The Valley Temple of Chephren

The Valley Temple is assumed to have been built for Pharaoh Khafre (Chephren). The Temple is adjacent to the Great Sphinx, and large limestone blocks that were quarried from the Sphinx enclosure were used to build the outside wall of the Temple. The interior of the temple is built of granite, also large, and brought downriver from Aswan. The floor of the Temple is alabaster, a rather soft stone that should show more wear than it does.

Artist is uncertain, may be Samuel Manning.
Entrance to Chephren's Valley Temple.

An interesting aspect of Khafre's Pyramid is the very large stones used in parts of the lower courses of the Pyramid, the surrounding plaza, and the Mortuary and Valley temples. (60-200 tons / 50,000-180,000 kilograms, compared to the more commonly used pyramid stones of 2-3 tons / 1800-2400 kilograms.) These are an indication to some minds that the Pyramid was built upon earlier construction. The Valley Temple is connected to the pyramid by a 500 yard long causeway. The preservation of many of the undecorated granite columns is excellent. However, the outer wall of the Temple is built from limestone blocks, which have eroded.

The limestone north wall of the Valley Temple of Chephren.

Lower level, Chephren's Temple in an 1899 photograph.

Granite columns, Valley Temple of Chephren.

Edited Excerpts from: The Journal
of Lt-Colonel George A. F. Fitzclarence
We proceeded to the remains of what is supposed to have been a portico, (the mortuary temple of Chephren / Khafre), to the east of the Second Pyramid. The temple has three entrances, one to the east, one to the north, and, I think, another to the south, but at the moment this large building was so secondary an object in comparison with the wonder of the world before me, that I did not pay so much attention to it as I have since wished I had.

View from Chephren's Valley Temple looking East toward the Nile.

It is absolutely a horizontally built Stonehenge. Some of the blocks of limestone are of an immense size; and two which were particularly pointed out to me, one upon the other, on the east side, forming part of the north-east angle, Belzoni told me were 24 feet long (7 meters), 8 in breadth (2 1/2 meters), and the same in thickness (est. 70 tons / 63,500 kg). From their great age they are perfectly honeycombed and united together, though their original separation is distinctly seen from their sharp edges being rounded by time. The walls of this portico are not above twice, or at the utmost thrice, the breadth of these stones in height.

What may be under the ground I know not; but it appears to me that this temple either never was completed, or the finish of the building must have been of much lighter and less lasting materials than what is left.

The vastness of these works makes it possible that in an early age magnitude was the object aimed at by the builders. The Mortuary Temple of Chephren in the size of its stones will not yield to any other remains in Egypt. From its great antiquity, and its lack of sculpture, it is possible that ornamenting these immense masses may have been the addition of a subsequent age.
(It seems the lower level of the Temple was still buried in the sand at the time of Mr Fitzclarence's visit.)
Excerpt from:
"Journal of a route across India,
through Egypt to England
in 1817 and 1818"
by Lt. Colonel George Fitzclarence
Published in 1819.
Adapted and edited for, 2006.

West wall, Chephren's Valley Temple
by William Henry Goodyear.

Panorama facing west, 1907.

Plan of Chephren's Valley Temple,
east is at the top,
by E. A. Wallis Budge.


The Diorite Statue of Chephren

Valley Temple of Khafre.
Statue niches are on the floor,
treasure hunters have damaged them.
Photograph by Joseph Hawkes.

Twenty three shallow niches line the floor of the Valley Temple of Chephren. In 1858 Auguste Mariette discovered a diorite statue of Chephren buried near the Valley Temple, along with some pieces of other statues. Mariette found the statue's base matched the niches in the temple, causing him to conclude that there were 23 of these statues. The statue that Mariette found, now in the Cairo Museum, is considered one of the world's greatest artworks. Perhaps the other 22 statues still lie buried near Chephren's Valley Temple.

Statue of Chephren from the Valley Temple.
Now in the Cairo Museum.
Photograph from EgyptArchive.

Pharaoh was believed to incarnate the falcon god Horus on Earth.
Here Horus protects and guides the Pharaoh,
although he cannot be seen by the common people viewing him from the front.

wings of the Sun.

Ancient Egypt's Age of the Pyramids

Home Page
Climbing the Great Pyramid
The Great Pyramid of Cheops
The Second Greatest Pyramid - Chephren
Valley Temple of Chephren (Khafre)
The Pyramid of Menkaure
The Great Sphinx
More About Giza
Before Giza:
The Pyramids at Saqqara
The Pyramids of Sneferu
The Greatest Mystery of All.

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