Annie Lee | Sep 8, 2022

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Cheops (Egyptian: ḫw.f-wj;

The only fully preserved portrait of the king is a seven-centimeter tall ivory statuette found in the ruins of a later period temple at Abydos in 1903. All other reliefs and statues have been found in fragments, and many buildings of Cheops have been lost. All that is known about Cheops comes from inscriptions in his necropolis at Giza and from later documents. For example, Cheops is the main character mentioned in the Westcar papyri of the 13th dynasty.

Most documents that mention King Cheops were written by ancient Egyptian and Greek historians around 300 BCE. The obituary of Cheops is presented there in a conflicting way: while the king enjoyed a lasting cultural heritage preservation during the period of the Old and New Empires, the ancient historians Maneton, Diodorus and Herodotus convey a very negative representation of Cheops' character. Thanks to these documents, an obscure and critical image of Cheops' personality persists.

The name of Cheops was dedicated to the god Chenubis, which may indicate an increase in the popularity and religious importance of Chenubis. Indeed, various royal and religious titles introduced at this time may point to the fact that Egyptian pharaohs sought to accentuate their divine origin and status by dedicating their official cartel names to certain deities. Cheops may have seen himself as a divine creator, a role once given to Chenubis, the god of creation and growth. As a consequence, the king associated the name of Chenubis with his own. The full name of Cheops (Quenuncufu) means "Kenubis protect me." While modern Egyptological pronunciation translates his name as Cheops, since at the time of his reign his name was probably pronounced as Caiafui(i).

The pharaoh officially used two versions of his birth name: Kenuncufe and Cheops. The first (full) version clearly displays Cheops' religious allegiance to Chenubis, the second (shorter) version does not. It is not known why the king would use a shortened name version, since it hides the name of Chenubis and the connection of the king's name to this god. It may be possible, however, that the short name was not intended to be connected to any god.

Cheops has its Hellenized and lesser-known form Sophis (Greek: Σοῦφις, from Maneton). A rare version of the name of Cheops, used by Josephus, is Sophet (Greek: Σόφε). Arab historians, who wrote mystical stories about Cheops and the pyramids of Giza, called him Sauride (Arabic: سوريد) or Saluque (سلهوق).

Origin of Cheops

The royal family of Cheops was quite large. It is not known whether Cheops was actually the biological son of Seneferu. Traditional Egyptologists believe that Seneferu was the father of Cheops, but only because it was handed down by later historians that the eldest son or a selected descendant would inherit the throne. In 1925, the tomb of Queen Heteferes I, G 7000x , was found east of the pyramid of Cheops. It contained many valuable grave goods, and several inscriptions give her the title Mutenesute (lit. 'mother of a king'), along with the name of King Seneferu. So it seemed clear at first that Heteferes was Seneferu's wife, and that they were the parents of Cheops. More recently, however, some have doubted this theory, because it is not known that Heteferes carried the title Hemetenesute (lit. 'wife of the king'), an indispensable title to confirm the royal status of a queen. Instead of the wife title, Heteferés carried only the title Satenetejerquetefe (symbolically: 'body daughter of the king'), a title first mentioned. As a result, researchers now think that Cheops may not have been Seneferu's biological son, but that Seneferu legitimized the position of Cheops and his family by marriage. By apotheosizing his mother as the daughter of a living god, Cheops' new position was secured. This theory can be supported by the circumstance that Cheops' mother was buried near her son and not in her husband's necropolis, as might be expected.

Family Tree

The following list presents family members, which can be attributed to Cheops with certainty.



Brothers and sisters:

Sons of Cheops:



Nephews and nieces:

Length of reign

It is still unclear how long Cheops ruled Egypt, because historically later documents contradict each other and contemporary sources are scarce. The Royal Turin Canon of the 19th dynasty, however, gives 23 years of rule to Cheops. The ancient historian Herodotus gives 50 years and the ancient historian Maneton even credits him with 63 years of reign. These figures are now considered an exaggeration or a misinterpretation of antiquated sources.

Contemporary sources from the time of Cheops provide three important pieces of information: One was found at the Dacla Oasis in the Libyan desert. The siren name of Cheops is carved into an inscription on the rock reporting the "journey of Mephath in the year after the 13th cattle count under Hor-Mejedu." The second source can be found in the relief chambers within the pyramid of Cheops above the mortuary chamber. One such inscription according to Flinders Petrie mentions a team of workers called "friends of Cheops" next to the note "in the year of the 17th cattle count," but one wonders if the number of years points to a biennial cattle count, or if the number is to be taken literally. Although Zahi Hawass reported the location of the date inscription provided by Petrie, there is also some debate as to whether Petrie may have mistakenly relied on other sources, since the inscription has not yet been found. More recent evidence from Uádi Aljarfe, however, provides a third clue as to the true length of the reign: several papyrus fragments contain handwritten reports of a royal port at present-day Uádi Aljarfe. The inscriptions describe the arrival of royal ships with precious ore and turquoise in "the year after the 13th cattle count under Hor-Mejedu." Therefore, the highest known and certain date preserved from Cheops is the "year after the 13th cattle count".

In an attempt to solve the puzzle surrounding the true duration of Cheops' rule, modern Egyptologists point to the reign of Seneferu, when cattle counting was conducted every two years of a king's rule. Cattle counting as an economic event served the collection of taxes throughout Egypt. More recent assessments of contemporary documents and the Palermo stone inscription reinforce the theory that the cattle count under Cheops was still conducted biennially, not annually as previously thought.

Egyptologists like Thomas Schneider, Michael Haase and Rainer Stadelmann wonder whether the compiler of the Turin Canon really took into account that cattle counting was carried out biennially during the first half of the Ancient Empire period, while tax collection during the 19th dynasty was carried out every year. In short, all these documents would prove that Cheops ruled for at least 26 or 27 years, and possibly for more than 34 years, if the inscription on the relief chambers points to a biennial cattle count. In fact, if the compiler of the Turin Canon did not take into account a biennial cattle count, this could even mean that Cheops ruled for 46 years.

Political Activities

There are only a few hints about Cheops' political activities inside and outside Egypt. In Egypt, Cheops is documented in various inscriptions and statues on buildings. Cheops' name appears on inscriptions at Nequebe and Elephantine and on local quarries at Hatenub and Uadi Hamamate. At Sacara, two terracotta figures of the goddess Bastete have been found, on which, on their bases, the name Horus of Cheops is engraved. They were deposited at Sacara during the Middle Empire, but their creation can be dated back to the reign of Cheops.

At Uadi Magare in Sinai, an inscription on the rock depicts Cheops with the double crown. Cheops sent out several expeditions in an attempt to find turquoise and copper mines. Like other kings, such as Thyriki, Seneferus, and Sephrates, who are also depicted in impressive reliefs, he was looking for these two precious materials. Cheops also maintained contacts with Byblos. He sent several expeditions to Biblos in an attempt to exchange copper tools and weapons for the precious wood Lebanon cedar. This type of wood was essential for building large and stable funerary boats, and in fact the boats discovered at the Great Pyramid were made of it.

New evidence about political activities under the reign of Cheops has recently been found at the site of the ancient port of Uadi Aljarfe on the Red Sea coast of eastern Egypt. The first traces of such a port were excavated in 1823 by John Gardner Wilkinson and James Burton, but the site was quickly abandoned and forgotten over time. In 1954, French scholars François Bissey and René Chabot-Morisseau excavated the port again, but their work was shut down by the Suez Crisis in 1956. In June 2011, an archaeological team led by French Egyptologists Pierre Tallet and Gregory Marouard, organized by the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology (IFAO), restarted work at the site. Among other material, a collection of hundreds of papyrus fragments was found in 2013, dating back 4,500 years. The papyrus is currently on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass called this ancient papyrus "the greatest discovery in Egypt in the 21st century."

Ten of these papyri are very well preserved. Most of these documents date from the 27th year of Cheops' reign and describe how the central administration sent food and supplies to the sailors and wharf workers. The dating of these important documents is guaranteed by phrases typical of the Ancient Empire period, as well as the fact that the letters are addressed to the king himself, using his name Horus. This was typical when the king in question was still alive; when the ruler was dead, he was called by his cartouche name or birth name. One document is of special interest: the diary of Merer, an official involved in the construction of the Great Pyramid. Using the diary, researchers were able to reconstruct three months of his life, providing new insight into the daily lives of the people of the Fourth Dynasty. These papyri are the first examples of printed papyri ever found in Egypt. Another inscription, found on the limestone walls of the harbor, mentions the head of the royal scribes who control the exchange of goods: Idu.

The name of the Neops cartouche is also inscribed on some of the heavy limestone blocks at the site. The port was of strategic and economic importance to Cheops because ships brought precious materials, such as turquoise, copper, and ore, from the southern end of the Sinai peninsula. The papyrus fragments show several storage lists naming the goods delivered. The papyri also mention a certain port on the opposite coast of Uadi Aljarfe, on the west coast of the Sinai Peninsula, where the ancient fortress Tel Ras Budran was excavated in 1960 by Gregory Mumford. The papyri and the fortress together reveal an explicit navigation route through the Red Sea for the first time in history. It is the oldest archaeologically detected shipping route from Ancient Egypt. According to Tallet, the port could also have been one of Ancient Egypt's legendary deep-sea ports, from where the expeditions to the infamous golden land of Punte began.


The only three-dimensional representation of Cheops that has almost completely survived time is a small, well-restored ivory statuette known as the Cheops Statuette. It shows the king wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt. The king is seated on a throne with a short backrest, on the left side of his knees the name of Horus Mejedu is preserved, and on the right side a fragment of the lower part of the Quenuncufe name card is visible. Cheops holds a cuff in his left hand, and his right hand rests together with his forearm on his right leg. The artifact was found in 1903 by Flinders Petrie at Com Elsultan near Abydos. The statue was found without a head; according to Petrie, it was caused by an accident during an excavation. When Petrie recognized the importance of the discovery, he stopped all other work and offered a reward to any worker who could find the head. Three weeks later, the head was found after intensive sifting at a deeper level of the room's rubble. Today, the small statue is restored and on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in room 32 under its inventory number JE 36143. Most Egyptologists believe the statue is contemporary, but some scholars, such as Zahi Hawass, think it was an artistic reproduction from the 26th dynasty. He argues that no buildings that clearly date to the Fourth Dynasty have been excavated at Com Elsultan or Abidos. In addition, he points out that Cheops' face is unusually stubby and pudgy and shows no emotional expression. Hawass compared the facial stylistics with statues of contemporary kings, such as Seneferu, Chephren, and Mykerinos. The faces of these three kings are of uniform beauty, slender and with a gentle expression - the clear result of idealistic motivations; they are not based in reality. The appearance of Cheops in the ivory statue, instead, looks as if the artist did not care much about professionalism or diligence. He believes that Cheops himself would never have allowed a comparatively sloppy work to be displayed. And finally, Hawass also argues that the type of throne on which the statue stands does not match the artistic styles of any Ancient Kingdom artifacts. The thrones of the Old Kingdom had a backrest that reached up to the king's neck. But the definitive evidence that convinces Hawass that the statue is a reproduction from a much later time is the Neeneque struggling in Cheops' left hand. Depictions of a king holding a cuff as a ceremonial insignia do not appear before the Middle Kingdom. Zahi Hawass, therefore, concludes that the statuette was possibly made as a lucky charm or amulet to sell to devout citizens.

It is often said that the small statue is the only preserved statue of Cheops. Excavations at Sacara in 2001 and 2003 revealed a pair of terracotta statues depicting a lion goddess (possibly Bastete or Sacmis). At her feet, two figures of child kings are preserved. While the right statuette can be identified as King Cheops by his name Horus, the left one represents King Pepi I of the 6th dynasty, called by his birth name. The Pepi statuettes were added to the statue groups in later times because they were placed separately and at a distance from the deity. This is inconsistent with a typical Old Kingdom statue group - normally, all statue groups were built as an artistic unit. The two statue groups are similar to each other in size and scale, but differ because a lioness goddess holds a scepter. Excavators point out that the statues were restored during the Middle Empire after they were broken. However, it seems that the reason for the restoration was more in interest in the goddess than in a royal cult around the king's figures: their names were covered in plaster.

The Palermo Stone reports in its fragment C-2 the creation of two huge statues for the king; one would have been made of copper, the other of pure gold.

In addition, several alabaster and travertine fragments of seated statues, which were found by George Reisner during his excavations at Giza, were once inscribed with the full royal title of Cheops. Today, complete or partially preserved cartouches with the name Cheops or Quenuncufe remain. One of the fragments, that of a small seated statue, shows the legs and feet of a sitting king from the knuckles down. To the right of them, the name ...fu on a cartouche is visible, and can easily be reconstructed as the name of the cartouche Cheops.

Two other objects are on display in the Museum of Roemer and Pelizeus in Hildesheim. These are also made of alabaster. One of them shows the head of a cat goddess (probably Bastete or Sacmis). The position of her right arm suggests that the bust belonged to a group of statues similar to the well-known triad of Miquerinos.

Several statue heads may have belonged to Cheops. One of them is the so-called "Brooklyn head" from the Brooklyn Museum in New York. It is 54.3 cm wide and made of pink granite. Because of its chubby cheeks, the head is attributed to Cheops and also to the Huni king. A similar object is on display in the National Museum of Egyptian Art in Munich. The head is made of limestone and is comparatively small at only 5.7 cm.


Cheops is depicted on various relief fragments found scattered around his necropolis and elsewhere. All the reliefs were made of polished limestone. Some of them originate from the ruined pyramid temple and the destroyed passageway where they once completely covered the walls. Others were found reused in the necropolis of the pyramid of King Amenemés I in Lixte and in Tânis and Bubástis. One of the relief fragments shows the casket of Cheops with the phrase: "Construction of the sanctuaries of the gods". Another shows a row of fat oxen decorated with flowers - they were obviously prepared as sacrifices during an offering procession. The guide inscription calls them "the outskirts of Tefefefe serves Cheops," "beautiful bulls of Cheops," and "bellowing for Cheops." A third shows the earliest known depiction of royal warfare: the scene is called "prepare the archers" because it shows the archers pulling their bows. And a fourth example shows the king with the double crown impaling a hippopotamus.

At Uadi Magare in Sinai, an inscription on the rock contains the names, titles and reports of Cheops: "Hor-Mejedu, Quenuncufe, Bicujenebu, the great god and destroyer of the troglodytes, all protection and life are with him. The final result of the relief is similar to that of King Senefru. In one scene, King Cheops wears the double crown; nearby, the representation of the god Tote is visible. In another scene, nearby, Cheops wears the crown of Atefe while attacking an enemy. In this scene the god Uepuauete is present.

None of the numerous relief fragments show King Cheops offering himself to a god. This is remarkable, since the reliefs of Seneferus and those of all the kings from Mykerinos onward show the king offering himself to a deity. It is possible that the lack of this special depiction influenced later ancient Greek historians in their assumptions that Cheops might actually have closed all temples and forbidden any sacrifice.

Pyramid complex

The Cheops pyramid complex was erected in the northeastern section of the Giza plateau. It is possible that the lack of space for construction, the lack of local limestone quarries, and the loose soil at Dachur forced Cheops to move north, away from the pyramid of his predecessor Seneferu. Cheops chose the upper end of a natural plateau so that his future pyramid would be widely visible. Cheops decided to call his pyramid Aquete-Quéops (lit. 'Cheops' horizon').

The Great Pyramid has a basic measurement of ca. 750 x 750 ft (≙ 230.4 x 230.4 m) and today a height of 455.2 ft (139 m). Once it was 481 ft (147 m) high, but the pyramid and limestone casing were completely lost due to stone theft. The lack of the casing allows a full view of the inner core of the pyramid. It was erected in small steps by more or less roughly carved blocks of dark limestone. The casing was made of almost white limestone. The outer surface of the shell stones was polished with elegance, so that the pyramid shimmered in a natural bright lemon white when new. The pyramid may have been covered in electro, but there is no archaeological evidence of this. The inner corridors and chambers have walls and ceilings made of polished granite, one of the hardest stones known at the time of Cheops. The mortar used was a mixture of plaster, sand, pulverized limestone and water.

The original entrance to the pyramid is on the north side. Inside the pyramid are three chambers: at the top is the king's mortuary chamber (the king's chamber), in the middle is the statue chamber (erroneously called the queen's chamber), and under the foundation is an unfinished underground chamber (the subterranean chamber). Although the mortuary chamber is identified by its large sarcophagus made of granite, the use of the "queen's chamber" is still disputed - it may have been the serdabe of the statue of Ca of Cheops. The underground chamber remains mysterious, as it was left unfinished. A narrow corridor going south at the west end of the chamber and an unfinished well in the middle east may indicate that the underground chamber was the oldest of the three chambers and that the original construction plan contained a simple chamber complex with several rooms and corridors. But for unknown reasons, the construction work was stopped and two other chambers were built inside the pyramid. Notable is the so-called Great Gallery that leads to the king's chamber: it has a false arch with buttresses and measures 28.7 feet high and 151.3 feet long. The gallery has an important static function; it diverts the weight of the mass of stone above the king's chamber to the surrounding pyramid core.

The pyramid of Cheops was surrounded by a closed wall, with each segment 33 ft (10.1 m) away from the pyramid. On the east side, directly in front of the pyramid, the mortuary temple of Cheops was built. Its foundation was in black basalt, much of which is still preserved. Pillars and portals were made of red granite and the ceiling stones were white limestone. Today nothing remains but the foundation. From the mortuary temple, a bridge 0.43 miles long previously connected to the valley temple. The valley temple was possibly made of the same stones as the mortuary temple, but since not even the foundation has been preserved, the original shape and size of the valley temple remain unknown.

On the east side of the pyramid is the East Cemetery of the necropolis of Cheops, containing the mastabas of princes and princesses. Three small satellite pyramids, belonging to queens Heteferes (G1-a), Meritités I (G1-b) and possibly Henutesem (G1-c) were erected in the southeast corner of the pyramid of Cheops. Right behind the pyramids of queens G1-be G1-c, the cult pyramid of Cheops was found in 2005. On the south side of the Great Pyramid are some additional mastabas and the wells of Cheops' burial boats. On the west side is the West Cemetery, where the highest officials and priests were buried.

A possible part of the Cheops funerary complex is the famous Great Sphinx of Giza. It is a large limestone statue measuring 73.5 m × 20.3 m in the shape of a reclining lion with a human head, decorated with a relocated Nemes. The Sphinx was excavated directly into the Giza plateau and originally painted red, ochre, green and black. To this day it is passionately disputed who exactly gave the order to build it: the most likely candidates are Cheops, his eldest son Ratoises, and his youngest son Chephren. One of the difficulties of a correct attribution lies in the lack of any perfectly preserved portrait of Cheops. The faces of Ratoises and Chephren are similar to those of the Sphinx, but they do not match perfectly. Another conundrum is the original cultic and symbolic function of the Sphinx. Much later, it was called Heruimaquete (lit. 'Horus on the horizon') by the Egyptians and Abu Elhol (lit. 'father of terror') by the Arabs. It may be that the Sphinx, as an allegorical and mystified representation of the king, simply guarded the sacred cemetery at Giza.


Old Kingdom

Cheops had an extensive mortuary cult during the Ancient Empire. By the end of the VI dynasty, at least 67 mortuary priests and 6 independent high officials serving in the necropolis are archaeologically attested. Ten of them were already serving during the late IV dynasty (seven of them were members of the royal family), 28 were serving during the V dynasty and 29 during the VI dynasty. This is remarkable: the famous (stepfather) Seneferu of Cheops enjoyed "only" 18 mortuary priesthoods during the same period, even Ratoises enjoyed only 8 and Chephren enjoyed 28. These mortuary cults were very important for the state economy, because for the special oblations dominated had to be established. A large number of domain names are attested for the time of Cheops' reign. However, by the end of the VI dynasty, the number of domains decreased rapidly. With the beginning of the VII dynasty, no more domain names were transmitted.

Middle Kingdom

At Uádi Hamamate, an inscription on the rock dates from the XII dynasty. It lists five cartel names: Cheops, Ratoises, Chephren, Baufra and Jedefor. Since all royal names are written within cartouches, it was often believed that Baufra and Jedefor once ruled for a short time, but contemporary sources title them as mere princes. The calling of Cheops' presence in this list may indicate that he and his followers were worshipped as patron saints. This theory is promoted by such discoveries as alabaster vessels bearing Cheops' name found in Coptic, the pilgrimage destination for travelers from Uadi Hamamate.

A literary masterpiece from the 13th dynasty that talks about Cheops is the famous Westcar Papyrus, where King Cheops witnesses a magical wonder and receives a prophecy from a magician named Dedi. Within the story, Cheops is characterized in a way that is difficult to evaluate. On the one hand, he is described as ruthless in deciding to behead a condemned prisoner to test Dedi's supposed magical powers. On the other hand, Cheops is described as curious, reasonable and generous: he accepts Dedi's indignation and his subsequent alternative offer for the prisoner, questions the circumstances and content of Dedi's prophecy, and rewards the magician generously after all. The contradictory description of Cheops is the subject of much dispute among Egyptologists and historians to this day. Especially early Egyptologists and historians like Adolf Erman, Kurt Heinrich Sethe and Wolfgang Helck assessed the character of Cheops as heartless and sacrilegious. They relied on the ancient Greek traditions of Herodotus and Diodorus Siculo, who described an exaggerated negative character image of Cheops, ignoring the paradoxical (because positive) traditions that the Egyptians themselves had always taught.

But other Egyptologists, such as Dietrich Wildung, see Cheops' order as an act of mercy: the prisoner would have received his life back if Dedi had actually performed his magic trick. Wildung thinks that Dedi's refusal was an allusion to the respect that the Egyptians showed for human life. The ancient Egyptians were of the opinion that human life should not be misused for black magic or similar evil things. Verena Lepper and Miriam Lichtheim suspect that a difficult to assess representation of Cheops was exactly what the author had planned. He wanted to create a mysterious character.

New Kingdom

During the New Empire, the necropolis of Cheops and the local mortuary services were reorganized and Giza once again became an important economic and cultural destination. During the 18th dynasty, King Amenophis II erected a memorial temple and a stele of royal fame near the Great Sphinx. His son and follower on the throne, Thutemose IV, freed the Sphinx from the sand and placed a memorial stele - known as the "Dream Stela" - between its front legs. The inscriptions on the two stelae are similar in their narrative content, but neither provides specific information about the actual builder of the Great Sphinx.

At the end of the XVIII dynasty, a temple to the goddess Isis was built in the G1-c satellite pyramid (that of Queen Henutesem) in the necropolis of Cheops. During the XXI dynasty the temple was enlarged, and during the XXVI dynasty the enlargements continued. From this period on several "priests of Isis" (Hemnetejerisete), who were also "priests of Cheops" (Hemnetejercufu), worked there. From the same dynasty, a gold seal ring with the name of a Neferibee priest was found at Giza.

Late Period

During the late period, a large number of scarabs bearing Cheops' name were sold to citizens, possibly as some kind of good luck charm. More than 30 scarabs are preserved. In the temple of Isis, a family tree of the priests of Isis is on display, listing the names of the priests from 670 to 488 BC. From the same period comes the famous Inventory Stele, which names Cheops and his wife Henutesem. However, modern Egyptologists question whether Cheops was still worshipped personally as a royal ancestor at this time; they think it more likely that Cheops was already seen as a mere symbolic figure underlying the history of the temple of Isis.


The later Egyptian historian, Maneton, called Cheops "Sophis" and attributed a 63-year rule to him. He also mentions that Cheops built the Great Pyramid. Maneton says that Cheops received a scorn against the gods and that he had written a holy book about this and that he (Maneton) received this book during his trip through Egypt. The story about the alleged "Holy Book" is questioned by modern Egyptologists, as it would be highly unusual for a pharaoh to write books and that such a precious document could be sold so easily.


Instead, the Greek historian Herodotus describes Cheops as a heretical and cruel tyrant. In his literary work History, Book II, chapter 124-126, he writes: "While Rampsinitus was king, as I am told, there was nothing but orderly government in Egypt, and the land prospered greatly. But after him, Cheops became king over them and led them to all kinds of suffering: He closed all the temples; after that, he stopped the priests from sacrificing there, and then he forced all the Egyptians to work for him. Then some were ordered to take stones from quarries in the Arabian mountains to the Nile, and others he forced to get the stones after they were carried down the river in boats, and to draw them to the so-called Libyan mountains. And they worked for 100,000 men at a time, every three months continuously. From this oppression ten years passed while the passage was made through which they drew the stones, which they built, and it is a work not much smaller, as it seems to me, than the pyramid. For the length of it is 5 furlongs and the width 10 fathoms and the height, where it is highest, 8 fathoms, and it is made of polished stone and with figures carved into it. For this, they said, ten years were spent, and also for the underground chambers on the hill on which the pyramids stand, which he made as burial chambers for himself on an island, having driven there a channel from the Nile.

For the construction of the pyramid itself, a period of 20 years was spent; and the pyramid is square, each side measuring 800 feet, and the height is the same. It is built with stones smoothed and fitted together in the most perfect manner, none of the stones being less than 30 feet long. This pyramid was made in the manner of steps, which some call 'lines' and others call 'bases': When they made it in this way, they lifted the remaining stones with devices made of short pieces of wood, lifting them first from the ground to the first stage of steps, and when the stone reached this it was placed in another machine being on the first stage, and so from this it was drawn to the second in another machine; For as many as there were steps, as many machines there were also, or perhaps they transferred one and the same machine, made so as to be easily transported, to each successive stage, in order that they might pick up the stones; for let it be counted both ways, according to what is reported. However, this may be, the higher parts of it were finished first, and then they went on to finish what came next to them, and last they finished the parts near the ground and the lower ridges.

In the pyramid it is stated in Egyptian writing how much was spent on radishes and onions and leeks for the workers, and if I remember correctly what the interpreter said when reading this inscription to me, a sum of 1600 talents of silver was spent. Moreover, Cheops reached such a point of wickedness that, for lack of money, he sent his own daughter to a brothel and ordered her to obtain from whomever she came a certain sum (I was not told how much it was). But she not only obtained the sum that was indicated by her father, but also formed a plan for herself in particular to leave behind a memorial: She asked each man who came to her to give her a stone for her building project. And of these stones, they told me, the pyramid was built that stands in front of the great pyramid in the middle of the three, each side being 150 feet long."

The same goes for the story of King Chephren. He is described as the direct follower of Cheops and equally evil, and ruled for 56 years. In chapter 127-128 Herodotus writes: "After the death of Cheops, his brother Chephren assumed the royal throne. This king followed the same manner as the other ... and ruled for 56 years. Here they count 106 years, during which they say there was nothing but evil for the Egyptians, and the temples were kept closed and not opened during all this time."

Herodotus closes the story of the evil kings in chapter 128 with the words, "These kings, the Egyptians (because of the hatred against them), are not very willing to tell their names. Moreover, they even call the pyramids after the name of Philithis the shepherd, who at that time herded flocks in these regions."

Diodoro Sículo

The ancient historian Diodorus states that Cheops was so hated by his own people in later times that the mortuary priests secretly took the royal sarcophagus, along with Cheops' corpse, to another hidden grave. With this narration, he strengthens and confirms the Greek scholars' view that the pyramid of Cheops (and the other two as well) must have been the result of slavery. However, at the same time, Diodorus distances himself from Herodotus and argues that Herodotus "only tells fairy tales and entertaining fiction." Diodorus claims that the Egyptians in his lifetime were not able to say for sure who actually built the pyramids. He also claims that he really didn't trust the interpreters and that the real builder may have been someone different: the pyramid of Cheops was (according to him) built by a king named Harmai, the pyramid of Chephren was thought to be built by King Amosis II, and that of Miquerinos was supposedly the work of King Inaro I.

Diodorus states that the pyramid of Cheops was beautifully covered in white, but the top was said to have a top. The pyramid, therefore, no longer had pyramids. He also thinks that the pyramid was built with ramps, which were removed during the finishing of the limestone shell. Diodorus estimates that the total number of workers was 300,000 and that the construction work lasted 20 years.

In 642 A.D. the Arabs conquered Egypt. When they arrived at the pyramids of Giza, they sought explanations as to who could have built these monuments. At that time, no inhabitant of Egypt was able to tell and no one else could translate the Egyptian hieroglyphics. As a consequence, Arab historians wrote their own theories and histories.

The best-known story about Cheops and his pyramid can be found in the book Hitat (completely: al-Mawāʿiẓ wa-'l-iʿtibār fī ḏikr al-ḫiṭaṭ wa-'l-ʾāṯār), written in 1430 by Muamade Almacrizi ( 1364-1442). This book contains several theories and myths collected about Cheops, especially about the Great Pyramid. Although King Cheops himself is rarely mentioned, many Arab writers were convinced that the Great Pyramid (and the others as well) were built by the god Hermes (called Idris by the Arabs).

Almacrizi notes that Cheops was named Sauride, Saluke and

Over time, Egyptologists have examined the possible motives and reasons for how Cheops' reputation changed over time. Closer examination and comparisons between contemporary documents, later documents, and Greek and Coptic readings reveal that the reputation of Cheops changed slowly and that positive views of the king were still prevalent during the Greek and Ptolemaic era. Alan B. Lloyd, for example, points to documents and inscriptions from the 6th dynasty listing an important city called Menate-Cufu, meaning "nurse of Cheops." This city was still highly prized during the Middle Empire period. Lloyd is convinced that this moving name would not have been chosen to honor a king with a bad (or at least questionable) reputation. Moreover, he points to the overwhelming number of places where mortuary services for Cheops were practiced, even outside Giza. These mortuary services were still practiced even in the Said and Persian periods.

The famous Lamentation Texts of the First Intermediate Period reveal some interesting views about the monumental tombs of the past; they were then seen as evidence of vanity. However, they give no hint of a negative reputation of the kings themselves, and therefore they do not judge Cheops negatively.

Modern Egyptologists evaluate the stories of Herodotus and Diodorus as a kind of slander, based on the contemporary philosophy of both authors. They urge caution against the credibility of ancient traditions. They argue that the classical authors lived around 2,000 years after Cheops, and their sources that were available in their lifetimes were certainly antiquated. In addition, some Egyptologists point out that the philosophies of the ancient Egyptians had changed since the Ancient Empire. Huge tombs, like the pyramids at Giza, must have horrified the Greeks and even the later priests of the New Kingdom, because they remembered the heretic Pharaoh Achaenaton and his megalomaniacal building projects. This negative image was probably projected onto Cheops and his pyramid. The view was possibly promoted by the fact that during Cheops' lifetime, permission to create large statues made of precious stones and to display them in public was limited to the king. In his time, Greek authors, mortuary priests and temple priests could only explain Cheops' impressive monuments and statues as the result of a megalomaniac. These negative assessments were applied to Cheops.

Moreover, several Egyptologists point out that Roman historians such as Pliny the Elder and Frontinus (both around 70 AD) equally do not hesitate to ridicule the pyramids of Giza: Frontinus calls them "idle pyramids, containing the indispensable structures also for some of our abandoned aqueducts in Rome" and Pliny describes them as "the idle and foolish ostentation of royal wealth". Egyptologists clearly see politically and socially motivated intentions in these criticisms, and it seems paradoxical that the use of these monuments has been forgotten, but the names of their builders have remained immortalized.

Another hint of Cheops' bad reputation among the Greek and Roman people may be hidden in the Coptic reading of Cheops' name. The Egyptian hieroglyphics that form the name "Cheops" are read in Coptic as "Xêfete," which actually means "bad luck" or "sinful" in their language. The Coptic reading derives from a later pronunciation of Cheops as "Xufu", which in turn led to the Greek reading "Sophis". Possibly, the bad meaning of the Coptic reading of "Cufu" was copied unconsciously by Greek and Roman authors.

On the other hand, some Egyptologists think that the ancient historians received their material for their histories not only from priests, but from citizens who lived near the time of the necropolis construction. Among the "simple people," too, negative or critical opinions about the pyramids may have been passed on, and the mortuary cult of the priests was certainly part of the tradition. Moreover, a long-standing literary tradition does not prove popularity. Even if Cheops' name has survived in literary traditions for so long, different cultural circles certainly promoted different views about Cheops' character and his historical achievements. The narrations of Diodorus, for example, are credited with more confidence than those of Herodotus, because Diodorus obviously collected the tales with much more skepticism. The fact that Diodorus credits the pyramid at Giza to Greek kings may be grounded in legends of his life and that the pyramids were demonstrably reused in later periods by Greek and Roman kings and nobles.

Egyptologists and modern historians also urge caution about the credibility of Arab stories. They point out that the medieval Arabs were guided by the strict Islamic belief that there is only one god and therefore no other gods could be mentioned. As a consequence, they transferred Egyptian kings and gods to Biblical prophets and kings. The Egyptian god Tote, called Hermes by the Greeks, for example, was named after the prophet Enoch. King Cheops, as already mentioned, was called "Sauride", "Saluke" and

Because of his fame, Cheops is the subject of many modern references, similar to kings and queens such as Achaemenion, Nefertiti, and Tutankhamen. His historical figure appears in movies, novels, and documentaries. In 1827, Jane C. Loudon wrote the novel The Mummy! A Tale of the 22nd Century. The story describes the citizens of the 22nd century, who have become highly technologically advanced, but totally immoral. Only the mummy of Cheops can save them. In 1939, Naguib Mahfouz wrote the novel Khufu's Wisdom, which is based on the Westcar Papyrus stories. In 1997, French author Guy Rachet published the novel series Le roman des pyramides, including five volumes, of which the first two (Le temple soleil and Rêve de pierre) use Cheops and his tomb as their theme. In 2004, spiritualist Page Bryant published the novel The Second Coming of the Star Gods, which deals with the alleged celestial origin of Cheops. The novel The Legend of the Vampire Khufu, published by Raymond Mayotte in 2010, deals with the awakening of King Cheops in his pyramid as a vampire.

Films that deal with Cheops, or have the Great Pyramid as their subject, include Howard Hawks' 1955 Land of the Pharaohs, a fictionalized account of the construction of the Great Pyramid at Cheops, and Roland Emmerich's Stargate from 1994, in which an extraterrestrial device is found near the pyramids.

Cheops and his pyramid are the subject of pseudoscientific theories that claim that Cheops' pyramid was built with the help of extraterrestrials, and that Cheops simply seized and reused the monument, ignoring archaeological evidence or even falsifying it.

A near-Earth asteroid is named after Cheops: 3362 Khufu.

Cheops and his pyramid are referenced in several computer games, such as Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, in which the player must enter the pyramid of Cheops and face the god Seti as the final boss. Another example is Duck Tales 2 for Game Boy; the player here must guide Uncle Scrooge through the trap-laden pyramid of Cheops. In the classic action role-playing game Titan Quest, the Giza Plateau is a large desert region in Egypt where the Tomb of Cheops and the Great Sphinx can be found. It was also mentioned in Assassin's Creed Origins, about where the player should find his tomb.


  1. Khufu
  2. Quéops
  3. ^ Alan B. Lloyd: Herodotus, book II., p. 62.
  4. ^ a b Flavius Josephus, Folker Siegert: Über Die Ursprünglichkeit des Judentums (Contra Apionem) (=Über die Ursprünglichkeit des Judentums, Volume 1, Flavius Josephus. From: Schriften Des Institutum Judaicum Delitzschianum, Westfalen Institutum Iudaicum Delitzschianum Münster). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2008, ISBN 3-525-54206-2, page 85.
  5. a b Clayton, Peter A. Chronicle of the Pharaohs. p 42. Thames and Hudson, Londres, 2006. ISBN 978-0-500-28628-9
  6. Malek, Jaromir, "The Old Kingdom" em The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, ed. Ian Shaw, Oxford University Press 2000, ISBN 978-0-19-280458-7 p. 88
  7. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen. Albatros, Düsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-96053-3, páginas 100–104.
  8. Regierungsdauer: 63 Jahre.
  9. a b Regierungsdauer: ohne Angabe.
  10. -2551 à -2528 (J. P. Allen), -2549 à -2526 (J. Málek), -2620 à -2580 (R. Krauss), -2609 à -2584 (D. B. Redford), -2579 à -2556 (J. von Beckerath), -2589 à -2566 (I. Shaw), -2555 à -2520 (D. Arnold), -2547 à -2524 (A. D. Dodson), -2538 à -2516 (Dictionnaire des Pharaons de P. Vernus et J. Yoyotte, p. 42).
  11. Khéops a pour origine une locution verbale au subjonctif khufui que l'on retrouve dans les cartouches sous la forme de « khnoum khufui », « que le dieu Khnoum protège ». Source : (en) Robert M. Schoch et Robert Aquinas McNally, Pyramid Quest, Penguin, 2005, p. 301
  12. Aidan Mark Dodson, Monarchs of the Nile. American Univ in Cairo Press, 2000, (ISBN 977-424-600-4), p. 29–34.
  13. Flavius Josephus, Folker Siegert, « Über Die Ursprünglichkeit des Judentums (Contra Apionem), Volume 1, Flavius Josephus », dans : Schriften Des Institutum Judaicum Delitzschianum, Westfalen Institutum Iudaicum Delitzschianum Münster). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2008, (ISBN 3-525-54206-2), p. 85.
  14. Gerald Massey, The natural genesis, or, second part of A book of the beginnings: containing an attempt to recover and reconstitute the lost origines of the myths and mysteries, types and symbols, religion and language, with Egypt for the mouthpiece and Africa as the birthplace, vol. 1, Black Classic Press, 1998, (ISBN 1574780107), p. 224-228.

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