Chefren's Pyramid*

Strangely enough, Chefren's Pyramid appears to be the largest from most angles on the plateau. We certainly found it the most picturesque, both because of it's central location and towering height, and because of it's unique texture. Near the top of the pyramid, several of the casing stones are still intact giving the pyramid its characteristic appearance.

Cairo and Chefren's Pyramid
Chefren's Pyramid and Menkaure's Mortuary Temple
Chefren's Pyramid

The first two pictures above were taken from Menkaure's Pyramid - Menkaure's Mortuary Temple is visible at the bottom of the photos. Cairo is also somewhat visible on the right side of the leftmost picture. The picture on the right was taken from the base of the pyramid - it captures to a small degree the overpowering magnitude of this mountain of stone.

Chefren's Pyramid and the Rock Tombs
Chefren's Pyramid and the Rock Tombs
The Sphinx and Pyramids
Chefren's Pyramid at sunset
Chefren(R) and Menkaure's(L) Pyramids bracketed by lesser pyramids
Chefren(R) and Menkaure's(L) Pyramids at sunset
Chefren's Pyramid at Sunset

As with all the other pyramids of Giza (and Dashur) it is essentially anonymous. The attribution of this pyramid to the pharaoh Chefren is based upon Herodotus' account and the surrounding funerary complex that makes repeated references to Chefren. However, the pyramid itself, inside and out, is completely devoid of writings. It's ironic that Egyptologist's and historians in general criticize Herodotus so vehemently in some respects and in others cling to his account as though it were gospel.

The fact that these sites lack writings so completely is remarkable in Egypt - both earlier and later pyramids (according to the accepted chronology) are literally filled with inscriptions. The Egyptians from the beginning were obsessed with covering every available surface with text, and yet a handful of sites at Giza, Dashur, and Abydos are completely blank. This fact in itself sets these sites apart.

Chefren's is the first pyramid we had the opportunity to enter. At first we were annoyed that we couldn't go in together - we weren't allowed to take our backpacks in so one of us had to wait outside with them. However, I (being the first in) quickly realized why: there just wouldn't have been the space for me to get down the shaft with my backpack on! Youch.

Our first thoughts were of course to curse the bastard Belzoni for his desecration - actually, come to think of it, I'm surprised the pyramid hasn't been attributed to Belzoni since his name is so prominently displayed...

Grafitti Inside Chefren's Pyramid

The primary chamber of interest inside Chefren's Pyramid (and the only one open to tourists) is not only the site of Belzoni's egotism, but also houses the "sarcophagus". I use quotes, because there is little to no evidence that the the pyramids were tombs and many scholars have argued that they were never intended as such.1

Sarcophagus Inside Chefren's Pyramid

Unfortunately, because of the crowds we had no time alone inside and gaudy tourists bouncing around taking pictures were most distracting and not conducive to contemplation. However, on out return trip to the plateau, Pam went back in and had much better luck - she even had several minutes alone and the chance to lay in the sarcophagus. She came out understandably thrilled.

* There are two sets of names commonly used for the pharaohs to whom the pyramids are attributed: Cheops / Khufu - the Great Pyramid; Chefren / Khafre - the second largest of the three; and Mycerinus / Menkaure - the smallest. They are the Greek / Egyptian names respectively - throughout these pages I will use Cheops, Chefren, and Menkaure. I don't care about consistency - they're the names that I like, so there.

1 John Anthony West, Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval, etc.

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