King Menkaure

King Menkaure

King Menkaure

King Menkaure, also written Menkure, Greek Mykerinos, Egyptian ruler of the 4th dynasty (c. 2575–c. 2465 BCE) who erected the third and shortest of the three Pyramids of Giza (flourished the 26th century).

He was Khafre’s son and most likely successor, reigning for 18 (or 28) years, per the Turin papyrus. King Menkaure was a religious and just monarch, according to legend. Although his pyramid and mortuary temple was incomplete when he died, his successor, Shepseskaf, finalized the mortuary temple’s masonry in brick.  Some of the best sculptures from the Pyramid Age were discovered in the burial complex; including one with a slate statue group of Menkaure and his sister-wife Khamerernebti II, as well as a number of lesser slate triads portraying Menkaure, the goddess Hathor, and numerous nome (district) deities.

Pyramid of Menkaure

Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus), Giza
by jaybergesen

Pyramid Complex of Menkaure

The third of the three major Giza Pyramids were built by King Menkaure (Mykerinos to the ancient Greeks; c.2532–2503 BC). He was most likely the grandson of Khufu (Cheops) and the son of Khafre (Khefren). Menkaure’s pyramid is the smallest of the three, with the main base less than a fourth of the size of the other two and an original height of 65 meters. The limited amount of room left on the Giza Plateau is one of the reasons for the reduction in size. Another is the material utilized for Menkaure’s pyramid’s outside casing. King Menkaure used granite, which was quarried in Aswan, nearly 800 kilometers distant, instead of limestone, as his predecessors had done. Aside from the logistical challenges of transporting granite slabs, the material is harder than limestone. Only the lowest quarter of the casing stones, nevertheless, are formed of granite, with the remainder being limestone.

Pyramid of MenkaureThree lesser pyramids, similar to the Great Pyramid, stand next to King Menkaure’s and were used for the graves of his queens. However, while no satellite pyramid has been unearthed, it is thought that the greatest of the three queens’ pyramids was supposed to represent the satellite pyramid.

Menkaure died before his pyramid structure was finished, and the granite covering blocks of the pyramid was not polished. His mortuary and valley temples were supposed to be made of massive limestone blocks covered in granite, but they were built out of whitewashed mudbrick instead. Regardless, Menkaure’s mortuary cult continued to be practiced for another 300 years after his death.

Menkaure triad statue in the museum

King Menkaure stands between Goddess Hathor and other local goddesses in the Menkaure triad.

The King Menkaure triads are an influencing sculpture depicting King Menkaure in an embracing or holding hands with Hathor and a glorified nome. These triads were discovered in his pyramid’s valley temple in Giza.

The king Menkaure triad is one of five triads discovered in the valley in 1908; three are on display at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, and the other two are at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Menkaure was depicted as a deity standing between Hathor and the local goddess, wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt, a fake royal beard, and the regal short kilt known as the ndyt. He, too, wields sticks.

The artist was able to display the facial appearance in a very beautiful way depicted in full round, gorgeous eye brows, smooth nose, prominent cheekbones, and thin calm lips. King Menkaure left leg is marching forward to symbolize that he follows his heart.

Now that the artist has more experience than during the 3rd dynasty, you can observe that he is a skilled artist by looking at the muscle of Menkaure’s sculpture chests, arms, legs, knees, and toes.

Hathor was the goddess of love, music, and motherhood, and she was symbolized in the triad.

Her name (Hat-hor) means “house of Horus,” and she was a powerful Egyptian goddess.

King Menkaure (Mycerinus) and queen statue

This stunning, nearly life-size statue of the pharaoh Menkaure and a queen from c. 2490–2472 B.C.E. captures serene ethereal elegance, raw royal might, and proof of artistic mastery all at once. The beautifully produced surface of the dark stone, as smooth as silk; evokes the physical aspirations of the time and gives the impression of eternity and immortality even now.

Menkaure statue

King Menkaure (Mycerinus) and his Queen, Kha-merer-nebty II
by MCAD Library

The towering and enigmatic Great Pyramids, which lie on a natural stone shelf; now recognized as the Giza plateau, on the south-western fringe of contemporary Cairo, are without a doubt the most recognizable constructions from Ancient Egypt. The three main pyramids at Giza were built during the Old Kingdom and functioned as burial sites; memorials, and places of worship for a number of deceased monarchs; the greatest of which belonged to King Khufu, the middle to his son Khafre; and the shortest to his son King Menkaure.

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