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The Pharaohs

Birth name: Menkaure ("Eternal Like the Souls of Re"), called "Mycerinus" by the Greeks
Rule: 2532 - 2504 BC (5th king of the 4th dynasty, Old Kingdom)
Noteworthy relatives: Khufu (grandfather), Khafre (father)


The third pyramid at Giza belongs to pharaoh #5 of the fourth dynasty, Menkaure. At an original height of 228 feet, Menkaure's pyramid is smaller than those belonging to his father and grandfather, perhaps because those earlier construction projects must have put a huge strain on the people and resources of the land.


Menkaure's pyramid was two-tone in color: the top half was covered with bright white limestone casing, while red Aswan granite was used for the casing on the bottom. When pyramid was explored in the 1830's, a lidless basalt sarcophagus was found in the burial chamber. Inside it was a wooden mummiform coffin inscribed with Menkaure's name. This is curious because mummiform coffins weren't made until much later. Best guess is that the coffin was provided in an attempted restoration during the 26th dynasty (that's 2000 years later!) when there was a renewed interest in the culture of the Old Kingdom.


The wooden coffin and basalt sarcophagus were sent on separate ships to England to end up on display in the British Museum, but a storm at sea sank the boat that was transporting the sarcophagus. It sank to the bottom of the sea and was never recovered.

Menkaure's Pyramid is the shorter one on the left. By Ricardo Liberato (All Gizah Pyramids) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Menkaure with his wife Khamerernebty II
appearing as Hathor (left) and the goddess of the seventeenth nome of Upper Egypt (right)

The burial chamber where Menkaure's sarcophagus and coffin were found. By Jon Bodsworth [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons

Watch: "Pyramid of Menkaure, Giza Egypt." YouTube video.

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