boats remains uncertain: they may have been intended for the king to use in his next life when he sailed across the sky with his father Re, the sun-god, or they may actually have taken part in the funerary ceremonies, conveying the king's body and his burial goods to the pyramid.
    From the size and scope of his funerary complex, it is evident that Cheops was an absolute ruler with control of a unified country that was untroubled by any major external threat or military action. Irrigation of the land, use and administration of Egypt's resources, and the availability of sufficient manpower provided the king with unprecedented wealth and the power to achieve his great ambitions.
BIBL. Reisner, G.A. A History of the Giza necropolis. Vol. 1. Cambridge, Mass.: 1942; Edwards, I.E.S. The Pyramids of Egypt. Harmondsworth: 1985, pp. 116-68.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David
* * *
   See Khufu.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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