Ancient Egypt: The Old Kingdom , Fourth Dynasty

From 2613 to roughly 2498 BC, ancient Egypt was ruled under the Fourth Dynasty, which included pharaohs that were responsible for constructed the Great Pyramids. In this article, you will encounter information about the likes of Khufu, Khafra, and Sneferu.

A lengthy stretch of peace and no fear of invasion allowed the ancient Egyptians to flourish in the department of architecture. The locals spent a great deal of time enhancing their techniques and building during the Fourth Dynasty. Some of the rulers at this time included the following pharaohs:


Sneferu is the first ruler of the Fourth Dynasty and kept this position for an estimated 24 to 30 years. The honor of building what is known as the first “true” pyramid , also called the Red Pyramid , goes to Sneferu. Some historians believe that the pharaoh was laid to rest in this pyramid, while others feel that the Bent Pyramid is his final resting place. The Bent Pyramid was constructed at a normal angle at the bottom but as you reach the top, the angle drastically changes. While bones have been uncovered at the Red Pyramid, there is no concrete evidence that says they belong to Sneferu. As a ruler, he is respected for his innovations concerning pyramid building.


Khufu was the son of Sneferu and succeeded his father as pharaoh after his passing. The Great Pyramid of Giza is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and it is Khufu who is associated with being the builder of this impressive structure. While his father was seen as good to the people, Khufu was a different ruler and remembered as being ruthless and cruel. The ruler also fathered many children, including fifteen daughters (one of which later becomes Queen Hetepheres II) and nine sons, including Djedefra, who becomes successor to the throne. Khufu was in his twenties when he became ruler of Egypt and is estimated to have kept that position for about 23 years.


In paying homage to his dead father, Djedefra is believed to have created the infamous Great Sphinx of Giza. He is also linked to the construction of what is thought to have been the highest pyramid ever built in Egypt. Unfortunately, the Romans demolished the structure and recycled the materials of the pyramid. Djedefra is known as the first king to use Son of Ra as part of his royal title. This accepted name shows that the cult of the solar god Ra had been growing in popularity during his time. Djedefra took his half-sister Hetepheres II as his wife. Some believe the marriage was needed to make his claims to the throne legitimate, as his mother was one of Khufu’s “lesser” wives.


The second largest pyramid in Giza belongs to Khafra, who was another one of Khufu’s sons. There is some disagreement amongst historians who believe that Khafra succeeded Khufu first instead of Djedefra, but it is widely accepted that he was the fourth ruler of the Fourth Dynasty. Khafra had two main wives, where Queen Khamaerernebty I was known as the mother of his successor, Menkaura.