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A MORE COMPLEX COMPLEX

Though Khafre's pyramid is shorter than his father Khufu's nearby Great Pyramid, Khafre made up for it by building at a higher elevation and surrounding his pyramid with a more elaborate complex.

Within the burial chamber, explorers discovered a small pit cut in the floor—perhaps designed to hold the first canopic chest in a pyramid. Canopic chests held jars carved in the shapes of protective spirits. These jars, in turn, held the preserved liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines of the deceased. The brain would have been discarded, and the heart left in the body.

Outside the pyramid all the typical elements of a pharaonic mortuary temple are seen in one place for the first time: entrance hall, colonnaded courtyard, niches for royal statuary, storage chambers, and interior sanctuary. Later pyramids would be significantly smaller, with greater emphasis on these mortuary temples.

Khafre's necropolis also boasted an unprecedented profusion of statues, among them the Sphinx. Carved from bedrock in front of Khafre's pyramid, the Sphinx depicts the pharaoh as a human-headed lion, wearing the headdress of the pharaohs. The great statue is the embodiment of Khafre, the third ruler of the 4th dynasty (time line), as the god Horus.

CLASSIC FACT: Napoleon's troops have long been blamed with blowing off the nose of the Sphinx in the 18th century, but a 15th-century Arab historian reported that it had disappeared in his time.

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Introductory photograph of Khafre's pyramid by Stephen St. John. Pharaoh Khafre and pyramid photograph by Kenneth Garrett. Sphinx in front of pyramid photo by Roger Wood/Corbis. Reconstruction art of pyramid building by C.F. Payne. Digital reconstructions of Sphinx by Jerde Partnership and Ancient Egypt Research Associates.

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