Khafre was the son of Khufu. His pyramid stands next to Khufu's and appears to be taller, but this is because it stands on higher ground. In fact it was 10m shorter than Khufu's pyramid when it was first built, and even now that the Great Pyramid has lost some of its top, it is still 1m shorter.

Khafre's pyramid is similar to his father's except that is still has some of the smooth limestone casing on the top, which originally covered all the pyramids but which was stolen to build Cairo in medieval times. Also, its passages do not lead upwards to the burial chamber but downwards, to underground chambers.

Khafre's pyramid is also different in that it still has its attached mortuary temple. In this temple was found a superb statue of the king made of diorite (see below). It shows him with the falcon god Horus enfolding him with his wings. Horus stood for the pharaoh, who was seen as Horus come down to earth in human form.

Khafre's name means 'Appearing like Re'.


The Dream Stela

In between the paws of the Great Sphinx is the so-called 'dream stela'. On this block of stone the pharaoh Thutmose IV (who lived about 1,100 years after Khafre) had a message inscribed. It said that in his time the sphinx was covered in sand, and one night as he slept there he dreamt that if he cleared away the sand he would become pharaoh - which is what he did, and what indeed happened.

Khafre's pyramid


The burial chamber (Giovanni Belzoni was a famous 19th century explorer).



The Great Sphinx


Khafre is also well-known for the enormous statue sitting next to his mortuary temple, showing him in the form of a lion with his own head. This is known as the Great Sphinx. It also represents the sun god Re-Harakhte, rising at dawn in the east. It is about 20m high and 73m long.