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Khufu (Cheops)

Khufu, known to the Greeks as Cheops, was an ancient Egyptian monarch who ruled during the Fourth Dynasty, in the first half of the Old Kingdom period (26th century BC). Khufu succeeded his father Sneferu as the second king of the 4th Dynasty.

Khufu is generally accepted as having commissioned the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but many other aspects of his reign are poorly documented.


The only completely preserved portrait of the king is a three-inch high ivory figurine found in a temple ruin of a later period at Abydos in 1903. All other reliefs and statues were found in fragments, and many buildings of Khufu are lost. Everything known about Khufu comes from inscriptions in his necropolis at Giza and later documents. For example, Khufu is the main character noted in the Papyrus Westcar from the 13th dynasty.


Most documents that mention king Khufu were written by ancient Egyptian and Greek historians around 300 BC. Khufu's obituary is presented there in a conflicting way: while the king enjoyed a long-lasting cultural heritage preservation during the period of the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom, the ancient historians Manetho, Diodorus and Herodotus hand down a very negative depiction of Khufu's character. Thanks to these documents, an obscure and critical picture of Khufu's personality persists.


KHUFU'S NAME

Khufu's name was dedicated to the earth deity Khnum, which might point to an increase of Khnum's popularity and religious importance. In fact, several royal and religious titles introduced at his time may point out that Egyptian pharaohs sought to accentuate their divine origin and status by dedicating their official cartouche names to certain deities. Khufu may have viewed himself as a divine creator, a role that was already given to Khnum, the god of earth, creation, and growth. As a consequence, the king connected Khnum's name with his own. Khufu's name means "Khnum protect me"


The pharaoh officially used two versions of his birth name: Khnum-khuf and Khufu. The first (complete) version clearly exhibits Khufu's religious loyalty to Khnum, the second (shorter) version does not. It is unknown as to why the king would use a shortened name version since it hides the name of Khnum and the king's name connection to this god. It might be possible though, that the short name wasn't meant to be connected to any god at all.[5][10]


Khufu is well known under his Hellenized name Khêops or Cheops (by Diodorus and Herodotus) and less well known under another Hellenized name, Súphis. A rare version of the name of Khufu, used by Josephus, is Sofe. Arab historians, who wrote mystic stories about Khufu and the Giza pyramids, called him Saurid or Salhuk


FAMILY TREE

The following list presents family members, which can be assigned to Khufu with certainty.


Parents:

Sneferu : Most possibly his father, maybe just stepfather. Famous pharaoh and builder of three pyramids.

Hetepheres I : Most possibly his mother. Wife of king Sneferu and well known for her precious grave goods found at Giza.


Spouses:

Meritites I : First wife of Khufu.

Henutsen : Second wife of Khufu. She is mentioned on the famous Inventory Stela.


Brothers and Sisters:

Hetepheres : Wife of Ankhhaf

Ankhhaf : The eldest brother. His nephew would later become pharaoh Khafra

Nefermaat : Half-brother; buried at Meidum and owner of the famous "mastaba of the geese"

Rahotep : Elder brother or half-brother. Owner of a life-size double statue portraying him and his wife Nofret


Sons of Khufu:

Kawab : Most possibly the eldest son and crown prince, he died before Khufu's own end of reign and thus did not follow Khufu on the throne

Djedefra : Also known as Radjedef and Ratoises. Became the first throne successor

Khafre : Most possibly second throne successor

Djedefhor : Also known as Hordjedef, mentioned in Papyrus Westcar

Baufra : Possibly a son of Khufu, but neither archaeologically nor contemporarily attested. Only known from two much later documents

Babaef I : Also known as Khnum-baef I

Khufukhaf I : Also known as Kaefkhufu I

Minkhaf I

Horbaef


Daughters of Khufu:

Nefertiabet : Known for her beautiful slab stelae

Hetepheres II : Wife of prince Kawab, later married to pharaoh Djedefra

Meresankh II

Meritites II : Married to Akhethotep

Khamerernebty I : Wife of king Khafra and mother of Menkaura


Nephews and nieces:

Hemiunu : Director of the building of Khufu's great pyramid.

Nefertkau III : Daughter of Meresankh II







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