Menkaure was the fifth king in the line of the Fourth Dynasty, in the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt. According to archeological evidence, he ascended the throne after the death of his father Khafre in 2530 B.C. His name was also spelled as ‘Menkaura’ in the ancient Egyptian dialect. According to the historian Manetho, Menkaure succeeded a king called Bikheris. He ruled Egypt for roughly 18 or 22 years, as indicated by the historical evidence that was discovered so far about him. Menkaure was succeeded by his younger son, Shepseskaf.
As a pharaoh, Menkaure is remembered for his kindness and religiosity, unlike his father Khafre and grandfather Khufu. In modern history, he is particularly famous for the construction of his own tomb at the Giza necropolis, which is now universally known as the ‘Pyramid of Menkaure’. Menkaure most likely died in 2500 B.C. according to the writings found in his tomb.
The Turin King List and other historical evidence indicates that Menkaure was the son of Pharaoh Khafre and the grandson of the famous Pharaoh Khufu. His mother was Queen Khamerernebty I, as it was mentioned on a flint knife, discovered in his tomb. He had several brothers and some of them served as viziers in the royal court of Menkaure; as per the evidence, their names were Nebemakhet, Nikaure, Iunmin, and Nikaure. Another younger brother, Sekhemkare, joined the royal court, after the death of Menkaure, probably due to his minor age during the reign of his elder brother.
Menkaure was known to have two wives and one of them was his own sister, Queen Khamerernebty II. His second wife was his half-sister Queen Rekhetre. According to what's known today, 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 Shepseskaf became his successor to the throne, as per the Turin King List. 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, as per the record of the Greek historian Herodotus.
In the Egyptian language, the Pyramid of Menkaure was known as ‘Netjer-er-Menkaure’, or ‘Menkaure is divine’. The vast foundation base of this pyramid was built of limestone and measured 108.5 meters in length. This pyramid is the smallest among the three pyramids excavated in Giza necropolis, with a height of only 65.5 meters. Apart from the main pyramid, this complex has three smaller pyramids, two of which were left incomplete for an unknown reason. Among these three pyramids, the largest and the fully completed one houses a statue of a Queen.
His wife, Queen Khamerernebty II was also probably buried in any of these three pyramids. The mortuary temple of the main pyramid of Menkaure holds 3 statues of the Pharaoh and Queen Khamerernebty II with an Egyptian Goddess, built of pink granite. The burial chamber of this main pyramid lies to the west of its mortuary temple, where the large stone sarcophagus is found, which is totally made of basalt and bears hieroglyphic writings and decorations like a palace facade. The valley temple of this pyramid was made of bricks and housed several statues of Menkaure and his wives along with several Egyptian deities.