Son of Khufu, Djedefre was a pharaoh in the fourth dynasty. He was believed to be the product of a union between Khufu and one of his lesser wives and was not actually the original successor to his father. That honor belong to his brother, who some believe had been murdered by Djedefre and whose widow, Hetepheres, Djedefre later married. He was later succeeded by his brother Khafre, and one theory is that Khafre killed Djedefre; this is unlikely. The length of his reign is often disputed, anywhere from eight to twenty years.
Head of Djedefre (source)
His pyramid lies at Abu Roash, though one rejected thought was that it had been a temple, rather than at Giza with his father’s pyramid, which has raised questions about whether or not there might have been a familial dispute to have prompted Djedefre to move his pyramid so far away. The statues of Djedefre were defaced, popularly believed to have been done at the instigation of his successor, and his pyramid appeared to have been left uncompleted. Since Khafre’s pyramid was moved back to Giza, early Egyptologists were confident in this story. However, this is no substantial evidence to support this claim; in fact, early interpretations of Djedefre’s reign were little more than fiction.
Pyramid ruins at Abu Roash (source)
First of all, there is evidence that he was the one to have completed his father’s burial along with providing the funerary boats, upon which his name can be found. Some archaeologists believe that the Sphinx at the Giza plateau was constructed by Djedefre, rather than Khafre, in honor of his father as the features of the Sphinx are consistent with those of Khufu. If so, this doesn’t match up with the rebellious son Djedefre was portrayed. The statues were probably broken later by locals, perhaps during the Roman conquest of Egypt. Likewise, his pyramid was probably dismantled and then re-purposed by Romans for their projects. Because of the rise of the cult of Ra, Djedefre may have moved his pyramid to Abu Roash so that one could see “the sun rising directly over the sun temple of Heliopolis” during the summer solstice, which was considered to be the birthday of Ra.
Another reason that his pyramid is at Abu Roash, commented on at the 30:25 mark in the above video, may be because he was relatively old when he took the throne and it gave him an advantage of height without having to take as long to build it. There is also evidence that his cult remained active for years after his death, inconsistent with the belief that Khafre tried to erase his sibling’s reign from memory.
Cover Photo: Djedefre’s cartouche (source)