Khentkawes (fl. c. 2510 BCE)

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Khentkawes (fl. c. 2510 bce)

Egyptian queen of the Old Kingdom, who carried the legitimate line from the 4th to the 5th Dynasty as mother of the Two Kings of Upper and Lower Egypt. Name variations: Khentkaues. Flourished around 2510 bce; probably daughter of King Shepseskaf; married King Userkaf; children: Sahure (Egyptian king) and Neferirkare (Egyptian king).

Probably the daughter of King Shepseskaf, Khentkawes was the wife of King Userkaf and mother of the two 5th Dynasty rulers Sahure and Neferirkare. She may have ruled as regent for her under-aged sons because her funerary monument is impressive and has often been called the Fourth Pyramid of Giza. It stands between the causeways of Khafre and Menkaure at Giza and took the unusual form of a sarcophagus mounted on a high podium of natural rock. The fact that she did not imitate her predecessors and their queens who had pyramid tombs has suggested to some that she deliberately was trying to break away from the influence of the powerful priesthood of the sun god Re.

Barbara S. Lesko , Department of Egyptology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

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