From Academic Kids

Sahure was the second king of ancient Egypt's 5th Dynasty. He was a son of queen Khentkaus I, who, in her tomb at Giza, is said to have been the "mother of two kings". His father probably was Userkaf. There are no wives or children known to him and at least no children of his seem to have outlived him, since he was succeeded by his brother, Neferirkare, the first king known to have used separate names.

His birth name means "He who is Close to Ra". His Horus name was Nebkhau, and it is believed he ruled Egypt from around 2487 to 2475 BC. The Turin King List gives him a reign of twelve years. The Palermo stone notes 7 cattle counts, which indicates a reign of at least 13 years if the cattle counts were held every two years.

It is probable that Khentkaus I was the character of Redjedet in the Papyrus Westcar, who according to the magician Djedi, was destined to give birth to the children of Ra and the first kings of the 5th Dynasty. But if Khentkaues I was his mother, a scene in her tomb at Giza showing her with the royal uraeus and beard might indicate that she may have acted as a regent for Sahure.


His pyramid complex was the first built at the new royal burial ground at Abusir a few kilometres North of Saqqara (though Userkaf had probably already built his solar temple there) and marks the decline of pyramid building, both in the size and quality, though many of the reliefs are very well done.

His pyramid provides us most of the information we know of this king. The reliefs in his mortuary and valley temple depict a counting of foreigners by or in front of the goddess Seshat and the return of a fleet from Asia, perhaps Byblos. This may indicate a military interest in the Near East, but the contacts may have been diplomatic and commercial as well. As part of the contacts with the Near-East, the reliefs from his funerary monuments also hold the oldest known representation of a Syrian bear.

When it was excavated the first years of the 1900s, a great amount of fine reliefs were found to an extent and quality superior to those from the dynasty before. Some of the low relief-cuttings in red granite are masterpieces of its kind and still in place at the site. The construction of the pyramid was on the other hand (like the others from this dynasty) made with an inner core of roughly hewn stones in a step construction held together in many sections with mortar of mud.

While this was under construction a corridor was left into the shaft where the grave chamber was erected separately and later covered by left over stone blocks and debris. This working strategy is clearly visible from two unfinished pyramids and was the old style from the third dynasty now coming back after being temporary abandoned by the builders of the five great pyramids at Dashur and Giza during the 4th dynasty.

Few depictions of the king are known, but in a sculpture he is shown sitting on his throne with a local nome deity by his side.

Today only the inner construction remains partly visible in a pile of rubble originating from the crude filling of debris and mortar behind the casing stones taken away a thousand years ago. The whole inner construction is badly damaged and not possible to access today.

The entrance at the north side is a short descending corridor lined with red granite followed by a passageway ending at the burial chamber. It has a gabled roof made of big limestone layers and fragments of the sarcophagus were found here when it was entered in the early 1800s.


Most foreign relations during the reign of Sahure were economic, rather then combative. In one scene in his pyramid, we find great ships with Egyptians and Asiatics on board. They are returning, we believe, from the port of Byblos in Lebanon with huge cedar trees. For this, we have collaborating evidence in the form of his name on a piece of thin, gold stamped to a chair, as well as other evidence of 5th Dynasty king's cartouches found in Lebanon on stone vessels. Other scenes in his temple depict what we are told are Syrian bears. We also have the first documented expedition to the land of Punt, which apparently yielded a quantity of myrrh, along with malachite and electrum, and because of this, Sahure is often credited with establishing an Egyptian navy. There is also scenes of a raid into Libya which yielded various livestock and showed the king smiting the local chieftains. The Palermo Stone also corroborates some of these events and also mentions expeditions the Sinai and to the exotic land of Punt, as well as to the diorite quarries North-West of Abu Simbel, thus far into Nubia.

However, this same scene of the Libyan attack was used two thousand years later in the mortuary temple of Pepi II and in a Kawa temple of Taharqa. The same names are quoted for the local chieftain. Therefore, we become somewhat suspicious of the possibility that Sahure was also copying an even earlier representation of this scene.

He apparently built a sun temple, as did most of the 5th Dynasty kings. Its name was Sekhet-re, meaning "the Field of Re", but so far its location is unknown. We know of his palace, called Uetjesneferusahure ("Sahure's splendor sours up to heaven"), from an inscription on ordinary tallow containers recently found in Neferefre's mortuary temple. It may have been located at Abusir as well. We also know that under Sahure, the turquoise quarries in the Sinai were worked (probably at Wadi Maghara and Wadi Kharit), along with the diorite quarries in Nubia.

Sahure was further attested to by a statue now located in New York's Museum of Modern Art, in a biography found in the tombs of Perisen at Saqqara and on a false door of Niankhsakhment at Saqqara, and is also mentioned in the tombs of Sekhemkare and Nisutpunetjer, kings of the Twelfth dynasty at their tombs in Giza.

Preceded by:
Pharaoh of Egypt
Fifth Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Neferirkare Kakai

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