Khafre in hieroglyphs
F12 F34
Horus Name Userib
Wsr jb
With a strong heart
G16 F12 G17

Nebti Name User-em-nebti
Strong with (for) the Two Ladies
G8 S42 G17

Golden Horus Name Netjer-nebu-sekhem
The Golden Falcon is Powerful
Hiero Ca1.svg
N5 N28
Hiero Ca2.svg
Nomen Khafre
ḪꜤj=f Rꜥ
He appears like Re
Chephren, Khaf-Re, Khauf-Re, Khafre, Khephren, Khafra, Rachaf

Statue of Khafre, originally found at Mit Rahina, now residing in the Egyptian Museum, in Cairo
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign 2558–2532 BC[1], 4th Dynasty
Predecessor Djedefra
Successor Menkaura
Consort(s) Meresankh III, Khamerernebty I, Hekenuhedjet, Persenet[2]
Children Menkaura, Nebemakhet, Duaenre, Niuserre, Khenterka, Ankhmare, Akhre (?), Iunmin (?), Iunre, Sekhemkare, Nikaure (?), Khamerernebty II, Rekhetre, Shepsetkau, Hemetre (?)[2]
Father Pharaoh Khufu
Mother Queen Henutsen
Died 2532 BC
Monuments Pyramid of Khafra,
Great Sphinx of Giza
Khafre also refers to a block cipher.
Khafre's Pyramid and the Great Sphinx.

Khafra (Greek, Χεφρήν; Chephren) — also Khafre — was an Egyptian pharaoh of the Fourth dynasty, who had his capital at Memphis. According to some authors he was the son and successor of Khufu, but it is more commonly accepted that Djedefre was Khufu's successor and Khafra was Djedefre's. Khafra's two chief wives were Queen Meresankh III whose mastaba tomb is located at Giza and Queen Khamaerernebty I who was the mother of his successor, Menkaura. Khafre was the builder of the second largest pyramid in the Giza Necropolis complex (his is 3 metres shorter than Khufu's). Most modern egyptologists also credit him with the building of the Great Sphinx.

His name, Khaf-Ra, means "Appearing like Ra" for some translators and "rise Ra!" for others; the meaning is most probably the first, according to the hieroglyphic representing his name, which includes that crown. In ancient time his name was read out Ra-chaf to honor the supreme god Ra.[3]



Khafre was a son of king Khufu and the brother and successor of Djedefre.[4] Khafre is thought by some to be the son of Queen Meritites I due to an inscription where he is said to honor her memory

Kings-wife, his beloved, devoted to Horus, Mertitytes.
King's-wife, his beloved, Mertitytes; beloved of the Favorite of
the Two Goddesses; she who says anything whatsoever and it is done
for her. Great in the favor of Snefr[u] ; great in the favor
of Khuf[u] , devoted to Horus, honored under Khafre. Merti[tyt]es.[Breasted; Ancient Records]

Others argue that the inscription just suggests that this queen died during the reign of Khafre.[5] Khafre may be a son of Queen Henutsen instead.[6]

Khafre had several wives and he has at least 12 sons and 3 or 4 daughters.

  • Queen Meresankh III was the daughter of Kawab and Hetepheres II and thus a niece of Khafre. She was the mother of Khafre's sons Nebemakhet, Duaenre, Niuserre and Khenterka, and a daughter named Shepsetkau.
  • Queen Khamerernebty I was the mother of Menkaure and his principal queen Khamerernebty II.
  • Hekenuhedjet was a wife of Khafre. She is mentioned in the tomb of her son Sekhemkare.
  • Persenet may have been a wife of Khafre based on the location of her tomb. She was the mother of Nikaure.[4]

Other children of Khafre are known, but no mothers have been identified. Further sons include Ankhmare, Akhre, Iunmin, and Iunre. Two more daughters named Rekhetre and Hemetre are known as well.[4]


There is no agreement on the date of his reign. Some authors say it was between 2558 BC and 2532 BC; this dynasty is commonly dated ca. 2650 BC–2480 BC. While the Turin King List length for his reign is blank, and Manetho's exaggerates his reign as 66 years, most scholars believe it was between 24 to 26 years, based upon the date of the Will of Prince Nekure which was carved on the walls of this Prince's mastaba tomb. The will is dated anonymously to the Year of the 12th Count and is assumed to belong to Khufu since Nekure was his son. Khafra's highest year date is the "Year of the 13th occurrence" which is a painted date on the back of a casing stone belonging to mastaba G 7650.[7] This would imply a reign of 24–25 years for this king if the cattle count was biannual during the Fourth Dynasty.

Pyramid complex

Khafra built the second largest pyramid at Giza.[3] The Egyptian name of the pyramid was Wer(en)-Khafre which means "Khafre is Great".[8]

The pyramid has a subsidiary pyramid, labeled GII a. It is not clear who was buried there. Sealings have been found of a King's eldest son of his body etc. and the Horus name of Khafre.[8]

Valley Temple

The valley temple of Khafre was located closer to the Nile and would have stood right next to the Sphinx temple. Inscriptions from the entrance way have been found which mention Hathor and Bubastis. Blocks have been found showing the partial remains of an inscription with the Horus name of Khafre (Weser-ib).Mariette discovered statues of Khafre in 1860. Several were found in a well in the floor and were headless. But other complete statues were found as well.[8]

Mortuary Temple

The mortuary temple was located very close to the pyramid. From the mortuary temple come fragments of maceheads inscribed with Khafre's name as well as some stone vessels.[8]

Great Sphinx and Sphinx temple

The sphinx is said to date to the time of Khafre. A temple dedicated to Haremakhet was erected by Khafre. It was located right in front of the paws of the Sphinx.[8]

In popular culture

  • Khafra was played by Charles Arnt in the 1945 film Sudan.
  • Khafre was played by Erno Crisa in the 1960 film Il Sepolcro dei re.


  1. ^ Shaw, Ian, ed (2000). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press. p. 480. ISBN 0-19-815034-2. 
  2. ^ a b Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, 2004, ISBN 0-500-05128-3 pp.52-53
  3. ^ a b The Great Pyramid of Khafre
  4. ^ a b c Dodson, Aidan and Hilton, Dyan. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. 2004. ISBN 0-500-05128-3
  5. ^ Grajetzki, Ancient Egyptian Queens: A Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Golden House Publications, London, 2005, ISBN 978-0954721893
  6. ^ Tyldesley, Joyce. Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt. Thames & Hudson. 2006. ISBN 0-500-05145-3
  7. ^ Anthony Spalinger, Dated Texts of the Old Kingdom, SAK 21 (1994), p.287
  8. ^ a b c d e Porter, Bertha and Moss, Rosalind, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings Volume III: Memphis, Part I Abu Rawash to Abusir. 2nd edition (revised and augmented by Dr Jaromir Malek, 1974. Retrieved from

Further reading

  • James H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt Part I, §§ 192, (1906) on 'The Will of Nekure'.

External links

Preceded by
Pharaoh of Egypt
Fourth Dynasty
Succeeded by

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