Khamerernebty I (fl. c. 2600 BCE)
Khamerernebty I (fl. c. 2600 bce)
Egyptian queen. Name variations: Khamerernebti. Flourished around 2600 bce; daughter of Khufu or Cheops (Greek), king of the 4th dynasty; sister of Merisankh III; married King Khafre also known as Chephren (Greek), who was probably her half-brother; children: number unknown, including son Menkaure (Menkure or Mykerinos [Greek], who built the Third Pyramid at Giza) and daughter Khamerernebty II.
Egyptian queen Khamerernebty I was the daughter of the builder of the great pyramid at Giza, King Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty. As he had more than one principal queen during his lifetime, it is not certain which gave birth to Khamerernebty who was destined to carry on the royal line. Khamerernebty was married, not to the immediate successor of her father, but to his son King Khafre (builder of the Second Pyramid of Giza). Khamerernebty and Khafre had a son Menkaure who would also reign and build the Third Pyramid at Giza.
Kings' mothers were powerful and influential women in ancient Egypt. During her life, Khamerernebty I fulfilled priestly duties in the cults of major deities, such as the god of wisdom Thoth, and bore queenly titles, such as "Mother of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Daughter of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Greatly Loved Wife of the King" and "Great One of the Hetes scepter," the significance of which is not clear. Although queens of Khufu were provided with smaller pyramids at the base of their husband's, the wives and families of Khafre had their tombs cut into the sides of the quarry on the Giza plateau that supplied most of the building stone for the pyramids. Khamerernebty's tomb was discovered in 1907–08 by excavators working for the Count de Galarza, but indications are that it was not used by her but taken over by her eldest daughter, Khamerernebty II . This may indicate that the mother was able to have an even more splendid tomb built; certainly she should have been the most powerful woman of her time, but the politics of this family were apparently tumultuous (though poorly recorded), and thus the personal story of this woman and her fate is not known.
Barbara S. Lesko , Department of Egyptology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island