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Menkaure (also Menkaura, Egyptian transliteration mn-k3w-Rˁ), was an ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) of the fourth dynasty during the Old Kingdom, who is well known under his Hellenized names Mykerinos (Greek : Μυκερίνος) (by Herodotus) and Menkheres (by Manetho). 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 (from Syncellus) reports as rulers of the fourth dynasty Sôris, Suphis I, Suphis II, Mencherês, Ratoisês, Bicheris, Sebercherês, and Thamphthis in this order. [2] 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.



Menkaure was the son of Khafre and the grandson of Khufu. A flint knife found in the mortuary temple of Menkaure mentioned a king's mother Khamerernebty I, suggesting that Khafre and this queen were the parents of Menkaure. Menkaure is thought to have had at least two wives.

Not many children are attested for Menkaure:

The royal court included several of Menkaure's half brothers. His brothers Nebemakhet, Duaenre, Nikaure, and Iunmin served as viziers during the reign of their brother. His brother Sekhemkare may have been younger than he was and became vizier after the death of Menkaure. [8]


Menkaura flanked by the goddess Hathor (left) and the goddess Bat (right). Graywacke statue in Cairo Museum. Menkaura.jpg
Menkaura flanked by the goddess Hathor (left) and the goddess Bat (right). Graywacke statue in Cairo Museum.

The length of Menkaure's reign is uncertain. The ancient historian Manetho credits him with rulership of 63 years, but this is surely an exaggeration. The Turin Canon is damaged at the spot where it should present the full sum of years, but the remains allow a reconstruction of "..?.. + 8  years of rulership". Egyptologists think that 18-year rulership was meant to be written, which is generally accepted. A contemporary workmen's graffito reports about the "year after the 11th cattle count". If the cattle count was held every second year (as was tradition at least up to king Sneferu), Menkaure might have ruled for 22 years. [9]

In 2013, a fragment of the sphinx of Menkaure was discovered at Tel Hazor at the entrance to the city palace. [10]

Pyramid complex

Menkaure's pyramid at Giza was called Netjer-er-Menkaure, meaning "Menkaure is Divine". This pyramid is the smallest of the three main pyramids at Giza. This pyramid measures 103.4 m (339 ft) at the base and 65.5 m (215 ft) in height. [11] There are three subsidiary pyramids associated with Menkaure's pyramid.

These other pyramids are sometimes labeled G-IIIa (East subsidiary pyramid), G-IIIb (Middle subsidiary pyramid) and G-IIIc (West subsidiary pyramid). In the chapel associated with G-IIIa a statue of a queen was found. It is possible that these pyramids were meant for the queens of Khafre. It may be that Khamerernebti II was buried in one of the pyramids. [4] [8]

Valley temple

The Valley temple was a mainly brick built structure that was enlarged in the fifth or sixth Dynasty. From this temple come the famous statues of Menkaure with his queen and Menkaure with several deities. A partial list includes: [8]

Mortuary Temple

At his mortuary temple more statues and statue fragments were found. An interesting find is a fragment of a wand from Queen Khamerernebty I. The piece is now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Khamerernebti is given the title King's Mother on the fragment. [8]


17 menkaure burial chamber.jpg
Sepulchral Chamber of Men-ka-ra (1878) - TIMEA.jpg
Burial chamber of Menkaure, today, and as discovered with now lost sarcophagus

In 1837, English army officer Richard William Howard Vyse, and engineer John Shae Perring began excavations within the pyramid of Menkaure. In the main burial chamber of the pyramid they found a large stone sarcophagus 8 feet 0 inches (244 cm) long, 3 feet 0 inches (91 cm) in width, and 2 feet 11 inches (89 cm) in height, made of basalt. The sarcophagus was not inscribed with hieroglyphs although it was decorated in the style of palace facade. Adjacent to the burial chamber were found wooden fragments of a coffin bearing the name of Menkaure and a partial skeleton wrapped in a coarse cloth. The sarcophagus was removed from the pyramid and was sent by ship to the British Museum in London, but the merchant ship Beatrice carrying it was lost after leaving port at Malta on October 13, 1838. The other materials were sent by a separate ship, and those materials now reside at the museum, with the remains of the wooden coffin case on display.

It is now thought that the coffin was a replacement made during the much later Saite period, nearly two millennia after the king's original interment. Radio carbon dating of the bone fragments that were found, place them at an even later date, from the Coptic period in the first centuries AD. [12]

Records from later periods

According to Herodotus (430 BC), Menkaure was the son of Khufu (Greek Cheops), and that he alleviated the suffering his father's reign had caused the inhabitants of ancient Egypt. Herodotus adds that he suffered much misfortune: his only daughter, whose corpse was interred in a wooden bull (which Herodotus claims survived to his lifetime), died before him. Subsequently the oracle at Buto predicted he would only rule six more years.

The king deemed this unjust, and sent back to the oracle a message of reproach, blaming the god: why must he die so soon who was pious, whereas his father and his uncle had lived long, who shut up the temples, and regarded not the gods, and destroyed men? But a second utterance from the place of divination declared to him that his good deeds were the very cause of shortening his life; for he had done what was contrary to fate; Egypt should have been afflicted for an hundred and fifty years, whereof the two kings before him had been aware, but not Mycerinus. Hearing this, he knew that his doom was fixed. Therefore he caused many lamps to be made, and would light these at nightfall and drink and make merry; by day or night he never ceased from revelling, roaming to the marsh country and the groves and wherever he heard of the likeliest places of pleasure. Thus he planned, that by turning night into day he might make his six years into twelve and so prove the oracle false. [13]


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Khufu Fourth Dynasty ancient Egyptian pharaoh

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Khafre Ancient Egyptian pharaoh of 4th dynasty

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.

Djedefre Egyptian Pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty

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.

Fourth Dynasty of Egypt Dynasty of ancient Egypt

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.

Aspelta Kushite King of Napata

Aspelta was a ruler of the kingdom of Kush. More is known about him and his reign than most of the rulers of Kush. He left several stelae carved with accounts of his reign.


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".

Nitocris has been claimed to have been the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt's Sixth Dynasty. Her name is found in Herodotus' Histories and in writings by Manetho, but her historicity is questionable. If she was in fact a historical person, then she may have been an interregnum queen, the sister of Merenre Nemtyemsaf II and the daughter of Pepi II and Queen Neith. Alternatively, the Egyptologist and phylologist Kim Ryholt has argued that Nitocris is legendary but derives from the historical male pharaoh Neitiqerty Siptah, who succeeded Merenre Nemtyemsaf II at the transition between the Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period.

Pyramid of Menkaure

The Pyramid of Menkaure is the smallest of the three main Pyramids of Giza, located on the Giza Plateau in the southwestern outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. It is thought to have been built to serve as the tomb of the Fourth Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Menkaure.

Giza pyramid complex Archaeological site on the Giza Plateau, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt

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.

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Hetepheres I was a Queen of Egypt during the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt.

Meresankh III

Queen Meresankh III was the daughter of Hetepheres II and Prince Kawab and a granddaughter of the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu. She was the wife of King Khafre.

Khamerernebty I was an ancient Egyptian queen of the 4th dynasty. She was probably a wife of King Khafre and the mother of King Menkaure and Queen Khamerernebty II. It is possible that she was a daughter of Khufu, based on the fact that inscriptions identify her as a King's daughter.

Khamerernebty II was an ancient Egyptian queen of the 4th Dynasty. She was a daughter of Pharaoh Khafre and Queen Khamerernebty I. She married her brother Menkaure and she was the mother of Prince Khuenre.

Khentkaus I

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.

Rekhetre was an ancient Egyptian queen from the late 4th Dynasty or early 5th Dynasty. She was a daughter of Pharaoh Khafre. Her husband is never mentioned, but Rekhetre would have been the wife of one of Khafre's successors, possibly Menkaure.

Sekhemkare was a vizier from the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt. He was a son of king Khafre and queen Hekenuhedjet. He served as vizier during the beginning of the next dynasty, during the reigns of Userkaf and Sahure. Sekhemkare is the only son of Khafre whose death can be fairly securely dated to a precise reign, here that of Sahure.


Khuenre (Khuenra) was a Prince of ancient Egypt of the 4th Dynasty, named after the Sun god Ra.


Bikheris is the Hellenized name of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, who may have ruled during the 4th Dynasty around 2570 BC. Next to nothing is known about this ruler and some Egyptologists even believe him to be fictitious.

Hare nome

The Hare nome, also called the Hermopolite nome was one of the 42 nomoi in ancient Egypt; more precisely, it was the 15th nome of Upper Egypt.


  1. 1 2 Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen. Albatros, Düsseldorf 2002, ISBN   3-491-96053-3, page 163–164.
  3. 1 2 Grajetzki, Ancient Egyptian Queens: A Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Golden House Publications, London, 2005, p13-14 ISBN   978-0-9547218-9-3
  4. 1 2 Tyldesley, Joyce. Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt. Thames & Hudson. 2006. ISBN   0-500-05145-3
  5. Clayton, pp.57-58
  6. Herodotus, Historia, B:129-132
  7. Hassan, Selim: Excavations at Gîza IV. 1932–1933. Cairo: Government Press, Bulâq, 1930. pp 18-62
  8. 1 2 3 4 Porter, Bertha and Moss, Rosalind, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings Volume III: Memphis, Part I Abu Rawash to Abusir. 2nd edition (revised and augmented by Dr Jaromir Malek, 1974). Retrieved from
  9. Miroslav Verner: Archaeological Remarks on the 4th and 5th Dynasty Chronology. In: Archiv Orientální, Vol. 69. Prague 2001, page 363–418.
  10. Ancient Egyptian leader makes a surprise appearance at an archaeological dig in Israel July 9, 2013,
  11. Guinness Book of World Records 2012. 2011. p. 194. ISBN   978-1-904994-68-8.
  12. Boughton, Paul "Menkaura's Anthropoid Coffin: A Case of Mistaken Identity?" Ancient Egypt. August/September 2006. p.30-32.
  13. Herodotus, Histories , 2.129-133