Wednesday, September 12, 2007

King Khufu

King Khufu, the second king of the fourth dynasty of Egypt, was not a very well known pharaoh, but his creation of the Great Pyramid at Giza, the last standing of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is what makes him famous in history. Khufu's full name was Khnum-Khufwy, which held the meaning "Khnum protect me". Khufu came to the throne after the death of his father, Snefru, around 2589 B.C., and the end of his reign was probably around 2566 B.C., having a total of twenty-three years of reign. Khufu's mother was Queen Hetepheres I, and Khufu himself had at least three wives, resulting, after his death, in the division of the royal family into three branches. Khufu had a son who was a scribe, Kawab. Kawab was going to be the following pharaoh after Khufu, but Kawab died during his father's rule. There isn't much clarification about what Khufu was like, however, some viewed him as cruel and harsh, because of the popular theory that the incredible pyramid built under his reign was built with the use of slaves. Despite this, it is also widely believed that he used an organized manner of construction, offering wages or the removal of taxes for labor. Even if King Khufu was a ruthless leader, he undoubtedly had incredible organization skills.

"Shortly after ascending the throne... the pharaoh Khufu commanded his Overseer of Royal Works to prepare a burial place for the king grander than any of the tombs built by his predecessors." (What Life Was Like On The Banks Of The Nile, p. 141)
According to this quote, King Khufu started as soon as possible to prepare for his death, with the completion of the Great Pyramid taking the entire time of his reign. It was very difficult for the workers of the pyramid, not including them having to cut out the huge stone blocks, smooth the edges and then move them from the quarry to the actual pyramid; they constantly were under pressure from the royal planners. The Pharaoh and his architects frequently changed the plans, such as making the configuration larger and repositioning the burial chamber from underneath the pyramid to up inside it. The workers were also on a deadline, often struggling to complete the huge structure before Khufu's death. On the other hand, the life of the worker wasn't half-bad. Provisions were given out three times a day, which also included payments of wheat or barley seed. Some of the laborers were experienced craftsmen, however, most weren't slaves, but were peasants who would rather use labor as a substitute for taxes or military service.

The true number of workers who labored over the pyramid isn't known for sure, but it was possible that up to thirty thousand builders or more could have been working on the construction of the larger-than-life project. The workers saw King Khufu as a god-king, although he was actually self-proclaimed as a son of a god, thus being a god himself. The workers proclaimed their pride in working for the god-king by carving their work team names into the massive stones, describing them as ' gangs', such as Endurance Gang and Victorious Gang. Day after day the laborers worked, years passed by as the monumental wonder began to grow. The pyramid was eventually finished, mortuary temple included. The each side of the final product was approximately 756 feet (about 230.5 meters) and had a height of 482 feet (about 147 meters).

Today, the Great Pyramid is renown over the entire planet, although Khufu isn't recognized nearly as much. Even though the pyramid was sealed up expertly, pillagers still found an entrance to the passageways and chambers. Limestone was taken from the Pyramid to construct modern buildings(the king's treasures were also pillaged). The pyramid as a whole has lost around ten meters in height over the many hundreds of years but still stands at an extraordinary height. The Great Pyramid still stands today outside of Cairo at Giza in Egypt and can be seen adjacent to the smaller pyramids. The layout of the interior was setup with the queen's separate chamber, as well as the Grand Gallery (which lead to the King's Chamber), ascending and descending passageways, airshafts (so that Khufu could ascend to heaven), escape passageways, and an incomplete subterranean level.

As the completion of the Great Pyramid was final and the death of Khufu passed, his mummified body, set in an elaborate coffin, was placed in the King's Chamber in the center of the Pyramid. Khufu, as stated prior, isn't widely acknowledged to the construction of the Great Pyramid, but he undoubtedly was an incredible pharaoh (probably not the greatest) and leader. Ironically, he spent all the time of his reign building an enormous tomb/monument just for his death. The death was treated with such importance because of their beliefs, such as the mummification process, and the treasures and figurines to represent possessions in the afterlife.

Editors of Time-Life Books. What Life Was Like On The Banks Of The Nile. Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1997.

Stewart, Desmond. The Pyramids and Sphinx. New York: Newsweek Book Division, 1971.

Khufu (2609 BC - 2584 BC). BBC. 2007. September 15th 2007. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/khufu.shtml>

Guardian’s Egypt. Andrew Bayuk. 1995 – 2004. September 15th, 2007. <http://www.guardians.net/egypt/khufu.htm>

Khufu. Tore Kjeilen. 1996-2007. September 15th, 2007. <http://lexicorient.com/e.o/khufu.htm>

Khufu. Andrew Bayuk. 1995-2004. September 15th, 2007. <http://www.guardians.net/hawass/khufu.htm>
King Khufu and the Great Pyramid. Ancient Egypt Online. 2006. September 15th, 2007. <http://www.ancient-egypt-online.com/king-khufu-and-the-great-pyramid.html>

2 comments:

Still Thinking said...

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lee woo said...

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