Khufu (Cheops)

Written by Felgr Pavel on .


Khufu (he is also known as Cheops, that is a Greek form of his name) ruled around 2,592 - 2,567 BC and he was a son of Sneferu (founder of the 4th dynasty) and queen Hetepheres I. - daughter of Huni, the last Pharaoh of the 3rd dynasty. His whole Egyptian name was Khnum-Khufu, which means "Khnum, he protects me". He allegedly had nine sons, two of them were his successors. The first one was Djedefre, whose mother we don't know, the second was Khafre.

Khufu was despot

Whereas Sneferu was allegedly admired and loved by everybody, Khufu was know as a cruel and authoritarian despot, who should moreover neglected his religious duties. However, he was reputedly very educated, took up especially the magic and occultism and he also allegedly wrote very detailed elaboration about alchemy. Reputedly he wasn't very touched by the fact, that a lot of people died during his grandiose pyramid construction.

His son prince Djedefhor told him about magician Djedi abilities, who allegedly could bring back to life creatures, that were beheaded before. Khufu wanted to see this miracle by his own eyeball and didn't hesitate to sacrifice one prisoner for this attempt. Dismayed magician cried out: "Not a human being, oh master and lord of mine! Surely, it is not permitted to do such a thing to the noble cattle!" Strongly annoyed Khufu had to settle for an exhibition with a bull and little farm animals.

Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid shrouded in mystery

Khufu built the Great Pyramid, but about him, we know very little information. There are only several hieroglyphic signs found in Wadi Maghara and one stele, which was discovered in diorite quarries in Nubian desert to the west from Abu Simbel. The only extant depiction of great Pharaoh is an ivory statuette, which was found by the archaeologist Petrie in Abydos in 1903. The statuette is formed as a Pharaoh sitting on the throne, wearing a short kilt. Any other bigger statue of Khufu wasn't found, even if there was a great boom in sculpture at the time of the 4th dynasty.

Khufu was undoubtedly the greatest builder of all Pharaohs. At the beginning of his rule he let adjust the whole northern hook of Giza table, which was a strategic point for crossing the delta towards the Nile valley. The capital Mennefer was situated to the south-east from there, which was founded by a legendary ruler Menes. The city became an important river transport junction. Khufu started the construction of the Great pyramid on Giza table (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and together the only one, that withstood the ravages of the time). It is the largest tomb a Pharaoh let build ever. There were other structures as well, whose ruins were found in Tell Basta, Dendera and Qift.

As a ruler of Both Lands Khufu let build temples in the Upper Egypt, that reminded, that he himself was the ruler of unified Egypt (Both Lands were re-unified symbolically with every ruler, who came to the throne). A great amount of material was needed for these structures. The mining in cupreous and turquiose mines was constantly more intense.

Chain of fortifications

Khufu let build up a chain of fortification to protect the eastern frontiers. Similarly he let fortify craftsman villages in the mining neighbourhood as well to protect them from Bedouin incursions. A channel was dug on the western Nile bank for raw material importing to building site in Giza. The big channel probably also used the net of power ponds on the western Nile bank, it was boatable the whole year and even heavy cargo ship could sail near the pyramids at the time of floods. There were also channels and dikes build up along the Nile to reduce the effect of the floods, which were devastating sometime. Khufu let build the first dam ever in Wadi Gerawi on the eastern Nile bank above Memphis (Mennefer), which should hold back storm water. Rainstorm endangered the settlement in this area.

But the construction of a huge pyramid and chantry cults foundation pumped out material and working sources of Egypt. It paradoxically meant the beginning of increasing economical and social difficulties right at the time, when it seemed, that the fame and greatness of the pyramid was reaching a peak. The unexpected death of the crown prince Kawab (the eldest son of Pharaoh Khufu) led to a schism inside the family and contributed to a gradual decline of this dynasty and in the end to its downfall.


Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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