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Khufu facts for kids

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Khufu, full name Khnum Khufu, known to the Greeks as Cheops, was an ancient Egyptian monarch who was the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty, in the first half of the Old Kingdom period (26th century BC). Khufu succeeded his father Sneferu as king. He is generally accepted as having commissioned the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but many other aspects of his reign are poorly documented.

The only completely preserved portrait of the king is a three-inch high ivory figurine found in a temple ruin at Abydos in 1903. All other reliefs and statues were found in fragments, and many buildings of Khufu are lost. Everything known about Khufu comes from inscriptions in his necropolis at Giza and later documents. Most documents that mention king Khufu were written by ancient Egyptian and Greek historians.


Granite fragment with Khufu's horus name Medjedu on it

It is still unclear how long Khufu ruled over Egypt, because historically later documents differ from each other and sources are scarce. The Royal Canon of Turin from the 19th dynasty however, gives 23 years of ruler-ship for Khufu. The ancient historian Herodotus gives 50 years and the ancient historian Manetho even credits him 63 years of reign. These figures are now considered an exaggeration or a misinterpretation of antique sources.

There are only few hints about Khufu's political activities within and outside Egypt. Within Egypt, Khufu is documented in several building inscriptions and statues. Khufu's name appears in inscriptions at Elkab and Elephantine and in local quarries at Hatnub and Wadi Hammamat.

Pyramid of Khufu - Entrance
Pyramid of Khufu - Entrance

At Saqqara two terracotta figures of the goddess Bastet were found, on which, at their bases, the horus name of Khufu is inscribed. Khufu is depicted in several relief fragments found scattered in his necropolis and elsewhere. All reliefs were made of finely polished limestone.

At the Wadi Maghareh in Sinai a rock inscription depicts Khufu with the double crown. Khufu sent several expeditions in an attempt to find turquoise and copper mines. Khufu also had contacts with Byblos. He sent several expeditions to Byblos in an attempt to trade copper tools and weapons for precious Lebanese Cedar wood. This kind of wood was essential for building large and stable funerary boats, and indeed the boats discovered at the Great Pyramid were made of it.

Khufu's name

Ring of Cheops
Ring with the name of Khufu

Khufu's name was dedicated to the earth deity (God) Khnum, which might point to an increase of Khnum's popularity and religious importance. In fact, several royal and religious titles introduced at his time may point out that Egyptian pharaohs sought to highlight their divine origin and status by dedicating their official names to certain deities.

Khufu may have viewed himself as a divine creator. The king connected Khnum's name with his own. Khufu's full name (Khnum-khufu) means "Khnum protect me".


Snofru Eg Mus Kairo 2002 b
Portrait of Sneferu, Khufu's father or stepfather

The royal family of Khufu was quite large. It is uncertain if Khufu was actually the biological son of Sneferu. Egyptologists believe Sneferu was Khufu's father, 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 Hetepheres I, G 7000x, was found east of Khufu's pyramid. It contained many precious grave goods, and several inscriptions give her the title Mut-nesut (meaning "mother of a king"), together with the name of king Sneferu. Therefore, it seemed clear at first that Hetepheres was the wife of Sneferu, and that they were Khufu's parents. More recently, however, some have doubted this theory, because Hetepheres is not known to have borne the title Hemet-nesut (meaning "king's wife"), a title indispensable to confirm a queen's royal status.

Instead of the spouse's title, Hetepheres bore only the title Sat-netjer-khetef (verbatim: "daughter of his divine body"; symbolically: "king's bodily daughter"), a title mentioned for the first time. As a result, researchers now think Khufu may not have been Sneferu's biological son, but that Sneferu legitimised Khufu's rank and familial position by marriage. By apotheosizing his mother as the daughter of a living god, Khufu's new rank was secured. This theory may be supported by the circumstance that Khufu's mother was buried close to her son and not in the necropolis of her husband, as it was to be expected.

Family tree

The following list presents family members, which can be assigned to Khufu with certainty.

  • Sneferu: Most possibly his father, maybe just stepfather. Famous pharaoh and builder of three pyramids.
  • Hetepheres I: Most possibly his mother. Wife of king Sneferu and well known for her precious grave goods found at Giza.
Portrait of Prince Rahotep
Princess Nefertiabet before her meal-E 15591-IMG 9645-gradient
Slab stela of princess Nefertiabet


  • Meritites I: First wife of Khufu.
  • Henutsen: Second wife of Khufu. She is mentioned on the famous Inventory Stela.

Brothers and Sisters:

  • Hetepheres: Wife of Ankhhaf.
  • Ankhhaf: The eldest brother. His nephew would later become pharaoh Khafra.
  • Nefermaat: Half-brother; buried at Meidum and owner of the famous "mastaba of the geese".
  • Rahotep: Elder brother or half-brother. Owner of a life-size double statue portraying him and his wife Nofret, displayed in the Egyptian Museum of Cairo.

Sons of Khufu:

  • Kawab: Most possibly the eldest son and crown prince, he died before Khufu's own end of reign and thus did not follow Khufu on the throne.
  • Djedefra: Also known as Radjedef and Ratoises. Became the first throne successor.
  • Khafre: Most possibly second throne successor.
  • Djedefhor: Also known as Hordjedef, mentioned in Papyrus Westcar.
  • Baufra: Possibly a son of Khufu, but neither archaeologically nor contemporarily attested. Only known from two much later documents.
  • Babaef I: Also known as Khnum-baef I.
  • Khufukhaf I: Also known as Kaefkhufu I.
  • Minkhaf I.
  • Horbaef.


  • Nefertiabet: Known for her beautiful slab stelae.
  • Hetepheres II: Wife of prince Kawab, later married to pharaoh Djedefra.
  • Meresankh II.
  • Meritites II: Married to Akhethotep.
  • Khamerernebty I: Wife of king Khafra and mother of Menkaura.


  • Duaenhor: Son of Kawab and possibly eldest grandchild.
  • Kaemsekhem: Second son of Kawab.
  • Mindjedef: Also known as Djedefmin.
  • Djaty: Son of Horbaef.
  • Iunmin I: Son of Khafre.

Nephews and nieces:

  • Hemiunu: Director of the building of Khufu's great pyramid.
  • Nefertkau III: Daughter of Meresankh II.
  • Djedi: Son of Rahotep and Nofret
  • Itu: Son of Rahotep and Nofret
  • Neferkau: Son of Rahotep and Nofret
  • Mereret: Daughter of Rahotep and Nofret
  • Nedjemib: Daughter of Rahotep and Nofret
  • Sethtet: Daughter of Rahotep and Nofret

Khufu in popular culture

Because of his fame, Khufu is the subject of several modern references, similar to kings and queens such as Akhenaten, Nefertiti and Tutankhamen. His historical figure appears in movies, novels and documentaries such as the novel The Mummy! A Tale of the 22nd Century and Roland Emmerich's Stargate film, in which an extraterrestrial device is found near the pyramids.

Khufu and his pyramid are furthermore the objects of theories which deal with the idea that Khufu's pyramid was built with the help of extraterrestrials and that Khufu simply seized and re-used the monument, this ignores archaeological evidence or even falsifying it.

There is a near-Earth asteroid that bears Khufu's name: 3362 Khufu.

Khufu and his pyramid are referenced in several computer games such as Tomb Raider – The Last Revelation and Assassin's Creed Origins. Another example is Duck Tales 2 for the Game Boy. In this game the player must guide Uncle Scrooge through a trap-loaded Khufu's pyramid.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Keops para niños

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