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Djedefre
Djedefra, Redjedef, Rpadjedef
Head of Djedefre from Abu Rawash
Head of Djedefre from Abu Rawash
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign 2528–2520 BC,  4th Dynasty
Predecessor Khufu
Successor Khafra
Consort(s) Hetepheres II, Khentetka
Children Hernet, Baka, Setka, Nikaudjedefre, Hetepheres, Neferhetepes
Father Khufu
Died 2558 BC
Burial Pyramid complex at Abu Rawash
Monuments Pyramid of Djedefre

Djedefre (also known as Radjedef) was an Egyptian pharaoh, the son and immediate successor of Khufu. The mother of Djedefre is unknown. His name means "Enduring like Re."[2] Djedefre was the first king to use the title Son of Ra as part of his royal titulary, which is seen as an indication of the growing popularity of the cult of the solar god Ra.

He married his (half-) sister Hetepheres II, which may have been necessary to legitimise his claims to the throne if his mother was one of Khufu's lesser wives. He also had another wife, Khentetka with whom he had (at least) three sons, Setka, Baka and Hernet, and one daughter, Neferhetepes.[3] These children are attested to by statuary fragments found in the ruined mortuary temple adjoining the pyramid. Various fragmentary statues of Khentetka were found in this ruler's mortuary temple at Abu Rawash.[4] Excavations by the French team under Michel Valloggia have recently added another potential daughter, Hetepheres, as well as a son, Nikaudjedefre, to this list.

Contents

Reign Length

The Turin King List credits him with a rule of eight years, but the highest known year referred to during this reign appears to be the Year of his 11th cattle count. The Year of the 11th count of Djedefre was found written on the underside of one of the massive roofing-block beams which covered Khufu's southern boat-pits by Egyptian work crews.[5] Miroslav Verner notes that in the work crew's mason marks and inscriptions, "either Djedefra's throne name or his Golden Horus name occur exclusively."[6] Verner writes that the current academic opinion regarding the attribution of this date to Djedefre is disputed among Egyptologists: Rainer Stadelman, Vassil Dobrev, Peter Janosi favour dating it to Djedefre whereas Wolfgang Helck, Anthony Spalinger, Jean Vercoutter and W.S. Smith attribute this date to Khufu instead on the assumption "that the ceiling block with the date had been brought to the building site of the boat pit already in Khufu's time and placed in position [only] as late as during the burial of the funerary boat in Djedefra's time.[6] The German scholar Dieter Arnold, in a 1981 MDAIK paper noted that the marks and inscriptions of the blocks from Khufu's boat pit seem to form a coherent collection relating to the different stages of the same building project realised by Djedefra's crews.[7] Verner stresses that such marks and inscriptions usually pertained to the breaking of the blocks in the quarry, their transportation, their storage and manipulation in the building site itself.[8]

"In this context, the attribution of just a single inscription--and what is more, the only one with a date--on all the blocks from the boat pit to somebody other than Djedefra does not seem very plausible."[9]

Verner also notes that the French-Swiss team excavating Djedefra's pyramid have discovered that this king's pyramid was actually finished in his reign. According to Vallogia, Djedefre's pyramid largely made use of a natural rock promontory which represented circa 45 % of its core; the side of the pyramid was 200 cubits long and its height was 125 cubits.[10] The original volume of the monument of Djedefra, hence, approximately equalled that of Menkaura's own pyramid.[11] Therefore, the argument that Djedefre enjoyed a short reign because his pyramid was unfinished is somewhat discredited.[12] This means that Djedefre likely ruled Egypt for a minimum of eleven years if the cattle count was annual or 21 years if it was biannual; Verner, himself, supports the shorter 11 year figure and notes that "the relatively few monuments and records let by Djedefra do not seem to favour a very long reign" for this king.[12]

Pyramid complex

Hetepheres II as a sphinx from Abu Rawash

Djedefre continued the move north in the location of pyramids by building his (now ruined) pyramid at Abu Rawash, some 8 km to the North of Giza. It is the northernmost part of the Memphite necropolis.

Some believe that the sphinx of his wife, Hetepheres II, was the first sphinx created. It was part of Djedefre's pyramid complex at Abu Rawash. In 2004, evidence that Djedefre may have been responsible for the building of the Sphinx at Giza in the image of his father was reported by the French Egyptologist Vassil Dobrev.

The ruined pyramid of Djedefre at Abu Rawash

While Egyptologists previously assumed that his pyramid at the heavily denuded site of Abu Rawash—some 5 kilometres north of Giza--was unfinished upon his death, more recent excavations from 1995 to 2005 have established that it was indeed completed.[13] The most recent evidence rather indicates that his pyramid complex was extensively plundered in later periods while "the king's statues [were] smashed as late as the 2nd century AD."[13]

Due to the poor condition of Abu Rawash, only small traces of his mortuary complex have been found; his pyramid causeway proved to run from north to south rather than the more conventional east to west while no valley temple has been found.[14] Only the rough ground plan of his mud-brick mortuary temple was traced—with some difficulty--"in the usual place on the east face of the pyramid."[14]

References

  1. ^ Clayton, Peter A. Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. 1995. ISBN 0-500-28628-0 p.50
  2. ^ Clayton, op. cit., p.50
  3. ^ Djedefre, Tour Egypt.
  4. ^ Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson (2004), p.59
  5. ^ Miroslav Verner, Archaeological Remarks on the 4th and 5th Dynasty Chronology, Archiv Orientální, Volume 69: 2001, p.375
  6. ^ a b Verner, p.375
  7. ^ Dieter Arnold, MDAIK 37 (1981), p.28
  8. ^ M. Verner, Baugraffiti der Ptahscepses-Mastaba, Praha 1992. p.184
  9. ^ Verner, p.376
  10. ^ Michel Vallogia, Études sur l'Ancien Empire et la nécropole de Saqqara (Fs Lauer) 1997. p.418
  11. ^ Vallogia, op. cit., p.418
  12. ^ a b Verner, p.377
  13. ^ a b Clayton, pp.50-51
  14. ^ a b Clayton, p.50

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