Hello ATS Readers,
Who was Khufu?
The question might seem somewhat trite and most will immediately conclude that Khufu was the second King of the 4th Dynasty of the ancient Egyptian
civilisation, the King allegedly responsible for the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza. So goes the orthodox line.
This may be so but there is a big question mark: why is Khufu’s name not inscribed in the famous Abydos King List? I can already hear the cry of
“foul” from the voices of those who would try and convince us that Khufu’s name IS INDEED presented in the Abydos King List. Well, let us look
at the evidence.
The image below (right) is Stadelmann’s photograph of the Khufu inscription in Campbell’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid, first discovered in 1837
by R.W.H. Vyse. The image to the left shows the alleged “Khufu” inscription in the Abydos King List.
What is immediately obvious from the King List inscription of “Khufu” is that it is missing one quail bird and the disc (placenta) glyph
) has no hatchings (horizontal lines) and looks more like the AE
solar disc glyph (Gardiner’s N5). Now the missing quail bird is not so significant since we know that there are various renderings of Khufu’s
name (image 2 below) with just one quail bird. What IS significant, however, are the missing hatchings in the featureless disc in the alleged
“Khufu” inscription When this inscription in the King List is compared with Khufu’s Abydos nomen name in image 2 below, there is a clear
contradiction. The disc glyph in Khufu’s name (in whatever form) should clearly display a disc with the hatchings and NOT merely a plain disc which
is easily confused with the solar disc (the God Ra) glyph.
So what’s going on? Why does the inscription of ”Khufu” in the Abydos King List bear a solar disc (Ra) as opposed to the placenta (phonetic
“Kh”) glyph? Why is the name in the Abydos King List presented as “Rafu” rather than “Khufu”?
Now there are a number of conventional answers that might explain this apparent anomaly:
1) The scribes made a mistake in rendering Khufu’s name in the Abydos King List.
2) The King List was painted and its paint has since eroded away.
Taking point 1 first – it is unlikely that such a mistake would have gone unnoticed for very long since the carving of the King List on the temple
wall at Abydos would have been carefully planned and checked and re-checked at each step in the process. Furthermore, rendering Khufu’s name with
the solar disc rather than the correct placenta disc with horizontal hatchings would have rendered the name totally ambiguous given that it is
followed by three 4th Dynasty kings that do indeed bear the solar disc glyph in their name (see image 3 below)
4th Dynasty Kings
20 = Sneferu
21 = “Khufu” (“Rafu”?)
22 = Djedfre
23 = Khafre
24 = Menkaure
25 = Shepseskaf
It seems inconceivable that the scribes would have left Khufu’s name to be rendered so ambiguous especially given the context of clear solar disc
glyphs that were used in subsequent 4th dynasty kings inscribed alongside “Khufu’s” inscription. Andeven if hatchings had been missed, it would
have been very easy to have added them later (even much later) when the error was spotted. That this error was not fixed leads us to consider the
probability that this inscription was rendered in precisely the manner the ancient scribes intended it to be rendered i.e. with a solar disc
(“Ra”) rather than the placenta glyph (“Kh”).
The second possibility is that the glyphs were painted i.e. that painted horizontal hatchings in the placenta glyph of “Khufu’s” inscription
have eroded away over time. At first glance this is not an unreasonable proposition because we do know that the AEs painted their temples and painted
their King Lists as can be seen below:
Scene from Temple of Abydos (Seti)
Painted King List from Temple of Ramesses II
What is clear from the above temple images is that the paint used to decorate the temples was very durable as much of it STILL EXISTS. How then, we
ask, is it possible for an entire wall where the King List at Abydos is inscribed to have lost ALL its paint, with not a single spec remaining whilst
other walls in the temple are still awash with vibrant paint?
We have to conclude that the King List relief at Abydos was NEVER painted. If this wall had been painted then it is not unreasonable to take the view
that at least some of its paint would have survived in the same way much of the paint on other temple walls has survived.
It seems then that we are left with little alternative but to conclude that what we have in the temple of Abydos is the finished article – the
finished King List - and that it has been rendered in precisely the manner Seti wished to portray the names of his God-King forebears, carved into
stone, untouched and “untainted” by paint. It should also be noted here that carving of the relief was for meaning whereas painting was for
To conclude then, it is quite inconceivable that a key feature such as the horizontal hatchings of Khufu’s name would have been left uncarved or
unpainted. That the disc of “Khufu’s” name in the Abydos King List has been rendered as the solar disc glyph (“Ra”) and NOT the placenta
glyph (“Kh”) tells us the name CANNOT be read as “Khufu” but should be read as “Rafu”. The name “Khufu” is NOT present in the Abydos
This then begs the question: Who was Khufu?
[edit on 18/12/2009 by Scott Creighton]