The Famous Egyptian King Khufu
Egypt is known for its Pyramid especially for Grate Pyramid located in Giza. But few of us know that the name who built that Pyramid. The King Khufu (2589-2566 BC) is the second king of the fourth dynasty of Egypt’s Old Kingdom. King Khufu is best remembered for building the Great Pyramid at Giza to serve as a tomb upon his death.
Khufu was the son of King Snefru and his queen Hetepheres. Khufu ruled a unified Egypt and many of the relatives assisted him in governing. Historians do not know very much about Khufu because very few written records remain from this period. He was probably married four times: to Merityetes, who was buried in one of the three small pyramids beside his own; to a second unknown queen; to Henutsen, whose small pyramid is the third of the group; and to Nefert-kau, the eldest of Snefru’s daughter and Khufu’s sister.
Khufu’s inheritance is for building ancient Egypt’s most famous lasting monument, the Great Pyramid at Giza. To create this 5,750,000-ton edifice, a masterpiece of technical skill and engineering, approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone were cut, transported, and assembled. It took thousands of workers 20 years to complete the Great Pyramid, which rose to a height of 481 feet at a base of 13 acres, and was built at the center of a huge complex of temples, statues, monuments, and lesser tombs of the pharaoh’s family. The pyramid has three burial chambers. The first is the king’s chamber, which held a red granite sarcophagus placed almost exactly at the center of the pyramid. The king’s chamber is accessed via the 26-foot-high (8-meter-high) Grand Gallery, which was sealed off from thieves by sliding granite blocking systems. The second is underground, carved into bedrock. The third, aboveground chamber was called the queen’s chamber by early explorers. We now know it was never intended to house one of Khufu’s wives but perhaps a sacred statue of the king himself.
Several mystery shafts extend from the king’s and queen’s chambers. Neither airshafts (they were sealed) nor hallways (they are too narrow), they may have been designed to allow Khufu to travel to the stars in his afterlife. A blocked shaft from the queen’s chamber was penetrated in 2002. Archaeologists discovered another stone blocking their way.
The Great Pyramid stands witness to the ability of Khufu to lead and coordinate his
people. Current theories espouse that the building of the Great Pyramid was not achieved by slave labor. Instead, the project defrayed taxes, which were paid in the form of goods and services as there was no monetary system. Herodotus asserts that the cruel tyrant Khufu used slave labor who toiled in the hot sun to build the pyramid. Later historians suggest that the construction was a public works project, which kept the rather well treated agricultural laborers busy and fed when Nile River was flooding, and there was little work to do in the fields.
By the late 20th century, archaeologists found evidence that a more limited work force may have occupied the site permanently rather than on a seasonal basis. The excavated laborers’ districts included bakeries, storage area, workshops, and the small tombs of workers and artisans. Scholars are not even quite sure how the Great Pyramid was built. One theory holds that builders used a long ramp stretching out into the desert, and this ramp was continually lengthened and heightened as the pyramid grew higher. Another possible method involved using a circular ramp that rose and wound around the pyramid’s exterior as it followed each layer of blocks upward.
Khufu ruled Egypt for more than 20 years, and after that he died, two of his sons, Djedefre and Khafre, succeeded him.