|Baka, Bakare, Biuris|
Inscribed limestone fragment possibly showing Bikheris' name
|Reign||ca. 2570 BC (4th Dynasty)|
Bikheris is the Hellenized name of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, who may have ruled during the 4th Dynasty (Old Kingdom period) around 2570 BC. Next to nothing is known about this ruler and some Egyptologists even believe him to be fictitious.
In attempts to reconstruct Ancient Egyptian king lists, Egyptologists and historians face several problems. As already mentioned, Bikheris is a Hellenized name variation. The name appears in the book Aegyptiaca written by Manetho around 300 BC. In a Latin copy of Manetho, written by Eratosthenes, a king named Biuris is placed at the date when Bikheris allegedly ruled. Scholars wonder if both names actually derive from one and the same Egyptian source.
However, ancient Egyptian sources are scarce. The oldest possible royal name source may come from an unfinished pyramid shaft at Zawyet el'Aryan. The shaft was excavated in 1904 by Italian Egyptologist Alessandro Barsanti. He discovered several black ink inscriptions inside the shaft, some of which actually show a royal cartouche name. Unfortunately, Barsanti made no facsimile, but sloppy drawings and all but the cartouche name remains illegible. At least the second (lower) hieroglyph can be identified as a Ka-symbol, thus making the king's name a ...ka.
The temporally next possible source appears in the famous Westcar Papyrus of the 13th Dynasty. The text mentions a king's son, Bau-ef-Ra. Scholars wonder if this Bauefre may be identical with Bikheris. A very similar name from the New Kingdom period can be found in a rock inscription at Wadi Hammamat. The inscription consists of an honorary prayer surmounted by a short king list. The list contains the names Khufu, Djedefra, Khafre, Djedefhor, and Baefra.
Alan B. Lloyd is convinced that the names Baka, Bakare, Baefra, Bauefra and Biuris are all identical to Manetho's Bikheris.This, in turn, is doubted by Kim Ryholt, who points out that the names Baefra and Bauefra contain no syllable that would phonetically fit to "Bikheris". Thus, Ba(u)efra and Bikheris might be two different kings. This view is strengthened by the fact that Bauefra is entitled in contemporary documents only as "king's son", which is the title of a prince, not that of a ruler.
The only Old Kingdom name that could indeed fit is the now incomplete name X-ka, as found at Zawyet el'Aryan. According to Peter Jánosi, the mysterious name could be a Baka, written with a ram symbol. A son of Djedefra was actually named Baka , his name was indeed written with a ram- and a ka-symbol. It might be possible that prince Baka was meant to become king on the royal throne, but then he died unexpectedly during his coronation year, leaving an unfinished tomb shaft. Maybe Baka changed his name from "Baka" into "Baka-Re" after his coronation, or perhaps it was done posthumously. If the theory is correct, Bikheris was the hellenized variant of Baka(re).
Some scholars suspect that the line of throne successions during the 4th Dynasty of Egypt may have been much less smooth than mainstream Egyptologists believe. In support of this, they point out that it was already suspicious that king Djedefra broke with the family tradition of building royal tombs at Giza. In fact, Djedefra had left the Giza necropolis in an attempt to found a new royal cemetery at Abu Rawash instead. Alan B. Lloyd also points out that Djedefra dared another break with royal traditions by introducing the cult of Ra and placing Ra over all other deities. If Djedefra broke with family traditions, then Bikheris, as his son, may have done the same thing. This, and the obviously very short reign, may have led to Bikheris' exclusion from official records.
Another problem is how later historians depict the 4th Dynasty: Manetho and Eratosthenes both describe Bikheris as the sixth ruler of the 4th Dynasty and as the son and successor of king Djedefra. However, both authors chronologically misplace the kings completely since they give the succession Snofru → Khufu → Khafre → Menkaure → Djedefra → Shepseskaf → Thamphthis; archaeological records however give the correct succession Snofru → Khufu → Djedefra → Khafre → Menkaure → Shepseskaf. The reason for the numerous misplacements of kings in Hellenistic documents may be caused by the ancient authors' erroneous idea that the three builders of the Giza pyramids (Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure) automatically must have been direct throne successors. Also, the Hellenistic authors seem to have built the king list on the historical importance of each king: first the "famous pyramid builders" everyone knew at their time (because of their still practiced mortuary cults and their impressive monuments), then the "lesser important" followers.
Thus, most scholars are convinced that Bikheris, should he have existed, must have ruled either between Djedefra and Khafre, or between Khafre and Menkaure. Since Bikheris is described as the son and follower of Djedefra, a chronological position between Djedefra and Khafre seems possible. However, the Ramesside king lists provide evidence for placing Bikheris' reign between Khafre and Menkaure. The Saqqara king list provides a very odd sequence of succeeding kings for the 4th Dynasty: after king Khafre, the cartouches from him up to king Userkaf (the first ruler of the 5th Dynasty) are destroyed and thus illegible today. But their number is puzzling, since between Khafre and Userkaf only two kings are archaeologically detected: Menkaure and Shepseskaf. On the other hand, the Saqqara king list gives five cartouches between Khafre and Userkaf: Khafre → ??? → (Menkaure) → (Shepseskaf) → (Thamphthis) → ??? → Userkaf. One was possibly preserved for Bikheris, whilst the second may have been reserved for a king Thamphthis. The third cartouche (the one before Userkaf) remains a mystery. Jürgen von Beckerath proposes king Nyuserre as the holder of the third cartouche; he thinks it is possible that Nyuserre was simply misplaced to the beginning of the 5th Dynasty. The Saqqara king list would therefore give the following succession: Khafre → Bikheris → Menkaure → Shepseskaf → Thamphthis → Nyuserrê → Userkaf.
The Royal Canon of Turin also provides an unusual sequence: after king Khafre, the papyrus on which the king list was written is damaged, and only a few year notes have survived. According to the numbers of preserved year notes, between Khafre and Menkaure a further king must have been listed, because an additional line starts with "king of Upper- and Lower Egypt" (the year notes here are damaged and illegible, though). The following year note about "18 years of rulership" must belong to king Menkaure. After Menkaure, 4 years of rulership are mentioned, this line was surely reserved for king Shepseskaf. After Shepseskaf, however, a further, additional year note gives "2 years of rulership" before starting the 5th Dynasty with Userkaf. Egyptologists think that the gap between Khafre and Menkaure once named either Bauefra or Bikheris and the gap between Shepseskaf and Userkaf may have mentioned Thamphthis.
The length of Bikheris' reign is subject to some dispute. Manetho credits Bikheris with 22 years of rulership, Eratosthenes gives Biuris 10 years and the Royal Canon of Turin provides 2 years. Modern Egyptologists and historians believe Manetho's and Eratosthenes' year numbers to be exaggerations or misinterpretations. They credit Bikheris with a reign of either 2 years (likewise to the Turin Canon) or even less than one year (as Peter Jánosi suggests). Such a short reign would explain why Bikheris left virtually no monuments and/or documents.
The tomb of Bikheris is unknown. If he is indeed identical to the archaeologically attested prince Baka, he might have been buried in the Unfinished Northern Pyramid of Zawyet el'Aryan. This tomb was left unfinished right after the foundation was completed--only an oval-shaped, imbedded sarcophagus was found. The condition of the tomb suggests the sudden death of the king, which forced the tomb workers to leave the necropolis behind. The unfinished tomb would therefore fit well to a supposed short-lived ruler such as Bikheris.
In ancient Egyptian history, the Old Kingdom is the period spanning c. 2686–2181 BC. It is also known as the "Age of the Pyramids" or the "Age of the Pyramid Builders", as it encompasses the reigns of the great pyramid-builders of the Fourth Dynasty, such as King Sneferu, who perfected the art of pyramid-building, and the kings Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, who constructed the pyramids at Giza. Egypt attained its first sustained peak of civilization during the Old Kingdom, the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley.
Khufu was an ancient Egyptian monarch who was the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty, in the first half of the Old Kingdom period. 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.
Menkaure, was an ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) of the fourth dynasty during the Old Kingdom, who is well known under his Hellenized names Mykerinos and Menkheres. According to Manetho, he was the throne successor of king Bikheris, but according to archaeological evidence he rather was the successor of king Khafre. Africanus reports as rulers of the fourth dynasty Sôris, Suphis I, Suphis II, Mencherês, Ratoisês, Bicheris, Sebercherês, and Thamphthis in this order. Menkaure became famous for his tomb, the Pyramid of Menkaure, at Giza and his beautiful statue triads, showing the king together with his wives Rekhetre and Khamerernebty and with various deities.
Khafre was an ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) of the 4th Dynasty during the Old Kingdom. He was the son of Khufu and the successor of Djedefre. According to the ancient historian Manetho, Khafre was followed by king Bikheris, but according to archaeological evidence he was instead followed by king Menkaure. Khafre was the builder of the second largest pyramid of Giza. The view held by modern Egyptology at large continues to be that the Great Sphinx was built in approximately 2500 BC for Khafre. Not much is known about Khafre, except from the historical reports of Herodotus, writing 2,000 years after his life, who describes him as a cruel ruler who kept the Egyptian temples closed after Khufu had sealed them.
The Egyptian pyramids are ancient pyramid-shaped masonry structures located in Egypt. As of November 2008, sources cite either 118 or 138 as the number of identified Egyptian pyramids. Most were built as tombs for the country's pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods.
Djedefre was an ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) of the 4th Dynasty during the Old Kingdom. He is well known by the Hellenized form of his name Rhatoisēs (Ῥατοίσης) by Manetho. Djedefre was the son and immediate throne successor of Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza; his mother is not known for certain. He is the king who introduced the royal title Sa-Rê and the first to connect his cartouche name with the sun god Ra.
The Fourth Dynasty of ancient Egypt is characterized as a "golden age" of the Old Kingdom of Egypt. Dynasty IV lasted from c. 2613 to 2494 BC. It was a time of peace and prosperity as well as one during which trade with other countries is documented.
Shepseskaf was the sixth and last pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt during the Old Kingdom. He reigned six to eight years starting circa 2510 BC. The only activities firmly datable to his reign are the completion of the temple complex of the Pyramid of Menkaure and the construction of its own mastaba tomb at South Saqqara, the Mastabat al-Fir’aun, "stone bench of the pharaoh".
Userkaf was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and the founder of the Fifth Dynasty. He reigned for seven to eight years in the early 25th century BC, during the Old Kingdom period. He probably belonged to a branch of the Fourth Dynasty royal family, although his parentage is uncertain; he could have been the son of Khentkaus I. He had at least one daughter and very probably a son, Sahure, with his consort Neferhetepes. This son succeeded him as pharaoh.
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Nyuserre Ini was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the sixth ruler of the Fifth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period. He is credited with a reign of 24 to 35 years depending on the scholar, and likely lived in the second half of the 25th century BCE. Nyuserre was the younger son of Neferirkare Kakai and queen Khentkaus II, and the brother of the short-lived king Neferefre. He may have succeeded his brother directly, as indicated by much later historical sources. Alternatively, Shepseskare may have reigned between the two as advocated by Miroslav Verner, albeit only for a few weeks or months at the most. The relation of Shepseskare with Neferefre and Nyuserre remains highly uncertain. Nyuserre was in turn succeeded by Menkauhor Kaiu, who could have been his nephew and a son of Neferefre.
Shepseskare or Shepseskara was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the fourth or fifth ruler of the Fifth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period. Shepseskare lived in the mid-25th century BC and was probably the owner of an unfinished pyramid in Abusir, which was abandoned after a few weeks of work in the earliest stages of its construction.
The Giza Pyramid Complex, also called the Giza Necropolis, is the site on the Giza Plateau in Greater Cairo, Egypt that includes the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure, along with their associated pyramid complexes and the Great Sphinx of Giza. All were built during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. The site also includes several cemeteries and the remains of a workers village.
Menkare was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the first or second ruler of the Eighth Dynasty. Menkare probably reigned a short time at the transition between the Old Kingdom period and the First Intermediate Period, in the early 22nd century BC. The rapid succession of brief reigns at the time suggests times of hardship, possibly related to a widespread aridification of the Middle East, known as the 4.2 kiloyear event. As a pharaoh of the Eighth Dynasty, according to Manetho, Menkare's seat of power would have been Memphis.
Djedefhor or Hordjedef was a noble Egyptian of the 4th Dynasty. He was the son of Pharaoh Khufu and his name means "Enduring Like Horus".
Henutsen is the name of an ancient Egyptian queen consort who lived and ruled during the 4th dynasty of the Old Kingdom Period. She was the second or third wife of pharaoh Khufu and most possibly buried at Giza.
Thamphthis is the hellenized name of an ancient Egyptian ruler (pharaoh) of the 4th Dynasty in the Old Kingdom, who may have ruled around 2500 BC under the name Djedefptah for between two and nine years. His original Egyptian name is lost, but it may have been Djedefptah or Ptahdjedef according to William C. Hayes. Thamphthis is one of the shadowy rulers of the Old Kingdom, since he is completely unattested in contemporary sources. For this reason, his historical figure is discussed intensely by historians and Egyptologists.
Khentkaus I, also referred to as Khentkawes, was a royal woman who lived in ancient Egypt during both the Fourth Dynasty and the Fifth Dynasty. She may have been a daughter of king Menkaure, the wife of both king Shepseskaf and king Userkaf, the mother of king Sahure. Some suggest that she was the regent for one of her sons. Perhaps, in her own right, she may have been the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, which aspects of her burial suggests. Her mastaba at Giza – tomb LG100 – is located very close to Menkaure's pyramid complex. This close connection may point to a family relationship. Although the relationship is not clear, the proximity of the pyramid complex of Khentkaus to that of king Menkaure has led to the conjecture that she may have been his daughter.
Baufra is the name of an alleged son of the ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) Khufu from the 4th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. He is known from a story in the Papyrus Westcar and from a rock inscription at Wadi Hammamat. He is neither contemporarily nor archaeologically attested, which makes his historical figure disputable to scholars up to this day.
The Unfinished Northern Pyramid of Zawyet El Aryan, also known as Pyramid of Baka and Pyramid of Bikheris is the term archaeologists and Egyptologists use to describe a large shaft part of an unfinished pyramid at Zawyet El Aryan in Egypt. It is dated by mainstream scholars to the early or the mid-4th Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period. The pyramid owner is not known for certain and most Egyptologists, such as Miroslav Verner, think it should be a king known under his hellenized name, Bikheris, perhaps from the Egyptian Baka. On the contrary, Wolfgang Helck and other egyptologists doubt this attribution.