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Title: Bikheris  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Unfinished Northern Pyramid of Zawyet el'Aryan, Thamphthis, Baka, List of Egyptian pyramids, Pharaohs
Collection: Pharaohs of the Third Dynasty of Egypt
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Bikheris in hieroglyphs
Reign: unknown
Predecessor: Khafre
Successor: Menkaure

Soul and Ka
Birth-name A

Birth-name B

Turin Canon
(Column III, line 13.)
Limestone fragment with the illegible cartouche name interpreted as Baka.

Bikheris is the hellenized name form of an ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) who could have ruled during the 4th dynasty. Since the name “Bikheris” appears only in the Aegyptiaca of Manetho and is most possibly derived from the Egyptian name form Ba-Ka, egyptologists are discussing the existence, chronological position and historical figure of Bikheris.


The identity of Bikheris is subject of investigations since it is known from the Aegyptiaca of Manetho, who claims that Bikheris was the son of “Sûphís II” (= Khafre) and ruled for 22 years.[2] But since there are no archaeological or contemporary evidences for a king named “Baka” or “Bikheris”, egyptologists believe Bikheris to be fictitious or the product of a historical misunderstanding: A rock inscription at Wadi Hammamat lists the cartouche name Baefrê between the kings Khaefre and Menkaura. Actually there was a royal family member named Bau-ef-Rê, a son of king Khufu, but he was always entitled as a “son of the king” only. A similar phenomenon can be observed for the name of prince Hordjedef, whose name was erroneously put into a cartouche, too.[2]

The Royal canon of Turin lists between Khafre and Menkaure a further name, but the papyrus is damaged, leaving a gap - even the year notes are lost.[3] The Royal table of Saqqara also mentions a king between them, but again the cartouche is damaged.[4]

At Baka, who was definitely the son of king Radjedef. His name was written with the symbols of a ram and the Ka-symbol. Beckerath assumes that Baka changed his name into Bakarê ("Soul and Ka of Râ") when he ascended the throne, but then he died surprisingly, leaving an unfinished tomb shaft. Thus, Beckerath and Reisner read the mysterious name at Zawyet el'Aryan as Ba-Ka ("His Ka is his soul").[6][7] Aidan Dodson instead sees a sitting Seth-animal and therefore reads “Seth-Ka”. He believes that the pyramid was planned as the tomb of prince Setka, a further son of king Radjedef. Dodson doubts a reading as "Baka", he wonders why the cartouche name at Zawyet el'Arjan contains no sun-hieroglyph when it was actually meant to be addressed to the sun god.[8][9]

Finally, there are further, alternative readings of the cartouche name: Kurt Sethe reads Nebka ("His Ka is the lord"), Jean-Philippe Lauer as Bik-Ka ("his Ka is divine"), Peter Kaplony reads Schena-Ka ("his Ka is forceful") and Gaston Maspero reads Nefer-Ka ("his Ka is beautiful/flawless").[10]

Chronological position and length of reign

The correct duration of Bikheris´ rulership is unknown. Manetho credits him with a length of 22 years, but that seems to many egyptologists to be an exaggeration or misinterpretation. The Turin canon lacks any information about ruling years. And since there are no archaeologically detected monuments or documents about a king “Baefre” or “Bikheris”, Egyptologists are convinced that Bikheris, should he have really existed, ruled an extremely short time only. Jürgen von Beckerath thinks seven years to be possible,[6] Wolfgang Helck thinks about two years[3] and Peter Janosi suggests even only a few months as a possible length of reign.[2]

The correct chronological position of Bikheris is also unclear. The Saqqara table names one king between Khafre and Menkaure (but the cartouche in question is damaged), it is thought that the name in question should be Ba(u)efrê. But after king Shepseskaf the Saqqara table calls two rulers before starting the fifth dynasty by naming king Userkaf. One of these mysterious cartouches surely named king Thamphthis, but the second one baffles egyptologists up this day. If it named Bikheris, “Ba(u)efrê” and “Bikheris” couldn´t have been one and the same. Manetho places Radjedef and Bikheris after king Menkaure, which totally contradicts archaeological evidences. Radjedef definitely ruled between Khufu and Khafre, that is proven by contemporary inscriptions. The most possible chronological position of Bikheris must lie either between Khafre and Menkaure (as thought by the mainstream of Egyptologists) or between Schepseskaf and Userkaf together with Thamphthis.[2][3][6]


  1. ^ Alan H. Gardiner: The royal canon of Turin. page 16, table II.
  2. ^ a b c d Peter Jánosi: Giza in der 4. Dynastie. Die Baugeschichte und Belegung einer Nekropole des Alten Reiches. Bd. I: Die Mastabas der Kernfriedhöfe und die Felsgräber. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien 2005, ISBN 3-7001-3244-1, page 64–65.
  3. ^ a b c Wolfgang Helck: Untersuchungen zu Manetho und den ägyptischen Königslisten (= Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Altertumskunde Ägyptens, Bd. 18). Leipzig/ Berlin 1956, page 52f.
  4. ^ Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, London 2004, ISBN 977-424-878-3, page 61.
  5. ^ Miroslav Verner: Archaeological Remarks on the 4th and 5th Dynasty Chronology. In: Archiv Orientální, vol. 69. Praha 2001, page 363–418.
  6. ^ a b c Jürgen von Beckerath: Chronologie des pharaonischen Ägypten. Die Zeitbestimmung der ägyptischen Geschichte von der Vorzeit bis 332 v. Chr. (= Münchner ägyptologische Studien, vol. 46). von Zabern, Mainz 1997, ISBN 3-8053-2310-7, page 158.
  7. ^ George Andrew Reisner: A History of the Giza Necropolis, vol. I, Harvard University Press, Harvard 1942, page 28.
  8. ^ Aidan Dodson: On the date of the unfinished pyramid of Zawyet el-Aryan. In: Discussion in Egyptology (DiE), vol. 3, Oxford 1985, p. 21–24.
  9. ^ Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, London 2004, ISBN 977-424-878-3, page 61.
  10. ^ Nabil M.A. Swelim: Some Problems on the History of the Third Dynasty (= Archaeological and historical studies, vol. 7). Archaeological Society of Alexandria, Cairo 1983, p. 143-145.
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