He was the 5th king during the 4th dynasty.
His name means “The established one of the ka (soul) of Ra”
He was the successor of his father King Khaefre and son of queen Khamaerernebty I.
He married his sister queen Khamaerernebty II and his half-sister queen Rekhetre.
Menkaure had 3 sons and 2 daughters. His eldest son was Crown Prince Khuenre, the son of Queen Khamerernebty II, who died at an early age, before his father. Hence, his second son Shepseskaef became his successor to the throne. Menkaure had another son Sekhemre, as discovered from a statue at Menkaure’s pyramid. Khentkaus I, the Queen of the next Pharaoh Shepseskaf, was a daughter of Menkaure; while his second daughter died at an immature age, during the lifetime of her father..
He built the 3rd pyramid at Giza Plateau to the south-west of Giza Plateau.
The Pyramid of Menkaure:
Original Name: nṯr Mn kꜣw Rꜥ (Menkaure is divine)
Original Height: 66.45 m
Angle: 51° 20’
The Contents of the Pyramid:
1. The Pyramid itself.
2. The Queens Pyramids
3. The Mortuary Temple.
4. The Causeway.
5. The Valley Temple.
The Pyramid itself:
It’s located on the South-Western corner of Giza plateau. It was built on a much smaller scale than that of Cheops and khaefre. It shows extensive use of granite.
The pyramid was built of local limestone and its casing is made of unfinished pink granite quarried from Aswan up to height of about 15m. Further up the casing was probably made of fine Tura limestone.
The pyramid encompasses 4 chambers which is quite unusual.
The original entrance is located on the North about 4m above ground level. It leads to a descending corridor opening into a short horizontal passage that opens into an antechamber decorated with stone panels, carved with palace façade motifs; oriented East to West and it was intended to be a burial chamber.
This room was reached by another descending passage known as the upper corridor which runs above the Lower corridor. When the plan was changed, the floor of the antechamber was lowered which means that the upper corridor came out near the ceiling.
Remains of wooden anthropoid coffin were discovered in this room which bore the name of Menkaure and contained human remains, but these remains have proven to be of a much later date than the pyramid.
Another passage leads down from the floor of the antechamber to the burial chamber.
Before the burial chamber, there is another room which has 6 niches: 4 in the East and 2 in the North. There were used for keeping the funerary goods or to hold the canopic jars of the king.
Against the Western wall of the burial chamber, there was a beautiful basalt sarcophagus of the king was found. The sarcophagus is no longer there as it lies on the bottom of the sea outside Southern Spain, after the ship Beatrice sunk in 1838 on its way to England.
He built 3 queen’s pyramid on the Southern side of his pyramid.
The largest Eastern one was first intended as a satellite pyramid but later used for the burial of Menkaure’s wife, Khaemrrnbty II.
The central pyramid was found to contain a pink granite sarcophagus and bones of young woman.
The 3rd one was unfinished and had no traces of a burial.
Two of the queen’s pyramids are step pyramid while the Eastern one is a true pyramid. The pyramid complex was apparently hastily completed by his son and successor Shepseskaef.
The Mortuary Temple:
The remains of the king’s mortuary temple are still visible on the Eastern side of the pyramid and this was also found to have been hastily completed.
The temple was begun in local blocks of limestone, with the intention of facing the inner and outer walls with black granite, but in fact they were mostly finished in painted plaster over mud-brick by Shepseskaef.
The temple was entered through an entrance corridor in its Eastern side. This corridor gave access to an open courtyard that was meant to be ornamented by pillars.
The inside walls of this courtyard were lined with plastered and whitewashed brickwork decorated with niches. This was probably added by his successor.
One of the interesting features in this temple was a basin and drainage system at the center of the courtyard.
Behind the courtyard was a recessed portico approached through an opening in the western wall of the court, this has 6 red granite columns.
At the West end of this portico is a long narrow sanctuary.
At the South end of the portico is a passage that leads to annex structures that don’t appear to have been finished.
From the North end of the portico a passage leads to five small rooms.
At the Western most end of the temple is an offering shrine which is built right against the face of the pyramid. This may have had a false door, and was paved with red granite.
Just East of this is a corridor containing 6 limestone pillars, this was most likely built later during the 6th dynasty.
The temple is however preserved than Khaefre’s mortuary temple.
We found fragments of royal statues in this temple.
It was completed by Shepseskaef, in mud-brick rather than limestone.
The Valley Temple:
Two different phases of construction were found in the valley temple, the earlier parts built from stone and later parts in mud-brick. An inscription in the valley temple indicted how Shepseskaef completed the temple in memory of his father. It was completely rebuilt during the 6th dynasty, probably by Pepi II, after suffering substantial flood damage.
It has entrance on the East side that opens into a small vestibule with four columns supporting its roof.
This vestibule is flanked by two sets of 4 storerooms. The Southern set opens up into a long corridor that runs along the length of the temple, then takes a turn to the North and meets with the distal end of the causeway.
At the West end of the vestibule a doorway leads to the courtyard, the inner walls were decorated with niches.
Through the center of the courtyard is a raised pavement made of limestone slabs. South of this lies a limestone basin with a drainage system that drains to under the pavement.
The West end of the raised pavement ends at a pillared hall containing 6 columns which supported its roof. Beyond this hall was the sanctuary.
To the South of the sanctuary are smaller chambers, it is within these that the famous triad’s statues of Menkaure were found including:
o Three complete triads and one fragmentary, showing the king wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt with the goddess Hathor and four different Nome deities (now in Cairo and Boston Museums) were uncovered in 1908.
o The famous perfectly preserved dyad depicting Menkaure with unnamed queen (possibly his chief wife Khamerernebty II) were found in 1910 (now in Cairo Museum)
To the North of the sanctuary is another series of small chambers or magazines.
The temple is now ruined, but its plan reveals an entrance area leading to an open court and a rear section with magazines and other chambers surrounding the sanctuary.